easy smoked brisket
February 20, 2014

In the past I’ve done recipes and videos for competition brisket but this one is a little different. There’s no injection or aggressive trimming, it’s just seasoning, smoke, and time.

I start with a 12-14lb whole brisket which is the perfect size for fitting into a Food Saver bag. It’s hard to wrestle bigger briskets trust me on this. You can expect a 12-14lb brisket to yield about 6-7lbs cooked which is enough meat to feed a dozen or more people.

beef brisket ready for the smoker

Since we’re not injecting or marinating this brisket, it needs a good dose of seasonings on the outside to drive the flavor. I start with Butcher BBQ’s Steak and Brisket Rub. This rub is a combination of Salt, Garlic, Onion, Lemon Pepper, and herbs. It’s a great base layer for any cut of beef. You can substitute any seasoning here even Salt, Pepper, Garlic will work.

Next I apply my rub (The BBQ Rub.). It’s got some peppers and it’s going to give a great color to the Brisket. Plus it’s going to add just a touch of sweetness to give you a perfect balance… which is all your need for beef in my opinion.

Give it a good coat all over the brisket. Make sure you get the edges covered and any get it down in all the folds. You want seasoning on all surfaces.

The Last layer of seasoning is Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick. Not only does it bring more flavor to the bark but it also creates texture due to the coarse grind of the spices in it.

beef brisket with rub ready for the slow-smoker

Once again here’s where this recipe differs:

At a contest I would cook brisket fat side down the entire time. But you have to remember with my competition briskets I’ve trimmed off most of the fat, and I’ve injected it with at least 16oz of liquid.

Also I’m more concerned with the appearance of the competition brisket. We’re judged on one bite most of the time and as you can imagine that bite has to be packed with flavor, moisture, and has to look like it came out of a magazine. You wouldn’t want to sit down and eat a plate of this brisket. It’s simply to rich and over the top.

For this “Eating Brisket” we’re not worried about the extra fat or what it looks like after it’s cooked, so I’m going to cook it fat side up the entire time. I want the final product to have a “beefy” flavor but not be enhanced or artificial.

I also want to taste the spice and smoke on the outside. This is the way brisket was meant to be cooked!

beef brisket on the smoker

So I have the brisket on the pit, fat-side up and the temp holding steady at 250 degrees. For smoke I use a few chunks of pecan and cherry wood, but not too much. It’s easy to overpower beef with smoke. The cherry will give you all the color and smoke ring it needs, trust me on this.

At this point you can set a timer and relax for a few hours. Keep the temp steady at 250 and the door closed. After 4 ½ hours it’s time to take a look.

I don’t go by internal temperature at this point. I know some folks say to take it to 165 or 170 before you wrap, but I really don’t care what the internal is right now. What is important is the color on the outside. It should be dark but not burnt. I want a mahogany color not a meteorite!

beef brisket on the smoker

Once the color is right on the outside, I wrap the brisket in aluminum foil. Pull off strips about 36” long and lay them cross wise over each other. I use at least 3 layers because I don’t want any leaks. Carefully place the brisket back on the cooker to finish.

beef brisket with a beautiful color

The temp should be holding steady at 250 for the remainder of the cook and it’s probably going to take about 4 more hours. Typically a 14lb brisket takes me 9 hrs to cook at 250.

beef brisket wrapped on smoker

It’s a good rule of thumb but not always the case. This is where the internal temperature becomes crucial.

Brisket needs to get to 198 degrees in the thickest part of the flat. Sometimes it happens is 8 hours, sometimes it’s 12. There’s no exact science here but be patient and start checking around the 7 ½ hour mark.

Once I see 198 in the flat, it’s time to get it off the heat. Open up the foil and let the steam escape for 5 minutes, then cover it loosely and let it rest. I place it in a cambro or clean, empty cooler for at least 2 hours.

smoked beef brisket ready to eat

Since I’m giving this brisket as a gift, I needed it to cool completely before vacuum sealing.

After the 2 hour rest, I chilled it in the refrigerator for a couple hours. Then it was easy to slide into the 11” Food Saver bag.

I also poured the drippings into a pyrex measuring cup and let it chill in the fridge. Once the fat comes to the top, dip it off and pour the remaining Jus in the bag with the brisket. It makes some really good liquid for reheating the brisket.

Malcom Reed
Killer Hogs BBQ Cooking Team
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51 Comments

  1. Rich says:

    I love the brisket. I made a video about it. I thought you guys would appreciate it!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsYUaWOXgy4

  2. The best BBQ is always cooked for hours. I love that you cook it for 9 hours!

  3. Todd says:

    Malcolm, I followed your recipe for easy smoked brisket. It was hands down the best brisket I’ve ever made. Thanks for sharing all your recipes and techniques, they have been very helpful. I really enjoy your website and blog.

  4. I am a housewife, I regularly eat BBQ for the weekend. I had marinated grilled meat in the grill about 5 hours, then I manually sauce to eat with bbq.

