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The Secret of Smoked Brisket Starts With Trimming

Whether you've been inspired by Texas pitmaster Aaron Franklin, you've read about Camp Brisket, or you want to try it out for your next tailgate, there comes a time when everyone learns how to smoke a brisket. A good brisket recipe can be passed down from generation to generation, and the best Central Texas brisket uses simple ingredients, like salt and black pepper for a tender brisket. But it takes some time to master all you need to know, including how to choose the perfect brisket and how long to smoke the meat.

What Is Brisket?

For those who are new to the world of Texas barbecue, brisket is a cut of beef from the lower breast of a cow. Each cut of meat is different, and this one happens to be pretty tough and full of connective tissue because this area of the cow is used so often. Because of this, brisket must be cooked for a long time to get nice and juicy. Another factor that makes brisket difficult to cook is that it's often a large cut of meat. For perspective, a full brisket is often between 10 and 14 pounds.

slicing a beef brisket fresh off of the smoker

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Brisket can be cooked and enjoyed in a variety of ways and is popular in a number of cuisines. It's a traditional Jewish dish for Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and can be found in England and Ireland as well. Although brisket can be prepared in a variety of ways, from the oven to the slow cooker, most Americans agree that smoked brisket is the way to enjoy this signature cut of meat. However, to enjoy a smoked brisket, you have to learn how to cook it.

Because of its tough texture and particular cooking needs, smoked brisket has earned a reputation for being unforgiving for the amateur cook. Unlike a steak, brisket requires a lot of time to convert the connective tissue into smokey goodness. While braised brisket or corned beef are both common ways methods, traditional low and slow barbecue is hands down the best way to prepare your smoked beef brisket.

Although a good smoked brisket recipe is important, it's more important to know how long to smoke a brisket. The cooking process can't be rushed and is what provides that smoke flavor, especially if you use a pellet grill with hickory wood chips.

So how do you get that perfect smoked brisket in your own backyard? You do as the professionals over at Smoked BBQ Source do.

6 Steps to Know How Long to Smoke a Brisket

If you're new to barbecue, smoking a whole brisket can be intimidating. From knowing what to look for when selecting the brisket, to trimming, how long to smoke the brisket, wrapping, and finally resting and slicing there's a lot you need to get right. That's why this barbecue brisket checklist from Smoked BBQ Source will become your new brisket guide with six easy-to-understand steps.

Raw piece of marble beef brisket set

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First, choose your piece of meat wisely. The best brisket has about a 1/4 inch fat on it with some marbling; if there's excess fat, trim it off some. If you have a fat side to the meat, put that over the highest heat so that the fat cap will protect the meat.

Second, use a flavorful brisket rub, but go easy on it. You want the flavor of the meat to stand out. If this is your first brisket, try a kosher salt and black pepper rub recipe to start.

Next, make sure your smoker is set up correctly. Get your cooker to the right temperature and make sure you have a water pan set up to keep moisture in the chamber. Choose your type of wood chunks to put in the firebox carefully; use dry wood. If you're set on making authentic Texas-style brisket, use mesquite wood.

It takes about an hour of cooking time per pound brisket. If the meat starts to look dry, you can add moisture with a spray bottle of apple juice or apple cider vinegar.

Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer

If you don't yet have a meat thermometer (we love this instant-read thermometer), smoking brisket is the best excuse to make the purchase. Checking the internal temperature of your brisket is key until you learn what time and temperature is perfect to get that smoke ring while indirect cooking.

Don't check too much while the brisket cooks. If you need to speed things up, you can wrap the brisket in aluminum foil (but be prepared to argue about that choice with other cooks).

Once the meat is done, let it rest for at least an hour, then slice it on a cutting board. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce. On the off chance that you have any leftover brisket, it will keep in the refrigerator for about three days.

The 3 Things to Remember About Great Brisket

1. Give yourself plenty of time.

While the actual cook time varies with each brisket, you should allow at least 1 hour and 15 mins per pound of brisket when the cooking temperature is set to 250°F.

2. Get your gear ready.

Nothing beats the taste of brisket cooked over a charcoal grill, but any type of electric smoker or pellet grill can get the job done. This guide shows you how to set up a gas or kettle-style grill for smoking.

Thermometer in a roasted beef brisket

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3. Allow plenty of time to rest.

After hours of waiting, you're probably dying to start eating. But it's important to leave brisket so the fibers can relax. Wrap it in foil or butcher paper, then a towel and place in a cooler for a few hours, and then slice it just before you are ready to eat. This will give you plenty of time to work on your sides and sauces.

For sides, you can't go wrong with Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese, Skillet Cornbread, and Jamaican Cabbage Slaw. And if you need some great brisket recipes, we've rounded up a few here for you. Check out our Southwestern Braised Brisket, Coca-cola Brisket, and Slow Cooker Mustard Beef Brisket.

If you've mastered your brisket but find yourself with far too much to finish, you can store your coked brisket in the fridge for three to four days. If you bought more than you needed and didn't cook all of it, you can store raw brisket in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze it in an airtight bag for six months to a year. This is perfect to perfect your brisket cooking method, since the more times you do it, the closer you'll get to perfection!

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