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First time smoking and making a brisket

So I figured with this summer, I would give a shot at smoking. I have a Weber Spirit E-210 which is a two burner gas grill. I was give a small smoke box and I picked up some hickory chips and a 1lb brisket since I don't want to start big and ruin it.

I've been looking throughout various sites on how to smoke a brisket but I wanted to hear what other people have to say.

I got a dry rub I made up but of course I'm up to listen to all the advice and information.

My biggest questions are whats a good temperature and how long?

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  1. The 1# brisket will be incredibly easy to ruin. Be prepared for it to be dry and not so tender. You have super difficult piece of meat to cook there.

    A full packer brisket is much easier to cook than those little mini-flats.

    4 Replies
      1. re: JayL

        What is a full packer brisket?

        1. re: Pwelsh4

          A full brisket with both flat and point cuts, usually sold in a plastic cryovac bag. About 11-13 pounds, with lots of fat. Might be too big to smoke all at once in a small smoker. But really inexpensive -- sometimes can be found for barely over $2 per pound.

          Season very liberally with the rub. Place fat side up in the smoker so fat will gradually render and baste. 225-250 degrees for maybe 10-12 hours -- internal temp of meat should get to 200 to melt connective tissue and tenderize. Smoke does not have to be applied the whole time.

        2. re: JayL

          True Dat, Jay...The brisket is tricky to get right, so point and flat is a must. Geeze 1lb brisket is damn small, just watch your temps, and maybe finish in a low oven

        3. 225-300 and cook to an internal of 195-225 or until you can poke it with a wooden skewer and get little resistance. When it goes in like butter it's done

          1 Reply
          1. re: scubadoo97

            Please DO NOT cook to an internal temperature of 225! A 1# brisket taken to 225 will end up as beef jerky.

          2. I wouldn't even attempt to smoke something that small. Braise it and enjoy it as a pot roast.

            I pick up 5-8 pound "Texas-style briskets" in the local grocery store and they are great in a smoker. They'd probably also be great on a very very low grill for a long period of time.

            Low and slow is the key to a nice smoked brisket.

            1. JayL is dead on. Be prepared to be disappointed. Your brisket is so small that the window of perfection will be very short. Don't cook it long enough and it'll be tough. Cook it too long and it'll be dry and chewy. But the 'Baby Bear' time (you know, 'just right') may be only 30 minutes or less with a 1 lb chunk of flesh.

              The larger the piece of meat, the more forgiving it tends to be, because it takes longer to come up to temperature and stays in the Baby Bear zone for longer, simply because of its thermal mass.

              I would recommend cooking it at no more than 250F so it comes to temp as slowly as possible (225F would be even better). I would pull it off at 210F internal. I have never done a piece of meat that small, so it's hard to guess how long it would take...2 hours? 3 hours? If you have a remote thermometer, use it.

              1. Brisket master Aaron Franklin has some good tips here:


                Also, watch his YouTube videos on barbecuing brisket. I learned a lot from it and review it every time I plan to do one.

                1. I think some fine folks are giving you some good advice.

                  I'm from the northern side of the US/CAN border and started smoking in the '80s. Nobody I knew smoked - our idea of BBQ was grilling.
                  This was also in the dark days before the newfangled interweb (gasp!).
                  So it was a lot of trial and mostly error, lotsa disapointment, frustration, and disappointment.
                  Took awhile before I got something OK, longer to 'good', and longer still to real BBQ.

                  Today, everyone has a wealth of info at their fingertips, which puts you a bit ahead of the curve.

                  However, BBQ is still an art with many, many variables.
                  So what am I trying to say (I lost my train of thought there...)
                  Oh yeah, I hope your brisket search is successful!
                  If its not, don't throw in the towel - the road to good Q is not necessarily straight and sometimes bumpy. Just have a fun trip!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: porker

                    Cheers, Porker. That kind of good advice is often the hardest to come by with all the other information out there.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      Thanks, MGZ.
                      Many say brisket is the "king" of BBQ (although I'd argue whole hog, but I digress), but in my experience, its also one of the tougher nuts to crack.
                      Its a relatively big chunk of meat, requiring plenty of time and some attention. Both of which can be somewhat bewildering to a newcomer.
                      If the result isn't great, you're left wondering where did I go wrong and is it really worth it? (almost like my love life...)

                      If you don't have the luxury of growing up within a BBQing family, you'll have the luxury of trial by fire.

                      1. re: porker

                        ...and take note. Extensively. Time, temp, weight etc. Keep a journal.

                    2. re: porker

                      Thanks for the advice Porker. I figured this was going to be tricker than most meats as well as trying to get "good" at smoking.

                      I tend to take on harder challenges and sometimes I do good and some times I do bad but I try to remeber with cooking that there can be so many thing that can be done or tweaked to get to a point that it would be better than the last.

                      However hearing the advice you gave is always a good reminder to keep trying and not give up.

                      Also like you said to MGZ, I didn't grow up in a BBQing let alone an actual cooking family, so asking some questions feel like I'm on trail.

