How to Make Smoked Brisket
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OK, so for todays post I am going to talk all about How to Make Smoked Brisket. There’s more to it than just smoking though. We are going to first make a brine, then dry rub and finally smoke the brisket with cheery wood. Feel free to use whatever wood chip flavor you prefer, but I find this works well.
How to Make Smoked Brisket
Some people feel this entire process is a little daunting. Well no more then anything else you haven’t done before, believe me. If anything, it is more time consuming than anything. After you get a few items mixed you can sit back and let things marinate, and smoke. No heavy lifting there, right? And once you get this brining and rub down, you can apply it to all different cuts of meat and poultry.
Half the time I keep a portion of the meat for lunch meat. I allow it to cool, refrigerate to firm up and slice it nice and thin for sandwiches or in chunks for a type of corned beef scramble with onions and potatoes. The possibilities are endless.
3 Steps to Smoke a Brisket
- First we need to fortify that beautifully marbled piece of beef with a brine. This ensures it is well hydrated for that long, low and slow smoke.
- We also use a dry rub for added flavor and to ensure a delicious crust, or bark.
- To finish it off we are using Cherry wood chips for the smoking agent. This imparts a beautiful, subtle flavor of smoke. You can read more about different wood chips for smoking here in a past article post I wrote.
Let’s get started!
Make sure to get a beef brisket with a beautiful fat top. This will melt during the smoking process and continuously keep the meat moist when rendering down.
You can keep it whole or slice into pieces. I slice in two for easy submersion in brining and later eating and slicing.
How to make a brine
In a saucepan over medium heat toast the spices slightly to bring out their essential oils for several minutes. Don’t burn these, continuously shake the pan and the aroma will fill the kitchen.
Next, add the water, salt and sugars and simmer for 10 minutes.
In a tub that can be sealed, add the cold water and ice. Pour the hot brine liquid in and when cool enough add the meat. Make sure it is submerged and feel free to weigh it down if need be.
Cover and refrigerate for 2 or more days. I wouldn’t do more than 5 days.
After the beef brisket has brined for several days remove and rinse under cold water.
Dry, cover all over with dry rub mixture. Rub in the spice mixture in a pan, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Start your smoker and remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
Set your smoking chips up per manufacturer’s instructions. Place in the smoker set at 225°F for an hour and a half per pound.
There are a lot of opinions on keeping the vent open or closed during the smoking process. For me seeing as the smoker has limited smoke, unless you want to keep re-loading with wood chips, I keep it closed the first hour, then open it up for ventilation and constant airflow. I’ve read that with time and temp the ability of meats to retain smoke diminishes past 140°F. So it’s usually a 2 to 4 hour smoke window for optimum smoke absorption.
Look at that deliciousness! Smoked brisket at it’s finest. This is How to Make Smoked Brisket!
Carefully remove the smoked brisket from the smoker and allow to cool down and rest for 10+ minutes.
Feel free to discard whatever fat cap is still there and not rendered down completely. Slice across the grain and serve!
I served this with some fresh Perfect Grilled Corn on the Cob and baked potatoes.
The remaining sliced Smoked Brisket is great for leftovers, lunch or used to make a hash with chopped potatoes and onions.
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How to Make Smoked Brisket – Brined, Dry Rubbed and Cherry Wood Smoked
- 5 lbs beef brisket
- 8 cups hot water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- 1 tsp celery seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 8 cloves
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp mixed peppercorns
- 8 cups cold water and ice
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp chili seasoning
- 2 tbsp coriander seed
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp celery seed
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- Toast all seeds lightly in a sauté pan to extract essentials oils and toast slightly. Allow to cool.
- Bring water to a boil and mix all Brine ingredients in a container large enough to allow meat to be covered in brine. Make sure sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Add the ice to cool brine down and submerge the beef brisket.
- Brine for two days or more if desired in refrigerator, covered.
- Mix rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Rinse off brined brisket. Shake off excess water and apply dry rub. Press rub mixture on to meat, allow to rest for two hours, covered and refrigerated.
- Soak your wood chips. Bring meat to room temperature. Place dry rubbed brisket in the smoker set at 225°F for an hour and a half per pound. Add the smoke chips or pellets per smoker manufacturer instructions. (See Note 1).
- Let rest 1 hour and slice across the grain and serve!
