It’s finally time. I’ve been wanting to share this one for a while now…the big BBQ daddy of them all: smoked brisket! When I think of BBQing and smoking food, brisket is one of the first meats that I think of. It’s one of the most well known BBQ meats and is almost guaranteed to be on the menu at any BBQ joint. It’s tender, juicy, delicious, and honestly pretty simple to pull off. The only caveat is that it’s definitely time consuming. But most BBQ meats are and they’re totally worth it!
Seasoning a brisket
Fun fact – a brisket was the first meat I made when developing our Open Fire BBQ Rub. Let me tell you, it’s become my favorite way to season a brisket and is how we season it with this recipe. If you happen to not have our awesome Open Fire BBQ Rub (yet), then something as simple as just salt and pepper also works great! Get creative and season however you would like. Just make sure to generously season every inch of the brisket. A brisket is big and can easily take a lot of seasoning.
A brisket is no different from any other meat that you’re going to smoke. You’ll want your smoker to stabilize at a temperature of around 250ºF – 275ºF. Once stabilized, add the smoking wood of your choice. Toss that brisket on the smoker and it’s time to be patient. How patient you ask? Well there are a couple of options.
- You could leave the brisket as is (uncovered/unwrapped) for the entire cook. The only thing with this option is that it’s going to take a long time to finish. Depending on how big the brisket is, that could be 15+ hours (smaller ones won’t take this long).
- If you don’t have that type of patience, there is a solution! When a large cut of meat (ex: brisket or pork butt) is smoking, it’s going to stall around 155ºF-165ºF internal temperature. This means it could cook for hours without the internal temperature increasing. In order to defeat this stall, all that you need to do is wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or butcher paper (I’ll explain more below).
Unwrapped vs aluminum foil vs butcher paper
Let’s lay out the pros and cons of the three options once your brisket hits the stall.
Unwrapped: this method will take by far the longest for the brisket to finish and will leave you with a slightly dryer brisket albeit still very delicious. This will also have a smokier flavor as it’s exposed to smoke the longest.
Aluminum foil: this method will be the quickest of these options. You can add liquids like beef broth or apple cider vinegar which will help steam the brisket. This will leave you with a juicier brisket but not as smoky.
Butcher paper: this method will leave you with something between unwrapped and aluminum foil. It will take longer and be slightly less juicy than the aluminum foil option, but faster and juicier than leaving unwrapped. The level of smokiness will be between the two other options as well.
My verdict: assuming time is not an issue, then it depends on the day and what you’re in the mood for. I probably use the aluminum foil option the most and leaving unwrapped the least. All three options will leave you with a delicious brisket though!
Make sure you let the brisket rest
Whenever your brisket is done, there’s a very important step that still needs to be taken: let it rest! Resting allows the juices to redistribute and will leave you with a juicier brisket. You could have your brisket rest on the counter for one hour before slicing. Or if you have more time, wrap it in foil (if it isn’t already), then in towels, and stick it in a cooler. I discussed this cooler option in my Smoked Beef Short Ribs post. Whatever you decide to do, just please make sure your brisket rests!
Slice and enjoy!
Once your brisket is done resting, it’s time to slice. Make sure to slice it AGAINST the grain. The grain is just the direction in which the muscles are aligned. If you look at the brisket (or any meat), you will see lines going in the same direction – that is the grain. Slice against these lines and NOT in the same direction they are going. This step is easy but imperative! Failing to do so will leave you with a significantly less tender brisket. Luckily this is simple to do – just please don’t forget. And that’s it! Enjoy your brisket as is, in a sandwich, or however you like it. Congratulations, you now know how to make a killer brisket!
- 8 lb Brisket
- Mustard or oil to use as a binder
- Open Fire BBQ Rub
- 1/4 cup Beef Broth optional
- Apply a thin layer of mustard or oil all over the brisket. Generously season every inch of the brisket with our Open Fire BBQ Rub.
- Set up your smoker/grill to indirect cooking. Light some charcoal and stabilize the temperature around 250ºF-275ºF. Once stabilized, add some smoking wood of your choice.
- Add the brisket to the smoker over indirect heat. Starting checking the internal temperature after 2 hours.
- Once the brisket hits the stall (usually around 155ºF-165ºF), either leave it unwrapped or wrap it in aluminum foil or butcher paper. If wrapping, now would be the time to add the beef broth. Pour it over the brisket and wrap it.
- Continue to monitor the brisket's internal temperature. Once an internal temperature of 195ºF-203ºF is reached, remove the brisket from the smoker.
- Allow the brisket to rest at room temperature for one hour. Alternatively, if you have more time, wrap it in aluminum foil (if it isn't already), then in a towel, and put it in an empty cooler. It will stay very warm for hours in the cooler.
- When it's time to slice the brisket, first identify the direction the grain is going in. This will look like lines going across the brisket. Cut against these lines and NOT with them. This will result in a significantly more tender brisket. Finish slicing and enjoy!