Smoked brisket, the one cut of meat that should be in every smoker’s repertoire! It’s almost an art form, it does require some techniques to master, but the end result is magical!
There are so many facets to smoking a brisket. It can seem overwhelming for someone who is smoking a brisket for the first time. We will walk through the process step by step to make it easier for you. As Julia Child used to say, ” You have to have the courage of your convictions!” If you do, things will work out!
What is Brisket?
Brisket is a cut of beef from the breast or lower chest of the cow. We get 2 briskets from each cow. Because cows do not have collar bones like we do, the brisket muscle must support a significant amount of the animals’ weight. This cut of meat contains a large amount of connective tissue. You must cook it properly in order to tenderize the meat. If you don’t, it would be like gnawing on shoe leather!
How do you smoke a 3-pound brisket?
If you want to dip your foot into the brisket smoking pond, you can start with a small 2.5 – 3 pound brisket. You can oil it and/or dry rub the meat. The technique is the same as with a full-size brisket. Although there is usually no need to trim it, and obviously, it will take far less time, being much smaller.
If you are looking for a true smoked brisket, you will want to get yourself a whole or “Texas” brisket. It truly is worth all the effort that goes into smoking it to perfection, trust me!
HELPFUL ITEMS FOR THIS RECIPE
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small portion from qualifying purchases at no extra charge to you.
- Whole brisket
- Brown sugar
- Sweet paprika
- Fresh ground pepper
- Kosher salt
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Dry mustard powder
- Cayanne pepper
- Plus you will need 6-8 feet of butcher paper
How do you prepare your Brisket to smoke
Once you have your brisket and all the spices out, you are ready to get started. The first thing that you need to do is trim your brisket. There are a few different points of view on how much you should trim off your brisket. It really depends upon who you talk to.
For the home smoker who is cooking this for family and friends. You will want to maximize the amount of brisket you have. This means you will want to trim a little less than, say, a restaurant. They can use the excess trimmings for other dishes they make. I would suggest trimming the excess fat to about 1/4 of an inch.
You will also want to trim the rough part at the bottom and outside of the thin part of the brisket along the edge. Trim about 3/8 of an inch off. This tidies it up, and that piece is not good eating anyway. I found this really great video about trimming. I think for the first time brisket smoker, this will help you understand how much to trim off your brisket.
Once you have it trimmed up, mix your spices together and rub to coat the entire brisket all over. Make sure you do both the top and bottom and all the sides. You will then want to allow it to come to room temperature. Make sure you leave it on your counter for about an hour before you put it in the smoker. The brisket will take long enough to cook. No point in putting it into your smoker cold; that will just add to the time.
About the rub
Here are a few thoughts on the rub. Firstly like all beef, seasoning significantly enhances the flavor of the meat. What you rub your brisket with is, of course, up to you. Some people will tell you that you should only put salt and pepper on your brisket. There are other recipes that include almost the entire spice drawer!
I am sort of in the middle with my rub. I find that using just salt and pepper leaves me wanting more when I’m eating my brisket. My rub, of course, includes Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. I also like a little sweet, so I add some brown sugar and sweet paprika. Garlic, onion, and mustard powder round out the flavors. I add just a touch of cayenne cause I love a little heat with my sweet!
Do you smoke brisket fat side up or down?
After you have rubbed your brisket and allowed it to come up to room temperature, the real fun begins. It’s time to get it into the smoker. You will want to place your brisket with the fat side up on the grill grate.
I have seen some BBQ pitmasters that can tell the doneness of the brisket just by picking it up. They can tell just by the feel. Of course, they have been cooking brisket for years. For the backyard smoker, you, like me, need a good quality temperature probe. For brisket, I find it is best to use my trusty Thermoworks Chef Alarm temperature probe.
It is important for you to know what the internal temp is throughout the smoking process. Smoked beef brisket is not a set it and forget it recipe. Yes, it takes a long time; it is a slow process. But it is worth it in the end!
