Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling >
Aug 10, 2009 08:12 AM

Smoking a brisket at home (split from the Ontario board)

I hope to get some pictures to document this. I tried a brisket once before but really didn't know what I was doing. I didn't cook it nearly enough.

I'm figuring on putting it out on the rack before bed on Friday night and refueling a couple times overnight.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think brisket is one of the tougher pillars of BBQ. And I've been using brisket mainly to make corned beef or pastrami, which has its own merits. Eventually, I'll get to it. I've seen enough pictures of burnt ends to make me drool.

    24 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      I reread the link above on making a BBQ brisket and it says to get an even ended flat. Mine is a bit thin on the one side so I'll probably have some good burnt ends.


      1. re: Davwud

        I can help you on this....I have made it 4 times and never dry...I put the point side nearest the hotbox on the smoker, flat in the cooler area as the flat is thinner.... I marinade a day or two, (I mail order Moore's Marinade from Alabama) take out of the fridge and inject with the marinade, do a mustard slather (a'la Paul Kirk), add rub and put it on...I never cook higher than 250* usually 220-230, when temp spikes I lift the lid. I have cooked with other meats like ribs or shoulder, put them over the brisket, easy basting plus I make my own basting mop too...and the other meats cook at higher temp than brisket usually so it works out...but usually start with brisket then add the other meats when the time is allotted giving the brisket 3-4 hours alone...but if there are no other meats, try placing the fat you cut from the cap on top rack to keep moist...I cut some 2" x 2" wood for rack stacking...lmk if this helps and I can provide more if you want…oh, and yes I do the ‘Texas Crutch’ sorry, but crust not that important to me as you know this hunk of meat takes forever….

        1. re: ebay3392

          Nothing wrong with the "texas crutch" if it doesn't interfere with your finished product.

          I don't use foil on the BBQ, but I will once the brisket is off the heat.

          I'll wrap the brisket and let it rest for at least an hour. The rest in foil usually assures a beautifully moist end product.

          I tend to get a serious, crusty bark on the brisket and it actually needs a little moisture to bring it back to a more edible stage.

          Davwud, let us know how you do. ebay3392 has some good advice.

          The only thing I would add is that it's a learning curve to get the feel for this cut of meat. Keep it simple and concentrate on constant steady smoke and temperature control.

          The first great brisket I ever achieved had a complex "salt and pepper" rub!

          1. re: Pantz

            This will be a work in progress as the week goes on. But so far, here is the game plan.

            I have a home made rub. It has no salt in it so I will add salt. I'm gonna rub it at least 48 hours before hand. It may or may not matter but since it's sitting in the fridge, what the hell. I'm debating slathering with worch. first but haven't decided.

            It will go on the smoker around 11pm with refueling at 2 am and 5 am. At 5am a spritz of beer as well.

            Around 9 am I'll start checking for doneness. I'll put a probe in it when I start. The theory is that somewhere around 205* is perfect. I'm guessing around noon Saturday I'll pull it and wrap it in foil and place it in a cooler for upwards of 4 hours.

            I'll save as much of the juice that comes out of the foil and re-disperse with seasoning again on some chopped beef. I'll chop the point and slice the flat.

            Again, this is moving target at this point while I continue to read.

            I have my smoker down to the point that I can keep it between 200 and 250. It's a wider target than I'd like but I'm doing what I can without staying up all night.


            1. re: Davwud

              how can you regulate your smoker so you don't have to tend to it constantly? I was going to have my friends in Texas bring me one of those zig zag charcoal box things that Dave Klose makes...but they canceled their trip so that went for not...

              1. re: Davwud

                That's how you can tell someone has cooked real BBQ. They serve it up and then end up sleeping in a lawn chair a half hour later.

                Looking forward to your results!

                1. re: Davwud

                  In my experience, internal temp of 205F in the flat is too high for slicing, mine usually finish between 192F and 196F-each one being different and it really more of a fork test than temperature at that point.
                  When your flat gets to this temp, you can seperate the point and the flat, wrap the flat in foil to rest in a cooler and put the point back on the smoker to be cubed later for burnt ends.

                  Good luck!

                  1. re: bbqD

                    I find the flat taken to 205 slices well if you let it cool enough to handle assuming your knife is sharp

                    1. re: bbqD

                      I usually stick a toothpick in it periodically and when it is tender enough I take it out....usually after the BBQ marathon related to brisket, if tender enough I grab it...people who have done it know what I mean by the marathon reach a time where 'enough is enough' . Last time I did it a month ago we had torrential rainfall on that Saturday and my temp was dropping in the low 190's at some point...i had a 4.5 lb small one and with the weather troubles it took 12 hours....but I never let the temperature spike as I have read that spiking temperature is a key ingredient to dry brisket.

                  2. re: Pantz

                    Thanks for the note..i forgot one important thing...the 'cut' determine the, i am extra cautious as i take a picture as well....for when it is done you cannot tell...big black burnt looking slab....funny, the last one had grains in different directions for the flat and the point...was cutting and getting a few long strands when i picked up on that and started cutting perpendicular to that after....

                    1. re: ebay3392

                      Find the grain before cooking....Make (take off) a small slice across the grain...Easy to see after cooking....On a packer brisket the point and flat grains are always different...It's two different muscles....


                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                        I do this and it makes it real easy to find the direction to start cutting against the grain.

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          I've read about this but don't quite think I follow.


