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Try Smoking Brisket the Easy Way & A Couple of Tools To Do The Job

Updated on May 5, 2015

Good Brisket Takes Preparation

There is nothing worse than buying a really nice cut of brisket only to have it be dried out or tough after spending hours in a smoker. Try smoking Brisket the easy way with these tried and true rules. I'll even share with you a couple of the tools to make the job easy as well.

These simple tried and true lessons will make you want to invite family and friends over and will make you the rock star of the smoked brisket world.


Before you try smoking Brisket the easy way, you need to buy the best brisket you can find. (buy it on sale, usually between 1 and 3 dollars a pound.) Talk to your butcher, you want a piece of Brisket with a thick layer of fat. The fat is what helps add flavor to your marinade and the meat. (very important) Next, prepare it right and marinade it properly.

Finally, a long and slow smoke/cook Never let the temp get over 200 degrees F and the longer the cook/smoke time, the better.

Everyone who loves brisket, wants it to look like the one in the picture. I'm here to show you some simple steps I've learned over the years for smoking brisket.

Weber 17004 Apple Wood Chips, 3-Pound
Weber 17004 Apple Wood Chips, 3-Pound

Webber wood chips are select chips and can be used as a base in your smoking pan to get your wood chunks going. I always have a bag or two around because you never know when you will need them

Weber 17002 Pecan Wood Chips, 3-Pound
Weber 17002 Pecan Wood Chips, 3-Pound

Again, I use the chips as a base starter for the chunks to get them smoldering and smoking.


Preparing Your Brisket

Knowing a bit about the meat helps

In my mind, most stores cut off too much of the fat when they trim the meats for sale. It's the fat on a piece of Brisket that makes it flavorful, tender and juicy. If you try smoking a piece of brisket with little or no fat? The meat will more than likely be dried out. Brisket needs a good layer of fat and I'll explain more about that later.

Talk to your butcher

If you can't seem to find a cut that is 2-3" thick and with a generous amount of fat on the bottom. Talk to the butcher. They are almost always willing to help and/or custom trim a piece for you. The average price for brisket fluctuates depending upon where in the country you live. But somewhere between two and four dollars a pound is pretty average and even as low as one to two dollars a pound on sale. Just make sure to buy a good, thick (2-3") fatty piece with good marbeling.


After I get home, I unwrap the meat and wash it thoroughly, as I don't know how many times it's been handled or what might have gotten on the meat during all of that handling. Once I am satisfied it's rinsed well? I set it out to reach room temperature after patting it dry with paper towels. Once it's room temperature, the fun part begins.

Marinades what are they for?

Marinading is the process of flavoring meats and veggies. But this method is not only simple, it's foolproof. Follow along here, Marinades are nothing more than enzymes or an acidic liquid of some kind that breaks down the protein fibers and softens hard and even dry meats. I also use an emulsifier that helps penetrate the meat, Extra-virgin olive oil. Besides it can also help replace a little moisture on very lean or dry meats like brisket. Here's a list of the most popular marinade bases. Citrus Juice, most any kind, Tomato Juice, Pineapple Juice, Wine and Beer, Vinegar, Cola ( the store brand is fine) even Soy Sauce. NOTE: If choosing soy sauce, cut the marinade time in half because of the salt content in soy.

Get the picture? Anything acidic can be used in a marinade

Weber 17005 Apple Wood Chunks, 5-Pound
Weber 17005 Apple Wood Chunks, 5-Pound

I use a combination of wood chips and wood chunks. The chips are there to get the chunks going long and slow.I prefer Applewood or Pecan for the flavor.

Weber 17003 Pecan Wood Chunks, 5-Pound
Weber 17003 Pecan Wood Chunks, 5-Pound

Same thing as above, use the chunks for maximum smoking. Get them started with the chips (below)Evaluation: Smoking chips are a personal preference and I just like the flavors of the Pecan and Applewood. Feel free to experiment


Now That The Marinade Choice Is Made

Let's get to the preparation

Method # 1 the 'I'm in a hurry' method.