How long does it take to smoke a brisket?
How long does it take to smoke a brisket? Good question, but a better question to ask is, to what temperature do I smoke my brisket too? As with most meats that you smoke, you do not cook to a specific time. You actually cook them to a specific internal temperature.
You should smoke your brisket at a temperature of 225 degrees F. I use applewood chips. You could use another fruit wood like cherry. You could also use hickory or oak. When smoking brisket there are 2 internal temperature points that are critically important. The first is 165 degrees F. Once your brisket reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, it is time to wrap it. Take it out of the smoker and wrap it in butcher paper or aluminum foil.
You can buy a huge roll of butcher paper from your local kitchen supply store or online. But as I only smoke a few briskets a year, a roll like that would last me 2 lifetimes! If you ask your local butcher nicely, they will give you a 6- 8 foot length free of charge. I prefer butcher paper over aluminum foil. It allows the brisket to breathe and not simmer in its own juices.
Put your brisket back in the smoker. You need to continue to smoke it until it reaches an internal temperature of 201 – 203 degrees F. Smoking brisket is a science. With any science, you need to follow the right procedures if you want it to turn out.
Look at how beautiful that brisket is, dark, dark brown on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside! Like with all meats, you need to allow your brisket to rest. It should rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. If you have the time, it is better to allow it to rest for a full hour.
The stall, Why is the temperature not increasing?
One thing that you will find when smoking a brisket or indeed any large cut of meat is the “stall”. This usually happens when the internal temperature of the meat just seems to stall or plateau. This can last for literally up to 6 hours, don’t be dismayed; it happens to everyone. It is totally normal.
Basically, the moisture in your meat is evaporating; your meat is sweating. Similar to what you do on a hot summer day to help you stay cool. Not to worry, the temperature will start to rise again once a good amount of moisture has evaporated.
The good news is that once the stall is over, the internal temperature will start to rise. It will usually rise fairly quickly from this point. It is common for a smoked brisket to go from 170 to 203 degrees F in only a couple of hours. The end is near! Now what to do next?
HOw should I serve my Brisket?
After allowing your brisket to rest, which can be a challenge because it smells so good! You will want to serve up the brisket. Make sure that you slice against the grain. If you don’t, you will end up tearing the meat. You will also lose some of that wonderful juiciness of the brisket, and it won’t be as tender.
Smoking a brisket is not something that you can do on short notice. It takes planning. Oh, and will require you to tend to your smoker for up to 18 hours! But it really is a thing of beauty when it is done, and done right! If you have a smoker, you need to plan to cook a brisket. It is an experience all to itself! I hope you enjoy my smoked brisket recipe!
Pin it HERE!!
Pin it HERE!!
- One whole brisket (12-15 lbs.), trimmed
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsps. sweet paprika
- 1 Tbsp. fresh ground pepper
- 2 Tbsps. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp dry mustard powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 6 - 8 feet of butcher paper
- Mix all the ingredients together and rub to coat the entire brisket.
- Allow the brisket to rest on the counter for about an hour to come up to room temperature.
- Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F. Insert a digital temperature probe into the brisket and place into the smoker.
- Using applewood, smoke your brisket, maintaining a constant temperature of 225 degrees F. in your smoker.
- Once the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. remove it from the smoker and wrap in butcher's paper or aluminum foil and return it to the smoker.
- Make sure you reinsert your temperature probe. At this point, you don't need to add wood chips to smoke it anymore as the meat will not absorb any more smoke flavor. You do need to continue to maintain a constant temperature of 225 degrees F.
- Continue to cook the brisket until the internal temperature reaches 200 - 203 degrees F.
- Remove the brisket from the smoker and allow to rest wrapped in the butcher paper or foil for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
- Remove the butcher paper and thinly slice across the grain.
- Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce for dipping if you like. It is perfect the next day on a crusty bun; just reheat the slices in a microwave and drizzle with BBQ Sauce!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 104Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 1756mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 4g
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust.