Smoking your best brisket isn’t easy. When you plan to smoke your brisket for a special dinner, you have to scroll through several web pages and spend hours watching video tutorials.
Despite following the best recipe at every stage, several questions pop their heads into your mind; and you have to keep surfing the internet and watching those lengthy tutorials over and over.
The result is that smoking a brisket is no less than cracking a hard nut. More unfortunate it’s that your first smoked brisket leaves many areas to improve.
To be honest, to master smoking a brisket demands numerous efforts.
Does it mean you can’t smoke one delicious brisket in one go?
You can, if you follow a single recipe and most valuable tips to make the smooth sailing possible. It’ll be more helpful if you follow them precisely, i.e. in a checklist form.
Therefore, I’ve got you this detailed guide loaded with only valuable tips that I have learned from renowned from famous pitmasters. Here we come.
Before we get into our list of smoking tips, remember that brisket smoking is only about 4 things:
- How a brisket feels…… Every step during cooking a brisket primarily depends on how the brisket is settling and feeling.
- The smoker type
- Temperature, not time (still, the temperature is secondary).
The rest of all things depend on above mentioned 3 factors.
Tips for Smoking a Brisket (From Buying to Slicing it)
Here we begin step by step what you need to care for when smoking your first brisket. But remember, to master a smoked brisket you need to adopt a certain attitude.
And it’s to be generous while buying it, ruthless while trimming it, loving when seasoning it, watchful when smoking it, careful when testing the doneness, and delicate when carving it — a bit on poetic notes. Let’s begin now!
Plan ahead – Key Tip to Cook an Amazing Brisket
Brisket is an expensive cut of meat that has to be a part of your special dinners. You never want it to turn out drastic. In most cases, it’s insufficient planning that ruins the brisket.
So, plan, plan, and add extra hours to your plan.
The reason is that from smoking to resting, brisket needs much time. And time is guesswork. So add 5-6 more hours to your plan. You’ll be more relaxed and enjoy barbecuing the brisket.
Don’t alter your favorite recipe- the second essential tip
No matter how excited you’re to smoke your signature brisket, if you have already been smoking a brisket, please don’t alter your entire recipe. It can surprise you negatively.
If you want to be perfect, adopt slight changes each time you smoke your brisket, like trying some other seasoning, choosing a different wrapping technique, smoking at a different temperature, etc.
Slow progression is better than disappointments. Hopefully, you’re getting me!
Brisket Buying Tips
You have to be open with your budget while buying a brisket. When you buy a brisket, you can find dozens of things to look for in a brisket. The truth is, only 2 things are the key: brisket size and grade, which cost you, of course!
1. Understand what a Brisket is.
A full tough meat cut brisket comprises two parts: a fatty part that is known as deckel or point and the leaner lower part known as flat or “first cut.” A full brisket, known as packer brisket, is best for smoking fro it has leaner meat in the flat area and enough fat on the point muscle.
2. Choose the right brisket size.
Buy a medium to large size brisket: 10-14 lb. Each lb will feed 2 people. So, get one that is sufficient for your gathering. A smaller or gigantic brisket can be challenging, and you’ll need an especially tailored recipe for them.
3. Choose a trusted seller.
Get your brisket from a trusted seller like Costco, which delivers consistent quality brisket.
4. Be generous!
Don’t be afraid to spend on getting a premium-grade brisket. You might have been impressed after tasting the brisket. It was 50% of the brisket quality and 50% the cooking skills, in fact, that impressed you.
5. Get excellent quality brisket only.
Usually, the briskets are graded according to the fat and marbling in them. For example, a thin brisket with less fat is considered low grade; it’s less expensive and cooks drier; Select grade briskets also fall under this category.
In contrast, a good quality brisket will have more fat to render after smoking; it’s a bit expensive but guarantees excellent taste.
You can get it under the names like Wagyu brisket, Angus beef brisket, Choice brisket, or Prime brisket. In America, Prime brisket is comparable with Wagyu. If you’re tight on budget, at least get Choice brisket. You’ll love it ultimately.
