Today I am going through How to make Smoked Beef Brisket. There is a lot of information online from pitmasters to home cooks but I have sifted through everything and found the best information that has helped me successfully make juicy, tender, smoked beef brisket every time. I cook on a Traeger Pro 780. There are certain things that I feel others are able to explain or show much better than me and in those instances, I have linked to video or written explanations, for your convenience. Please don't be intimidated by brisket, if you have a pellet grill, it's rather easy to do. If there are any questions you come up with during your cook that I haven't answered, I'd love for you to drop them in the comment section below so I can answer them! -Aqueena
- Before you Get Started:
- What are the different types of cuts of Brisket?
- What are the different grades of Beef Brisket?
- How much brisket do I need per person?
- What Wood Pellets are best for Beef Brisket?
- How to season a beef brisket for smoking:
- Do I need to mist (Spritz) my brisket?
- How long per pound does it take to smoke a brisket?
- A step-by-step guide to smoking brisket on a pellet grill:
- Brisket Wrap Options
- When do I wrap Brisket?
- Butcher Paper Wrap vs Tinfoil
- How to wrap Brisket in Foil:
- What to do if my Brisket Stalls
- What temperature is my brisket done at?
- How Long to Rest a Beef Brisket
- How to Cut Beef Brisket
- How to reheat Brisket:
- What is the difference between brisket and a beef belly?
- Other Traeger Recipes from Aqueena The Kitchen:
- What sides go with Smoked Brisket?
Before you Get Started:
It is important to start a long cook, like the one you will be doing now, with a clean grill. I have written a comprehensive guide to cleaning a pellet grill so that it looks likenew again. Find that here, or Click the Image below.
What are the different types of cuts of Brisket?
Brisket Double/ Point End/ Deckle
The thicker section of the brisket that is ideal for barbecue smoking and for turning into pulled beef. Bold beefy flavour. Tender when slowly-cooked and thinly sliced. It is also good marinated and slow roast/pot-roast/braise.
Brisket Flat End
Thinner section of the brisket that is ideal for corned beef. Bold beefy flavour. Tender when slowly-cooked and thinly sliced. Also good marinated and slow roast/pot-roast/ braise.
Brisket Packer Cut
A Brisket Packer Cut is both the flat and point end together in one piece. This is what you commonly see across social media, most recipes on the internet and bbq shows. The Brisket featured in this post is from a steer on my farm and the reason I have it so small is that I personally like a more manageable size of meat for my family of four. The brisket I am smoking today is 6 pounds. In comparison, the packer briskets in store are 15-20 pounds.
What are the different grades of Beef Brisket?
Prime - The most amount of fat marbling. This is the most desired grade of any cut of beef. For brisket, it is great as it will yield a more tender, juicer result. However, it will set you back as it is the most expensive! Prime Beef comes from animals that have been finished to a higher % of body fat and are usually finished with grain instead of grass. In Canada, beef is finished with Barley and in the USA beef is finished with Corn. This is why some people will notice a difference in taste between American and Canadian Beef. Prime Beef is rare to find and is usually sold at high-end butcher shops and sold to restaurants. Yes, it has more fat and will be more tender but it is not necessary to go all out and purchase this grade of brisket for a home cook. Especially if you're just starting out - experiment and learn on cheaper grades 🙂
Choice (AAA in Canada) - Standard amount of marbling. This is what you will commonly find on the grocery shelf and at your local butcher as over 50% of beef sold in North America is finished to a Choice Grade.
Select (AA in Canada) - Least amount of fat marbling. This is your second most likely found grade of beef in North America with over 20% of beef being finished to a select grade. This grade isn't optimal for brisket but it is still good! It is the most affordable grade. I personally think it is the best cut to learn with as it is the most economical.
How much brisket do I need per person?
Half a pound per person is usually plenty!
What Wood Pellets are best for Beef Brisket?
