Step-by-Step Smoked Beef Brisket

Step-by-Step Smoked Beef Brisket

Cooking brisket is more about technique than a recipe. Seasoning isn't as important as how you actually smoke the brisket. Yes, it affects the final result but not as much as the smoking process.

What to Buy when Preparing to Smoke Beef Brisket


When shopping look for a whole brisket, which is comprised of two muscles – the point and the flat. You want even thickness from side to side on the flat end, as well as a flexible flat.

    Hot Tip: Weights can vary depending on the beef's breed, age and other factors, but we suggest looking for a 12-15 pound brisket. 

    Looking at a top down view of the brisket with the flat facing up, you should see the point sticking out from under the flat on the right side. Notice how the grain of the flat runs diagonally to the upper left corner. Once cooked, you will slice perpendicular to the grain.

      Hot Tip: Some people either cut a notch or stick a tooth pick in this corner, so that they know which direction to slice once cooked.

      Step-by-Step for Smoked Beef Brisket


      Make sure that you have planned for your brisket. Cooking a brisket takes time. Even if hotter cooking temperatures of 275°F to 325°F, it can still be 7-8 hours for cook with a 4 hour hold. Add that to the 12 hour seasoning time and you have a full 24 hour process.


      Preparing your brisket for smoking consists of trimming injecting, and seasoning. We suggest having this done about 12 hours before the brisket goes onto the grill or smoker.

        • Most whole briskets come with a fat cap on one side. Use a very sharp knife trimming this to a quarter inch in thickness.

          • Always inject briskets so that the needle is parallel with the grain of the beef.

            • Now it is time to season. Simple is better when thinking about rubs for brisket. Here are three options that you can use. Don’t worry about using too much rub, it’s a large piece of meat and can take it.


            Once prepared, keep the brisket well refrigerated until it is time to smoke. Your brisket needs to be cold when it hits the grates.


            Set your grill or smoker up for indirect cooking. Your brisket will not be directly over the heat source.

              For the Charcoal Grill 780, the coal and wood are placed on the left. Notice the gap in the middle. This is where live coals will be placed. The brisket will go on the right side, away from the direct heat.


                Start a batch of live coals using a chimney starter.


                When adding live coals, they will provide initial heat and start the other coals and wood to for a sustained heat.

                    If you are using a Kettleman™ grill, we recommend using a fuse style burn set up like this to get longer, steady cooking temperatures.

                        If you are lucky enough to have a Char-Broil® Digital Electric Smoker, it’s super easy. Just preheat the unit as normal and put the brisket diagonally on one of the grates.

                        Hot Tip: Whatever you use, you don’t want a billowing, thick smoke. This will leave you with a brisket that tastes like charcoal.  The smoke should be thin and very light in color.

                        A key to a great brisket is moisture.

                          • Add moisture to the air by using a water pan in the cooker. For the Charcoal Grill 780, you can put a foil steam pan on the gates directly above the coals. For the Kettleman™ grill, you can just put a foil steam pan in the center of the fire ring.  he Digital Electric Smoker comes with an integrated water pan.
                          • Add moisture directly to the brisket during the cook. Use a highly seasoned mop, dabbing the brisket every hour or so. This will also add layers of flavor. You can also use a squirt bottle with beef stock to spritz the brisket every hour or so as well.
                          • Retain moisture towards the end of the cook using the “Texas Crutch.” Wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper.  Add beef stock to the foil packet to finish your cook with a braise. This is a much gentler process than smoking. We suggest doing this when the “bark,” or outer surface, is very dark, usually somewhere around an internal temperature of 160°F to 175°F.


                          Using a thermometer to monitor the brisket's internal temperature. There is no exact temperature at which you pull the brisket off of the grill. After it hits an internal temperature of 200°F in the thickest portion, we suggest sliding either a temperature probe or bbq skewer into the brisket to test its tenderness.  When the probe or skewer slides in with little resistance, the brisket is ready to come off.

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