6. Check the brisket fat cap.
Your brisket should come with a clean white fat cap and rich red color. A yellow fat cap indicates a brisket from an aged animal, and it’s far tougher.
7. Get a flexible brisket.
If you buy brisket from a grocery store, you need to check it first. Besides having fresh colors, it should be soft and flexible.
So, when you lift it, it should bend: it shouldn’t be hard. With a hard brisket, you’ll end up with a “brisket gone wrong!”
Brisket Trimming Tips
Trimming is the first step after opening your brisket. It’s crucial.
Some may advise you not to trim your brisket, while others will trim it heavily.
Trim the brisket only to remove extra fat that your guest will be throwing when you serve the brisket, and remove the thin edges to prevent burnt ends.
8. Trim the brisket fearlessly with a razor-sharp knife.
Brisket trimming isn’t hard. You can find dozens of tutorials on how you should trim a brisket. But, you might make a mistake when you think trimming means reducing the meal.
In fact, trimming is essential to help your brisket keep the seasoning, cook properly, and look nice. So, be merciless when you trim your brisket with a razor-sharp boning knife. A Japanese boning knife is the best if you do meat work regularly.
Only leave a ¼ inches thick fat cap, uncover the flip side of brisket from fat as much as possible, and remove the silver skin for it won’t cook or render.
Also please make sure that you don’t wash brisket after unpackaging it. Why? When you wash a brisket in the kitchen sink, all the pathogens will spread in the sink. Instead, clean the brisket with paper towels and dispose of them.
9. Use brisket trimmings for making beef tallow.
The brisket’s trimmed fat isn’t wasted. You can render it in a slow cooker and get beef tallow that you’ll use to grease the butcher paper when resting the brisket. It’ll keep your brisket moist and add extra flavor to it…
BTW, it’s a secret that many pit masters use, including Harry Soo (the competition brisket winner), Franklin, and Jeremy Yoder from Mad Scientist BBQ.
Brisket Seasoning Tips
Holding a bottle and tapping doesn’t define the brisket seasoning process. You have to be precise. These tips will help you season your brisket correctly.
10. Use the Right Brisket Rub.
“Keep it simple” is the most popular tip. However, it depends, honestly.
Some people tend to go with a blend of many seasonings while trying to infuse flavors, while some others would only like ground pepper and salt.
Yet, according to Jeremy Yoder,
Here is a key: if you use an offset smoker that is capable of producing a lot of smoky flavors to work with your salt and pepper seasoning and get you excellent flavors. Yes, you can have onion, garlic, or mustard paste on it, but fine, powder-like seasoning is a big “NO.”
On the other hand, if you’re using a small smoker like a pellet grill, or Weber mountain or an oven, etc, it won’t have enough smoke flavor to infuse into your brisket. A blend of flavors with liquid smoke is needed in such a case. So, instead of being too innovative, be on the safe side.
Likewise, another pit master advises avoiding sugary seasoning, especially when preparing brisket for your guests. The reason is that sweet seasoning disturbs the science of a brisket smoking process. If you like sweet notes, you can customize your bbq sauces.
11. Use a shaker to spread seasoning.
Use a spice shaker to sprinkle the seasoning. A shaker helps to form a layer of seasoning more evenly and firmly. Thus, you get a nice smooth bark on your smoked brisket.
12. Inject seasoning mixed in beef tallow to add tons of flavors.
You can inject beef tallow or wagyu beef tallow into your brisket after mixing a competition seasoning into it. It can be magical to boost your brisket flavor.
It’ll work best for a leaner brisket. However, a Prime or Choice grade brisket won’t need it, but only a sufficient rest to help the fats and juices fully render. You can inject the beef tallow along the grain after every inch.
Here is an exception, you can inject wagyu beef tallow to boost the taste in any brisket.
13. Don’t inject water-based seasoning.
Eating chicken or turkey, you know what parts are juicier; these are the parts with more fat, like wings and thighs. So, why should you inject water-based seasoning into your brisket?
