Smoking Your First Brisket 

by | Mar 16, 2023 | Barbecue, Smoker | 0 comments

I still remember the time I cooked my first beef brisket – might not have been the most tender BBQ I have ever made, but I learned that there is much more to the process of cooking brisket than just simply following instructions. 

Brisket may be a meal that requires low and slow cooking, but you also need to learn a lot about trimming, resting, and wrapping meat to smoke the ultimate brisket

If you have never smoked a brisket before, this article might just be what you need. This article shall discuss the easiest but optimal way to smoke a brisket for beginners and how to retain the flavors and juices to keep it moist throughout.

Read on to know more!

How To Smoke Your First Brisket?

A good brisket comes from the perfection of three main steps – making a suitable brisket rub, how well you trim your brisket, and the amount of time you let it rest. 

There are many nuanced ways to cook a brisket, and the process can be tricky for beginners, but follow this step-by-step guide to smoke your first brisket. 

All you will need is a packet of packer-cut brisket (the ideal recommended amount is 10 pounds), kosher salt, and pepper (1⁄2 cup each).

Step 1: Trim The Fatty Layer

The first step is to cut away all the fattier parts of the meat when it’s directly out of the fridge. Using a sharp knife, cut off most of the fat cap (around ¼ inch), and the hard fat side on the edges so that your meat cooks smoothly. You can cook up these fattier parts separately later for other purposes.

Step 2: Season With Brisket Rub

Next, you need to season your brisket with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Maintain an even distribution between both – a 1:1 ratio should be the ideal amount. 

Apply the seasoning to the whole brisket according to your tastes – some might like it saltier while others enjoy the taste of pepper. 

Just don’t go overboard as the seasoning determines the presentation of the meat as well. 

Step 3: Smoke The Brisket

Once you have finished seasoning your meat, it is time to place your brisket on the grill. Heat your smoker or grill up to 225 – 250°F degrees. 

In case you have a pellet grill, keep the temp on the higher side of the range and likewise, for a charcoal grill, you can start by putting wooden chips first. 

With the fat cap facing down, put the cut of beef on the grill and put in a meat probe on the thickest part of the brisket so that you can keep a watch over its internal temperature while it cooks. 

A lot of people also choose to put a water pan on the bottom rack in order to retain moisture, so you can do the same if your meat is dry. 

Step 4: Wrap The Meat

Depending on the size of the meat, the brisket can take some 30 minutes to an hour to smoke (brisket will take around 30 – 60 minutes to cook per lb). After reaching an internal temperature of 160-165 Degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to take out the meat and wrap it.

Traditionally, butcher paper is used to wrap briskets, but it can easily be done with aluminum foil as well. Cover it up tightly, leaving no air gaps to keep the meat moist and juicy. If you have a meat probe, pierce it through the cover so that you can keep a watch on the heat. Next, keep it back in the smoker with the leaner part facing up now. 

Step 5: Finish Smoking And Put It To Rest

Once the probe shows that the internal temperature is now at around 195 – 200 Degrees Fahrenheit, take the brisket out of the smoker and let it rest for at least an hour at room temperature. 

The brisket will continue to cook while out of the smoker and allow the juices to distribute evenly throughout the cut of meat. 

Keep it wrapped while it rests, and if you want, you can also cover it in a towel and keep it in a cooler to preserve heat. Meat cooked like this tend to evenly distribute the marble on the bark

Step 6: Slice And Serve

The last step a.k.a eating time is probably everyone’s favorite part of the cooking process. Once you finally have your cooked barbecue brisket, start by slicing across the grain of the meat at first – cutting it up in pieces that are around 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 inch thick. 

As a beginner pitmaster, since you did not let a tough project intimidate you, make sure that you thoroughly enjoy every bite of your cooked beef brisket

What Is Texas Style Beef Brisket?

Texas Style Beef Brisket smoking is a particular method of smoking brisket designed by chef Aaron Franklin. It was a recipe that questioned the focus of the spice rub or the sauce in the making of a brisket when the real flavor lies in the smokiness of the meat and the rich bark. 

Unlike normal brisket, the Texas Style Brisket is always a full, packer cut brisket that is slowly cooked in an offset cooker. If normal brisket is cooked low and slow for maximum flavor, Texas Style Smoked Briskets take double the amount of time – at least 8 hours or more to tenderize the meat and give it the smoky flavor we desire.

No need for a barbecue sauce or a rub – just a smoker that can provide indirect heat between 225 Degrees Fahrenheit and 250 Degrees Fahrenheit for a long time. 

Additional Tips To Cook A Brisket 

While we have given you the most simple recipe to make delicious brisket, first-time cooking is surely intimidating, and we can all do it with a little extra help to achieve our end goal. 

To make the perfect smoky brisket with a delicious crust and tender insides, you can try the following tips when cooking your meat. 

  • Treat your grill/smoker like you are treating an oven. Make sure that when you put the brisket in, the grill is actually hot to ensure that the meat is cooked well on time. 
  • Do not overcomplicate the rub. You do not need a combination of spices to make your brisket appetizing. It gets its flavor not from the rub, but from the smoke coming from the fire, so it’s better to have a simple, two-ingredient rub with an occasional touch of cayenne. 
  • Make sure to apply rub to your brisket a day before you smoke it for the best results. 
  • This goes for all kinds of brisket and barbecue smoking, but getting a mechanical probe/thermometer comes in handy as you get to know exactly when to take out your brisket. 
  • Always rest your brisket well before you decide to cut it. Wrapping the meat prevents the bark from drying and keeps the heat trapped to continue the process of carryover cooking inside the brisket. If you cut it open too quickly, all of the juices and grease will spill out. 

Smoking brisket is not a piece of cake, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes and experiment with the kind of flavor you seek. 

Related Questions

1. How Long Should It Take To Smoke A Brisket?

The amount of time needed to smoke a brisket can be calculated in this way – for every pound of meat, one hour of cooking is to be put into the process if you are smoking at a temperature of 250 Degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Should I Flip My Brisket When Smoking?

It is better to flip your brisket – ideally once during the cooking process so that both sides are cooked equally.

3. Is It Better To Smoke Brisket Longer Or Shorter?

Brisket is always better when smoked for a longer period of time in a slow manner. It allows the marbling, fats, and tissues to break down and spread evenly across the meat. 

Final Thoughts

Whether your BBQ brisket is the main dish at a dinner party or a simple meal for a family gathering, it will be a delicacy that your loved ones will certainly look forward to on special occasions. 

Now that you also know the cooking process, it is only a matter of time before you master the secret to making delicious brisket. Practice makes perfect, after all so don’t let the passion for BBQ die. Your hard work will pay off for sure and who knows what personal brisket smoking style you find!




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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