Hero RoshHashanah SmokedBrisket

How to Smoke Brisket

What is Smoking?

Smoking is a way to add flavor — the smoke itself doesn’t cook the brisket. That’s the heat’s job. The low and slow cooking method causes the collagen in the meat to break down and melt, which is what gives a smoked brisket amazing tenderness while producing a crunchy outer crust, or “bark.”

What is a Brisket, Anyway?

A brisket consists of two overlapping muscles, the flat and the point. The flat is, indeed, flat and is the longer part of the brisket without much surface fat. The point is a larger, thicker piece of meat. The two are separated by a layer of fat that will render during smoking. On the underside of a brisket is the fat cap, which needs to be trimmed off before smoking. You should have about 1⁄4” of fat all around the brisket, including the sides and around the point. Any hard, thick fat should be trimmed. You’ll need a very sharp knife, so work carefully. If you need help, you can always consult the associates at your store’s Meat Department. Let them know you’ll be smoking your brisket, and they can trim it for you before you make your purchase.

How to Purchase a Brisket for Smoking

If you’re going to take the time to smoke a brisket, you may as well go for a whole brisket, or “packer.” While most brisket in the fresh meat case is cut to smaller sizes, you can ask your Meat Department for a full packer. This is a big piece of meat — 10 to 14 pounds — but don’t worry: Once trimmed of excess fat and smoked, the brisket will shed up to four pounds of weight.

A prime-grade brisket has lots of rich, flavor-enhancing fat, but choice-grade works well, too, and it’s less expensive than prime. You’ll want about half a pound of brisket (before cooking) per person. And don’t worry about lots of leftovers — brisket is delicious the next day!

What You’ll Need to Smoke a Brisket

Ready to take the smoked brisket plunge? Here’s what you’ll need:

-- A smoker, gas grill or charcoal grill

-- A very sharp knife for trimming the fat (a fish knife works well)

-- If using a charcoal grill, a chimney starter (to use in place of chemical-filled fire starter) -- Wood chips (cherry, maple, oak and hickory are great options)

-- A drip tray and a water tray (disposable aluminum is fine for both)

-- A reliable instant-read meat thermometer

-- Peach or pink butcher paper or foil

-- A large carving board

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Brisket?

Timing will depend on the size of your brisket. Just remember that for a packer, you should probably count on at least 12 hours of smoking, so plan accordingly.

Grilling Tips

Successful smoking requires steady temperatures. You may want to invest in a dual-probe thermometer to measure the meat’s internal temperature and the temperature of your cooker. You can’t necessarily trust the built-in temperature gauge on a grill.

Which side up? As with many aspects of brisket-smoking, you’ll see differing opinions on whether to smoke brisket fat-side up, or fat-side down. In general, experts agree that you should smoke the brisket with the fat-side toward the heat source. Basically, it depends on what kind of smoker or grill you use. Feel free to experiment as you hone your smoking skills!

Smoking a Brisket: A Step-by-step Guide

  1. Begin by soaking your wood chips in water. They should soak for no less than an hour, preferably longer or even overnight.
  2. Once trimmed, pat a mixture of kosher salt and cracked pepper all over the brisket.
  3. Let rest to room temperature, at least one hour.
  4. Add wet wood chips (and charcoal, if using a charcoal grill) to your smoker or grill. Place a tray of water to one side to create humidity and smoke, and a drip pan under the grates. Start the flame and heat your cooking source to 250F. Place brisket on the grates, close the lid and let it smoke, undisturbed, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165F, about 4 to 6 hours.
  5. Remove the brisket and wrap tightly in butcher paper or aluminum foil. Place it back in the smoker to finish cooking, about another 4 to 6 hours.
  6. At this point, start checking for doneness every 15 minutes or so by inserting a fork or metal probe into the side of the meat. When it feels as though you’re sticking a hot knife into butter and the meat feels flexible, the brisket is done.
  7. Let the brisket rest, still wrapped, until the internal temperature reaches 145F-150F. This could take 30–90 minutes.
  8. Remove paper and slice the brisket against the grain into 1⁄2” slices.
  9. Serve with your favorite sides for an unforgettable feast and give yourself a blue ribbon for your smokin’ hot accomplishment.

Ready to test your knowledge and skills? Check out one of our favorite smoked brisket recipes below and shop the ingredients to get started! For even more inspiration, visit our Rosh Hashanah page.

Hero RoshHashanah SmokedBrisket

How to Smoke Brisket

What is Smoking?

Smoking is a way to add flavor — the smoke itself doesn’t cook the brisket. That’s the heat’s job. The low and slow cooking method causes the collagen in the meat to break down and melt, which is what gives a smoked brisket amazing tenderness while producing a crunchy outer crust, or “bark.”

What is a Brisket, Anyway?

