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Smoked Brisket

Ah smoked brisket. The holy grail of smoked meats. Here you'll learn our method to smoking an incredibly tender, moist brisket!

Smoking brisket isn't for the faint of heart. It's for those of us who are tenacious, and willing to try and try until we get something right. Hooo, boy, friends, did we ever get this one right.

The beauty is that once you get it dialled in and it's just right for your liking, you cannot stop waiting till the next time you smoke a brisket.

This is a LONG informative post, so if you're familiar with smoking brisket before, scroll on down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post. If you aren't BFFs with brisket, I hope the information in this post helps get you confident and ready to tackle this challenge!

This recipe is dedicated to smokin' a fatty. 😉

Scooping up the brisket with a big flipper. The brisket is bending.

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Tips + tricks

No. 1 --> This recipe calls for a packer brisket - this is the common way to describe a whole beef brisket. The brisket is comprised of 2 different muscles, seperated by a layer of fat. The flat - which is the long, lean, flat part. The point or deckle - a thicker, pointy muscle.

No. 2 --> Spend your time on the front end and trim that brisket! A good trim at the beginning of this process will improve the quality of your brisket.

No. 3 --> We're here for a long time - no for real. This recipe owes it's delicious tenderness to a long slow smoke at a low temperature and finishing at a higher temperature.

No. 4 --> Start your brisket the night before you intend to eat it. We usually account for an 18-24 hour smoke, depending on what size the brisket is, PLUS 1 + hour rest time. {allow ~ 1 1/2 hours per lb} If you start the brisket early and it ends early don't worry you need to give it a rest!

No. 5 --> Dedicate a towel to your smoking endeavours. We have a one-off bright blue beach towel that has some holes in it. We've assigned that one to be the "brisket towel". Trust me, you don't wanna wrap your body in a strangely meat scented towel after a shower.

Wide open smoker filled with a massive brisket.

Ingredients

The ingredient list on this one is short and sweet, but we are making our own rub, so it will seem more daunting than it is. You'll likely have most of that in the cupboard!

A finished brisket - it's dark brown/black and the rub has hardened.

How to trim

Kevy is the Chief Brisket Trimmer in this house. Here's how he does it:

  1. Freeze the brisket for an hour or two - this makes it a little easier to trim the fat!
  2. Starting with the fat cap upwards, make a test cut to see how deep the fat layer is. This will give you a good idea of how much you can trim off. Trim this soft fat to about 1/8"- 1/4" - most grill masters use a 1/4" but we prefer thinner as we feel it gives a better bark.
  3. Locate the hard fat - you'll know it's the hard fat because it's firm and waxy. You want to trim as much as possible, this fat doesn't render.
  4. Trim along the edge of the brisket where it was cut at the factory - this part is often oxidized.
  5. Flip your brisket over, and follow the same process on the other side - trim the soft fat to 1/8 - 1/4" and get rid of as much hard fat as you can.
  6. LOTS of people advocate trimming the brisket flat down prior to smoking but on this brisket, the flat was a good thick size, and I wanted to use that meat for smoked brisket chili!

How to make

  1. Start your smoker according to the manufacturer's directions. Line a baking sheet (or chafing pan) with tin foil, and place it underneath the rack where you'll place the brisket.
  2. Trim the brisket using the directions above, ensuring to get all the hard fat off and trim the soft fat to 1/8-1/4"
  3. Mix the rub in a medium-sized bowl, then generously spread it over the brisket, one side at a time. Patting to ensure it sticks and making sure to get all the edges, as well. You'll likely have extra rub, so it may be prudent to separate your rub into 2 bowls to avoid cross-contamination before using the rub - you can save the extra.
  4. Place your brisket on the smoker fat cap downward with the point facing the hottest part of your grill. There's a theory that fat cap down helps protect the beef from the heat coming from the firepot. We personally flip the brisket halfway through the smoke, but we place the brisket fat cap down to keep the rub/bark intact while the fat renders and drip in the pan we've placed below -> heck yes to easy clean up! If you've got a temperature probe, now is the time to insert it. We usually place it in the point.
  5. Smoke your brisket at 180f overnight. We usually start around 9 pm.
  6. Flip your brisket once it reaches ~150f. This usually takes 8-12 hours depending on the size of the brisket, it almost always lines up with when we wake up around 6 or 7 am.
  7. Turn up the heat - once you've flipped your brisket, increase the heat in your smoker to 225f. Be prepared for "the stall". I've found the stall always kicks in around 150-160f, so be ready for your brisket to hang at this temperature for a while.
  8. Smoke the brisket at 225f until it reaches an internal temperature between 195-205f. You'll know it's done when you poke the flat and the point with a toothpick or your temperature probe and it slides in and out without any resistance.
  9. Spritz the brisket every 45-60 minutes with root beer. Just a quick pop open the lid and spray all over and then close the lid. The root beer helps to set a nice, dark, bark and adds a little something to the flavour.
  10. Wrap your brisket in 2 layers of unwaxed butcher paper, then wrap it in a towel. Place the wrapped brisket into your cooler to rest.
  11. Unwrap your brisket, and start slicing! Pay attention to the grain of the meat. Slice it across the grain, and be aware that across the grain is perpendicular between the flat and the point.