                          1. re: Davwud

                            Ok, I will try to help...have a look on the bottom of the brisket, not the fat cap top but the bottom meaty should see lines running through it...this is the grain and cutting it when finished is best when you cut right angle or perpendicular to the grain..otherwise you will get long strands of meat...not a huge issue as then you can just chop it up fine and serve the brisket as chopped meat....tastes the probably have had that before in a Q joint...but if you want sliced brisket and with the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye, make the small cut to show where the lines run to or the T of the end of the lines...your brisket should be shaped like an arrow with the point at one end and the two tips at the other...make the cut like I did in the photo attached...see the bottom is natural and the cut is on the top right part of the meat? i started slicing from that spot on when it was done. Hope this helps.

                            1. re: ebay3392

                              Well that's kinda what I though however it just seems so useless. Is it really that hard to figure out how the grain runs??


                              1. re: Davwud

                                Let me try to help you understand...

                                it's harder to determine the grain(s) after cooking, unless one has experience with the cut of meat. so, as the poster suggested, making the determination before cooking, when it's easier to make that determination, and then making a cut at that point, which is easy to identify even after cooking, is a good roadmap.

                                when everyone is an expert, these little helpful hints will no longer be needed. until then, they're good to see. i have a feeling there will never be a point where the entire world is an expert, so we'll just have to get used to seeing these types of tips.

                                1. re: Davwud

                                  Hey, send me a pic of it and I will tell you...will use paintbrush to update your photo...u still got me email addy right?

                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Maybe I'm lazy, but I hate to work so hard. I use a Webber Smokey Mountain, which, despite its total lack of technology, has got to be the easiest, most consistent device of its kind on the market. For any smoking up to 8 hours, the only tending it needs is to add some soaked wood chips once in a while for the first 4-6 hours. For longer smoking, it will need one water refill and (possibly) more charcoal. Miraculously, it can maintain a consistent temperature between 225 and 275 F with no work at all. I just love the thing--much easier than the old smoking box I used to use.

                                      For a brisket, I normally get a packers cut (ususally from Sam's), put on a dry rub (mostly made from salt and brown sugar, with some garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne), and smoke it for at least 12 hours. After it is done, I find the easiest way to cut it is with an electric knife. Otherwise, it always seems to want to shred rather than slice.

                                      1. re: pgreen

                                        Agreed. I got my WSM this February, and it's so easy to use. Took a few tries to learn how to adjust the vents, but since then, it's fool proof.

                                        I don't worry about re-filling the water pan since I cover it in foil.

                                        Haven't done any brisket on it. Only pulled pork, ribs and chicken . And some other random meats.

                                        1. re: pgreen

                                          Agreed. I got the 22" WSM; it holds 220-250 for ten hours without refueling or much adjusting. In fact, I pretty much have to keep all the vents nearly closed (maybe 5-10% open), so it conserves fuel well and helps to keep the wood smoldering.

                                  1. re: Davwud


                                    cut a corner across the grain while raw and follow the direction of cut after it's cooked

                    2. Doing four briskets on Friday night for a weekend BBQ with the U of O "O" line. I only do packers, flat with the point. Will trim excess fat off, coat with mustard and hit with some brisket rub I acquired from Hawgeyes.. Will cook at approx 250 on my FEC100 with hickory pellets. Will go on about 10PM Friday, will be done around noon or so on Saturday. After hitting fork tender or around 190 internal will wrap in foil and put in a cooler or Cambro for a couple of hours. Then I will trim off the points, slice the flat and put into aluminum 1/2 pans, put on ice in chest to cool off and then into the refer for the event on Sunday. Reheat in oven at 250-275 and add some beef broth.

                      Points go back into the smoker for 2-3 hours for further rendering of fat, will make very nice burnt ends for my beans or a personal sandwich on Sunday.

                      Go Ducks!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: duck833

                        I made brisket for the first time a month or so back and it ended up being outstanding. I tried to follow Steven Raichlen's recipe:


                        First, I let the spice rub cure overnight. That probably helped things. From there, the whole operation was a guessing game. To start, my grill was MUCH too hot. I'm talking 100 degrees higher than what he suggested. Oh well, I put the meat on there (in a roasting pan) and let it go. I added chips and coals every hour for the first 3, then started to keep an eye on the temp. In another hour, I was at 192...faster than I should have been, but I let it go for a while. Once it hit 195, I took it off. I let it rest for about 30 minutes, then ended up putting it in foil for another hour plus as sides were prepared.

                        It ended up being fork tender and delicious. I just bought another brisket at the farmer's market yesterday and bought another brisket. I can't wait to make my next brisket.

                      2. I have a Cookshack Amerique smoker and use about 4 oz of wood for smoke, I put in about a 15 pound packer cut brisket(has a lot of untrimmed fat), set the cook temp to 225f and the probe to 190 to 195f takes about 24 hours, meat is very tender. I wrap it up in heavy duty tin foil and wrap that up in a beach towel for about an hour to seal in juices. Delish

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: malibumike

                          Cookshack is one of the best electrics out there. Very conservative on wood so no smoke ring but tha's okay.

                        2. You got optimum weather for the ol' brisket...hotter it is the less charcoal and wood you need....lucky you, it always rains when I plan to Q...hope it turns out awesome....doing 4x pork shoulders in a few weeks to help out a friend who is throwing a backyard shindig.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ebay3392

                            Buts, picnics or whole shoulders??


                            1. re: Davwud

                              Four ten pound picnics my friend....helping a Hawaiian themed party so using soy sauce pineapple sauce mixture.

                          2. Okay, so it's midnight and the smoker is cranked up and the meat is on. I've just checked and it's clocked at a smidge over 250*. Next stop, 3am.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Davwud

                              Okay, so 12 hours later and I'm at 189* and the beast is looking very tasty. I've been spritzing hourly since 9am.

                              The smoker is running a bit hot. It's been sitting at just under 300* for the last couple hours. I've almost starved it of air but it won't come down. It's possible the thermo probe is coated and not reading right. It seems to happen.