Imagine sitting at the dinner table with a slow-cooked beef brisket on your plate along with some corn. This mouthwatering dish can be considered as the best way to serve brisket. Some even consider it as the pinnacle of all smoked meats. But of course you’ll need to know how to smoke a brisket, right? That’s where we come in!
It’s so tender, it melts in your mouth. A perfectly-smoked brisket is juicy and full of flavor.
But, one thing to consider is that it’s not easy to smoke a brisket. This meat cut is not easy to master. It is particularly true when you try to smoke it.
It takes a lot of patience to make it into a delectably appetizing dish. You may opt to make corned beef or even braised beef out of this cut, but smoking it is probably the best way to cook it.
Despite this challenge, you shouldn’t be discouraged. Just keep your eye on your goal of making perfectly-smoked brisket at the end of the cooking process. But, before we continue, let’s take a look at this meat cut to understand more about it.
What is Brisket?
Brisket is the meat cut from the breast section of a cow. It is right under the first five ribs and behind the foreshank. While it is considered as among the least tender beef cuts, it can become soft and tender when it is smoked.
It is made of the pectoral muscles of a cow. These muscles support most of the weight of the animal. Due to this, it has a lot of connective tissue collagen. This makes the meat tough.
The brisket is normally long and is divided into two parts when it’s sold. These two parts are sold as separate pieces of meat.
The first half or cut is also called the flat or thin cut. It is the leaner part of the meat. On the other hand, the second half or cut is called the deckle or the point cut. It normally has more flavor since it has extra fat on it.
The first cut is normally used to make corned beef while the second cut is the one you would want to smoke. Its fat makes the meat juicier when you smoke it.
Smoking Brisket: 7 Steps
Now that you know some basic details about the brisket, let’s go through the steps to follow when you’re smoking a brisket.
#1: Selecting the Brisket
The first thing to do is to select the brisket you want to smoke and trim it. While people may opt to get a Wagyu brisket for smoking, you can simply ask your friendly, neighborhood butcher about the brisket you can smoke.
If you’re shy and would rather look for the brisket yourself, you should look for one with marbling. The more marbled the brisket the lesser the chances of getting dry brisket after it’s cooked. You will also notice it will be full of flavor.
#2: Trimming the Brisket
After finding the best brisket you can smoke, it’s time to trim off any excess fat. You should trim just enough fat to avoid getting a fatty taste after smoking while ensuring the brisket will not dry out during the process.
Your goal is to get to 1/4 inch of fat on the brisket. You may also want to trim it while it’s cold since it’s easier to do it. You should also take out the deckle since it will not render out while cooking.
Trim out the fat that is thinner compared to the rest. If you do not trim them, they will cook faster and burn.
You can also take into account areas in the meat than receive a lot of heat while in the smoker. It is advisable to leave more fat in these areas to protect the meat.
#3 Tip for How to Smoke Brisket: Applying the Rub
Once the brisket is properly trimmed, it’s time for you to apply the rub. Some people use rather complicated rubs on their brisket. They even use chili powder, paprika, and other spices to enhance the flavor of the brisket.
But if you’re still new, you can use a simple barbecue rub. You can make your own homemade spice rub or buy one from the store. What’s important is that you should cover the whole brisket with the rub.
While you may want to spread the spice rub all over the meat, you should avoid putting too much. You wouldn’t want to overpower the taste of the meat. Instead, you want to enhance it and add to its flavor.
After applying the rub, some people prefer to refrigerate the brisket for 12 hours to allow the rub to get into the meat. Others also allow the brisket to stay at room temperature for an hour before smoking it. Some people even put it inside the smoker immediately after applying the rub.
When to put the brisket into the smoker after applying the rub is determined mainly by personal preference. So, you decide when you want to start smoking the brisket.
#4: Preparing the Smoker
With the brisket trimmed and rubbed, you will now have to prepare your smoker. You should make sure it is set up correctly to ensure the brisket is cooked evenly. The drip pan with water should be properly positioned under the meat so the temperature is stabilized.
The temperature of the smoker should be between 225 degrees to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Putting the brisket on a foil tray will allow you to retain the juices.