Don’t inject seasoning mixed in water into your brisket. It’ll make your brisket moist but not juicy at all. Resultantly, you’ll be slicing your brisket in a pool of water.
14. Avoid adding a lot of seasoning in the injection
When you mix the seasoning in beef tallow for injecting, keep the amount minimum. Otherwise, your brisket can be heavily loaded with salty flavors (irreversible).
15. Use curing salt to create a “fake” smoke ring.
Electric smokers and ovens do not help to create a smoke ring in your brisket. But it’s possible to attain that iconic ring by using curing salt before seasoning the brisket.
To do so, soak your brisket after mixing ¾ cup of curing salt into 1 gallon of room temperature water for 2 hours.
Tips on Smoking Brisket
16. Follow the temperature according to your smoker type.
The smoking temperature for briskets varies according to smoker types. For example, in a large offset smoker, there’s more convection to cause heat loss. So, smoking a brisket in a large offset at a higher temperature like 275°F is OK; for a small offset smoker, 250° F is good.
In contrast, if you cook a brisket on a small pellet grill, Big Green Egg, Weber Kettle, or Weber Smokey Mountain 275°F can burn your brisket. In such a smoker, 225-250 can be safer. Long story short, the larger a smoker is, the higher the smoking temperature it should have.
17. Pick the recipe according to your cooking mode only.
Yes, it’s a huge mistake that many BBQ lovers make; they pick a recipe for smoking a brisket in an offset smoker and try to smoke brisket in a Traeger Range or oven following this recipe.
Come on, the temperature game can beat you. So, please be specific and follow only brisket size and cooking-mode-specific recipe.
18. Choose the recipe according to your brisket size.
Just like you should follow the recipe tailored for a specific type of cooking device: smoker, grill, or oven, also follow the recipe that instructs you about a brisket of a particular size.
For example, a recipe designed for a 4 lb brisket can devastate a huge pecker brisket of 14 pounds. Even if you follow that recipe, multiply the cooking time and resting time and only do tests for doneness we’ve mentioned in the later section of this article.
19. Pick a Meat Thermometer First!
It’s the most important tip. Please get an excellent quality probe thermometer for smoking with multiple probes. They’ll help you excel in your brisket smoking skills. After a smoker, it’s the probe thermometer that you need.
Brisket Spraying Tips
Spraying the brisket is a complementary part of smoking a brisket. Yet, you can’t simply pick a bottle of water or fat and start spraying the brisket heavily. Here are a few tips that you should follow to balance the moisture.
20. Do not spray your brisket with fat.
Spray your brisket with a solution of apple cider vinegar and water 1:1 ratio after very 30-40 minutes to prevent it from drying in a smoker. BUT, please do not spray it with fat. The fat won’t help with maintaining the moisture at all.
When you spray the brisket, only spray at dry areas. Too much spraying will wash out the brisket bark.
21. Spray the brisket when the bark has been formed.
Spray your brisket after 4 hours of putting it in the smoker. At that time, you can see some pools of moisture on your brisket and some dry areas. If you spray earlier, it’ll damage the bark formation.
If you’re smoking a small brisket, you can spray the brisket after 2 hours. Again, please check the bark quality first.
22. Maintain the drainage.
To ensure drainage for the brisket mixture, you can place a hardwood chunk under the brisket in the middle.
23. Wrap the brisket when the bark is set.
Yes, as guesswork, many pros would advise you to wrap your brisket in butcher paper or aluminum foil and smoke it again at a higher temperature when the brisket’s internal temperature has hit 165F degrees.
Can you recall I told you the brisket-smoking process is all about how it feels? So, when you look forward to wrapping it, check its bark firmness first, then the internal temperature.
How should bark feel and look?
In an offset smoker, it should have a dark color, and in a pellet smoker, it should be of mahogany color, and when you press it, it shouldn’t resist the change and bounce back at all.
24. Don’t Wrap the brisket too early.
It’s a big big big mistake if you wrap your brisket too early. It can be steamy with a damaged or almost washed bark.
25. Wrap the brisket tightly.
Wrapping the brisket tightly is important for tight wrapping prevents steam from leaking and helps increase the brisket’s internal temperature. For this purpose, aluminum foil is a good choice, and butcher paper is also.
