Whether you've been inspired by Texas pitmaster Aaron Franklin, you've read about Camp Brisket, or you want to try it out for your next tailgate, there comes a time when everyone learns how to smoke a brisket. A good brisket recipe can be passed down from generation to generation, and the best Central Texas brisket uses simple ingredients, like salt and black pepper for a tender brisket. But it takes some time to master all you need to know, including how to choose the perfect brisket and how long to smoke the meat.
Brisket has earned a reputation for being unforgiving for the amateur cook. Unlike a steak, brisket requires a lot of time to convert the connective tissue into smokey goodness. While braised brisket or corned beef are both common ways methods, traditional low and slow barbecue is hands down the best way to prepare your smoked beef brisket. While a good smoked brisket recipe is important, it's more important to know how long to smoke brisket. The cooking process can't be rushed and is what provides that smoke flavor, especially if you use a pellet grill with hickory wood chips.
So how do you get that perfect smoked brisket in your own backyard? You do as the professionals over at Smoked BBQ Source do.
6 Steps to Know How Long to Smoke a Brisket
If you're new to barbecue, smoking a whole brisket can be intimidating. From knowing what to look for when selecting the brisket, to trimming, how long to smoke the brisket, wrapping, and finally resting and slicing there's a lot you need to get right. That's why this barbecue brisket checklist from Smoked BBQ Source will become your new brisket guide with six easy-to-understand steps.
First, choose your piece of meat wisely. The best brisket has about a 1/4 inch fat on it with some marbling; if there's excess fat, trim it off some. If you have a fat side to the meat, put that over the highest heat so that the fat cap will protect the meat.
Second, use a flavorful brisket rub, but go easy on it. You want the flavor of the meat to stand out. If this is your first brisket, try a kosher salt and black pepper rub recipe to start.
Next, make sure your smoker is set up correctly. Get your cooker to the right temperature and make sure you have a water pan set up to keep moisture in the chamber. Choose your type of wood chunks to put in the firebox carefully; use a dry wood. If you're set on making authentic Texas-style brisket, use mesquite wood.
It takes about an hour of cooking time per pound brisket. If the meat starts to look dry, you can add moisture with a spray bottle of apple juice or apple cider vinegar.
If you don't yet have a meat thermometer (we love this instant-read thermometer), smoking brisket is the best excuse to make the purchase. Checking the internal temperature of your brisket is key until you learn what time and temperature is perfect to get that smoke ring while indirect cooking.
Don't check too much while the brisket cooks. If you need to speed things up, you can wrap the brisket in aluminum foil (but be prepared to argue about that choice with other cooks).
Once the meat is done, let it rest for at least an hour, then slice it on a cutting board. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce. On the off chance that you have any leftover brisket, it will keep in the refrigerator for about three days.
The 3 Things to Remember About Great Brisket
1. Give yourself plenty of time.
While the actual cook time varies with each brisket, you should allow at least 1 hour and 15 mins per pound of brisket when the cooking temperature is set to 250°F.
2. Get your gear ready.
Nothing beats the taste of brisket cooked over a charcoal grill, but any type of electric smoker or pellet grill can get the job done. This guide shows you how setup a gas or kettle-style grill for smoking.
3. Allow plenty of time to rest.
After hours of waiting, you're probably dying to start eating. But it's important leave brisket so the fibers can relax. Wrap it in foil or butcher paper, then a towel and place in a cooler for a few hours and then slice it just before you are ready to eat. This will give you plenty of time to work on your sides and sauces.
For sides, you can't go wrong with Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese, Skillet Cornbread and Jamaican Cabbage Slaw. And if you need some great brisket recipes, we've rounded up a few here for you. Check out our Southwestern Braised Brisket, Coca-cola Brisket and Slow Cooker Mustard Beef Brisket.
Don't forget to get a fork thermometer! Just stick it in your brisket for a quick temperature reading.
This article was originally published on April 26, 2019.