  5. wayne stapleton says:

    Hi Malcom ! I was just going over your easy brisket recipe . Do you trim any fat off the brisket at all ? also what’s the best way to heat it ? you have some great bbq recipes . Thanks for helping with the great recipes .
    Regards Wayne

    • When I’m cooking at a contest, I will trim the fat off because I’m thinking about the final appearance – plus I inject and wrap and baby competition briskets, so I don’t loose any moisture or flavor by removing the fat. If I’m cooking a brisket at home to eat, I rarely trim off the fat. Fat is flavor – and since I’m not worried about putting this brisket in a blind box, I want to leave it on.

  6. Olyphant says:

    Smoked items are always mouthwatering its not exception. Its looking so delicious. Thinking about the taste and feel it. Thanks malcom for share this cool item. will try it soon.

  7. Vince says:

    Hi Malcom, I am going to smoke my first brisket using this method. My question is what is the best way to reheat the brisket if you are giving it away as a gift or freezing it to use later?

    • I keep it whole and put it in a food saver bag. That helps to keep it fresh and allow me to freeze it. Then I just give it to them whole – usually with some instructions on how to reheat it.

  8. Scot says:

    Hi Malcom,
    I also need to know the best way to reheat a finished brisket
    Thanks

    • When I cook a brisket to re-heat it, I like to save the au jus that cooks off. I let it all cool down and place the brisket in the fridge – then skim the fat off the jus and save that in the fridge too.

      When it comes time to reheat I take the cold brisket and slice it, put the slices in a large pan with the jus and put it in the oven or the cooker at 250 for about 1 hour.

      This keeps it moist and juicy.

  9. Brian Parke says:

    I vacuum pack whole pork butts and freeze. I simply place the frozen bag in a pot of cold water and heat them up together to a slight boil. Boil lightly for a while. Then open bag (be careful). The pork pulls apart and tastes just like you pulled it off the smoker. I assume you can do this with brisket…

  10. Mark Beringer says:

    Malcolm, I have an electric smoker that uses the fine wood chips. I see some people soak the chips in water. Would you suggest I do the same with the finer chips? I am going to try a brisket. I have already used your pulled pork recipe and that was AWSOME…

  11. Brian says:

    Malcolm, I’m new to the smoking world. Just got a Mak grill 2star General and I’m loving it. I’ve watched several of your videos. Made the ribs and my family went crazy over them. About to smoke my first brisket. If we smoke a smaller brisket (1/2 the size) how much less time will it take to smoke? Thanks!

  12. Watersmoke says:

    Hey
    In smoking a brisket. I have a propane smoker & it has a 1gallon water pan above the wood chips. My question is should I use water in this for smoking the brisket? Full half or none??
    Thanks

  13. Watersmoke says:

    thank you kindly for the advise on no water pan for the brisket. But how about chicken or pork ribs?
    Thanks for the advise!!!
    Eat well

  14. Omar says:

    Hello Malcom,
    I enjoy your videos very helpful. Would you recommend mopping a beef brisket? Can I use mustard on the brisket to hold the rub?

    • I don’t like to mop brisket. I want to go for that dark, crunchy bark. And I don’t think the mustard gives that much flavor – so I don’t see a problem using it on a brisket. If you wanted, you could use a cooking oil instead to get the rub to stick… but I think mustard would be fine.

  15. Kman says:

    You know a pro by the size of em’!!!!

    Love your stuff big guy!!

  16. gvmelbrty says:

    Hi Malcom.. I’ve got a pellet grill on the way and I’m going to dive right in with your brisket method. .. I’ve heard a lot about using butcher paper for the wrap instead of foil. What’s your take on the subject? … Also, do you have any recommendations for a good pellet for the best flavor? .. Thxs, Tom in NM

    • I’ve heard great things about using the paper – you just have to get the right kind. It’s a red butcher paper. I like the BBQer’s Delight. I’ve been to the factory and always had great results with their product.

  17. Tony DePersio says:

    I smoked a 5 lb brisket this week.It was generally speaking a flat brisket. I left the fat cap on and seasoned it liberally. I kept the smoker at 230-250 degrees. After 6 1/2hours, the internal temp was 201 degrees so I pulled it off. Since it was dinner time, I waited about 20 minutes or so and then cut it into thin slices. The outer edges were very tender and easily pulled apart. However the thicker parts, about 2-2 1/2 inches thick did not pull apart. Did I need to cook it longer or what? Any help will be appreciated as this is the 4th time and still not up to my liking.

    • Well, you skipped a critical step in cooking brisket. You have to let brisket rest in a dry cooler or cambro holding box for at least 2 hours. This is simply part of the cooking process with brisket. But as far as the tenderness, make sure when you probe the brisket it feels like butter. If you get any resistance, let it cook a few more degrees.

  18. Kyle Shaw says:

    I’m new to smoking. I found your site by accident. Since then I’ve used your methods for smoking pork butt, ribs, turkey and brisket. Your instructions are easy to follow. I’ve never been disappointed and my family is really pleased. Thanks!

