Brisket How-To

First things first.

Before you run to the store or butcher to buy your brisket, there's a few other things to get ready.


Know your grill:

Hot Spots:

Every grill and smoker is different. There are often hot-spots and cold spots. Use a laser thermometer or your wireless meat thermometers to locate your hot spots. A hot-spot will result in a portion of the brisket getting hotter and cooking faster than the rest. Brisket does best with a low, but evenly distributed heat.

If you are planning to cook your brisket on a Traeger or similar pellet grill, be aware that your hot spot is likely in the dead center. Your drip tray or heat shield, depending upon model, may distribute this a bit. You will want to use multiple thermometer probes with one close to the center.

You want to be able to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cook. Cook something cheaper or even just use a tray of water in your grill along with your thermometer to test for 3-4 hours to ensure your temperature stays consistent. The less variance the better. Depending upon your preference, you will most likely be cooking between 225 - 275F.

You can make a brisket in the oven as well, you don't have to use a grill. If you are located in the Phoenix area and you choose this option during the summer months, which is almost all of the months, you may want to question your life choices and possibly seek mental health treatment.

A Multi-probe wireless meat thermometer will be your best friend. We use this one: Inkbird

Wrapping (Optional):
You may want to wrap your brisket to retain moisture and get past the stall. Large heavy-duty grilling foil or butcher paper are great choices.

Depending upon the size of your brisket and your preferred temperature, you could be looking at an 18+ hour cook time. Make sure you have enough pellets, propane, charcoal, whatever on-hand.

IF you run out, don't panic. Just move it to the oven.

Other helpful items:
Cookie sheet
A BIG knife
Large cutting board
Containers for leftovers
A Cooler/ice chest - No ice. This is for keeping the brisket warm.
Foil tray for water


Don't Touch it. Don't even look at it.

Seriously. Once you start the brisket, don't touch it, don't open the grill, don't even look at it. Just let it do its thing.

During the cook, you will encounter something known as the stall. This is where the evaporation of the moisture coming out of the meat actually cools it and the temperature stays fairly consistent for A LONG TIME.

Seriously, every stall is different, it may take an hour, it may take 6 hours. You are not doing anything wrong. There is nothing wrong with your grill, just leave it alone!

We made this section orange for a reason. It is important, read it again.

The night before.

Pre-seasoning your brisket.

Depending upon your preferences, you may want to trim some of the fat off of your brisket. Most of the time, we don't, unless there is a very large and hard fat cap on it. 

Fat = Flavor (which is why I am delicious)

The next thing to do is to apply your seasoning or rub. Brisket is delicious, it doesn't need much, but sometimes a little kick is good.

All you need to do is sprinkle the seasoning all over the brisket. Some people like to apply a binder, we don't usually do this. The binder can be mustard, mayo, or pretty much any sticky sauce. If you use something with a high sugar content, it could carmelize or scorch and taste bitter.

A binder is not required. If you want a bit more of a kick in your brisket, use some spicy dijon.  Just rub it all over the brisket.

Sprinkle on your seasonings. You don't need to rub them in. You can always slap the meat and make jokes about beating your meat. Dad jokes and innuendo definitely help make a better brisket.

Wrap the brisket or put in a reusable tray and cover. Keep it in the fridge until a few hours before you start cooking.

Remove the brisket a few hours before cooking and allow it to rest on the counter, still wrapped. This will bring the meat closer to room-temperature.

Pre-heat your grill.


Get the grill warmed up and stable before you put the brisket in. 

Take it from someone who has encountered everything from jams, to fuel issues, to literal smoker explosions, it's best to get those out of the way without ruining an expensive chunk of cow.

Add the brisket after you are already at temperature.

The hotter you cook the brisket, the faster it will cook. This comes at the cost of tenderness. If you are in the 225-275F range, it will likely be an indistinguishable difference.

At hotter temperatures, you will get a thicker/harder crust. If you like a crust on your brisket, you may want to go to 275F.

We do ours at 225F.

Cook your brisket

Oh, look at the time!

There are no hands for a reason. You should keep yours OFF the brisket and the grill now.

Place the brisket in your grill, unwrapped, and leave it alone.

Go watch TV, have a beer, go for a swim, do anything other than stare at your smoker. It's not that exciting. Let it do its thing. Stick a couple of probes from your wireless meat thermometer into the brisket and set your temperature alert for 165F.

Did we say leave it alone? This is the number one reason we've seen messed up briskets. Leave the grill or smoker closed and leave it alone.

Your job now is to play the waiting game. Depending upon your temperature and brisket, this could easily be a 12 hour wait.

The Stall.

At around 165F, the meat temperature will stop increasing.

This is perfectly normal. 

You have a choice to make. You can wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper and place it back in the grill, or you can just leave it alone.

To Wrap: Wrapping will typically help hold in moisture as well as allow the brisket to cook faster and more evenly. This is our preference.

Not to Wrap: This can help with a thicker/harder crust, as well as possibly dry out the meat. If you choose this option, this might be a good time to refill the water tray in your smoker, or add a water tray to your grill.

Waiting game, again.

Your target is now 203F.

Set your meat thermometer to alert at 203F. This is what we have found to be the ideal temperature. Your preferences may vary. Higher temps will lead to a tougher and drier brisket. Lower temperatures will likely leave more un-rendered fat and be chewy.

Once your brisket reaches 203F. Remove it from the grill.

Wrap the brisket, if you didn't already, and place it on a baking sheet or in a foil baking pan and place it in the oven, with the oven off.

You can also place the wrapped brisket in an ice chest/cooler.

Let the brisket sit for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.

Take photos for social media. If you send us your photos or put them on our Facebook page, you may even get a special thank you. 

Posting on social media is important, nothing seasons a brisket better than the tears of those who don't get to enjoy it.

Slice and serve.

Oh no! It is done too early!

Move it to the oven.

Just keep it wrapped, and move it to the oven. Set the oven as low as it will go, for mine, that's 150F. Many ovens have a "keep warm" setting. 

You can leave it in the oven like this for several hours.

Put it on the baking sheet or in a foil tray to contain drips.

Have a snack, because this is going to make your entire house smell delicious and you are about to get the munchies like you just walked past a Santana concert.

Make the most of your brisket

Leftovers are a thing, especially if you make a 20lb chunk of cow.

You can use your brisket in almost anything that uses beef.

We often make:
Brisket Chili
Brisket Fajitas
Brisket Tacos
Brisket Sandwiches
A plate full of brisket
Sloppy Joe's
Brisket Tamales
Brisket pot pie
Brisket Empanadas
Brisket Pizza

Send us your ideas, or post them on our Facebook page.

Be Efficient

225-275F is a very common temperature for smoking.

You can use your extra grill space to your advantage. This is a great opportunity to make sides or other items for your party.

We recommend smoked cream cheese.

Queso dip is another, but that recipe is a closely guarded secret. Find your own.

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