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Read along for the guide on how to smoke brisket, including steps, tips, and recipes.

Juicy Smoked Brisket, Every Time

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This recipe includes every detail surrounding how to prepare smoked brisket, from seasoning to slicing it into juicy, melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

  • Total Time: 12-20 hours
  • Yield: About 8-12 1x




Trim the brisket. Using a boning knife, slice a slender edge off around the outside edges, about ¼-inch thick. Depending on how thin the flat of your brisket is, slice off thin edges, rounding out the front of it. Trim the point sticking up, clean up the shape, and remove any thin areas of meat or fat.

Place the brisket on your board with the fat side up. Carefully trim the excess fat, leaving about ¼ inch behind. There’s a hard lump of fat on the top near the point, cut out most of that, again leaving about ¼ inch behind. You’ll notice there is a thick pocket of fat in the seam just below the point muscle. Clean up the outside of it, but leave it there for the cooking process. This can be removed when slicing.

Flip your brisket so the fat side is facing down. Trim all silverskin and excess pieces of fat on the lean side. Remove the fat on the underside of the brisket point.

Season the brisket generously on all sides with the seasoning. You can do this hours ahead of time, even a day before. Place the brisket on a wire rack in the fridge, uncovered until ready to use.

Preheat your smoker to 250°F. Take the brisket out of the fridge and set it on the counter to come up closer to room temperature. Place the brisket in your smoker with the point closest to the heat source. If you’re using a pellet smoker, pay attention to where the firepot is located underneath the deflector shield. Place the grill-safe pan with beef trimmings in the smoker. Shut the lid and leave the brisket to cook for 3 hours, undisturbed.

Spritz the edges of your brisket to prevent them from drying out. Shut the smoker and continue to cook, opening every 45 minutes to spritz until the brisket hits about 150-165°F internal temperature. This temperature is a milestone during the cooking phase as the brisket will start to stall, the moisture is exiting the brisket so rapidly that the temperature will not rise for a long time without some assistance.

Wrap the brisket when it stalls and has developed a nice bark. Set your brisket onto a very large sheet of pink butcher paper, it will be rolled up tight with 2 layers. Take about ¼ cup of the beef tallow that you rendered and pour a light, even layer across the top of the brisket. Roll the brisket into the paper, tucking in the sides after the first roll. Make sure you pay attention to which side is the top and place it back onto the smoker, with the top facing up. Turn up the heat in your smoker to 275°F and continue to cook the brisket until it reaches about 200°F internal temperature.

Check for tenderness with your temp probe on the flat, the middle, and the point. If the brisket feels jiggly or flexible overall, it’s done. Still, allow it to rest for at least 45-60 minutes at room temperature, still in the butcher paper, tented with some foil. (see Notes for resting)

Slice when you are ready to serve, not before. Use a long, sharp blade without serration. Slice the flat against the grain. The point muscle should be sliced in half lengthwise.


Preferred Brisket Seasoning

  • 1 part Coarse Black Pepper
  • 1 part Coarse Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 part additional seasonings

Resting Options

  • Loosely tent with foil. This will help shield it from the cooler air temperatures, whether you have A/C running or if it’s winter.
  • Place it in the oven, shut off. This will slow down the cooling process significantly
  • Place it in a cooler after the initial rest. The smoked brisket will remain quite hot for a significant amount of time. You may use towels to insulate it further at this point.
  • Place it in the oven at the lowest setting, ideally 170-175°F or below if possible. This is my preferred option. I promise it will not overcook the brisket! This is a tested method used by many, replicating what most BBQ restaurants will use but at a slightly higher temperature. I recommend allowing the brisket to cool at room temperature first to about 170°F and then placing it on a baking sheet with a wire rack (still wrapped). Allow it to stay in the oven for at least 2 hours, up to 8-10. Let it cool to about 150°F before slicing.

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12-20 hours
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast, Leftovers
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