This is a personal preference for you, the lucky consumer of the Brisket. Here is a chart to follow to help you decide. I personally like fruitwoods (pecan, apple and maple) as they don't impart too strong of a flavour and let the beef flavour come through. Others would balk at this and say you need that smoky flavour. Truthfully, I never liked any Brisket I tried until I made it on my own. Most people use mesquite and I just really dislike mesquite-smoked meat. I am assuming if you are smoking a brisket, you have smoked beef before and know what pellets make your tastebuds happy - so go with those! you don't need to change things up just because it's a brisket.
|Oak||Strong, Traditional Smoke||Preferred for Beef Brisket|
|Mesquite||Strong, Earthy Finish||Preferred for Beef Brisket|
|Hickory||Strong, Milder than mesquite||Preferred for Beef Brisket|
|Pecan||Medium, Sweet and Mild||Optional|
|Apple||Mild, Sweet and Fruity||Optional|
|Maple||Mild, Subtle Sweet||Optional|
How to season a beef brisket for smoking:
The traditional way is a 50:50 blend of coarse salt and pepper. I am incapable of cooking without adding a little of this and a little of that so you will see some added spices such as garlic powder and onion powder to my rub.
When seasoning Brisket, do so sparingly and from high above the meat. I think a lot of people think they need to coat the brisket in an insane amount of rub to get the bark, but that is not the case. Have it evenly coated in a thin layer of rub and then let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and season the other side and let it sit for 30 minutes. In the photos, I went LIGHT on the rub, as I decided to build up my bark during the cook. This is an optional method of seasoning that I chose to do this time as my brisket was small. By spraying a mist on my brisket and coating it with more seasoning each time, I helped ensure my small brisket wouldn't dry out during the cook. After spraying the brisket, I apply more seasoning each time and slowly build up the bark.
Do I need to mist (Spritz) my brisket?
You don't have to! I think it helps keep the meat moist and the bark from overcooking. This makes the end result crisp instead of burnt.
If you want to mist your Brisket, fill a spray bottle with beef consomme and spray the entire surface (ya even the bottom) every 30 mins to 1 hour. (Don't start spritzing your brisket until 3 hours into the cook. It has enough natural moisture before then) Now, keep in mind: that doing this will extend your cook time. Every time you open the smoker you let heat out.
What to spray on Smoked Beef Brisket:
Apple Juice, Beef Broth, Beef Consomme, Coca-Cola, Root Beer, Apple Cider Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar.
How long per pound does it take to smoke a brisket?
At 225 degrees, it roughly takes 1 hour per pound. However many things can affect this and it can fluctuate between 30 mins- 1.5 hours per pound. Timing all varies based on the fat %, the thickness, the trimming etc
A step-by-step guide to smoking brisket on a pellet grill:
- Trim the Brisket - This process is better watched than read. The brisket that I used for this recipe was already trimmed by my lovely butcher. Here is a video to teach you exactly how to trim a brisket.
- Season the Brisket - It is important to not overseason your brisket. Season from at least 12" above the brisket in an even layer so that it is light but you don't see patches of meat anymore. Season one side, cover with saran wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. This lets the meat sweat which allows the seasoning to bond to the meat and penetrate it. Flip the meat over and season the other side cover it and let it sit for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the Smoker - Preheat the smoker to 225F. You can go up to 275F if you want.
- Insert the Probe into the Brisket - Insert into the thickest part of the flat.
- Smoke the Brisket - Place the brisket directly on the grill grates. Do not worry about opening the smoker for at least a couple of hours. after a few hours, if you choose to, you can start spraying your brisket with a mist of beef broth or other liquid every 30 minutes-1 hour. This step is optional.
- Wrap the Brisket - Once the Brisket reads an internal temperature of 150F or the bark has developed, wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper. This step is also optional.
- Smoke the Brisket More - Return the brisket to the smoker until an internal temperature of 200F has been reached
- Rest the Brisket - Rest the brisket until the internal temperature reads 150F.
- Slice the Brisket - Slice and serve the brisket.