When you put the brisket into the smoker, the fatty side should be facing up. You can also position it in such a way the fat is facing the heat to protect the meat from drying out.
#5: Smoking the Brisket
At this point, you will have to be patient since it takes a long time to ensure the brisket is cooked properly. While it’s long, it’s also easy since all you have to do is to wait.
Make sure to check the temperature and keep it stable. But, avoid opening the lid often since it will cause the smoker to lose heat. And it will take time to recover the heat the smoker lost. You should also make sure to control the temperature using the vents of the smoker.
Avoid choking off the oxygen too much since it will result in dirty fire. Dirty fire creates a thick, oily substance that can give the meat a bitter and over-smoked taste.
You may ask how long it takes to smoke a brisket. A good rule of thumb is to smoke every one pound of brisket for one hour and fifteen minutes.
While smoking brisket, you should be aware of a situation called the stall. This happens when the internal temperature of the brisket reaches around 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, the internal temperature has reached a plateau or the brisket tightens up and the moisture is squeezed out.
One thing you can do is to wait out the stall. Or you can wrap the brisket in heavy aluminum and put it back in the smoker. You can wait for the internal temperature of the meat to reach 185 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Check out our guide for more advice on this:
#6: Resting the Brisket
After the brisket is done, you should let it rest first. While resting, you can wrap the brisket with a foil or butcher paper. Allow it to rest for an hour.
Resting inside a foil or butcher paper allows the muscle fibers on the meat to relax. It also promotes the retention of moisture.
Some people allow the brisket to rest in a cooler. But, this actually depends on personal preference. What is important is that you allow it to rest for at least one hour.
#7: Slice the Brisket
Once the brisket is fully rested, you can unwrap it and slice it. You should slice against the grain on the flat side of the brisket until reaching the midpoint. After this, turn the brisket 90 degrees and slice against the grain again.
If you notice a good amount of juices coming out of the brisket, you can allow it to rest for a few more minutes. You should avoid scraping off the bark of the brisket. Using a 12-inch serrated knife will get the job done.
Consider serving with some delicious cowboy butter if you really want to take your smoked brisket to the next level. It’s the ultimate dipping sauce for all cuts of meat.
Things to Consider to Make Perfectly-Smoked Brisket
If you want to know how to smoke a brisket, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider. Here are the most important ones.
#1: Choose the Right Meat
The first thing you need to do is to make sure you choose the right meat to smoke. Choosing the right meat means you get a juicy and tender dish after smoking it.
In this regard, you should look for the packer cuts, which is the large two-muscle cut of the meat with an intact fat cap. This strip of fat keeps the brisket moist during the cooking process.
You may want to make sure the fat cap is at most 1/3 of an inch thick. Anything thicker than this would have to be trimmed.
Additionally, you may also want to get brisket with good marbling. This is the layer of fat and collagen in the middle of the meat.
#2: Manage the Temperature
It is important to make sure you control the temperature of the smoker. You should avoid temperature spikes, which can have a significant effect on the smoking process.
With this in mind, you may find it easier to smoke brisket using an electric smoker with a built-in thermostat. This makes it easier for you to monitor and ensure consistent temperature throughout the smoking process.
#3 Tip for How to Smoke a Brisket: Cook for Doneness
The cooking time for a smoked brisket it between 12 to 20 hours. You should keep in mind that some factors may affect the length of time it takes to finish smoking the meat.
These factors include the ambient temperature of the place where you positioned the smoker, the size of the brisket, and the way you’re managing the fire. The temperature may only be used as a guide rather than a rule for knowing when the brisket is cooked.
Of course, results will vary depending on which smoker you use which is why we like to recommend the Masterbuilt Electric Smoker which will give you excellent results every single time.
With this, you should cook the brisket until it’s done and not base it mainly on time.
If you like smoked meat, then you’ll also want to check out our favourite smoked beef jerky recipe.
How to Smoke a Brisket: Have your Say
Smoking a brisket is not an easy task, but once you’ve mastered the art, everything will be easy-peasy. Do you have any tips or advice for smoking brisket? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
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