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How to make great BBQ brisket

Without starting any wars....looking for a great brisket recipe. I have a smoker, I have a grill. Looking for that ideal combo of smoke, rub, dip, wet mop for a spicy sweet BBQ brisket for an upcoming party at my house.


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  1. Keep it simple, Texas style. Rub with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, maybe a little garlic powder and a little cayenne. What kind of smoker? As long as you go with a low heat around 250, with wood for smoke (hickory or really your choice). Just the dry rub, then low and slow for anywhere from 6 to 10 hours for a complete brisket flat, ranging from 5 to 8 lbs (bigger the better). Get one in the cryo, with a nice fat cap, at Sam's or the like. I go with fat cap up, so it melts down over the meat. Go to an internal temp of about 190-200... you'll want a remote temp probe to keep track. when the fork goes in easy, its done. Some folks will foil the brisket after about 160 internal, to retain more moisture. Probably a good idea at first. If you can get a full "packer" brisket, with the flat and point, even better... it will go about 12-16 lbs. A couple hours more on the cook. Same treatment. When the flat is done, the point will need to be removed, and left to keep cooking, since it will have more fat to render out. If you go that route I have a link to images on separating the point from the flat. The real burnt ends come from chopping up the point, hitting it with a little sauce, and continuing to smoke till done (tender and smoky). I like to offer sauce on the side... no mopping or saucing through the cook. Sauce I use is an approximation of what I saw down in TX:

    14 oz ketchup
    1 cup cider vinegar
    1/2 cup worchestershire sauce
    2 tbs yellow mustard
    2 tbs lemon juice
    1 tbs chili powder
    2 tbs paprika
    1 tsp crushed red pepper
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 tsp dark brown sugar
    1/3 cup brisket or bacon drippings (optional)
    3 cups water

    Combine all ingredients in saucepan, whisk and bring to rolling boil. Simmer about 10 minutes. Enough for 2 briskets (or more) as a side sauce.

    1. I like what woodburner had to say. Here's a dry rub method, with pictures. I'm not spamming their dry rub and have never tried it. I just liked the idea of the pictures.


      6 Replies
      1. re: dhedges53

        cool. People use many methods. I still think there's more benefit to fat on top, drenching the meat as it renders; the rub will not likely penetrate better if the fat is facing down, but it will simply fall down into the drip pan without doing any "good." Here's a pic of a recent effort on the Weber kettle, small fires on the sides... BTW, remember to slice that bad boy perpendicular to the grain... if it is REALLY tender, you can slice it a little thicker, just like the Texans do!

        1. re: woodburner

          I agree with you 100%, the fat must be on top. And, I also agree that the big, 12-15 lbs "packer" brisket is absolutely the way to go. I had no idea that a Weber with those 2 side pods for the charcoal could cook a brisket as beautiful as the one pictured. I have one of those bullet shaped smokers, that uses charcoal and a water pan, and, for the life of me, can't seem to get the temperature up high enough for a big brisket.

          1. re: dhedges53

            Sounds like you might not be getting enough air to the fire.....There are some easy mods that can be done to those cooekrs to make them work better.

            When you say you can't get the temperature high enough for a big brisket, what temps do you get to? Generally brisket will cook at the same temps as ribs or pork......

            1. re: BackyardChef

              I found a web site for modifying a Brinkmann smoker, and am going to get to work on that. Also, I picked up a good thermometer with a probe. As you said, 200-250 is the temp to shoot for. I have some apple trees and some plum trees in my yard and have had pretty good luck with that wood. I pick up pecan when I'm in Texas. I've also heard a lot of good things about Post Oak.

              Thanks for the tips!!

              1. re: dhedges53

                In my limited experience Apple is the best wood to smoke with.


            2. re: dhedges53

              I have a bullet, and usually have problem keeping temperature down... I use the Minion Method- saves having to replenish charcoal and provides steady heat for the whole cook typically (15-18 hours for a packer.)
              I find that I've the best results when the temp takes especially long to come up- put the brisket on before it comes up to temperature.
              I like apple wood too.

        2. Is there a general rule of thumb on cooking?? So many hours at a certain temp per pound??


          3 Replies
          1. re: Davwud

            1-1.5 hours per pound is a good ballpark. Bring it to anywhere from 190-205 internal for maximum tenderness, but don't go by time or temp alone-- when the probe of a thermometer slips in and out like going through warm butter, or a fork twists easily in the meat, it's done. The meat should have a bit of the jell-o shimmy when it is done.

              1. re: Davwud

                Sorry....Forget to mention cooking temps you asked for-- anywhere from 200-250 is fine bbq cooking temperature for brisket....

          2. Does/has anyone tried smoking flank steak??


            1 Reply
            1. re: Davwud

              mesquite for smoke, following the method above for truest Texas style brisket. I put pure chili powder in my spice rub, but not garlic powder. Sometimes cumin.. I have never tried smoking flank steak. I think of it as better seared and served rare to medium rare. You could build a hot smoky fire and grill.

            2. I like this wet rub quite a lot. I've tried a few others but keep coming back to this one.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Evan

                I use a rub combo with celery salt, season salt, garlic, chili pepper,black pepper, and what ever else might move me for the day.....but I really think the key to my brisket is I do an initial oven cook at 350 for one hour or so then transfer to my weber....use one burner to mantain temp of 220 or so.....cook for 6-8 hours or so....and I use wood chips in foil to mantain smoke......and bbq sauce of choice........