Brisket Wrap Options
|Aluminum Foil||Butcher Paper||No Wrap|
|Cook Time (based on packer cut)||11 Hours||11.5 Hours||12+ Hours|
|Bark||Softest||A little Crunch||Crunchy|
|Taste||Beefier||Beefy & Smoky||Smokier|
When do I wrap Brisket?
Wrap your brisket once it reaches at least an internal temperature of 150F. You can wait until 170F if desired. A lot of pros decide when to do it based on the appearance of their bark. So if your Brisket is at 150 and the bark doesn't appear to be developed enough you can definitely leave it on longer.
Once you wrap your brisket, place it back on the grill FAT SIDE DOWN this time.
Butcher Paper Wrap vs Tinfoil
Butcher Paper that is unwaxed is preferred by many but to me, a Lil home cook, I use tinfoil. Butcher Paper will allow the brisket to breathe more and this means the bark will be maintained during the wrapping period. The bark will be firmer.
With foil the brisket doesn't breathe, it nearly steams it, which results in a softer bark. Which I personally prefer but hey others are offended by it haha! If you're using foil, your brisket will cook faster than if it is wrapped in butcher paper.
How to wrap Brisket in Foil:
Take two arm lengths of foil, lay the pieces on top of each other, slightly offset. Lay the brisket in the middle. Wrap the brisket as tightly as you can, making sure to tuck in the ends.
Tip: If you want to lock your tin foil together, make a 2-inch fold on each long end and then interlock them.
What to do if my Brisket Stalls
The stall is when you are cooking a large cut of meat and the temperature stalls at a temperature of 155-165 for hours. So, if this happens what are you to do?
- If you have the time, Let it be. Seriously just don't touch it. The stall doesn't hurt anything but your hunger levels. Now you can be besties with the people on the internet who share memes about their brisket stalling, you know their pain, you've earned the badge.
- Crank the heat. If you are 225 you can turn the heat up to anywhere from 290-350.
- If you want to ensure you won't have a stall separate the point end from the flat end. They cook at different rates and then the meat isn't as thick for the smoke and heat to penetrate.
- Add Moisture: If you've ever seen people spraying their bbq with water or having a pan of water in their smoker, it's to help avoid the stall. Introducing moisture keeps the humidity high and lessens the evaporation which helps avoid the stall.
- Wrap the Brisket: Wrapping the brisket in butcher paper or tin foil helps lock in the moisture and prevent the stall.
What temperature is my brisket done at?
Brisket can be taken off the smoker at 200F. However, there are important temperature milestones that you need to bear in mind. The first is 150F-175F. At 150F you should remove the brisket and wrap it however, only do this if your bark has set up. You can tell that your bark has set by rubbing your finger and if it stays in place it's good to go. This helps prevent the brisket from stalling, drying out and more. Return the brisket to the smoker once it is wrapped and keep it on until it reaches the internal temperature of 200F. However, you don't just go and eat the brisket at this point. The brisket needs to rest until its internal temperature is back down to 150F. If you don't rest it, it won't be moist, tender or juicy.
How Long to Rest a Beef Brisket
Resting the Brisket allows the rendered fat to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicy and tender bite. This is the most important step to GOOD Brisket.
How long you should rest a brisket roughly correlates with how long it took to smoke your brisket. Brisket that is small will not only take less time to smoke, but it also needs less time to rest. (just like a steak takes less time to rest than a roast) The same applies to larger briskets. As with cooking, you will want to watch your thermometer while your brisket rests. Your Brisket will cool more rapidly at room temperature. This is ok for a large piece of meat and is recommended, until a certain point anyway.
What is with using a cooler for brisket?
Brisket needs to slowly come down in temperature so that the rendered fat has an opportunity to evenly redistribute throughout the meat. Many recipes say to let your brisket rest 1-3 hours. I am here to say NO. You should let your brisket rest at least 3 hours. The time will be determined by the size of your brisket. Some pit masters let their briskets rest up to 12 hours! The key is to watch its temperature lower and stop resting when it reaches 150-160F.
