The Ultimate Guide to Perfectly Smoked Brisket

Welcome to the ultimate guide for achieving the perfect smoked brisket every time. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, our seven-step guide will walk you through the process, from selecting the right cut to mastering the art of smoking. Let’s dive in and discover the secrets to making mouthwatering smoked brisket!

Slices of Smoked Brisket served on butcher paper

What is a Brisket?

Understanding the nature of brisket is key to achieving the best results. Brisket is the pectoral muscle from a steer or cow and consists of two distinct muscles – the point and the flat. These muscles have different marbling and connective tissues, making low and slow cooking essential for tenderizing the meat. When buying brisket, it’s recommended to choose an entire packer brisket (both the point and the flat) for the best flavor and texture.

Selecting the Perfect Brisket

The quality of the meat is crucial for a fantastic brisket. Look for briskets with well-distributed marbling, as this will contribute to a juicy and tender final product. Grass-fed briskets usually have less intramuscular fat and are not ideal for smoking. USDA-rated options like Select, Choice, or Prime offer better marbling. For a truly indulgent experience, consider American Wagyu briskets, known for their exceptional marbling.

Trimming the Brisket

Before seasoning, it’s important to trim the brisket to remove excess fat. Use a sharp boning or filet knife to carefully trim the brisket, removing silver skin and any thick pockets of fat. Focus on removing the fat that won’t render during cooking. Pay attention to the fat separating the flat and the point, as well as the fat cap on top of the brisket. Trimming helps the brisket cook evenly and allows the flavors to penetrate the meat.

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Seasoning the Brisket

Once the brisket is trimmed, coat it with olive oil to act as a binder for the dry rub. A simple yet effective seasoning blend is a mixture of coarse black pepper, kosher salt, and granulated garlic. This creates a classic SPG (Salt, Pepper, Garlic) seasoning. Alternatively, you can use our brisket rub recipe, which adds additional flavors like paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. The choice of seasoning is up to you and your personal taste preferences.

The Smoking Process

Smoking is where the magic happens. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, using a combination of lump charcoal and fruit wood for a sweet and smoky flavor. Place a remote thermometer probe in the flat portion of the brisket for accurate temperature monitoring. Ensure the fat cap is facing the hotter part of your smoker to protect the more delicate flat. Let the brisket smoke for about five hours, allowing the smoke to infuse into the meat and develop a beautiful bark.

Wrapping the Brisket

When the internal temperature of the smoked brisket reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to wrap it in pink butcher paper, also known as the Texas crutch. Wrapping the brisket allows the internal temperature to rise faster and helps the intramuscular fat fully render out. Pink butcher paper is a breathable alternative to aluminum foil, preventing the meat from becoming overly steamed and maintaining a desirable texture. If you don’t have butcher paper, using foil is also an option.

Resting and Slicing

As the wrapped brisket approaches an internal temperature of around 195 degrees Fahrenheit, start probing the flat portion with an instant-read thermometer. The meat should feel as if you’re inserting the probe into room-temperature butter before it’s considered done. Once the brisket reaches this stage, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a moist and flavorful brisket. Finally, slice the brisket against the grain for optimal tenderness.

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A raw brisket on a sheet pan


Here are some frequently asked questions about smoking brisket:

Q: How long does it take to smoke a brisket?
A: As a general rule of thumb, plan for 60 minutes of cooking time per pound of brisket. However, remember that cooking by temperature milestones rather than a specific time is crucial.

Q: How do I know when my brisket is done?
A: The best way to determine doneness is by using an instant-read thermometer. The brisket should feel like room-temperature butter when probed in multiple areas of the flat and the point.

Q: What should I serve with smoked brisket?
A: Consider pairing your smoked brisket with delicious side dishes like quick pickled veggies, BBQ beans, and a refreshing no-mayo coleslaw. For wine enthusiasts, clean and crisp options like sparkling wine or a dry rosé complement the richness of the meat.


With our comprehensive guide, achieving the perfect smoked brisket every time is within your reach. From selecting the right brisket to mastering the art of smoking and slicing, each step is essential in creating a mouthwatering masterpiece. So fire up your smoker, grab a quality brisket, and indulge in the smoky flavors of tender, succulent brisket. For more inspiring recipes and tips, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.

Note: This article is based on the original post published in 2016 and has been updated to provide more detailed information and tools used. The original recipe remains the same.

About Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ:
Mary and Sean, the creators behind Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ, are passionate food enthusiasts with a focus on barbecuing and smoking. Their expertise as caterers and authors shines through in their recipes and tips, helping backyard pitmasters and cooking enthusiasts alike elevate their barbecue game. With a dedication to flavor and technique, they strive to share their knowledge and inspire others in their barbecue journey.

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