Cooking a Beef Brisket – the biggest questions…

I love talking BBQ. And I’m always willing to share what I’ve learned over the years, mostly because I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for a bunch of folks helping me out and answering my questions.

But in the past few weeks, I’ve gotten some really great questions on cooking brisket. You can check out my full brisket method by clicking this link.

Injecting a Waygu Brisket for a contest

To me, brisket is that one thing that if you cook it right… it’s delicious. But if you cook it wrong… it can be pretty bad.

And to be honest, it takes a while to figure out how to cook this tough cut of beef properly.

So here is the first question:

“How do you get the best and most amount of burnt ends? also, what cut of meat is used for this?”

Burnt ends are some good stuff… and here is how I get mine:

I cook the whole brisket.  Once it hits 198 internal it comes off the cooker and gets a 2 hours rest in a dry cooler.

After 2 hours I separate the flat and point.  The flat goes back in the holding box, and I cube the entire point for burnt ends.  Toss them with drippings from the foil wrap mixed with a couple Tablespoons of BBQ sauce and place them back on the cooker to tenderize.  They’re melt-in-your mouth tender in about 1 1/2 hours.  Just keep an eye on the them.

Brisket Burnt Ends in sauce

I have seen some people cube the flat for burnt ends but for me there’s not enough fat in it to give burnt ends the flavor they should have. Burnt ends should have a ton of flavor and almost fall apart on your tongue.

The next question is one that I struggled with for years…

“How do I keep my brisket from coming out lookin like zombie meat? I take it to 190 and it is the most gawdawful shade of gray. Any help would be appreciated.”

It’s all in the process.  For perfect brisket:  inject/marinade, season with a good dry rub, smoke with cherry/apple wood, wrap at 160 degrees and take it off the cooker at 198.  Last but most important rest the brisket in a dry cooler wrapped in old towels for 2 hours before slicing.

The injection and rub should solve your gray problem.  Color is everything on brisket so I make sure it has the right look before I wrap.  It just so happens that it’s usually around 160 degrees, but I want it a mahogany color on the outside with a deep smoke ring on the inside.  The cherry wood gives it color I’m looking for.

slicing brisket... look at that smoke ring!

“I’m a “backyard” guy who has ribs and butts figured out, now I’m moving up to brisket.  I’ve only cooked 1 flat before and it wasn’t that good. I ran across a SRF – Black 13.4 LB whole brisket, so I decided to go for it. Now I need some assistance to not screw up some good meat. I’m following your method, but where do I measure internal temp – point or flat? Do I cook Fat cap up or down?” 

When I cook a brisket, I take the internal temp in the thickest part of the flat (usually the middle)

I cook them fat down the entire time on the hottest part of my cooker (top rack)

The key to good brisket is smoking it until it hits 150-160 in the thickest part of the flat, wrapping it in foil to tenderize/render until it hits 198 internal. And resting it wrapped in an old towel inside a dry cooler for two hours.

If you want to make burnt ends, separate the point from the flat before the rest and return the point to the cooker. Continue cooking it until the point hits 205 internal and cut it into cubes, toss in the drippings mixed with a couple Tablespoons of BBQ sauce and cook an additional 15-30 min. They will melt in your mouth!

taking brisket out of the foil


Malcom Reed
Killer Hogs BBQ Cooking Team
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