If your brisket is ready early, you can hold its temperature in an oven set to 150F or on the proof setting. ( if applicable)
When placing the meat in a food-safe cooler, keep it in its foil or paper wrap and also wrap it in a towel. This helps slow down the cooling process which allows all the fat to be evenly distributed. If you chose to not wrap your brisket during the cook, you will want to for the resting period.
|Less Than 8 Hours||Place directly in cooler from Smoker. Rest to 150F|
|8-10 Hours||Allow to come down to 180F then place in a cooler Rest to 150F|
|12+ Hours||Allow to Cool to 160-170 then place in a cooler. Rest to 150F|
How to Cut Beef Brisket
Use a long serrated bread knife with even pressure. Always cut across the grain. Because the bark is hard to see the grain through, you can make guide cuts before seasoning and smoking. See an example of that here.
If you are smoking a packer cut of brisket that has the point and the flat all attached you will want to cut the flat first.. Cut it across the grain with the width of a pencil which is ¼" or 6mm. A brisket point has its grains running opposite of the flat. You will want to observe which way they are running and slice across the grain. A brisket point is fattier and can be sliced thicker. The width of a finger is common, or about ½" 12 mm.
I like this video best for explaining the difference between the flat and the point while cutting.
How to reheat Brisket:
Using a double boiler or a pot and steamer basket, place desired amount of brisket on the top and let it reheat on the stovetop with steam! This is the best method to reheat, as it doesn't dry out the brisket. If you need to reheat a whole brisket, you could place the brisket in a roasting pan on a wire roasting rack that keeps it elevated off the bottom of the pan, and place brisket drippings and or water/beef broth in the bottom. Then place the covered roasting pan in the oven and reheat at 250F until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160. Slice and serve. (no need for a long rest this time)
What is the difference between brisket and a beef belly?
The Brisket is the meat and tissue you see in between a cow's legs directly under its head and neck. When a cow walks their brisket sways back and forth. It is the first part of a cow's body where they gain fat!
A Beef belly, also known as the navel cut is connected to the brisket but it lies under the cow instead of in the front of it. It is connected to the short ribs.
Both of these cuts are most commonly made into ground beef. However, with the rise of home smokers we are now seeing brisket being sold whole in the local grocery stores to be smoked like in this recipe and beef belly, like pork belly, can be cured and smoked into Beef Bacon! SO GOOD.
Smoked Beef Brisket
- 1 pellet grill
- 18 Pounds Hardwood Pellets
- 1 Brisket
- 3 Tablespoons Coarse Cracked Black Pepper
- 3 Tablespoon Coarse Sea Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
- 2 Cups Beef Consomme
- Please read entire article before starting. Instructions below are a quick reference guide once you are well versed in the process.
- Trim the Brisket Season the Brisket - It is important to not overseason your brisket. Season from at least 12" above the brisket in an even layer so that it is light but you don't see patches of meat anymore. Season one side, cover with saran wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. This lets the meat sweat which allows the seasoning to bond to the meat and penetrate it. Flip the meat over and season the other side cover it and let it sit for another 30 minutes.Preheat the Smoker - Preheat the smoker to 225F. You can go up to 275F or as low as 200F if you want.Insert the Probe into the Brisket - Insert into the thickest part of the flat.Smoke the Brisket - Place the brisket directly on the grill grates. Do not worry about opening the smoker for at least a couple of hours. after a few hours, if you choose to, you can start spraying your brisket with a mist of beef broth or other liquid every 30 minutes-1 hour. This step is optional.Wrap the Brisket - Once the Brisket reads an internal temperature of 150F or the bark has developed, wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper. This step is also optional.Smoke the Brisket More - Return the brisket to the smoker until an internal temperature of 200F has been reachedRest the Brisket - Rest the brisket until the internal temperature reads 150F.Slice the Brisket - Slice and serve the brisket.