If you’ve ever had a smoked brisket then you know how mouth-watering and juicy they are. But if you’ve never smoked one before, we understand how intimidating it can be to purchase a huge, expensive brisket and invest all the time required for a delicious brisket.
This recipe is sweet and simple. All you need is salt and pepper, a good cut of brisket and time.
Tools Needed to Smoke Brisket
We recommend a few tools to make the process a bit easier on it. Some are essential and some are optional.
A smoker. We recommend the YS640 (Yoder Smoker) which we carry in house. But as long as your smoker can carry a steady temperature of 225 degrees F, it’ll work great!
- Meat Thermometer. Makes the job a whole lot easier! We love the Meatstick–one, the name says it all and two, this wireless thermometer connects to your phone making monitoring temperatures a breeze.
- Butcher Paper - You can always use foil, but the butcher paper really kicks the flavour up a notch. We carry the Yoder Smoker Butcher Paper and highly recommend it.
- Chef’s Knife. A key tool in any chef’s kitchen, ensure this one’s sharp for slicing your brisket.
- Large Cutting Board. Grab a Louisiana Cutting Board in house. We love this one as they have that beautiful lip around the edge to catch your runoffs and extras, plus, they’re large enough to handle your meat–that last part is key.
Before we get Started
The full recipe is at the end of this post, but before that, we’d like to get knees deep in some key points to help you along in this process. It’s not a hard process, but one that takes patience and time. From trimming, to seasoning, smoking and resting–each step plays a crucial role in the final brisket.
How to Smoke a Brisket
Selecting your Brisket & knowing how much to buy.
Pay attention to your meat grade. Purchasing a whole packer brisket with both the point and flat muscle included (the fatty is the point and the lean is the flat) is important. Prime Beef will have more fat marbling and thus more flavour and juiciness than a choice graded brisket. Typically you purchase ½ lb (or more) of brisket per person you are serving.
Trim the Brisket
This is key for influencing how the final product will turn out. On average it takes us 20-30 minutes to trim properly so give yourself time. This has nuances and you can google different methods. Essentially you want to trim the fat so that you get an even smoke. Not all the fat has to be removed as it will cook down and add flavour to the final, but too much of it stops us from getting that bark on top or a full cook.
Season your Brisket
Traditional Texan brisket is pure and simple: coarse salt and black pepper. Our twist is adding in garlic powder to add to the flavour, but that’s really up to the pit boss.
You’re going to get the most out of your brisket if you use real hardwood like oak. One with a bit of flavour, like cherry, will help influence the flavour of the smoked brisket. Flavour is really up to you. Just ensure your heat is consistent and you see that steady flow of thin blue smoke.
Wrap the Brisket
Don’t skip this step! You can use foil if that’s all you have, but the butcher’s paper will seriously assist in creating that super juicy tender brisket with that dark, caramelised bark we’re after.
Wrap the brisket like a present, folding edge over edge until it’s fully sealed. Place the brisket on your smoker, folded edges down and keep smoking at 225 degrees F until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 202 degrees F at the thickest part (make sure your thermometer is in the meat and not the fat).
Rest your Smoked Brisket
DO NOT MISS THIS CRUCIAL STEP! You need to let it rest for a minimum of an hour so that those hot and bubbly juices can set into and across the meat. It also helps bring the temperature of the brisket down to happy slicing and serving temperature.
Slice your Smoked Brisket
Again, some debate the best way to do this and reading up on it is helpful. The key is to slice your smoked brisket against the grain for maximum tenderness but be mindful of the two different grain directions. Most Texans (and pit bosses) will locate where two points overlap the flat and split it down the middle there. Then turn it 90 degrees and slice it that way but finish slicing the flat the opposite way. Some pieces won’t be perfect, but this works so most pieces get some bark on them.
Serve up your deliciously smoked Brisket
Traditionally served with lots of pickles, white bread, red onions, pickled jalapenos and sauce on the side! Make sure to tell guests which pieces are fatty and which is lean. The lean will have more of that amazing smoke flavour but both are delicious!
How long should you smoke a brisket?
Like most cooking, this is an art and not a science. It really is part of the beauty of BBQing. But here are some good guidelines and insights.
Phase 1: Smoking
Initial smokes should hold for 8 hours at 225 degrees F for a 12-13 lb brisket to reach 165 degrees F internally.
Every brisket enters a stall phase. This is where your brisket sits between 145 degrees F to 165 degrees F where the liquid evaporating from the surface of the brisket cools while your grill is trying to cook it. The stall time varies for every brisket you cook and is why a thermometer is helpful to get it right.
Phase 2: Wrapped in Butcher Paper
This can take between 5-8 hours. We like to plan an extra 2 hours for each brisket. If it’s done early, we place it in a cooler and allow it to rest for a while.
Plan for 12-18 hours to fully cook your brisket, from initial smoke to 165 degrees F to the wrapped smoke of your meat up to the full 202 degrees F.
The Yoder Smoker YS640 allows you to monitor your smoke from your phone so if you need to run errands or be tied to your work desk, you can still get it done on time.
Check out our run-down of the full Yoder Family below and see which model might be the right fit for you.
Tips for the Best Smoked Beef Brisket
- Mix your spices ahead of time. Toss the spices in an old spice shaker or bowl and then hold them about 2 feet above your brisket to get an even layer of seasoning.
- Cook either side up! Some argue about whether you should cook the brisket fat side up or down but we’ve never found that it’s made a difference in the end.
- Rest is essential. That brisket is a happy camper just resting for at least one hour on butcher paper on a cutting board or baking sheet. If you’re resting it for longer than one hour, you can use a dedicated brisket towel as an insulated cooler (they can hold up to 6 hours this way and come out perfect every time!).
And now for the recipe:
Simple Texan-Style Smoked brisket
- ▢ 1 12-14 pound whole packer brisket
- ▢ 2 Tablespoons coarse Kosher salt
- ▢ 2 Tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
- ▢ 2 Tablespoons garlic powder (optional)
1. Store your brisket in the refrigerator until you are ready to start trimming. Cold briskets are much easier to work with. Flip your brisket over so the point end is underneath. Remove any silver skin or excess fat from the flat muscle. Trim down the large crescent moon shaped fat section until it is a smooth transition between the point and the flat. Trim any excessive or loose meat and fat from the point. Square the edges and ends of the flat. Flip the brisket over and trim the top fat cap to about 1/4 of an inch thickness across the surface of the brisket.
2. In a mixing bowl or empty spice container, mix the salt, pepper, and garlic. Share over the brisket to evenly distribute the spices on all sides.
3. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F using indirect heat and hardwood smoke. Place the brisket on the smoker with the point end facing your main heat source. This is a thicker part of the brisket and it can handle the additional heat. Close the lid and smoke until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees F (usually takes around 8 hours).
4. On a large work surface, roll out a big piece of butcher paper (or foil) and centre your brisket in the middle. Wrap the brisket by folding edge over edge, creating a leak proof seal all the way around. Return the wrapped brisket to the smoker, seam side down so the weight from the brisket crimps the edges of the paper wrap down tight.
5. Close the lid on the smoker and, maintaining 225 degrees F, continue cooking until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 202 degrees F in the thickest part of the meat (takes anywhere from 5-8 hours).
- 6. Remove the brisket to a large cutting board and allow to rest for 1 hour before slicing. Slice both the point and the flat against the grain with a sharp knife and serve immediately.
Enjoy the beauty and art of smoking your brisket and let us know how it goes. We're sure you're going to have everyone at the table asking for seconds!