But when you use butcher paper, greasing it with beef tallow will seal it to keep the steam inside and help the brisket cook.
26. Wrap the Select grade brisket earlier.
Though we advise you not to buy a Select grade brisket. Yet, if you have, you need to wrap it earlier because of the low fat in this brisket.
Likewise, you can also add half a cup of beef stock to the leaner brisket and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. It’ll provide extra moisture to help your lean brisket cook tender.
27. Check the warped brisket after 2 hours, not earlier.
When you check the temperature of your brisket using an instant thermometer, that poking uses the steam to escape. It affects the cooking process. So, start such testing after 2 hours.
28. Get a dedicated meat probe thermometer.
DON’T rely on the integrated temperature gauges, and they aren’t reliable. To monitor the temperature, use your probe thermometer.
Also, beware of temperature swings in offset smokers; they’re notorious for burning briskets here and there. So, keep fueling your dear cooker.
29. Aluminum foil or butcher paper: not a big difference
When cooking the brisket wrapped, there are 3 choices: wrapping in butcher paper, wrapping in aluminum foil, or wrapping in butcher paper and then in an aluminum foil boat. Don’t be strict about them. They don’t affect the brisket significantly.
Aluminum foil slightly softens the brisket bark, and butcher paper helps it keep firm. For the taste, the choice is yours. You’ll probably like aluminum foil-wrapped brisket, and your friend will love the brisket you cook wrapped in butcher paper.
In short, the choice is yours. Do it bravely.
Brisket Doneness Checking Tips
I have often seen thousands of folks searching for “how long to smoke a brisket;” “what is an internal temperature for brisket;” or “when is smoked brisket done?”
Unfortunately, these things only work as a guess: to help you chalk out a plan.
To check the brisket doneness, do these 3 universal tests without caring about the brisket type:
30. Foremostly, do a bamboo stick test.
As advised by competition brisket master, Harry Soo, poke a bamboo stick in your brisket’s flat thickest part when it has reached the temperature of 195 F; if it goes in and out as if the brisket were cold peanut butter, your brisket is done. If not, cook it for more time until it passes this “bamboo stick” test.
31. Second, do the brisket lifting test.
Wear heat-resistant rubber gloves and lift the brisket right from the middle using two middle fingers of both of your hands. If it feels like jello and not stiff at all, it’s done, and you move to the next step of resting it.
32. Test the brisket by pressing the bark.
Check for the rendered fat; when you poke your finger on the brisket, the fat shouldn’t bounce back at all. If it seems fully settled, you’re finally done.
33. Check the Done brisket temperature in 3 areas.
Usually, you check the temperature of the brisket from the flat and point area and ignore the thickest middle part of the brisket. And if the temperature is low there, you’ll end up chewing shoe leather instead of a juicy brisket slice.
If you ask me what test you prefer, it’s the bamboo stick test. It works for all briskets. So, do a bamboo stick test in the thickest mid part as well.
Brisket Resting Tips
If you have a chance to discuss briskets with pitmasters, you’ll notice that there won’t be much about brisket type, seasoning, or smoker types but about the brisket rest time. YES, rest time matters.
34. Rest time is essential.
A good rest time lets the rendered fats and juices distribute evenly in the brisket. Thus, it makes your brisket more juicy, moist, and tasty.
“How long to rest a brisket or how should you rest a brisket,” is a long talk. As a rule of thumb:
- If you cook your brisket in less than 8 hours, let it rest for a longer period, like 8-12 hours.
- If your brisket has been cooked low and slow: for 10-14 hours or more, rest it for 6-10 hours at least.
35. Stop carry-over cooking process before resting the brisket.
Before you set your brisket for rest, lower its temperature by keeping it at room temperature until it’s at 165-185F degrees. Otherwise, on a higher internal temperature, the carry-over cooking process will cause the brisket to overcook and make it dry.
36. You can let your brisket reach 145-150 degrees.
You can put the brisket to rest as long as it can hold or reach the temperature of 145-150 degrees.