Add a little extra virgin olive oil to your favorite spices and your marinade (I use Cola, while many prefer beer). One thing to Note If you use Soy Sauce, don't marinate for longer than 2- 2 1/2 hours because of the salt content in the Soy Sauce. OK, once everything is mixed, take the Brisket and poke holes all over it so everything can penetrate well, put it in a Zip-Loc bag, squeeze out the air and put it in the refrigerator for about three hours

Method # 2 the 'I like to take my time' low and slow method

With a fork, pierce both sides of the brisket to make sure the seasonings can get into the meat. Sprinkle Brisket with John Henry's Texas brand Brisket Rub or Fiesta Brand Brisket Rub, If neither are locally available, buy it here. Work it in really good and wrap the Brisket in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes.

While is is in the refrigerator, get a large Zip-Loc bag and fill it with the following ingredients:

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

When the Brisket is finished in the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it in the Zip-Loc bag with all of the other seasonings and----the store brand Cola. (once the brisket is in the bag, make sure it's is covered by the Cola) . Seal the Zip-Loc bag and refrigerate for at least 10-12 hours. (Longer won't hurt using this method).

Either method will give you a flavorful, juicy and tender brisket

BBQ Grills That Can Double As Smoker's - Or...some really great charcoal smokers

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 Inch Smoker
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18 Inch Smoker

Top of the line charcoal smoker. The egg shaped design gives this an excellent smoke circulation feature that is tough to beat. Priced competitively and comparably lower than it's competition.

Evaluation: If you are looking for the Cadillac of smoker's, Weber is the one.

Char-Broil American Gourmet 800 Series Charcoal Grill
Char-Broil American Gourmet 800 Series Charcoal Grill

The Char Broil 800 Series is probably one of the most popular smoker/BBQ grills out there. A large cooking surface, plenty of prep table room and a temp gauge in the lid.Evaluation: An all around great charcoal grill that can double as a smoker grill without breaking your wallet, but buy and use a meat thermometer


The Stages Of A Really Tender Beef Brisket

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A fresh brisket before seasoning or marinadeBefore wrapping and placing in refrigeratorAfter smokingSlice and enjoy
A fresh brisket before seasoning or marinade
A fresh brisket before seasoning or marinade
Before wrapping and placing in refrigerator
Before wrapping and placing in refrigerator
After smoking
After smoking
Slice and enjoy
Slice and enjoy

Smoking A Tender Beef Brisket w/and w/o A Smoker

Pre soak the wood chips and plan on a long slow cook

If you are using a smoker

Before you try smoking brisket the easy way, heat up you smoker to about 180 degrees. After removing the brisket from the Zip-Loc bag, place it fat side up on the grill for about two hours. Like I said, I use a combination of wood chips and chunks of Applewood or Pecan. While this is going on, I take a disposable Weber aluminum pan and mix a 1/4" of water or so, add a dash or two of liquid smoke, a few more dashes of Worcestershire Sauce and four beef bullion cubes. After dissolving the cubes and mixing everything well, I wait until the brisket has smoked for about two hours. Then, I place my brisket in my mixture and place back inside my smoker for an additional 4-6 hours. Check the water periodically to make sure it doesn't dry up. Keep the brisket moist at least every hour. I use a combination of water, cola, and vinegar and mop or spray it on. Remove the brisket when it's internal temp is 180, for more tender brisket let temperature rise to no more than 200 degrees. When finished, allow it to cool and slice.

The 'I don't own a smoker' method

Even if you don't own a smoker, you can try smoking brisket the easy way by utilizing an old BBQ. If it's an old gas BBQ? Remove the old parts from inside and seal the base with foil.

Place a pan full of smoking chips on one side of the grill (Pre-soaked for at least 30 minutes with water) I put the chips and chunks in the pan and cover. I now poke several holes in the cover to allow the smoke to build and spread. Start the grill and let the heat do it's work. If you have a gas or charcoal grill, it doesn't matter, but you want the heat to be constant and low under the wood chips only, not under the meat pan. If you have a charcoal grill, it will require replenishment every few hours or so. Once the wood chips begin to smoke, place the pan with the brisket (fat side up) on the other side of the grill (with no heat) and close the BBQ lid. Check the brisket periodically to ensure it is not drying out (squirt with the mixture I suggested above from spray bottle if it is) also check on the chips to make sure they have not all burned away or that the charcoal has gone out. Replenish any of them as necessary. This method should take about 8-10 hours or longer, Low and slow. That's the key, because you want the tannins (a natural chemical in the wood) that helps break down the meat proteins and fibers to make it more tender. The longer the exposure, the better. I never let my smoker get above 225 and as I said above I like to cook my brisket until the internal temp is at least 170-180. If i want it fall apart tender? I cook it until it reaches 200 degrees. My final step? I remove the brisket from the pan and flip it fat side down on the hot grill, to lightly singe the fat to make it more presentable.