  19. Gustavo says:

    Hi Malcolm, I’m from Venezuela and following you from the middle east! Huge Fans around here. I got a general question. In your receipes the grill temperature is in Fahrenheit or celsius? For the meat, Fahrenheit or celsius? Thanks in advance

    Gustavo R.

  20. Chris Nickell says:

    I have smoke all my meats usin your videos. I am fairly new to the art of smokin meats and your videos have been a tremendous help to me as well as others. Thank you for takin the ti.e to make videos and show us rookies how to do it the right way.

  21. Ron Higdon says:

    Malcom, thanks for sharing your bbq wisdom and knowledge. I’ve loved bbq of all kinds for ever, but I finally got a smoker for Christmas. I watched a lot of videos on Youtube to learn how to smoke and cook meats, but yours are by far the best. You do a great job of covering all the bases and providing detailed information on how to prep, season, cook and rest meats. I appreciate all you very much and I’ve made some damn good bbq thanks to your help!

  22. Ben says:

    I did my first whole brisket this past wkend. I followed your steps and it come out awesome! I used a WSM and couldn’t believe I made something like that in my own backyard. I never hit a still though? Maybe I got lucky? I used a 9lb packerd and keep the temp at 250.

    Either way, thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us!

  23. Phil says:

    Hi Malcolm,
    I plan to smoke a brisket on a Saturday for a Sunday party about 2 hours away. What’s the best way to transport it and re-heat it? Should I re-heat it before I leave and put it in a cooler in the trunk of my car?

    • for brisket I like to cook it, let it rest and separate the drippings. Place the cooled brisket in the fridge. Then remove the fat from the drippings and save them. When it’s time to serve, I’ll slice the brisket cold – it’s much easier that way. Then place the slices in a large food service pan with the reserved drippings – and maybe a little beef broth if needed – and allow it to come up to temp really slowly on the smoke or in the oven.

  24. Brad says:

    Quick question…water pan in the green egg?. Letting my first brisket rest as I type this and I did use a pan of water on the plate setter. I know it won’t hurt but does it help?

    • it does add moisture to your cooking chamber. The thing with brisket is I don’t like the moisture in the smoker for that cut because I want that great, thick, crunchy bark – and sometimes water pan can make the bark a little softer. One idea is to use the water pan at the start – and then just dry heat at the end to build your bark.

  25. Phil says:

    Hi Malcolm. When you wrap the brisket in foil, do you use regular or heavy duty foil? Shiny side on the inside or outside?

  26. Marc says:

    Got a Rectech mini for my b-day this weekend and tried the easy brisket recipe – it was easy and perfect! Was relieved since I had family and friends over and it was my first try on a pellet grill, but turned out great and everyone loved it. Thanks for sharing with us novices, Malcolm! I’m learning a lot from your site. Hope you keep sharing and maybe create a section of easy/just cooking for family and friends recipes grouped together? Would love to see best ways for chicken and fajitas. These are must knows where I’m from down here in So. Tx.

    Thanks,
    Marc

  27. Paul says:

    Hey Malcolm! Been checking out your website for the last few months now and love it. Just made a whole brisket following your recipie for a Sunday football get together at my house and it was a hit. I have a question, though. As brisket takes so long to cook, I did it the night before, and re heated in the oven. It tasted great, but got a little dried out (not much, still tasted really good). It got me to wondering what, in your opinion, is the best way to make ahead the night before and serve the next day. Is there something you do, or do you burn the midnight oil and cook throughout the night? Do you refrigerate it, then reheat it? Can you leave it in a dry cooler overnight? Just wondering if there was a better process for this.

    Thanks in advance. Again, great website with lots of good ideas!

    Paul

    • Paul says:

      Haha! Well, I just read above where someone asked almost the exact question, so no need to respond. Shoulda done a little more reading!

      Thanks for responding to all the questions people ask! Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. I mostly stick to pork, but looking forward to some smoked chicken wings!

  28. Mark Rudolphi says:

    Hi Malcolm

    Purchased your rub off Amazon and used it on a butt. Awesome stuff.

    Question regarding your non competition brisket. You mention you cook fat side up. However in most instances you talk about placing the fat towards the heat source. Can you expand on your method? Are you putting fat side up because your heat is coming from the top or is it you want the fat to melt into the meat or something else? Thanks!

  29. Mark Rudolphi says:

    Hi Malcolm
    In most of your videos/posts you mention putting the fat side towards the heat source. But for the easy smoked brisket you say fat side up. What is your strategy for this particular cook with fat side up? Thanks

  30. J says:

    Malcom… with your eating brisket you say you don’t inject. If I were to use butcher bbq brisket injection on your eating brisket how would it effect the taste?

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Welcome to HowToBBQRight

I'm Malcom Reed and these are my methods and techniques for mouth-watering, slow-smoked BBQ. Recipes, videos, detailed procedures and BBQ tips.

To me, it's all about Barbecue... I love creating, cooking and sharing my recipes.

I have a lot of smoking, grilling and cooking recipes on this website and my HowToBBQRight YouTube Channel. Check 'em out.

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