37. Use a Bluetooth probe thermometer to monitor the temperature during rest.
You must use a Bluetooth meat thermometer to monitor the brisket’s internal temperature. Such vigilant monitoring will allow you to rest your brisket for longer.
38. Lean brisket doesn’t need long rests.
For a lean brisket, a resting time of 2-6 hours will suffice. The reason is that it has less fat and gelatine to be distributed in the meat.
39. You can rest the brisket for the minimum time.
The minimum time you should wait to cut a brisket before slicing it after removing it from the smoker is 30 minutes for a lean brisket and 1 hour for premium grade briskets like Wagyu, Choice, or Prime. Keep in mind that such relaxation is only for emergencies.
After your brisket has been cooked, wrap it and rest it, following the detailed guidelines about resting a brisket.
40. Don’t wrap the brisket if you rest it for a short time.
If you choose to rest your brisket for such a short time, like 30 minutes to 1 hour, you need not wrap it for resting. Simply open it and let it rest at room temperature.
Brisket Carving Tips
41. Keep the slicing uniform by using a sharp knife.
No need to mention, slice your brisket against the grain but you must get a super sharp carving knife to slice the brisket to maintain the bark and slice’s shape.
Cut the brisket into quarter-inch slices, which will neither be too thick nor too thin. This thickness will also help to maintain the thickness.
42. Slice the brisket on a large cutting board.
Also, use a large-sized cutting board to slice a brisket; it’ll help you slice your brisket without wasting it.
43. Save the brisket juices when slicing.
When you slice the brisket, try to save the spilling juices by putting aluminum foil or a large tray under the cutting board. You can brush back these juices on the brisket slices to keep them moist for a longer period.
Bonus Tips on Smoking a Brisket
44. Reheat the brisket slowly at a low temperature.
Reheating the brisket is tricky. If you reheat it at a high temperature, it’ll be dried. So, follow a proper way to reheat the brisket.
Put the brisket in an aluminum foil pan and tightly pack it with the aluminum foil. Then reheat it at 200 degrees for 4-5 hours. The result will be awesome, and it’ll look fresh.
45. To smoke a frozen brisket bit longer
You can cook a frozen brisket without thawing it. All you need is to cook it for 2 or 3 more hours.
46. Place the right side of the brisket up according to your smoker type.
Keep the fat cap up on an offset smoker because of its low heat. And keep the fat cap down when smoking on a pellet grill or other small smokers. The reason is, that the pellet grills have higher infrared heat because of deflector plates, and small smokers have high heat because of the small area. There a fat cap down can save your brisket from burning.
in the same way, when smoking the brisket after wrapping it, you should place the flat side towards the heat source and the point side away. Why? The flat muscles need higher temperature and the point demands low and slow cooking. This placement will help maintain the temperature so that both parts of the brisket cook evenly.
47. Choose real wood chunks over charcoal.
To keep the temperature consistent on an offset smoker, use real wood chunks; they’ll burn longer. It’ll save you energy and result in clean smoke.
48. Monitor the smoke quality.
A clean and almost transparent smoke is key to a delicious smoky flavor. When using a pellet smoker, you don’t have to care about it a lot. Yet, with an offset smoker, be vigilant; otherwise, you’ll have a bitter smokey taste. Oh NO!
49. Settle the dissolved brisket bark by re-smoking it for an hour.
It’s normal to unwrap your rested brisket and see the bark dissolved. In such a situation, there’s a way.
Put your brisket back in the smoker without wrapping it and smoke it for an hour. Your brisket will be alright soon!
50. To form a Firmer bark, smoke the brisket unwrapped.
You can smoke brisket completely unwrapped. It’ll only turn the bark firmer, yet the inside of the brisket will be completely moist. And, it’ll be more delicious.
Smoking a brisket is an art; you master it gradually!
But by following the footprints of brisket smoking experts, you can do it soon. So, be courageous, get the best brisket, and smoke it following the recipe and above-discussed points. An applaud will wait for you.
KEEP IT UP!
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