smoked brisket

Smoked Brisket

If there is one meat associated with the state of Texas, it’s beef brisket. Having been a Texan for nearly 25 years, I learned how to prepare it in the true Texas style though in some situations, like if you don’t have a smoker, live in a condo or it’s in the dead of winter (particularly, north of the Mason-Dixon line), it may be necessary to make some adjustments. This post will show 2 ways to do brisket; the traditional outdoor one, and the alternative indoor method.


Smoked Brisket

  • Servings: 10 to 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 10 to 12 lbs beef brisket
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • ½ Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • ½ Tbsp garlic powder
  • Smoker grill (upright model such as Weber or a side box type)
  • Charcoal briquettes or cooking wood, enough to sustain the grill for 9 hours.
  • Mesquite (preferred), hickory, or other quality smoking wood chips, enough to sustain constant smoke for 8 to 9 hours
  • Aluminum pan
  • 2 Tbsp liquid smoke, preferably mesquite flavored (alternative)
  • 2 Cs apple juice or apple cider vinegar (alternative)
  • Meat thermometer


Traditional Method:

  1. Trim any fat from the brisket, leaving the fat cap on top. Mix all spices together thoroughly and rub into all surfaces of the brisket. Cover the brisket and refrigerate until ready to apply to the grill.

  2. In a smoker grill, arrange the charcoal into a mound on one half of the lower rack and ignite. Using a flat pan, fill with water half-way (about 2 inches) and add the wood chips, allowing them to soak thoroughly.

  3. When the coals turn white, they are ready. Remove the wood chips, then place the pan of water in front of the side-box or on the lower rack of the grill under the meat. Arrange the grill such that the brisket should not be immediately above the embers. Add some of the wood chips to the coals to start the smoking process, reserving plenty for later.

  4. Put the brisket, fat cap on top, on the side of the grill opposite the coals. An aluminum pan or foil may be placed on a lower rack if necessary to catch the drippings.

  5. Feed moistened wood chips into the coals. Maintain a temperature of about 250 degrees by adding coals. Maintain constant smoke by adding wet wood chips to the coals.

  6. Allow brisket to slowly cook, maintaining a steady temperature, smoke production, and at least 2″ water in the pan, for 8 to 9 hours – roughly 1 hour per 1½ lb of beef. As the brisket cooks for some time, it will “stall” at around 160° as the moisture evaporates through the top of the meat. Mopping the top with the drippings or with apple juice or apple cider vinegar through this phase will prevent the brisket from drying out. After a while, the temperature will begin to climb once again.

  7. When the internal temperature reaches about 175 to 180°, remove the brisket from the grill and wrap it tightly in butcher paper (recommended) or foil then return it to the grill. There is no need to tend to the coals from this point on.

  8. When the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 195°, 200° is ideal, remove it from the grill. The meat will continue to cook for a while after its removal from the heat. Allow the brisket to rest for 20 to 30 minutes or so, then slice against the grain.

Alternative Method:

  1. Mix all spices together thoroughly, then stir in liquid smoke and apple juice or apple cider vinegar. In an aluminum basting pan or suitable casserole dish, pour the marinade over the brisket, thoroughly mopping all surfaces. Cover with foil and refrigerate until later use.

  2. Preheat the oven to 300°.

  3. Remove the brisket from the marinade, mopping all surfaces once again. Save the marinade for later. Cover the brisket tightly in foil with the fat cap facing up, and insert into a middle rack of the oven. A slow cooker will also suffice if it is large enough. If a slow cooker is used, add the marinade directly to the beef, cover, and cook on low heat for 8 to 9 hours.

  4. After about 7 hours of cooking in the oven, partially open the top of the foil and pour the marinade over the top. Partially close the foil and continue to cook until completion, around 8 hours total (40 minutes to a pound).

  5. After the allotted cooking time, check internal temperature of the brisket to ensure that it has reached at least 195°.

  6. Allow the brisket to rest for 30 minutes, then slice against the grain.

Serving suggestions: Ladle your favorite bbq sauce over the brisket or on the side for dipping. Some folks like to chop the beef up before serving. It’s also good served on bread with cheese. Pinto beans on the side, cole slaw and if you are a beer drinker, a Shiner Bock (or two) are also great accompaniments.


Steve D

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