competition brisket method

Competition Brisket Method on a Yoder Pellet Smoker

Last week I wanted to try cooking a competition style brisket on the Yoder YS480. I’ve heard when it comes to smoke ring that pellet smokers can’t stack up to traditional cookers. But I had to see this for myself.

I picked up a 14lb whole packer from Restaurant Depot at 2.29lb for CAB choice brisket; I was very happy.

The first task was to trim it for competition. And I shot a little video that walks you through my entire process here:

Some people argue with my style when it comes to comp trimming a brisket. I tend to lean on the aggressive side when it comes to blind box trimming. The whole goal is to remove any unwanted barrier like fat and sinew from the top of the flat, clean up the point for cutting burnt ends, and most importantly think about how this brisket needs to look when it’s done. That’s where trimming for the box is important.

If you need to grab an empty take out box to serve as a guide and leave about 1” to the outside of the box. This keeps you from having to trim off the ends of the slices when it’s time to build the box, and bark around the entire slice just plain looks better!

I also shot a video of the method I use to cook my competition briskets…

Once the trimming is done it’s time to season. I use a layered approach. The first layer is pretty much what I put on a good ribeye steak, a good dose of Salt, Black Pepper, and Garlic Powder. This base layer is the foundation for great tasting meat.

Next comes the brisket rub then a final layer of Montreal Steak Seasoning for texture and bonus flavor. You may think this sounds like a lot of seasoning for one brisket but trust me… it can handle it.

Next I inject with a mixture of beef stock, Worcestershire, and Soy Sauce. Then it’s off to the smoker.

I cranked the Yoder 480 up to 250 using pecan pellets and placed the brisket in the middle of the cooking chamber. Right away the Yoder levels out and starts producing perfect thin Blue smoke. If you haven’t tried pecan on a brisket I suggest doing so. The smell is amazing and it’s just combination for beef not overpowering at all.

At this point the Yoder is doing the rest of the work. I let it roll for 4 hours fat side down the entire time. Once the brisket gets to the mahogany stage and moisture is pooling a little on the top, I know that it’s time to wrap. If you need to check the internal temp, it should be around the 160 range but I’ve learned to look for color instead of temperature at this point.

For wrapping the brisket, I don’t do anything special except lay out a double layer of crisscrossed heavy duty foil. Some people add extra moisture to the wrap but don’t see the need. There’s plenty of fat to render and make its own liquid. You can use a little beef stock or left over injection if you want.

The wrapped brisket goes back on until it hits 198 in the flat. I check it just in front of the area I want to use for box slices. Once it hits that mark, about 8 ½ hrs total cook time) take it off the cooker and vent. This slows down the cooking process.

Next comes the rest. I use a cambro (insulated food carrier) but a dry cooler and couple old towels will do the trick. Give it a couple hours and then separate the flat and point. The point gets cut into burnt ends and tossed with a little of the au jus mixed with The BBQ Sauce.

the size, color and shape I’m looking for my burnt ends

I placed them back on the Yoder uncovered for 30 minutes to tender them up and give the sauce time to cook on. I couldn’t resist trying one and it simply melted in my mouth. These were definitely box worthy today.

The slices turned out just as good. The smoke ring was just right.


Malcom Reed

Killer Hogs BBQ Cooking Team
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Comments 11

  1. Malcom, first off, thank you for all of your knowledge. I just found your site yesterday, and it has already become one of my favorites. I am writing in regards to your Yoder YS680. I have a Stump’s Elite 6, but I am looking for something smaller and I was considering a Yoder pellet-fed unit. However, I have read that pellet smokers do not provide the same smoke flavor that traditional smokers do, but hat smoke ring on your brisket looks amazing! What do you do to compensate for the “lack” of smoke in the pellet unit? Do you add wood or wood chunks to the burning pellets as well? Your input would be greatly appreciated, as this is really the final issue I need to address before making my final decision.

  2. Malcom, I stumbled upon your site and have been reading it for several days now – really impressed! You have a wealth of knowledge. I have been smoking meats for only a couple years so I am still learning. I have a quick question on your brisket wrapping technique – why do you place the brisket fat side down when you wrap it in foil? Wouldnt you want it fat side up so the fat cap can render down through the brisket during the steaming time? Just curious. Im doing a 14 pounder and lollipop chicken this weekend following your recipe on my Yoder – Im excited to try some new recipes out!

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      I always want my meat to be room temp when it hits the smoker or grill. I would say that room temp would be between 70 – 80 degrees. Just as long as it’s not still cold, you’ll be fine.

  3. I am not understanding your response to the room temperature question. Are you saying if I took an internal temp of the brisket it would be the same as the room, 78 degree?

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  4. Reed family, amazing work with the site and incredible information. I have been smoking meat for a little over three years and your site is my go to. I love the info, easy to follow instructions and great techniques that you add to my repertoire ever time I cook.

    Today I’m cooking up a brisket and have done dozens of these without a complaint from anyone. My question to you today is about preparation of the burnt ends. So I get to the spot where I’m going to separate the point and the flat. I cut the burnt ends in to 1 inch cubes, toss in some au jus/BBQ sauce mixture and then put back on. Am I correct in that we are just glazing these essentially and not really putting them in a “soup” of this sauce so to speak. I’ve done these several times and they are always amazing but I have generally been using a tray of this sauce and it’s always turned out great but when re-reading your recipes it seems more like you are just glazing them.

    Thanks again for all the great info, great products and great communication with you loyal readers. Have a great weekend!!

    1. Post

      Good question – it really depends on how tender they are when I cut them. If they are tough, I use more liquid. If they are nice and tender, I use less. But I never use more than 1/2 inch of liquid in the pan.

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