Best Smoked Brisket Recipe
How to Smoke a Brisket – A foolproof recipe for serious beef brisket lovers. Our step-by-step instructions, tips for getting the right temp, and the best brisket hack will help you make the most mouthwateringly tender and flavorful smoked brisket of your dreams!
The way I see it, there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who love beef brisket, and people who REALLY LOVE beef brisket. And I’m going to go ahead and tell you upfront that this Smoked Brisket Recipe is for serious fans.
When a bit short on time we usually prepare our Texas Style Oven Brisket recipe. It doesn’t take quite as long as the traditional smoking method, but still makes a mighty fine piece of beef that is full of flavor. However, if you want the real deal 24-hour smoked brisket that comes out incredibly tender with that deep, rich smoky flavor, well you’ve come to the right place!
This Smoked Beef Brisket recipe is for people who: A) have some sort of smoker, charcoal or electric, and B) are serious enough about their meat to take the time to dry brine and slow smoke a brisket. It’s a commitment, for sure… financially, in time, and attention. Yet there’s nothing quite like a dry-rubbed Texas-style beef brisket with a pink smoke ring and the perfect stretch.
Why this is The Best Smoked Brisket Recipe
What makes a perfect beef brisket? You want a firm and crisp bark (more on this below), a pronounced pink smoke ring underneath the bark, even smoky flavor throughout the meat, and a good stretch in the brisket slices.
And we’ve got the steps, tricks, and a secret hack for making sure every box is checked! Here we share tips on how to properly trim the beef and prepare a fantastic dry rub seasoning, get just the right smoked brisket temp, info on the essential resting process, and how to thoughtfully slice pieces for the most satisfying texture. Plus we discuss what to serve with beef brisket for the ultimate southern experience!
Equipment You Need
Let’s first discuss what equipment is necessary to properly prepare this smoked brisket recipe. You need…
- a charcoal or electric smoker
- good quality charcoal and wood
- a probe meat thermometer with an alarm
- pink butcher paper (or foil) and kitchen twine
- spices (see below)
- rimmed baking sheets
- large cutting board
- sharp chef’s knife.
The type of wood you use for smoking is a matter of preference… Typically hickory, mesquite, pecan, cherry, and apple are used for beef brisket. Some people even like to blend them!
Smoked Brisket Ingredients
Obviously, the star of this Best Smoked Brisket recipe is a quality piece of beef. Most of the time what you see at the grocery store meat department are pieces of flat brisket or corn beef brisket. Corned beef brisket is heavily seasoned and not at all what we’re looking for to make this style of smoked brisket recipe.
What you want is a whole 12 to 14 pound “Packers” brisket that includes both the flat end and the point. Ask your butcher for this… And then here’s our first tip: ask him to trim it for you! You want to trim off as much fat as possible so that the brisket dry rub can actually rest on the surface of the beef.
Speaking of Dry Rub: Besides the beef itself, the only other ingredients you need are seasonings. The most simple version of a brisket dry rub would be simply salt and pepper. However, we believe adding a little sugar and extra seasoning is a good thing!
Our favorite beef brisket dry rub consists of salt, sugar, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and a little cayenne if desired. This helps create the famous brisket bark on the outside.
How to Make the Best Smoked Brisket Recipe
Step #1 – Trim the Brisket
Most people believe that if you leave a good fat layer on meat that it will melt and the fat will soften the meat as it cooks. However, if you think about this from the standpoint of oil mixing with water, it doesn’t actually work that way. Therefore it’s best to thoroughly trim the fatty layer off the outside of the brisket.
Again, you can (and should!) have the butcher do this for you, or get a sharp knife and get after it. Make sure to take the fatty layer off of both sides, including the thin silver skin membrane.
Step #2 – Dry Brine the Brisket
What is a dry beef brisket brine? Dry brining is simply rubbing the beef brisket with a salt-heavy spice blend and letting it sit overnight. This allows the salty dry rub time to fully penetrate the meat and season it internally. Don’t skip this step. The salt also helps hold in the moisture so there’s no need to inject beef broth into the brisket. A good dry brine makes sure the proper internal smoked brisket temp can be reached without over-charring the outside.
How to Dry Brine the Brisket: In a small bowl mix all the seasonings together. Place the trimmed brisket on a large rimmed baking sheet. Then use your hands to rub the dry brine seasoning evenly over the entire surface of the brisket. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight, 8-12 hours.
Get the Complete (Printable) Best Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!
Step #3 – Prep the Smoker
Whether you are using a charcoal smoker or an electric smoking cabinet, prep the smoker with the necessary charcoal and soaked wood chips, or wood smoking pellets. Bring the temperature to 225°
This is where electric smokers come in handy! They keep the heat consistent and help you achieve the correct smoked brisket temp, without needing to babysit the smoker as much. I find that you can get amazing results from an electric smoker, with usually several hours less cooking time than a charcoal smoker.