A brisket consists of two overlapping muscles, the flat and the point. The flat is, indeed, flat and is the longer part of the brisket without much surface fat. The point is a larger, thicker piece of meat. The two are separated by a layer of fat that will render during smoking. On the underside of a brisket is the fat cap, which needs to be trimmed off before smoking. You should have about 1⁄4” of fat all around the brisket, including the sides and around the point. Any hard, thick fat should be trimmed. You’ll need a very sharp knife, so work carefully. If you need help, you can always consult the associates at your store’s Meat Department. Let them know you’ll be smoking your brisket, and they can trim it for you before you make your purchase.

How to Purchase a Brisket for Smoking

If you’re going to take the time to smoke a brisket, you may as well go for a whole brisket, or “packer.” While most brisket in the fresh meat case is cut to smaller sizes, you can ask your Meat Department for a full packer. This is a big piece of meat — 10 to 14 pounds — but don’t worry: Once trimmed of excess fat and smoked, the brisket will shed up to four pounds of weight.

A prime-grade brisket has lots of rich, flavor-enhancing fat, but choice-grade works well, too, and it’s less expensive than prime. You’ll want about half a pound of brisket (before cooking) per person. And don’t worry about lots of leftovers — brisket is delicious the next day!

What You’ll Need to Smoke a Brisket

Ready to take the smoked brisket plunge? Here’s what you’ll need:

-- A smoker, gas grill or charcoal grill

-- A very sharp knife for trimming the fat (a fish knife works well)

-- If using a charcoal grill, a chimney starter (to use in place of chemical-filled fire starter) -- Wood chips (cherry, maple, oak and hickory are great options)

-- A drip tray and a water tray (disposable aluminum is fine for both)

-- A reliable instant-read meat thermometer

-- Peach or pink butcher paper or foil

-- A large carving board

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Brisket?

Timing will depend on the size of your brisket. Just remember that for a packer, you should probably count on at least 12 hours of smoking, so plan accordingly.

Grilling Tips

Successful smoking requires steady temperatures. You may want to invest in a dual-probe thermometer to measure the meat’s internal temperature and the temperature of your cooker. You can’t necessarily trust the built-in temperature gauge on a grill.

Which side up? As with many aspects of brisket-smoking, you’ll see differing opinions on whether to smoke brisket fat-side up, or fat-side down. In general, experts agree that you should smoke the brisket with the fat-side toward the heat source. Basically, it depends on what kind of smoker or grill you use. Feel free to experiment as you hone your smoking skills!

Smoking a Brisket: A Step-by-step Guide

  1. Begin by soaking your wood chips in water. They should soak for no less than an hour, preferably longer or even overnight.
  2. Once trimmed, pat a mixture of kosher salt and cracked pepper all over the brisket.
  3. Let rest to room temperature, at least one hour.
  4. Add wet wood chips (and charcoal, if using a charcoal grill) to your smoker or grill. Place a tray of water to one side to create humidity and smoke, and a drip pan under the grates. Start the flame and heat your cooking source to 250F. Place brisket on the grates, close the lid and let it smoke, undisturbed, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165F, about 4 to 6 hours.
  5. Remove the brisket and wrap tightly in butcher paper or aluminum foil. Place it back in the smoker to finish cooking, about another 4 to 6 hours.
  6. At this point, start checking for doneness every 15 minutes or so by inserting a fork or metal probe into the side of the meat. When it feels as though you’re sticking a hot knife into butter and the meat feels flexible, the brisket is done.
  7. Let the brisket rest, still wrapped, until the internal temperature reaches 145F-150F. This could take 30–90 minutes.
  8. Remove paper and slice the brisket against the grain into 1⁄2” slices.
  9. Serve with your favorite sides for an unforgettable feast and give yourself a blue ribbon for your smokin’ hot accomplishment.

Ready to test your knowledge and skills? Check out one of our favorite smoked brisket recipes below and shop the ingredients to get started! For even more inspiration, visit our Rosh Hashanah page.

Smoked Brisket

For an extra-tender entrée, smoke a brisket low and slow in your backyard.
RoshHashanah_Brisket

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 6 hours | Total: 6 hours| Serves: 8 Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2 1⁄2-3 lb.) beef brisket, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Mesquite wood chips
  • Apple wood chips
  • Hickory wood chips
RoshHashanah_Brisket

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 6 hours | Total: 6 hours| Serves: 8 Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2 1⁄2-3 lb.) beef brisket, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Mesquite wood chips
  • Apple wood chips
  • Hickory wood chips

Directions

Step 1

Mix all ingredients except wood chips in a bowl. Rub the mixture onto the brisket.

Step 2

Set the electric smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions to 225°F.

Step 3

Place the brisket on the lower rack. Close the door and cook 6-8 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 200-205°F and the meat is tender.

Step 4

Cover the meat in foil and let rest about 1 hour.

Step 5

Slice against the grain.