Even seasoned barbecuers can find themselves unclear about the right smoker recipe for brisket. It actually isn’t that difficult to do but the thing that often puts people off is the main ingredient: time.
To get that lovely flaky slow-cooked texture and taste we are going to need a lot of time smoking it low and slow.
This smoker recipe for Brisket is done in a straightforward Texan style, but be warned. This is probably going to be a weekend or holiday activity because you could be smoking for up to 10 hours, depending on the size of your brisket.
Some even say 16-18 hours.
To keep things straightforward, we are going to smoke at 120°C or 250°F aiming at 1 hour of cooking time per pound (or 0.45kg) of meat. So an 8 pound brisket will take 8 hours. A 10 pound one will take, yes you guessed it, 10 hours.
How to Choose Your Brisket
We went into choosing your beef in some detail in our article ‘Prime Rib in a Smoker Recipe,’ so we’ll just give you the gist here.
It’s best to use your local butcher and ask a few questions about where the meat came from and what it was fed on. The better the life the cow had, the better your quality of meat will be.
If you go to your local butcher you can also get a good look at the meat because it’s not ready packaged. Furthermore you can save yourself a bit of work by asking your butcher to trim off some of the excess fat on your brisket.
Brisket comes from the breast area of the cow and and is tough and fatty. Fat is overall a good thing but we don’t want excess fat which won’t render down for us in the cooking process.
In terms of the weight of the brisket, aim for about 1 pound (or 0.45kg) of meat per person you are feeding, so get a 10 pound brisket for 10 guests at your barbecue.
Smoker Recipe For Brisket Step 1 – Prepare Your Brisket
If you haven’t already got your butcher to do it, use a paring knife to remove any excess fat from your brisket.
We are now going to prepare a fairly simple dry rub for your brisket. You may want to buy a dry rub and if you do we have a couple of favourites below.
Some ‘purists,’ make a dry rub from just freshly ground salt and pepper to put over their brisket. We are going to add a little more spice to this.
We are going to make a very simple Texan style dry rub which will not overpower the taste of the smoked beef. We prefer not to add sugar (some do) and prefer a nice savoury dry rub.
Simply add these spices together in a bowl and mix together
- 1 tbsp of sea salt (a little more if you have a bigger brisket)
- 1 tbsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper (or mild chilli powder)
- 2 tsp of sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tbsp garlic powder – Optional (we like but it’s not so Texan)
Now you can rub your spices all over your beef, using your hands and getting it into every bit of the brisket you can.
Some like to brine the beef first to ensure moisture in the meat. You can do this if you like by covering it with water and adding salt, and leaving it in the fridge overnight.
We are going to keep the moisture in our brisket by using a classic method, called the Texas Crutch which involves wrapping our brisket in foil or preferably Butcher’s Paper for the middle part of the cook.
This will also help us avoid what’s called the ‘stall,’ where the internal temperature of the brisket literally ‘stalls’ your cook by going down and not up. This can last for hours and extend your cooking time unnecessarily.
The stall is avoided by wrapping the meat which also helps maintain moisture in the brisket.
Butcher’s paper is better for retaining the right balance of heat and moisture, and insulation but tinfoil will do. If you are in the UK have a look here if you need to get some on Amazon.
Smoker Recipe For Brisket Step 2 – Light Your Smoker
Whether you are using a BBQ or Smoker you’ll need to get it up to 120°C or 250°F. We recommend using high quality restaurant charcoal so that the coals will take and maintain the heat. Otherwise you are going to be constantly refuelling with the poorer quality stuff that won’t burn properly.
Cooking with hickory wood chips is also a classic way to do beef brisket, but you can also try apple or cherry wood for a subtler and more fruity flavour.
Smoker Recipe For Brisket Step 3 – Smoking Your Brisket
You will need to check the temperature of your smoker or BBQ every so often to make sure it’s at a steady 120°C or 250°F throughout your cooking time. Depending on your smoker/BBQ you may need to refuel every 50-60minutes.
We are going to smoke the brisket directly on the grills uncovered and away from direct heat (don’t let the flames burn it by placing it away from the open flames) until the internal temperature reaches 145°F to 175°F or 63°C to 80°C.
We recommend letting your brisket stall for a while before wrapping, and experience has shown us that wrapping when you reach 165°F or 74°C or so is best.
You’ll need a meat thermometer for this, and as ever we cook to internal temperature rather than time. Every time you smoke a brisket the stall come at a different time (typically a few hours in) but the only way to be sure is to cook to the internal temperature of the brisket.
Once you reach this temperature wrap your brisket in the Butcher’s paper or foil and return it to the smoker. Make sure you wrap it tightly for insulation, and be sure to add a little liquid – apple juice, cider, beer or even a shot of bourbon are all options here.
Now you can cook to an internal temperature of 203°F or 95°C. At this point some people like to take the brisket off the grills to rest.
We prefer to take the paper/foil off and cook it for a further half an hour or so to ensure a crispy bark on the outside of your brisket. We’ve waited this long, why not wait a little longer to make sure the brisket is the best it can be?
Once you are happy that the brisket cooked to your liking, you can wrap it up in the paper or foil again to rest for around 30minutes-1hour. Don’t worry it won’t get cold.
Smoker Recipe For Brisket Step 4 – Carve and Serve
All that’s left to do now is carve and serve.
Use a fork and sharp knife to carve your brisket into thin slices. You need to make sure to carve against the grain as this will help keep it moist and tender.
The grain is the direction that the lines of muscle run in. You could think of them as elastic bands running across the meat.
Now you can serve your knockout smoked brisket with the accompaniments of your choice – corn on the cob, mashed potato, fries, dips or bbq sauce, barbecue grilled vegetables the list goes on and on.
Your guests may think you have secret cooking powers.
If you liked this post try our ‘Smoked Chuck Roast or Pulled Beef,’ article.
You could also check out another great article on Smoker Recipe For Brisket here: