There’s just something special (and also intimidating) about smoking the king of BBQ, a Texas Style Smoked Brisket. The delicious crispy bark wrapped around a flavorful fat cap and tender beef is something truly unique. In this smoked brisket recipe I will show you a foolproof way to make the best brisket you’ve ever had. So don’t worry if this is your first time cooking one. You can make this on a pellet smoker, offset smoker, or charcoal grill. For best results, we’ll be using a whole packer brisket that can be purchased from your local butcher or grocery store.
Smoked brisket dry rub recipe
I'm a huge fan of Meat Church rubs, but you can use common household seasonings to make this Texas style smoked brisket. Here's a good combination to get you started:
2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Lawry's seasoned salt (using another brand is fine)
How do you store leftover smoked brisket?
So, you smoked a big, juicy brisket? That's awesome! If you have leftovers, though, the work ain't done yet.
Ideally, store leftover smoked brisket whole in a vacuum-sealed bag or container. Ensure the brisket cools down to room temperature and store it in the fridge, where it will still be in perfect shape after 3-4 days.
If you’re serving the brisket in a few hours, don’t refrigerate it but “hold” it by keeping it warm in the oven or smoker for up to 12 hours; ensure the meat is always at a temperature above 140 degrees. If you’re not planning to serve it immediately but not long after, store the wrapped brisket in a cooler for up to four hours.
How do you reheat leftover smoked beef brisket?
If you’re serving your smoked brisket the next day, allow it to cool to room temperature and store it, ideally vacuum-sealed and covered in the fridge. Reheat using a sous vide method or in a pan in your smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit before serving until the brisket reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If using the smoker method, top the smoked brisket with a few slices of unsalted butter.
How long to smoke a brisket
Some things can’t be rushed, and you need patience when dealing with a large piece of tough muscle. Depending on the size of the meat and your smoker, expect it to be ready to slice and serve in around 16-18 hours. A good rule of thumb is anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours per pound at 225 degrees. The cook time can be shortened by using the Texas Crutch method to help it through the stall.
If you have the time and don't want to stress the smoked brisket not being ready for dinner, trim and season the meat, smoke it overnight at a steady 200 degrees Fahrenheit temperature and then increase the heat in the morning.
Just leave enough time at the end to let the brisket rest. If you want the perfect smoked brisket, resting for a few hours is crucial.
What’s the difference between a brisket flat and a whole packer (AKA full packer) brisket?
The brisket is a cut of beef from the cow’s chest, and it’s a hard muscle that requires long hours of slow cooking to tenderize. The brisket, though, is not all the same; it has two main parts, the point and the flat.
The point is, in fact, a pointy tip attached to the chest bone. This is fattier and tougher than the rest of the brisket or the flat, but more tender and juicy when cooked. The flat is also tough with plenty of connective tissue, but it is leaner than the point. Most brisket you find in the supermarket comes without the point — a brisket flat and nothing else. When you purchase a whole-packer brisket, you’re getting the point and flat.
I definitely recommend purchasing a whole brisket to smoke if you can find one!
How do you slice smoked brisket?
Slicing brisket depends on the type of brisket you’re dealing with. Generally, the point is marbled and fatty, and you'll want to cut thicker slices, or cut it into burnt ends or shred. The flat, though, should be cut into 1/4" thick - pencil size - slices. If you’re working with a whole-packer brisket, you might want to start by separating them depending on your plans with the meat. See the diagram below on which directions to slice the smoked brisket.
How do you make brisket burnt ends?
When the internal temperature of the cooked brisket point reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit, cut it into cubes and toss it with BBQ sauce in an aluminum pan. Return it to the smoker and allow it to continue smoking until the sauce is set and the meat is super tender. I have a great flavor-packed brisket burnt ends recipe that you'll want to try.
What sides do you eat with smoked brisket?
Smoked brisket is tender, juicy, and smoky. And although this is one of the most tempting pieces of meat in the smokehouse repertoire, more often than not, it’s the sides that make the experience memorable.
Bread, of course, is a must when serving smoked brisket. Any white roll will do, especially if it’s firm enough to allow you to build yourself a sandwich on the spot. Collard greens and potato salad are also nice side dishes for brisket. You want at least one starchy side on the table.