Here’s another great tip: If you don’t have a charcoal or electric smoker or you can actually set up a gas or charcoal grill as a smoker!
Step #4 – Smoke Unwrapped
Next, move the brisket into the smoker and remove the baking sheet. Insert a meat thermometer probe into the center of the thickest part of the brisket. Close the cabinet and set the alarm to 150°.
Step #5 – Smoke Wrapped in Paper
Once the alarm goes off, the smoked brisket temperature should be at 150°. Use pink butcher paper (or heavy-duty foil) to tightly wrap the brisket. You can use kitchen twine if needed to keep it secure. Or you may find you want to use two layers of paper or foil. Place the brisket back on the smoker and insert the meat thermometer once again.
Close the smoker and set the alarm to 195°. Note: When the smoker hits 195° go ahead and preheat your oven to 225° to create a “faux cambro” AKA a hotbox for cooling. More on this below!
Why 150 Degrees? This is the temperature where a brisket usually stalls… The brisket might stay at this temperature for hours (if not wrapped) before the internal temperature continues to rise. Yet at 150, the brisket has had plenty of time to absorb smoky flavor and create a pink smoke ring.
Why the Pink Butcher Paper? Many home smoke aficionados will tell you to wrap the brisket in foil. However, this causes the brisket to steam and negatively affects the texture of the bark. Using pink butcher paper will help the internal temperature to continue rising while allowing steam to escape. Just make sure to wrap your brisket well!
Step #6 – The Wobble Test
Once the brisket reaches 195° to 200°, remove it from the smoker. Unwrap the brisket and poke it on the thickest end to see if it wobbles or jiggles. If it does not, it may not have reached the proper interior temperature.
However, if it jiggles it’s ready!
Step #7 – Let the Smoked Brisket Rest
Allowing the beef brisket to rest before slicing is absolutely essential! I know it’s going to be hard to not dive right into that tender, smoky meat. But trust me, it is well worth the wait for the perfect texture and taste.
The Best Faux Cambro Brisket Rest Method: Remove the wrappings, and place the unwrapped brisket on a rimmed baking sheet. Remember, you should have turned the oven to 225° when the smoked brisket temp hit 195°.
Place the unwrapped beef in the warm oven, then turn the oven OFF. This will allow the brisket temperature to come down slowly, as well as firming up the brisket bark on the outside. Once the temperature comes down to 150°, it is safe to slice the brisket. Do not slice the brisket any earlier than one hour after it comes off the smoker.
What is smoked beef brisket bark? The brisket “bark“ is formed by smoking a dry-rubbed brisket, unwrapped, in a smoking cabinet or chamber. This tightens the exterior of the meat and creates a thick spice-rubbed crusty layer. There is also a lovely pink ring of smoke flavor underneath. Once you wrap the smoked brisket to keep the temp rising, the bark will soften. But don’t worry! As you cool the brisket in the oven and open-air, the bark will tighten up again.
When and How to Properly Slice a Smoked Brisket
Keep in mind that brisket is a leaner and dryer cut of beef. Therefore, it is best to cut it immediately before serving. If your brisket comes off the smoker and you’ve let it cool and dry in the oven for an hour, and you don’t plan to eat for another couple hours, just let it sit in the oven and do not pre-slice it. If you ever go to a Texas roadside barbecue stand, you’ll notice they cut the brisket to order, to keep it as moist as possible.
There are all sorts of methods for slicing a brisket “the right way;” however, the easiest method is to cut off about 2 to 2 1/2 inches on the thin end. Again, this should be used for chopped brisket sandwiches or burnt ends.
Here’s a super handy diagram for how to cut a smoked beef brisket!
When you are ready to serve the brisket, and not a moment before, place the brisket on a large cutting board. Cut 2 or 2 1/2 inches off of the thin end. Again, save this tough portion for chopped brisket or burnt ends.
Then slice the brisket thinly against the grain about 1/3 of the way into the brisket. At this point, cut the remaining 2/3 of the best brisket in half. Turn the middle portion perpendicular to the first section and cut against the grain.
Sometimes it helps to cut the section and two large pieces to make it easier to slice. Then cut the last section on the thickest end of the brisket the same direction as the first section.
Best Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe Tip: When in doubt, look for the grain, and cut against it.
And Now… The Best Smoked Brisket Hack!
Now that we’ve discussed staying attentive to your smoker all day long, let’s discuss a smoked brisket hack that can make this process so much easier!
Ok, so the truth about smoking any piece of meat is that it is going to absorb all the smoked flavor that it can take on, within the first 30 minutes to 60 minutes.
