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“smokestack lightning” smoked beef brisket

brisket on a cutting board

Smoked beef brisket, Texas-style, is as simple a recipe as there is, but you gotta believe in the process to get the pull apart with your hands tenderness, beautiful bark, and out of this world flavor.

smoked brisket on a cutting board

In many ways, smoking Brisket is an exercise in minimizing variability in things like temperature, quality of the meat, types of seasoning, etc.

 

Smoked Beef Brisket Ingredients

Salt, pepper, time, and wood smoke is the formula. Anything else is just extra nonsense or ego.

How to smoke brisket

Smoking brisket is all about time, lots and lots of time. You rub, smoke and wait essentially. However there are a few key rules/principles to follow to get to great as well as tips to help you best control for the many different variables.

Step 1: Season the brisket

Apply a thin layer of oil all over the brisket. Season generously with salt and pepper. And refrigerate overnight. Note the two different types of brisket cuts (lean flat cut vs. fatty point cut). A full “packer” cut includes both together. Most stores sell the packer, but a few will sell either flat (most common) or the fattier point (rare). Trader Joe’s is the one place where you can find both. I recommend the packer unless you’re cooking for smaller groups.

seasoned meat on a platter

This is an example of a flat cut

point cut

Point cut brisket

Step 2: Smoke until black

Prepare smoker for indirect cooking at 250 degrees F. Allow brisket to reach room temperature then add to the smoker with the point cut closer to the heat and the leaner flat cut facing away. Smoke for 6-8 hours until brisket is a dark black color. Brisket will be around 165 degrees F

brisket on the grill

Step 3: Wrap for the brisket

Remove the brisket and wrap tightly with the butcher paper. Lower the temperature to 225 degrees. Add wrapped brisket back to the smoker and cook til internal temperature is somewhere between 200-205 degrees F, 4-6 hours.

cooked meat wrapped in butcher paper

Step 4: Let the brisket rest before slicing

Take wrapped brisket off the smoker. Place in a cooler and top with old towels to keep insulated. Let rest 1-2 hours. To slice separate the point from the flat. Cut against the grain for tender cuts.

whole brisket smoked and sitting on butcher paper

Serving suggestions

I like my brisket with just pickles and onions. Of course, I eat mine with my hands and maybe a slice or two of bread. I like to pair with something briny like a Collard Greens Slaw to help break up the fatty brisket.

You can never go wrong with a good Southern Potato Salad. It’s the perfect counterpart to any bbq. I also like to include at least one bean/legume based sides like either “Texas Caviar” which is just a Black-eyed Pea Salad or these tangy and thick Instant Pot Baked Beans.

Key tips for top-notch smoked beef brisket

  • Choose the highest-quality brisket you can afford. You don’t have to go all wagyu beef, unless you got it like that, but quality does matter. With quality you’re looking for marbling; the more the better. In addition to quality, brisket comes in different sizes and cuts. You won’t a “packer cut” ideally; this cut includes the flat lean cut plus the fatty point cut. Some stores will sell one or the other cut, but when the full packer is available choose it. Grass fed and grain fed will cook at different speeds.
  • Season with lots of coarse pepper and coarse salt. You really don’t need anything else or trickery. Trust the process. The big thing is to create a nice even layer on both sides.
  • Place the brisket in the smoker on either side. It’s mostly a personal preference. I like fat side down to get a little more of a crust with the fatty parts. I do however make sure I cook the fattiest portion (point cut) closest to the hottest part of my smoker with the thinner, flat cut facing away.
  • Temperature control varies by types of smoker, which makes it hard to give specific recipe directions for brisket. Ultimately you want to stay between 225-250 degrees F for the duration of the cooking. Cooking at too high temps will be problematic and leave you with tough, dry brisket. Likewise you don’t want to be constantly checking on the meat. Every time you open the lid the temperature drops. Good smokers or familiarity with your personal smokers allow you to set it (temp) and forget it which is ideal.
  • About 3-4 hours into smoking your brisket will undoubtedly hit the “stall.” The stall refers to a point in time when after a steady progressive increase in internal temps your brisket will literally stall at a certain temp for a few hours. Don’t panic as this is normal. Stay the course, trust the process.
  • Optional step: Keep butcher paper on hand to wrap your brisket along the way. This is like a cheat code to super moist brisket. You literally wrap the brisket tightly in the paper and then return it to the grill to finish cooking at 225 degrees F until the internal temps of the brisket reach about 200 degrees at the brisket’s thickest point. Butcher paper is nothing something I normally have on hand, so I just keep with the low and slow process and allow time and temp to break through the stall
  • Rest the brisket, like for an unusually long time, as in at least an hour, but longer if you have the time. I like to place my still wrapped brisket in a cooler topped with towels. The rest is critical as it allows all those juices to trickle into all the different parts of the meat’s interior.
  • Don’t slice the brisket until it has fully rested! If slicing a packer cut, split the point cut from the flat cut first and then slice each against their respective grains. Pay attention cause the grains go in different directions for the respective cuts.
  • Fuel matters so choose a high-quality source. Hardwoods like cherry, apple, oak, maple, and pecan are great choices. I avoid mesquite because it has such a strong flavor which is not a good thing with such a long cook time. If using charcoal go with a good lump coal option.
  • This recipe is for packer cut, but holds true for separate flat or point cuts if only one is available.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long should I smoke the brisket?