Coleslaw is another popular side for smoked meat, and it’s because it provides a refreshing and crunchy contrast to the fork-tender meat. You gotta eat your veggies somehow, right?
What can I make with leftover smoked brisket?
Although leftover brisket is a rare sight because everyone devours it, having some leftover brisket is a great thing!
Unless you’re planning on reheating the brisket and serving it as is (see above), you can pull or shred it to get a versatile and deliciously meaty ingredient. Use shredded brisket to make yourself a sandwich, taco, or quesadilla. You can even toss it with veggies and your favorite dressing for a smoky cold salad.
Better yet, add shredded brisket to an omelet or make yourself a brisket hash with grated potatoes. Asian stir-fries can benefit from the soft meat as well. The sky’s the limit when you have meat as lovely as smoked brisket!
- 1 12-14 brisket, whole packer (flat & point)
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard, substitute mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Meat Church Holy Cow rub, optional recipe in notes below
Brisket Spritz (Optional)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 food grade spray bottle
Trim and season the brisket
Remove the brisket 1 hour prior to smoking. This will give the meat time to reach room temperature for more even cooking and allow the rub to adhere better. You'll want to trim the brisket right away while it's still cold though. The colder the brisket, the easier it will be to trim. You're going to want to remove the fat from the bottom of the brisket while leaving about a 1/4 inch of fat on top. I've linked a video below in the notes to a great trimming video by one of the top pit masters in Texas. Slather the mustard evenly over the entire surface of the brisket. If using the brisket rub recipe in the notes, mix the ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the brisket starting on the bottom side. You'll want a heavy coating of the rub to help build a nice bark on the outside of the smoked brisket. The brisket is thick and the slices will be thin, so even a lot of rub won't overpower it.
Fire up the smoker
Preheat smoker to 225°F. Most pellet grills don’t need it, but you can add a pan of water in the corner of the smoker to keep moisture inside.
Smoke the brisket
Place brisket on the smoker fat side up and smoke at 225°F until it hits an internal temperature of around 175°F in the middle of the flat right right where it meets the point, approximately 8-10 hours depending on the size brisket. I recommend using a good leave-in meat thermometer so you don't have to constantly check the smoked brisket. We're looking for a nice bark to have formed before we wrap the brisket. If your bark isn't where you'd like it to be yet, keep smoking for an additional hour or so to help the bark form. We don't want to wrap the smoked brisket until the bark is nice and dark.
Spritz the smoked brisket
You might not need to spritz the brisket depending on the smoker you use and the quality of the brisket. I recommend spritzing only if you see that the bark is looking a bit dry. Combine the spritz ingredients and add to spray bottle. If the bark starts looking dry, open up the smoker and spritz the smoked brisket. Make sure your spray bottle is set to spray in a light, even mist and not a direct blast of the liquid. You just want to moisten the brisket not soak it.
Wrap the smoked brisket in butcher paper
When the bark has formed and the smoked brisket hits our target temperature of at least 175°F, remove it from the smoker, lay it in the center of 2 pieces of partially overlapped butcher paper (lengthwise), and then wrap tightly around the brisket. Spritz the butcher paper a few times to help it form a tighter wrap around the smoked brisket. If you don't have butcher paper, you can use heavy duty aluminum foil instead. Just note, the bark will be a little mushy when it's done as it's not permeable like butcher paper and will partially steam it. You can put it on the smoker unwrapped at the end of the cook for 10-15 minutes to help the bark crisp back up a little.
Continue smoking the brisket
Return the smoked brisket to the smoker, insert the meat probe again in the same location, increase the temperature to 250°F, and continue smoking the brisket until probe tender, approximately 4-6 more hours. The smoked brisket is done when the internal temperature is around 203°F-205°F and the meat thermometer slides in and out like a knife slicing through room temperature butter - barely any resistance. Remember to take the temperature in a few places as the brisket tends to cook slower in larger areas.
Rest the smoked brisket
Remove the smoked brisket from smoker and keep wrapped while it rests for a minimum of 1 hour. If you need to keep the meat warmer even longer, place it inside a good cooler for up to 4 hours and then let it rest on the counter (if needed) until the temperature drops down to the 140°F-145°F range.
Serve the smoked brisket
Slice the delicious smoked brisket and serve. I've included a diagram below in the notes on how to slice the brisket. Enjoy!