That means, after the first hour it technically no longer has to be left on the smoker to cook. You can actually turn your smoker off and transfer the brisket to at 225° oven for the remaining cook time. This offers several perks…
- You’re saving expensive wood pellets if you are cooking on an electric smoker.
- You don’t have to babysit the heat as much as using a charcoal smoker.
- You usually have a much more consistent heat in the oven, than on an electric or charcoal smoker.
- Most modern ovens come with temperature probes so that your oven will alert you when it’s time to wrap the meat, and then again stop cooking.
Seriously, you will be amazed at how much flavor is infused into the meat in just the first hour of smoking. Plus, you still get that beautiful pink smoke ring!
Just make sure once you transfer the brisket to the oven, you still follow the instructions according to internal temperature and wrapping.
What to Serve With Smoked Beef Brisket
Those that are serious about Texas barbecue would tell you, you should serve the brisket as-is, dry rub only, no sauce. However, the rest of America and most of the world loves a good sauce on barbecued meat. Choose whichever serving style you prefer!
You can serve chopped or sliced beef brisket as a main dish protein or on rolls. Feel free to enjoy the brisket dry with spicy mustard and sweet bread and butter pickles (my personal fave), or with your favorite tomato-based barbecue sauce.
Serve with all your favorite classic southern sides like corn pudding, macaroni salad, broccoli salad, potato salad, baked beans… The options of what to enjoy with homemade Smoked Beef Brisket are nearly endless!
Smoked Beef Brisket will keep well for up to 5 days. Transfer the sliced and cooled pieces to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator, and either reheat or enjoy cold.
You can also freeze brisket, either whole before slicing or after it has been sliced! Either way, place the beef in a freezer-safe zipper bag and wrap it in a layer of foil. Then keep in the freezer for up to 12 months for a whole unsliced brisket, or 6 months if you freeze smoked brisket slices.
Looking for More Delicious Beef Recipes?
- Honey Garlic Beef Tenderloin Recipe
- Mom’s Best Beef Pot Roast
- Best Smoked Prime Rib with Aus Jus Recipe
- Crock Pot Brisket Sandwiches
- Easy Baked Corn Beef and Cabbage in the Oven
Best Smoked Brisket Recipe + VIDEO
- Trim the Brisket: Either ask your butcher to trim the fat off your Packers brisket, or use a sharp knife to trim most of the fat off the top and bottom of the brisket, including the silver skin membrane. The less fat on the brisket, the better the dry brine can season the meat.
- Dry Brine the Brisket: In a small bowl mix all the seasonings together. Place the trimmed brisket on a large rimmed baking sheet. Then use your hands to rub the dry brine seasoning over the entire surface of the brisket. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight, 8-12 hours.
- Prep the Smoker: Whether you are using a charcoal smoker or an electric smoking cabinet, prep the smoker with the necessary charcoal and soaked wood chips, or wood smoking pellets, and bring the temperature to 225°
- Smoke Unwrapped: Move the brisket into the smoker and remove the baking sheet. Insert a meat thermometer probe into the center of the thickest part of the brisket. Close the cabinet and set the alarm to 150°.
- Wrap and Smoke: Once the timer goes off, use pink butcher paper (or heavy-duty foil) to tightly wrap the brisket. Use kitchen twine if needed to keep it secure. You may find you want to use two layers of paper or foil. Place the brisket back on the smoker and insert the meat thermometer once again. Close the smoker and set the alarm to 195°. *When the smoker hits 195° preheat your oven to 225° to create a “faux cambro” AKA a hotbox for cooling.
- Wobble Test: Once the brisket reaches 195° to 200°, removed it from the smoker. Unwrap the brisket and poke it on the thickest end to see if it wobbles or jiggles. If it does not, it may not have reached the proper interior temperature. However, if it jiggles it’s ready!
- Faux Cambro Brisket Rest: Remove the wrappings, and place the unwrapped brisket on a rimmed baking sheet. Place it in the warm oven, then turn the oven OFF. This will allow the brisket temperature to come down slowly, as well as firming up the brisket bark on the outside. Once the temperature comes down to 150°, it is safe to slice the brisket. Do not slice the brisket any earlier than one hour after it comes off the smoker.
- Brisket Slicing: When you are ready to serve the brisket, and not a moment before, place the brisket on a large cutting board. Cut 2 or 2 1/2 inches off of the thin end. Save this tough portion for chopped brisket or burnt ends. Then slice the brisket thinly against the grain about 1/3 of the way into the brisket. At this point, cut the remaining 2/3 of the rest of the brisket in half. Turn the middle portion perpendicular to the first section and cut against the grain. Sometimes it helps to cut the section and two large pieces to make it easier to slice. Then cut the last section, on the thickest end of the brisket, the same direction as the first section. When in doubt, look for the grain, and cut against it.
- Serve immediately with sweet pickles, spicy mustard, or Texas-style barbecue sauce.
Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!