- I recommend wrapping in foil at 145°-150°F internal temp to lock in the moisture so the rub does not pull it out. Remove at 170°F internal temp vs 180°F as recommended by Masterbuilt Smoker directions. Brisket is hard to get right and can be dry if you aren’t careful.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Used your recipe yesterday and came out fantastic and juicy. 8hours to get to 165 at 225 degrees, wrapped in foil and 1 more hour at 300 and pulled off at internal temp 190. Let sit in double cooler for 3 hours and served (no reheating necessary). Fat side down the entire time, apple hard wood.
Sounds fantastic, Al. I’m glad the recipe worked well for you!
I use this brine recipe everytime! Adds such a nice extra flavour layer that arrives after you’ve chewed a few times, definitely ups the complexity level.
I prefer a simpler spice rub after and them smoke at 225 till brisket reaches 165, then wrap with lots of extra tallow on the paper and on top of brisket. Put in oven at 225 till hits 203. Pull off and place in warmer for 2 hours then let sit for another 30 mins in paper before opening and getting after it. Enjoy
I’ve tried both ways and either is delicious. Fat side down gives a better bark for meat
I am curious as to why the fat side down? Would you not want the fat side up so it melts down the brisket?
Tried smoking a brisket for he first time using your recipe. Excellent flavoring, especially the brine, but i went wrong somewhere in the cooking. It was a 5 lb brisket, pellet grill set to 225. It hit 170 in only a little over 4 hours. I was expecting 7-8. It was a little chewy, still very moist, not bad overall. It just wasnt super tender like from a good bbq joint. Should i just try cooking at 180 for longer next time?
Interesting it cooked so fast! You can usually figure about 1 1/2 hours per pound at 225°F for brisket, pork shoulder and other larger pieces of meat. Several things can affect this time such as actual meat thickness, wind, temperature and how often you open the door of the smoker. In regards to yours being chewy – did you let it rest 1 hour then cut ACROSS the grain?
I did cut across the grain and let rest. Im thinking it may have been the temperature. It was a little cold and windy that day and the ambient temp inside the smoker was fluctuating a lot. Not only down sometimes to 180 but up when the grill may have been overcompensating, sometimes up to 250. My piece also looked a bit thinner than what i see in your pictures. Anyway, i will definitely be trying again soon. I found tips online to use a welding blanket in colder months to retain heat and going to try that out.
I’ve seen blankets used before, too. Will have to look into that when it gets colder around here, thanks!
I had issues with brisket until I bought a pit boss. I brined for 3 days cooked until it was 150 then wrapped in foil wrap multiple times. Cooked until 205 on both ends. Meat probe or fork should slide into the meat like butter. It worked out amazing.
Excellent, thanks for coming back with the update Amanda!
Try wrapping at 160 the pulling it off at 203. That’s the when it gets tender
I’ve been using this recipe for a few years now and I’m quite happy with it. Still working on a BBQ sauce to match this profile though.
I am so glad you have had it more than once! Thank you for sharing!
i pumped the3kg brisket with some of the brine and left it sit the rest of the brine for 4 days then followed the recipe for the cook, It turned out nice and moist and was tender as well,This was the first time i have pumped a brisket and will certainly do again,
Thank you for sharing! I am glad it turned out good for you!
Hi need to know if I put 3 different pieces of cornbeef in the oven a total of16lbs how can I figure out how much to cook it for an at what temperature
Joe, the time to bake corned beef in the oven (350°F) until it is tender, juicy, but still sliceable, is really simple to remember! Bake it for one hour per pound, and if your corned beef isn’t a “perfect”, even weight, round up to the quarter pound for times. For instance, a 2.65 lb corned beef should cook for the same time as a 2.75 lb corned beef: 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Great recipie, thanks for sharing.
Thank you David! Glad you enjoyed it!
if i pump the brine into the brisket will this effect the time or will up to 5 days be enough?
I couldn’t answer to that one Bevan as I have yet to try that. If you do, please let me know and I can update the recipe card.
ok, will do
I like Kevin’s recipes and use them a lot but this one didn’t suit my wife’s and my tastebuds. Most likely a personal thing so please no disrespect intended. I’ve now smoked 4 briskets, each time modifying the spice pack in the brine and the rub. We thought it was the clove, cinnamon, and anise. Each attempt, I cut back the amount of those ingredients. The taste was better each time, but in the end, we had one hot meal and the dogs enjoyed the rest. Yes, this little experiment is getting rather expensive. Perhaps it’s the coriander that we don’t like? Anyway, the tenderness, appearance, etc. was all top shelf – we just didn’t like the flavor. Now it’s time to move on.
Fair enough, thanks for trying it Will.