Brisket is the flagship cut of beef for any smoker or smoking competition. If you can’t smoke a great or at least a mediocre brisket, you probably shouldn’t call yourself a smoker. This post includes a simple recipe, along with some pro-tips, to help you get started on your journey to smoker juggernaut status. If you are serious about consistently smoking good meat, I highly recommend documenting your recipes and process in detail so you can continue to tweak and improve.
I tend to be an all-out sort of guy, so I got a whole 15 Lb brisket for my endeavor. Unfortunately, it was too big for the smoker so I cut the tip off to smoke separately. Not a huge deal, but it adds another element of timing since the tip will cook faster than the main section. I would recommend getting a brisket or section of brisket that fits well in your smoker.
Let the brisket sit a bit on the counter so it gets close to room temperature. I rubbed mine down with spicy brown mustard, but yellow mustard works fine too. The main point is to help the rub stick, but the spicy brown added a bit of flavor.
I used the following ingredients to make a rub. Be careful not to over apply the rub, a brisket has a lot of surface area relative to mass. Unlike a pork butt or prime rib, you can over season a brisket. Ask me how; I know!
- 2 parts Montreal steak seasoning
- 2 parts garlic powder
- 1 part onion powder
- 1 part paprika
- 1 part kosher salt
I always play with using different combinations and ingredients for rubs. Again, it’s good to document what you use along with what you liked and did not like.
I used my electric Bradley smoker with mesquite and Jack Daniels wood. My electric smoker uses the biscuits, so I loaded 3 biscuits of each alternating to smoke with each for an hour at a time. This is another area to experiment with, different types of wood have different smoke “flavors”. With a red meat, you can use a more intense smoke. With something like chicken or especially fish, it’s usually best to use something a bit lighter, like an apple or cherry wood.
Preheat your smoker to 225 F. Brisket takes a looooong time to smoke, so I usually start it during the evening and let it smoke all night. Count on a minimum of 1 hour per pound, up to 1.5 hours per pound. So if you have a 10 lb brisket, your smoke/cook time will be around 12-15 hours.
One trick you can do is to wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or butcher paper after about 5-6 hours. After the 5-6 hour mark, you aren’t going to get much more smoke penetration anyway. However, the downside to this is you won’t get as good of “bark” or “crust” on the outside. Again, it’s good to experiment with different techniques to find what you like.
I highly recommend using a probe when you smoke so you monitor the meat temperature without having to open the smoker. “If you’re lookin’ it ain’t cookin’” is the classic saying. I have an iGrill setup with Bluetooth to my phone, so at 3 AM I can just take a look at my phone to check the meat instead of getting out of bed and going to the smoker. It’s a pretty great setup!
I cook mine to about 200º F then take out of the smoker. I like to wrap mine in towels and let it “rest” in a cooler for at least 2 hours. This is also a great way to give you some buffer for timing, you don’t have to try to time the smoker to your dinner party. Just give yourself some buffer and let it sit in the cooler until you are ready. Once, I had it resting in the cooler for 4-5 hours and it turned out great!
Once you are ready to serve, cut the brisket in thin strips against (or perpendicular!) to the grain. Serve with sides or use to make delicious brisket sandwiches (maybe melt some provolone or something on top?) One great thing about brisket is it has multiple uses for leftovers. We have a phenomenal brisket egg bake recipe we will share soon. Enjoy!!