How to Smoke a Brisket: A Comprehensive Guide

Want to learn how to smoke a brisket? It doesn’t have to be intimidating if you have the knowledge. Let’s dive in and I’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to smoke a brisket and make it perfect every time!

Smoked brisket on a platter with all the fixings

Before Smoking a Brisket

Before we jump into the cooking process, it’s essential to brush up on your brisket knowledge. This post will guide you through the steps to smoke a whole, 12-14 pound brisket.

Smoking a Brisket

Smoking a brisket takes time and attention to detail. To achieve a restaurant-quality brisket, follow these steps:

  1. Trim your brisket: Properly trimming your brisket is essential for even cooking and flavor distribution.
  2. Preheat your smoker: Use hardwoods like oak and cherry for the perfect smoke.
  3. Season your brisket: Keep it simple with salt and pepper or try a homemade brisket rub.
  4. Smoke your brisket: Maintain consistent temperatures and smoke for 3 hours.
  5. Spritz your brisket (optional): Spritzing adds moisture and enhances flavor.
  6. Wrap your brisket: Use pink butcher paper for the next stage of cooking.
  7. Continue smoking: Smoke until the internal temperature reaches at least 200°F.
  8. Rest your brisket: Plan for at least 1 hour of rest time before slicing.
  9. Slice and enjoy: Serve up your beautifully smoked brisket!

Total Time: 13-17 hours.

As you can see, smoking a brisket requires patience. It’s always better to finish early and allow the brisket to rest than to rush the process.

Further reading:  Where to Probe Brisket for Perfect Doneness

Brisket being trimmed

Smoked Brisket Rub

After trimming your brisket, it’s time to season it. A classic and simple rub of equal parts coarse kosher sea salt and coarse ground black pepper works wonders. You can also experiment with additional flavors like granulated garlic or try different rub recipes.

Best Wood for Smoking Brisket

Choosing the right wood for smoking your brisket is crucial. Oak is a popular choice for its flavor and consistent heat source. Cherry wood chunks can be added for extra flavor and a beautiful mahogany color. Maintain a smoker temperature of 225°F for low and slow cooking.

If your smoker has a water pan, fill it with about an inch of water and a few tablespoons of olive oil. This helps maintain moisture and enhances smoke penetration.

Yellow mustard being squirt on a brisket

Smoking the Brisket

Place the seasoned brisket in the smoker with the thicker point facing the firebox or hottest part of the grill. Avoid opening the lid during the first 3 hours to allow for proper smoke penetration.

Brisket Spritz

Spritzing the brisket is optional but adds moisture and flavor. If you choose to spritz, lightly spray the brisket with liquid every 45 minutes to an hour. Water, beef stock, or beer can be used for spritzing.

Brisket Stall and Brisket Stall Temp

During the smoking process, you may experience a period where the temperature seems to stall. This is called the brisket stall, and it’s perfectly normal. The moisture in the meat evaporates, causing the temperature to plateau.

The stall typically occurs between 145°F and 175°F and can take 2-5 hours to push through. Maintaining consistent temperatures and allowing the brisket to do its thing will eventually break the stall.

Further reading:  Delicious Sides that Perfectly Complement BBQ Brisket

Wrapping Brisket in Butcher Paper

For the final phase of cooking, wrap the brisket in pink butcher paper. This technique, known as using a crutch, helps retain moisture while allowing the brisket to continue absorbing smoke. Alternatively, you can wrap the brisket in foil.

Return the wrapped brisket to the smoker and continue cooking.

Seasoning being added to a brisket

Brisket Internal Temp

Monitor the internal temperature of the brisket using a thermometer. Aim for an internal temperature of 200-205°F, but also rely on the feel of the meat. When the temperature probe slides into the brisket like softened butter and feels tender when squeezed, it’s ready.

The cooking time from wrapping to finishing can take 4-6 hours, depending on the brisket.

How Long to Smoke a Brisket

The total cooking time for smoking a brisket typically ranges from 12-16 hours. It’s always better to finish early and allow extra time for resting. Resting the brisket for at least an hour at room temperature or in a cooler helps the flavors settle and maintains the desired temperature.

Smoked brisket on a platter with all the fixings

Brisket Resting Time

Once the brisket has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the smoker. Let it rest for an hour at room temperature or wrap it in a towel and place it in a cooler if not serving immediately. Resting allows the brisket to come down to a more palatable temperature while retaining its juiciness.

Brisket Slicing

Slicing the brisket correctly is vital for a successful outcome. The technique is crucial and requires a separate discussion. You can learn more about how to slice a brisket in our dedicated guide.

Further reading:  Smoked Brisket Gravy: A Flavorful Delight

This thorough guide will help you master the art of smoking a brisket. Remember, practice makes perfect, and soon you’ll be enjoying restaurant-quality smoked brisket right in your backyard!


(Include commonly asked questions about smoking a brisket)


Smoking a brisket is a labor of love that requires time, patience, and attention to detail. By following these step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to create the perfect smoked brisket with delicious flavors and a mouthwatering bark. Enjoy the journey and the mouthwatering results!

(This article was written by Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. For more smoking and grilling recipes, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ).