How to Smoke a Beef Brisket, Choose The Best Brisket for Smoking

Got enough time to laze around? Focus your attention to me because I’m going to teach you how to smoke a beef brisket.

Isn’t it good to cook something while lazing around? And have something good for dinner? Choose smoking a beef brisket.

The first thing into learning how to smoke beef brisket is to know how it taste like. Go scout and familiarize yourself with assorted brands. So when it comes the time you actually smoking your own, you already have a rough expectations.

Unless you’re ordering a meal from nearby restaurant, smoked brisket is not something you can prepare in a blink.

Instant noodle takes about 5 minutes to prepare. An egg sandwich for about 15 minutes. A full dinner for about an hour or two. How about smoked beef brisket? It will take you about 8 to 16 hours.

But that prolonged period is sure worth your time. So, come on! Order a fresh beef brisket, get the smoker ready, and start smoking!

Best Type of Smoker for Smoke Beef Brisket

Quality wise, I’ll go for the electric smoker. It’s equipped with a trusty thermostat and an intelligent microcontroller that will keep the temperature consistently throughout the cooking process.

On the other hand, regular wood smoker grill is fine. But you should be keen on keeping the temperature. Buy a decent grill thermometer and add or remove wood as the process requires.

This time, I suggest using electric grill together with smoker tube and smoker pellets.

Don’t worry too much. The best type of smoker for smoked beef briskets still boil down to your skill.

Which is Better to Use, Wood Chips or Smoker Pellets?

If you have a smoker tube, go for smoker pellets. Otherwise, get wood chips. They work just fine and in fact, the great ancestors of smoker pellets.

Given the same shape and weight of brisket for every batch, pellet smoking tubes can give you consistent smoke flavor. Why? Because by filling in the pellet smoking tubes, you are using the same amount every time. 

Fill the tube with pellets and torch it to start. Then place inside the smoker grill.

I recommend the following woods for smoking your beef brisket.

  • Maple
  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Red Oak
  • Mesquite
  • Hickory

Again, which is better? Either wood chips or smoker pellets will work fine. Use either masterfully and you’ll get a nice smoked beef brisket.

Choosing the Best Beef Brisket for Smoking

Brisket is meat from the breast section of a cow. Usually tough and works well for slow cooked recipes, which allows the connective tissues to break down and gelatinize, resulting to rich and tender meat.

An excellent smoked product requires the best beef brisket.  

Firstly, it should be well marbled, with a nice distribution of fat and muscle tissue. If you can get your hands to the likes of Wagyu, then it’s perfect. Lack of marbling will lead to tougher and less juicy cooked meat.

Secondly, choose a brisket that is as even as possible. Giant front and skinny back for you to cook it evenly.

Get the beef brisket fresh from the slaughterhouse.  If you won’t use it right on the spot, store it in the fridge for up to 8 days at 35ºF.

Check my post on cooking London broil in the oven.

Prepare the Smoked Brisket Rub

Prepare the smoked brisket rub by mixing 4 parts ground black pepper to 1 part salt. Get Kosher salt if possible.

Keep the rub simple because what you want is the real beef flavor.

Lay the brisket in a pan. Pour on some mustard sauce and rub to cover the entirety.

Then sprinkle with generous amount of rubbing mix. Then make the rub stick nicely by giving the meat several pats.

Flip the brisket and repeat. Rub with mustard sauce and sprinkle with rubbing mixture.

Fire up the Smoker Grill and Start Smoking

  1. Fire up the smoker grill and set the temperature to 225ºF. Then place the brisket on grill just above the pellet tubes. The fat side should be facing down.
  2. Smoke for 2 hours. You don’t want to cook the brisket right away. The set temperature of 225ºF is just enough to push smoke flavor into the brisket.
  3. Check after 2 hours. The brisket should be turning brown and rubbing mix is setting firmly.
  4. Increase the temperature to 250ºF and continue smoking for another 2 hours.
  5. Check again. If the brisket is too dry, get a sprayer and spray it with clean water. Or,  probably, 1:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar and apple juice. Lemon juice if you want but plain water is just fine.
  6. Yet another option are beef and chicken broth.
  7. On the other hand, if the juice is dripping, get a large piece of aluminum foil and wrap around the underneath.
  8. So how do you handle the large hot brisket? It’s easy. Just get a pair of thick and heat resistant rubber gloves and you’re good to go.
  9. If the outer surface is getting hard and turning reddish-brown to black. Get the brisket off the grill and wrap with a large sheet of paper.
  10. Alternatively, wrap it with large piece of aluminum foil for a more tender and juicier outcome.
  11. Bring it back to grill with a change of orientation. The backfat should be up this time.
  12. Raise the temperature to 275ºF and continue smoking for up to 3 hours or until to a brisket internal temperature of 150-165ºF, which can be check by inserting a digital meat thermometer.
  13. Slice brisket and enjoy


After over 7 hours you’ve learned how to divert almost a day of your free time into smoking beef brisket. And perhaps, you’re now enjoying a great meal with your family.

For smoking purpose, a brisket should have a nice distribution of meat fiber and fat, a good marbling in short.

If you’re a beginner, I recommend an electric smoker grill together with a smoker tube. It’ll give you better control over meat quality.

Common wood chips and smoking pellets will work great. Choose whatever you like. If you like one more than the other. Let me know.

You cooked your smoke beef brisket for about 8-12 hours which was just right. For a juicier and more tender meat, keep 225ºF for 12 to 16 hours. Enjoy your meal and store the rest. It’ll last in the fridge for up to 4 days. Although you can put it in the freezer, the texture will become dry.

Ever wonder how to cook a pot roast? Read it here.

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