A complete tutorial on how to make smoked brisket, including everything you need to know about smoke times, how to dry brine a brisket for the best result, and tips on making amazing, perfect brisket each and every time.
So I hear you want to smoke a brisket.
You’re in the right place!
This post includes everything you need to know about smoking a brisket for that amazingly tender, juicy inside with the most amazing caramelized crispy fat on the outside.
The smartest thing you can do is dry brine the brisket ahead of time and allow it to come to room temperature before putting it on the smoker (if you have the time).
It takes a little forethought, but these two steps result in the most amazing smoked brisket!
Let’s get right into it!
Best Tip For Amazing Brisket: Dry Brine the Meat!
My number one tip to ensure you end up with incredibly tender, juicy, and flavorful smoked brisket is to dry brine it overnight (up to 48 hours).
While dry brining sounds fancy, it requires nothing more than sprinkling the brisket with sea salt (be sure you get the whole surface, including both sides and all edges!) and allowing it to sit in open air in the refrigerator overnight.
This process allows plenty of time for the salt to enter the meat, thereby maximizing the tenderness and flavor.
When you dry brine meat, you need very little else for flavor. No additional seasonings, marinades, and/or sauces are needed! Of course, you can always add to the process, but because the meat turns out so flavorful on its own, nothing else is needed.
How to Smoke a Brisket:
Before you do anything else, dry brine the brisket. To do so, sprinkle both sides and the edges of the brisket with sea salt (I use Real salt, but you can go with your favorite fine or coarse sea salt).
Place the brisket in a large casserole dish or on a cooling rack (if your brisket is very large, place it on two or three cooling racks or in a large tub) and refrigerate at least 12 hours, ideally 24 to 48. There is no need to cover the brisket – leave it exposed to open air in your refrigerator for the best result.
1 to 2 hours before you want to smoke the brisket, bring it out of the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. At this time, if you’d like to add additional seasonings like a dry rub, do so now! Personally, I love garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika, but you can go with any seasonings you love.
Note: if you don’t have time to bring the brisket to room temperature, no big deal! It will still be amazing!
When you’re ready to smoke, preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.
Place the meat on the smoker fat-side down, then replace the lid.
Allow the meat to smoke, undisturbed for 6 to 9 hours (depending on the size of the brisket…more on that later).
Once the brisket has a deep red-brown finish on the outside and the fat appears caramelized, remove it from the smoker and double wrap it in foil.
Place the brisket back on the smoker and continue cooking for an additional 3 to 5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 205 degrees F.
Remove the brisket from the smoker and allow it to rest at least 30 minutes (ideally 1 to 2 hours!) before slicing and serving.
If the brisket is smaller (5 pounds or less), it’s fine to allow it to rest only 30 minutes. For larger briskets, you want the meat to rest 45 minutes to 2 hours for best results!
Serve brisket with your favorite side dishes, and enjoy!
Temperature to Smoke a Brisket:
Any range between 225 degrees and 275 degrees Fahrenheit works.
If the brisket is smaller (12 pounds or less), OR you want to smoke it very slowly, go with 225. For larger briskets, or to get the job done quicker, set the smoke temp at 275 degrees F.
Just be sure to keep an eye on the brisket after 6 hours or so, as you want the fatty outside to be nice and barky and caramelized, but you don’t want it to burn. If the brisket begins to burn at any point, immediately wrap it in foil before you continue smoking.
How Long To Smoke A Brisket:
Smoke times will vary depending on the size of a brisket.
Allot 30 and 60 minutes per pound of brisket. For instance, a 16-pound brisket cooked at 275 degrees Fahrenheit will take between 10 and 12 hours.
Aim for an internal temperature of 196 to 205 degrees F. This will ensure you get a nice outer bark, a smoke ring around the meat, and a nice juicy, tender interior.
There are two stages of smoking – For the initial stage, simply preheat the smoker to 225 to 275 (depending on the length of time you want to smoke and the poundage of meat), and place the meat on the smoker fat-side down. Smoke until the meat is has a deep brown-red color and the fat appears caramelized, about 6 to 9 hours.
For the second stage, remove the meat from the smoker and double wrap it in foil. Place it back on the smoker at the same temperature and continue smoking another 3 to 6 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 205 degrees F.
Wrapping the brisket in foil for the final few hours ensures the meat continues cooking but stays juicy and moist on the inside and keeps the outside from burning. You will still get an amazing smoke flavor by giving it that initial 6 to 8 hours exposed to smoke.
Smaller briskets (less than 10 pounds) still require a decent amount of smoke time and don’t necessarily abide by the 30 to 60 minute rule, and a lower temperature (225 degrees F) is recommended.
A small brisket, between 3 to 5 pounds, which you commonly find at regular grocery stores take about 9 to 10 hours total at 225 degrees F. For the first six hours, cook the brisket on the smoker as is. Once the brisket has been smoking for six hours, double wrap it in foil and place it back on the smoker for an additional 3 to 4 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 205.
Because there is no exact science behind how much time a brisket will need, it is best to go by the way it looks after the initial smoke, and then the internal temperature after it has been smoking in foil.
Do I Need to Trim the Fat on Brisket?:
For smaller briskets (3 to 5 pounds), there is no need to trim the fat, as the butcher usually has trimmed it well in advance. Larger briskets (10 pounds or more) do come with a substantial layer of fat, which you will want to remove before dry brining and smoking.
Even after cutting a large amount of fat off of larger briskets, you will still have plenty of fat to keep the meat super flavorful.
You can save the fat to render it into tallow, or use it for cooking in the future.
- Dry brine the meat in sea salt overnight.
- Smoke fat-side down for 6 to 9 hours.
- Wrap the brisket in two layers of foil and continue smoking another 3 to 5 hours, or until the internal temperature is 205.
- Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes to 2 hours before slicing and serving.
And that’s it! Your gateway to the most amazing smoked brisket experience.
More Amazing Beef Recipes:
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- 1 (3 to 5 lb brisket)
- Coarse sea salt
1. Dry brine the brisket. To do so, sprinkle both sides and the edges of the brisket with sea salt. Place the brisket in a large casserole dish or on a cooling rack and refrigerate at least 12 hours, ideally 24 to 48.
2. When you’re ready to smoke, preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.
3. Place the meat on the smoker fat-side down, then replace the lid. Allow the meat to smoke, undisturbed for 6 to 9 hours (depending on the size of the brisket...more on that later).
4. Once the brisket has a deep red-brown finish on the outside and the fat appears caramelized, remove it from the smoker and double wrap it in foil. Place the brisket back on the smoker and continue cooking for an additional 3 to 5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 205 degrees F.
5. Remove the brisket from the smoker and allow it to rest at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 servings Serving Size: 1 of 10
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 352Total Fat: 17gProtein: 49g