              2. Simple foiled brisket with wet/dry rub

                Wet/Dry Brisket Rub

                4 Tbs brown or turbino sugar
                2 Tbs seasoning salt
                1 Tbs chili powder
                1 Tbs Onion powder
                1 Tbs Garlic powder
                1 Tbs black pepper
                1 tsp cayenne pepper
                4 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce

                Combine dry ingredients. Rub Worcestershire sauce
                over entire surface of brisket. Rub dry ingredients
                over entire surface of brisket.
                Place in covered roasting pan, fat side down.
                Refrigerate for 24 hours.

                Place brisket in smoker, fat side up.
                Smoke at 240-250F about 60-70 minutes per pound.
                Wrap in foil when brisket reaches 160-165F internal.
                Continue cooking at about 250F until foiled brisket reaches 185-195F internal and
                temperature probe can easily be inserted.
                Remove from smoker and allow foiled brisket rest for about 2 hours.

                1. Jumping into this old thread instead of starting a new one. Listening to Woodburners suggestions. Going tomorrow to buy a full packer, probably in the 14 pound range to cook for the 4th..

                  I have seen grilling competitions where they remove the point, and grill it longer before making the bites. How long does the point need to cook to get that ectra layer of fat cooked? Any tips for that?

                  Do you need to put any more sear on the flat after you remove the point? Have to think there is going to be a wet, fatty area where the point was removed.

                  1. NASA Space Shuttle BBQ Brisket & Barbecue Rub

                    I use this rub all the time. It's really good.

                    This is the BBQ rub recipe that NASA used to prepare BBQ Brisket for the last Space Shuttle mission, STS-135 in July 2011.

                    The original NASA recipe, from their website, was a formula expressed in percentage of each ingredient used (by weight). It has been converted to volume for home use.

                    By Volume Measurement

                    1/2 cup Table Salt (3/4 cup Kosher Salt)
                    1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
                    1/3 cup Brown sugar, lightly packed
                    3 Tbsp Chili powder
                    3 Tbsp Paprika
                    2 Tbsp Celery salt
                    1/2 cup Ground oregano
                    4 tsp Ground white pepper
                    1 Tbsp Garlic powder
                    1 Tbsp Ground black pepper
                    1 Tbsp Cumin
                    3/4 tsp Dry mustard
                    1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

                    Mix well. Store in an airtight container.
                    Use at least 1 Tbsp of rub per 1 lb of meat.
                    Wrap rub coated meat in plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge overnight.

                    Makes 1 pound = about 2 1/2 cups of BBQ rub.


                    Original NASA BBQ Rub Formula (given in % of ingredients by total weight)


                    Original NASA press release with BBQ Rub formula:

                    "Beef Brisket, Barbecued, Sliced

                    Dry Rub
                    Ingredients Percent by weight
                    Salt 29.51
                    Sugar granulated 23.61
                    Brown sugar, lightly packed 17.71
                    Chili powder 5.90
                    Paprika 5.90
                    Celery salt 4.43
                    Ground oregano 3.54
                    Ground white pepper 2.95
                    Garlic powder 2.21
                    Ground black pepper 1.48
                    Cumin 1.48
                    Dry mustard 0.79
                    Cayenne pepper 0.49

                    PREPARATION PROCEDURE

                    Trim beef brisket of fat and rub dry rub mixture into the meat surface (Dry Rub shall be at least 8 grams per pound of raw brisket). Wrap the brisket in plastic wrap or suitable
                    material and hold at 40°F (4°C) overnight.

                    Cook briskets in a regular oven set at 235°F (113°C), baste after 3 hours with barbecue sauce. Cook another two hours until internal temperature is 175-180°F (79-82°C) baste with barbecue sauce and let sit in the oven for one more hour.

                    The brisket shall be sliced on a meat slicer set at 1/8 inch (3.0 mm). Serve 2.8 to 3.5 oz (80-100 g) of sliced brisket with add one ounce (30 g) of hickory smoke flavored barbecue sauce. "

                    Links to original recipe at NASA:

                    Link to NASA webpage with Shuttle food info

                    Link to NASA recipes PDF

                    1. When I went looking for a brisket recipe a few years ago, I found one which had me smoke to an internal temp of 160 deg. (as I recall), then double wrap in foil and finish in the oven to 205 deg. It comes out moist, tender and in half the time if I do it all on the smoker - and I drizzle some of the pan juices on after slicing to keep it moist. Watching all the BBQ shows on today and seeing them do the same thing makes me think it's still the way to go. What you do need, of course, is a rub you like (avoiding sugary rubs since those are better on pork than beef), and wood you like (I think oak is perfect for beef), and sauce you like. I have become tempted to take the beef out of the oven at a lower temp (190?) and finish back on the smoker so I can baste it with the sauce towards the end.

                      1. Salt, pepper, granulated garlic.

                        That's it...nothing more.

                        Same goes for beef ribs.

                        (Old threads need love too)

                        1. Watch the Barbecue with Franklin: Brisket series. I can't post a link from work, but it's easy to find with google. He keeps it very simple - just salt and pepper for the rub, and he shows you how to trim a whole brisket to prep it. I watch the videos as a refresher every time I do a brisket and it always helps.

                          1. I got a Big Green Egg recently and mean to try brisket. Given that I don't have a large party in mind, I wonder what people think of me going to a specialty butcher for just a large untrimmed point half?

                            The supermarket that I frequent has "whole" briskets in cryovac. I asked if I could get just a point half, but the butcher (knowing me and my foodie nature) said that I was probably better off seeking a whole point somewhere else. The "whole" briskets that they get have already removed a part of the point to make it trimmer and less fatty.