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Smoked Beef Brisket

BBQ Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe: How to Smoke a Brisket

A beef brisket can be a challenge to smoke, but quite a delight to master and enjoy. Here are some basic instructions to help you smoke a tender and delicious brisket in a charcoal/wood-fired offset barbecue smoker—even on your first try.

Smoked, Sliced Brisket

Smoked, Sliced Brisket

I’ve also included an easy recipe for you to mix up your own competition quality brisket rub. The ingredients are available in many grocery stores, and once you gather all the ingredients, it’s a breeze to mix up and quite rewarding to taste your homemade rub at the dinner table!

Your Shopping List

  • Choose a brisket between 7–11 pounds. The best brisket to smoke is one that’s fresh and hasn’t been frozen. The first briskets we smoked were stored in the freezer and they turned out great, so if that’s more practical for you, I wouldn’t worry about it.
  • Mustard (the kind you would put on hotdogs).
  • Spices for brisket rub (see recipe below).

Make the Brisket Rub

Grind the peppercorn and whole cumin in a coffee grinder. You are welcome to use ground pepper and cumin, but I highly recommend grinding it yourself for a fresh fragrance and taste.

Add the rest of the ingredients. The New Mexican Chili pepper is optional. You may substitute it with your favorite spice for some heat. Mix your rub thoroughly.

This recipe will season one brisket. Multiply the recipe by the number of briskets you are smoking.

Brisket Rub Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons peppercorn
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin
  • 1/4 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup sea salt (or regular table salt)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexican Chili Pepper

Fire Up the Smoker

We mostly use 100% hardwood charcoal briquettes with some wood. You can use either charcoal or wood, or a combination of both. The more wood you use, the more smoke you will have and the harder it will be to keep your meat light.

Get your smoker running at 225–250 degrees F. You will want to maintain this temperature throughout the entire smoke.

Prepare the Brisket for the Smoker

If your brisket was frozen, thaw it and remove it from any wrapping.

The fat cap should be around 1/4″ thick. The fat cap will help tenderize the meat during the smoke, but if it’s too thick, trim the fat down to let more smoke penetrate into the meat on that side.

Cover the entire outside surface of the brisket with mustard. The mustard makes the dry rub stick to the meat.

Liberally apply your homemade rub all over the brisket.

Smoke the Brisket

Now you are ready to smoke your brisket. The smoker is up to temperature and your brisket is rubbed down and ready to go.

Place the brisket on your smoker grate and close it up for the long smoke.

Open your barbecue smoker every hour or two and spray the brisket with apple juice to help keep the meat from drying out. Also keep apple juice in the water pan if you are using a water smoker.

Once the internal temperature reaches 165–170 degrees, the meat starts to get tender. Leave the brisket in the smoke for 4 hours, and then wrap the entire brisket in aluminum foil for 3–4 hours. This little trick is a big help in getting the meat tender, especially for beginners.

The brisket is done when your probe thermometer easily slides into the meat and the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees F.

Remove and Enjoy

Once the brisket is done, put the brisket in an insulated ice chest lined with aluminum foil. Close it for a couple hours or until you are ready to eat. The meat will hold its heat for hours in the chest, and the brisket will become even more tender.

Use a sharp knife to slice the brisket against the grain rather than along the grain.

Well-done smoked brisket is delicious with homemade bread, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and a salad with fresh lettuce out of the garden. Serve your family and friends with a meal like this and they will be back for more!