Basics of Cooking Brisket

Basics of Cooking Brisket - HowToBBQRight

The art of BBQ where we talk about sourcing, trimming, seasoning, and smoking a whole brisket.

So you want to cook a brisket?

Brisket is not easy. It takes a long time and a lot can go wrong… but when it’s right, smoked brisket can be succulent and irresistibly delicious!


Tracking Down the Perfect Brisket

Finding a brisket can be a challenge - depending on your area. If you're blessed with a local butcher, consider it your starting point. And you can also find briskets in grocery stores - and Sam’s Club and Costco usually always have some brisket sin stock.

trimming a brisket

When selecting your brisket, give that cryovac packaging a good once-over. No leaks, intact sealing – these are your telltale signs. Seek out uniform thickness across the flat, steering clear of any unsightly thin or uneven sections. Flexibility in the packaging is a real good thing because it means that brisket has some age! Just avoid a thin flat because it’s going to be easier to dry out when you cook.

Trimming and Prepping a Brisket

Trimming a Brisket is really all about aerodynamics. I think of it as sculpting my brisket for optimal airflow. I like to always use my 5” flexible, curved boning knife with a sharp edge.

When trimming fat, bring it down to a quarter-inch layer so it can render.

season a brisket

Seasoning a Brisket

You can season your brisket the way you want to. But brisket can take a lot of seasoning. And since we aren’t injecting, we could use a good coat of seasoning on the outside to help build that brisket bark.

I start with a thin layer of Swine Life Prime Beef Rub, then go with a BBQ rub for color and a little of those BBQ flavors. I like Killer Hogs Hot Rub for brisket. Then the top layer needs some texture! So I add a good coat of Killer Hogs TX Brisket Rub.

Smoking a Brisket

You can go fat side up or down… but we like to use the fat to shield the brisket from the fire - so learn your pit, learn where your heat is coming from and that will let you know how to position your brisket on the pit.

smoke a brisket

Then you just let it cook! After 2 hours, we like to baste every 45 minutes or so. We use water mixed with Worcestershire sauce… but you can use anything for a baste… just stay away from any liquid with too much sugar.

Wait… then Wrap… then Wait

Just hold the temps steady on your pit and let the brisket cook! When you get the color and bark you like, it’s time to wrap. You can go with butcher paper or foil… it’s all personal choice.

But once it’s wrapped, just let it smoke and watch your internal temps. No need to open the pit or unwrap the brisket… that just adds time to your cook.

brisket slices

When is a Brisket done?

It can be hard to know when the brisket is done. Some people say 198, some say 205… some say 212. And really, it all depends on your smoker, your cooking method and your brisket.

When you start hitting the 200-202 range, it’s time to check. You want it to feel really soft - hardly any resistance. And you want the time it takes to climd one degree to increase… so it feels like the brisket is slowing down at the end. And really, these are things that come with experience - so get out there and start cooking briskets!

smoked brisket

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