Smoked Brisket

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Smoked Brisket
Submitted by: Erick Hemphill

 Prep Time: 10 minutes
 Cook Time: 6-12 hours
 Servings: 10-15 servings


  • 12-17 lb full packer brisket
  • Salt and pepper, both coarse ground
  • Non-waxy butcher paper, brown craft paper, or HD aluminum foil
  • 20 lbs. hardwood lump charcoal
  • Pecan or Oak chunks for smoke flavor (not pellets or shavings)
  • Charcoal chimney
  • Meat temperature probe


Start with about 10 lbs. of lump coal in the smoker and carve out a crater in the middle to dump hot coals into. Fill the charcoal chimney and light it up. Once the coals in the chimney are glowing almost all the way to the top, dump the chimney into the crater in the smoker's fire box. This should provide good clean heat for about 4-5 hours. It will burn slowly from the inside out. As the smoker levels out at 275 degrees, throw in a couple chunks of wood.

Any time you need to add more coal to keep the smoker temperature up, light it in the charcoal chimney first and dump it in once the coals are hot. This will help prevent wild temperature swings and dirty smoke. You may need to add another chunk or two of wood every hour or so as well.

While you're waiting on the smoker to come to temperature, trim the brisket. Any "hard" fat needs to be trimmed off completely. One side of the brisket should have a fat cap that covers the entire brisket. This fat cap should be trimmed to about 0.25" thick all over.

Once the brisket it trimmed up, cover the entire piece of meat in a thin layer of salt and pepper. You should stop while you can still clearly see the meat through the rub. Less is more with brisket. Pat the rub into the meat with your hands. I like to grind my coarse salt and pepper with a coffee grinder and pre-mix them in a big spice bottle.

With the smoker steady at 275 degrees, put the brisket on fat cap down and thickest part towards the firebox if you're using an offset smoker. Leave it alone until it hits 160 degrees internal in the thickest part of the flat. Once it is starting to develop a nice, dark brown bark, you can wrap it in the paper or aluminum foil. Make sure you get it wrapped up nice and tight. If you tear the foil, wrap it in another layer. You want it to hold in as much moisture as possible.

Put it back on the smoker. It doesn't matter which side is up anymore. Leave it alone until it hits an internal temperature of 195 degrees in the thickest part of the flat. From here on out you will be poking the brisket with something small and pointy (i.e. an instant-read thermometer, skewer, etc..) every 20 minutes or so. You leave the brisket on until the probe slides into the meat like butter with very little resistance. This could be anywhere between 198-205 degrees. Poke both ends of the brisket. The point (thick side) will finish first. The flat (thin side) will take a little longer. Don't pull it until the flat is done.

Once it is done, pull the brisket off of the smoker (leave the paper/foil on) and wrap it in an old towel and put it in a cooler. Let it rest for an hour.

Slice the flat into thin slices against the grain of the meat. There is a thick vein of fat that separates the point and the flat. Once you get to where the slices are mostly meat from the point, stop cutting slices. Cut the point into 1" square cubes. These cubes are always everyone's favorite part of the brisket. They are great with a good vinegar-based BBQ sauce.