Overnight?!

Good things come to those who wait. Same with briskets. Kevy and I believe in the low and slow method of brisket cooking. Getting the timing right can be a little tricky.

Here's what it looks like for us:

7PM - trim and rub the brisket. Place it in the fridge.
9PM - start the smoker to 180f. Remove the brisket from the fridge and place on the smoker, fat cap down.
6AM - internal temperature should be near 150f. Flip the brisket. Turn up the smoker temperature to 225f.
4-5PM - internal temperature should be around 195 - 205f. Test the doneness by poking the flat and point with your temperature probe or toothpick. It's done if there is no resistance. Wrap your brisket and put it in the cooler for a rest for 1+ hours.

Fully opened up butchers paper shwoing off a dark smoked brisket

"The Stall"

Don't worry, we're still talking about meat and not the beat up stick shift we all learned to drive on!

When it comes to a big hunk of meat, like briskets, they hit a stall. The stall happens when the temperature stops rising. The science behind it is basically that as the heat from your smoker evaporates the moisture in the meat, it cools the surface of the meat. Push me - pull you kind of thing!

Once the moisture has slowed/ stopped your brisket will leave the stall.

With a cook like this, where the goal is low + slow, we ride out the stall. With higher temperatures, the stall is shorter.

smoked brisket wrapped in butcher paper in a chafing pan.

Cooler? Rest?

One of the cool things I learned from the masters when we started smoking food was that most meat needs to rest after cooking. And not like the 5 minutes you leave your steak on your plate before you cut into it. Like a sincere, meaningful rest. The rest period makes for a more tender, juicy cut of meat.

Unfortunately, resting something for at least an hour means it loses a bunch of its temperature. The way around that is to wrap it, and throw it in a cooler. The same way a cooler keeps your beer cold, it will keep your meat hot!

This is beneficial if your brisket finishes cooking early too - you can rest your brisket up to 6 hours in the cooler and it will still come out piping hot!

Serve smoked brisket with:

Got leftovers?

One of my favourite things about brisket is that there are SOOO many leftovers.

Coarsely dice the flat and vacuum seal the chunks in 4 cup portions for leftover brisket chili.

Slice the point and save it in the freezer for nacho night. You haven't lived till you've had brisket nachos.

This smoked brisket recipe owes it's glory to the smoker. Here's the Traeger we own, love, and use extensively! The Timberline 1300 is the biggest, baddest Traeger we could find, it's double-walled for better insulation, and has 3 stainless steel racks for all your smoking needs, not to mention WiFire! You can get a Timberline from WILLIAMS SONOMA, or it's sister model the Ironwood from AMAZON.

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📖 Printable Recipe

Sliced smoked brisket.
Yield: 1

Smoked Brisket Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 hours
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 21 hours 30 minutes

Get in touch with your inner pitmaster and whip yourself up a smoked brisket. This recipe will walk you through how to smoke a brisket the low and slow way!

Ingredients

  • 16lb packer brisket

Rub ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons onion powder
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika

Spritz

  • 1 can of root beer

Instructions

  1. Pop your brisket in the freezer for an hour or so. This will harden the fat and make it easier to trim.
  2. Once the brisket is well chilled and the fat is nice and firm, remove it from the freezer, and start your smoker according to the manufacturer's directions - set to 180f.
  3. Trim the brisket with a sharp boning knife, removing most of the fat from the fat cap - leaving behind 1/8 - 1/4" of soft fat. Trim any and all hard fat - this is the waxy, firm fat. It will not render, and it will only take away from the finished product.
  4. Mix the rub in a medium-sized bowl, generously sprinkle rub onto the brisket, patting it down to ensure it "sticks".
  5. Place your brisket on the smoker, fat cap down, and insert your wireless temperature probe. Smoke overnight (8-12 hours) or until internal temperature reaches ~150f.
  6. Once the brisket has reached ~150f internal temperature, flip it over and increase the temperature of the smoker to 225f.
  7. While the brisket is finishing off at 225f, spritz it every 45 -60 minutes with root beer. This improves the flavour and texture of the bark.
  8. Continue smoking your brisket at 225f and spritzing until it reaches an internal temperature of 195 - 203f. You'll know it's ready when you insert the temperature probe or toothpick into the meat and it slides in and out without resistance.
  9. Once the brisket is done smoking, remove it from the grill and wrap it in 2 layers of uncoated peach butcher's paper. Then wrap in a towel. At this point, you can place it right into a small cooler, but we like to pop it into a cooler bag and then place it in the cooler.
  10. Leave your brisket in the cooler for at least 1 hour to rest but as many as 6 hours.
  11. After the 1 hour rest period, take the brisket out of all the wrapping and begin to slice with a large Granton blade knife. While slicing, be mindful of the grain of the meat. Slice it across the flat and then perpendicularly for the point.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

15

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1477Total Fat: 89gSaturated Fat: 35gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 42gCholesterol: 513mgSodium: 1935mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 140g

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