                    3. Just finished a small 6 pounder on the BGE, over hickory and mesquite.

                      Goddamn, do I *love* smoked brisket. Brilliant. Time and temp and nothing else.

                      Happy sigh. :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: biggreenmatt

                        Hey Matt,
                        I've had a full packer in cryovac for awhile - wanna make some montreal smoked meat before it gets warm over here.
                        Maybe get that sucker rubbed this afternoon!

                      2. The site I use most often for BBQ is: http://amazingribs.com/index.html

                        Brisket, ribs, you name it, it's there and the recipes and techniques are sound.

                        1. Grasshopper, First you need to find your "BBQ Chi", your intercenter. Control your breathing, heartbeat and most of all your expectations. As you approach a brisket for the first time, be reminded that the honored Japanese tradition of "Sepekku" originated with brisket. When the brisket was too tough, the cook was expected to use the knife on himself--rather than the brisket. After that, the family ordered take out and gave the meat to to dog. There is actually no hope for you. Order out, or face your fate with honor. There is no disgrace unless you actually serve it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Leper

                            Well then I must have fun my BBQ Chi however I didn't fully use it to its fullest. No need for Sepekku but still a ways to go before I can please any BBQ Emperor

                          2. Wow, I didn't even know they sold that small an amount of brisket. I thought you meant "10 lbs." and had made a typo when you wrote "1." I honestly would not even attempt to smoke that small a piece of meat. I just don't think it's possible for it to come out right.

                            Get a good "full packer," about 12 - 13 lbs. Keep all the fat on except cut out the big wad of fat between the flat and point, which won't render down and will only extend the cook time.

                            Do your rub, etc. Set your fire as you have learned from other sites.

                            "How long" is a loose guide, but if you're running your smoker at the standard 225 temp, you should expect about 1.5 hours per lb., less if you use the crutch (and DO use the crutch.) But don't rely on time; rely on internal temp and even more importantly, the poke test.

                            Once my brisket gets to an internal temp of about 190 I start checking to see how the probe moves in and out of the meat. I usually take mine up to 200 degrees internal, by that I mean the probe is typically able to slide in and out "like buttah" by then. But it's the temp *usually a minimum of 190* and the probe test which is the most important, not time.

                            Good luck.

                            1. Thank you everyone for all the tips and advice. It's really late but I wanted to let you all know that it turned out pretty good. I have a long ways to go with both my smoking and my brisket but unlike the common worry of it being rough, I didn't really have that problem. It was probably a little over cooked than it should have been but it wasn't tough.

                              If I remember correctly I did it at about 220 or 230 and I had it go about 2 hours. Again I'm ball parking cause it was about a month ago but that sounds about right. I figured I would share some pictures with you all and let you see what I did.

                              Again thank you everyone and I'm going to keep at it cause I still have a long ways to go

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Pwelsh4

                                Great first try!

                                As all of the posters are suggesting, brisket is a difficult beast to tame, and nobody gets it right, I suspect, on the first (or even subsequent) try. Some suggestions and feedback, if I may:

                                First, I don't think your brisket looks done. Looks almost steak-like in both colour and consistency and since you used the flat of the brisket (I much much prefer the point for the extra fat) it must've been quite the chew to get it down. I suspect it wasn't cooked long enough- did you use a thermometer to check the doneness?

                                You know you've got it right when cutting into the brisket (and in fairness, I'm a slicer, not a chopper), the meat holds its shape (i.e.: not completely falling apart) but the connective tissue is barely holding on. It should be easy to pull a slice apart with your hands. There should be a good, solid bark on the outside, fully cooked on the inside (i.e.: very well done) but a gorgeous ring of pink or even red from the smoke.

                                While the suggestions to use a 10-15 lb packer are valid, sometimes it's completely impractical. Like if you only have so many mouths to feed, or if you don't have the better part of 24 hours to watch the damn thing smoke. My suggestion: next time, try using a (very) small double brisket- often, they can be found at 5-7 lb weights. Try it on that one to increase your margin of error, improve your technique and see what happens in a (much) shorter time-frame. Oh, and one last tip: while the iron-clad rule is that it's done when it's done, a digital thermometer is pretty much a necessity. Don't even think about pulling it off the smoker until you get an internal of, what, 195F, although it may need as much as 210-215F, bearing in mind that the residual heat in the meat will continue to raise the temp, provided you leave the damn thing alone and let it rest for an hour or two prior to serving.

                                All that said: well done. It's really difficult doing this for the first time, and you should get tons of credit for even thinking about it, never mind doing it. While your next one will no doubt be better- kudos for doing what so many people don't!

                                1. re: Pwelsh4

                                  Great picts!

                                  "Again I'm ball parking cause it was about a month ago but that sounds about right."
                                  Sounds like me...
                                  I usually suggest taking notes when BBQing, at least until you have it down.
                                  So many variables; times temps, fuel, smoke, rub, weather, etc etc. Jotting down a few notes will help 6 months down the road and will provide good comparison to what works, what doesn't, and where improvements can be made.