Remove from the grill. Let it cool. Slice and enjoy with a favorite BBQ or Tabasco Sauce.

Tender Beef Brisket Doesn't Have To Be Expensive - Here's some of the tools I use

Weber 6416  Large Aluminum Drip Pans, 10-Pack
Weber 6416 Large Aluminum Drip Pans, 10-Pack

I use these disposable pans for both my brisket and for my wood chips. Wood chips pre soaked in water on one side of my grill and the brisket (fat side up) on the other side of the grill.Evaluation: These pans are just the right size for the average grill top and can be disposed of easily afterwards. No fuss, no clean up.

Taylor Precision Products Classic Instant Read Pocket Thermometer
Taylor Precision Products Classic Instant Read Pocket Thermometer

Proving once again, that you don't have to spend a lot of money to own a decent and an accurate, instant read meat thermometer.Evaluation: Totally accurate and an instant read. comes with it's own case. All, under seven bucks.


While The Brisket Is Smoking

BBQ some fresh sausage

Snack Time:

Since there is a bit of time for the Brisket to smoke and become tender, juicy and great, it might just be time to BBQ up something to snack on in the meantime. How about some BBQ sausage?

Makes a great snack or meal

BBQ sausage is a great anytime treat or meal and a smoky grill is one the best ways to cook a fresh sausage----via indirect heat. All sausage is a combination of ground meats so it needs to be cooked thoroughly, especially Pork Sausage so make sure (with a meat thermometer) that the internal temperature is 160 degrees F

How to cook

Give the sausages a minute or two (per side) over the side of the BBQ with the charcoal, to brown them a bit. After a minute or so on all four sides, move the sausage to the side of the BBQ where the Brisket is smoking, as far away from the heat as possible.(I use the Brisket Pan as a shield) Now, close the lid, and let the BBQ get to work.

Time necessary:

Sausages shouldn't take more than 10 to 15 minutes, (depending on how thick the sausage is) so don't go far away while they are cooking. Once done, remove them from the grill and enjoy, or, if a polish type sandwich is in the works.....slice sown the middle and return to the charcoal side of the grill, face down (side that was cut open) for a minute or two to brown. Not too long though because the juices can all run out. Serve with fresh Dijon mustard, sauerkraut or whatever your favorite dip.

That's it....Enjoy......

Tommy Moloney's BBQ Sausage - Spicy Irish Whiskey Sausage and John Henry's Brisket rub

Irish Whiskey Sausage (Hot) 16 Oz. X 5
Irish Whiskey Sausage (Hot) 16 Oz. X 5

Maloney's gormet sausage is made with real Irish Whiskey (12 years old) The sausage is prepared with seasonings imported from Ireland. Evaluation: You will love this sausage. Order it today.

John Henry's Texas Brisket Rub 11 0z.
John Henry's Texas Brisket Rub 11 0z.

John Henry's Texas Brisket rub has been my favorite for years. This flavorful rub will hold in the juices and drag out the flavor on any brisket. I even use it on T-Bone steaks.Evaluation: Darned good sugar based seasoning for most any meats but I use it mostly for brisket. You can't go wrong with this rub.


On How To Smoke A Really Tender Beef Brisket

In closing

I hope you take away some small bit of this to use on your own with your own BBQ adventures. Most of my BBQ'ing over the years has been learned from experience or advice from friends and even some grand master BBQ Pitmaster's.I have met around the world. Each tidbit is just that and most all of the quantities I use are subject to interpretation and/modification.

Feel free to cut or add to any of the ingredients I list, as individual tastes vary and are the key to good BBQ. Plus, just remember to have fun while you enjoy.

Thanks for reading, stay safe and I'll see you on the trail--CampingmanNW

Feel Free To Comment On Smoking Tender Beef Brisket - Or feel free to leave a comment of your own

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    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @Merrci: As always, Thank you for you comments and your visit to my lenses. Cheers

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Can I just come for dinner? This looks delicious! Great instructions too.

    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @anonymous: You are welcome and than you for your visit and comments.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Thanks for a really great sounding recipe


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