This is a tricky question since there are so many variables to account for. Size of brisket plus degree of temp control will factor in on smoking time. A good rule of thumb is to plan for an hour per pound. It’s not exact but it’ll get you close. The rest will just be experience and use of meat thermometer. Plan for anywhere between 12-18 total hours depending on all the different factors

What can I do with leftover brisket?

Brisket is a large cut of meat, so I typically have leftovers, which is the fun part. I like to cut up larger chunks of brisket and use to season collard greens cooked in an Instant Pot. I will also mix it into Fried Rice which makes it a main dish item. I add to my breakfast rotation as well in the form of Brisket Tex-Mex Migas.

How will I know when brisket is done?

Old school guys just know or do things like the tongs test where they lift the brisket from the middle with the tongs and eyeball the amount of bend. The easiest fail-safe way is just to use a meat thermometer, measuring at the thickest part. 200 – 205 degrees F is the goal.

How long can I let the brisket rest in a cooler?

I’ve cooked my brisket late at night and rested my brisket in a cooler for 8 hours. The tighter you pack the cooler, the easier it is to maintain temps for an extended period of time. I have a bunch of old towels that I stuff in the cooler.

For similar smoked recipes, try these:

Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

Smoked Pork Chops

Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

Smoked Whole Cauliflower

Smoked Cabbage Wedges

If you make this smoked beef brisket recipe or any other from the site, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.

smoked brisket on a cutting board

Smoked Beef Brisket

Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 16 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: BBQ
Servings: 14 people
Calories: 873kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Equipment

  • Smoker
  • Butcher Paper

Ingredients

  • 12 to 14 lb packer cut flat and point cuts beef brisket, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Combine the salt and freshly ground black pepper in a mixing bowl, then evenly season the brisket on all sides. Leave the brisket out to allow to reach room temperature
  • Prepare the smoker for indirect cooking. Bring the temperature to 250° F.
  • Place the brisket in the smoker with the fatty point tip closest to the heat. Leave the lid closed for 6 to 8 hours until dark brown bark is formed and the internal temperature is 165° F. Avoid peeking and leave the lid closed.
  • Remove the brisket from the smoker and wrap it tightly in butcher paper. Place it back in the smoker and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches between 200 and 205° F°.
  • Carefully transfer the wrapped brisket to a cooler. Top with old towels, close the lid and let it rest for at least 1 to 2 hours before slicing it.
  • To slice the brisket, separate the flat from the point cut. Slice both against their respective grains. Enjoy

Notes

  • Choose the highest-quality brisket you can afford. You don’t have to go all wagyu beef, unless you got it like that, but quality does matter. With quality you’re looking for marbling; the more the better. In addition to quality, brisket comes in different sizes and cuts. You won’t a “packer cut” ideally; this cut includes the flat lean cut plus the fatty point cut. Some stores will sell one or the other cut, but when the full packer is available choose it. Grass fed and grain fed will cook at different speeds.
  • Season with lots of coarse pepper and coarse salt. You really don’t need anything else or trickery. Trust the process. The big thing is to create a nice even layer on both sides.
  • Place the brisket in the smoker on either side. It’s mostly a personal preference. I like fat side down to get a little more of a crust with the fatty parts. I do however make sure I cook the fattiest portion (point cut) closest to the hottest part of my smoker with the thinner, flat cut facing away.
  • Temperature control varies by types of smoker, which makes it hard to give specific recipe directions for brisket. Ultimately you want to stay between 225-250 degrees F for the duration of the cooking. Cooking at too high temps will be problematic and leave you with tough, dry brisket. Likewise you don’t want to be constantly checking on the meat. Every time you open the lid the temperature drops. Good smokers or familiarity with your personal smokers allow you to set it (temp) and forget it which is ideal.
  • About 3-4 hours into smoking your brisket will undoubtedly hit the “stall.” The stall refers to a point in time when after a steady progressive increase in internal temps your brisket will literally stall at a certain temp for a few hours. Don’t panic as this is normal. Stay the course, trust the process.
  • Optional step: Keep butcher paper on hand to wrap your brisket along the way. This is like a cheat code to super moist brisket. You literally wrap the brisket tightly in the paper and then return it to the grill to finish cooking at 225 degrees F until the internal temps of the brisket reach about 200 degrees at the brisket’s thickest point. Butcher paper is nothing something I normally have on hand, so I just keep with the low and slow process and allow time and temp to break through the stall
  • Rest the brisket, like for an unusually long time, as in at least an hour, but longer if you have the time. I like to place my still wrapped brisket in a cooler topped with towels. The rest is critical as it allows all those juices to trickle into all the different parts of the meat’s interior.
  • Don’t slice the brisket until it has fully rested! If slicing a packer cut, split the point cut from the flat cut first and then slice each against their respective grains. Pay attention cause the grains go in different directions for the respective cuts.
  • Fuel matters so choose a high-quality source. Hard woods like cherry, apple, oak, maple, and pecan are great choices. I avoid mesquite because it has such a strong flavor which is not a good thing with such a long cook time. If using charcoal go with a good lump coal option.

Nutrition

Calories: 873kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 114g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 337mg | Sodium: 6091mg | Potassium: 1953mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 65IU | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 12mg
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The post “smokestack lightning” smoked beef brisket appeared first on Food Fidelity.



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