The Best Easy Smoked Brisket Recipe

4.61 from 1125 votes
Jump to Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Love smoked brisket but afraid to try it at home? This unbeatable easy 3-2-1 smoked brisket recipe has the most valuable tips and tricks to help tackle all of your challenges and questions – broken down in a way that is easy enough for a beginner.

A perfect smoked brisket should have a deep, rich flavor that is both smoky and savory, with a tender and juicy texture – and we’ve spent countless hours testing our smoker, seasonings, sauces, and method for a melt-in-your-mouth brisket.

We then did it all over again, to make it as simple and easy as possible – so you can smoke brisket perfectly – even if this is the very first time you make it.

sliced smoked brisket on a wood cutting board
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week – and be sure to tag @sweetcsdesigns on social media – I love to see your creations!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Don’t want all the extras in a recipe post? We provide a skip to recipe button in the top left corner, as well as a clickable table of contents, just below, to help make this page easier to navigate.

We add lots of tips in our recipe – so you can make this dish, understand why it works and what each ingredient means to the flavor of a recipe. I also answer questions my friends and family have asked about my recipes, to help home cooks of any skill level better understand the processes we use and why!

sliced smoked brisket on a wood cutting board

Easy Smoked Brisket

Why call something the best easy smoked brisket ever?

That’s simple…. this smoked brisket recipe is easy, delicious, and restaurant quality – with juicy, tender meat and a smoky, crusty bark – right from your backyard! This recipe is my family’s tried and true secret to delicious, juicy smoked brisket that is perfect for a crowd and great at picnics, parties, and cookouts!

I hate even calling this brisket recipe a recipe – since it’s more tips and tricks (and a base recipe) that you can use to make your own favorite version of brisket that your whole family will love.

Brisket is one of the easiest large meat cuts to smoke for a crowd since all the work you have to do is focus on keeping an even temperature… it does all the hard work itself as it smokes all day long. Brisket is truly a set and forget type of meat – but there are some tips I’ve picked up to help you learn how to smoke a brisket perfectly every time!

If you’re looking for a quicker version of brisket, be sure to check out my husband’s Hot and Fast Brisket recipe!

Check out my web story on this brisket, it includes video!

whole smoked brisket on a wood cutting board

How to Smoke Brisket

To make smoked brisket, we will use the following ingredients:

Brisket:

  • Brisket. The two main types of brisket are the “packer cut” brisket and the “flat cut” brisket.
    • The packer cut brisket is a whole brisket that includes both the flat and point cuts, which are the two sections of meat that make up a brisket. The point cut is usually considered the more flavorful and tender of the two, as it contains a higher amount of marbling. This makes it a good choice for smoking, as it will remain juicy and flavorful even after several hours of smoking.
    • The flat cut brisket, also known as the first cut, is a leaner cut of meat and is typically used for deli-style sliced beef. While it can still be delicious when smoked, it may not have as much flavor and juiciness as the point cut, due to its lower amount of marbling.

Brisket baste: A brisket baste is a mixture of liquids that is applied to the surface of the brisket while it’s smoking, to help keep the meat moist and flavorful. Here’s why each of these ingredients contributes to the flavor of a brisket baste:

  • Beer: Beer is a popular ingredient in a brisket baste because it adds a rich, malty flavor to the meat. The alcohol in the beer also helps to break down the meat fibers and tenderize the brisket, making it juicy and tender.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is an acidic ingredient that helps to balance out the flavors in the baste. It adds a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, and also helps to cut through the richness of the butter.
  • Beef stock: Beef stock is used to add more richness and depth of flavor to the baste. It’s made by simmering beef bones and vegetables in water, which concentrates the flavor and creates a flavorful liquid.
  • Butter, melted: Butter is used to add richness and flavor to the baste. When combined with the other ingredients, it helps to create a flavorful sauce that will keep the brisket moist and tender as it smokes.

Dry rub: A dry rub is a mixture of spices and seasonings that is rubbed onto the surface of the meat before cooking. The purpose of a dry rub is to add flavor and texture to the meat, as well as to help form a flavorful crust.

  • Garlic powder & Onion Powder – Garlic powder and onion powder provide a savory, aromatic flavor.
  • Paprika and Chili Powder – Paprika and chili powder add a spicy and smoky flavor.
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper – Kosher salt is used for seasoning, and black pepper adds a bit of heat and complexity.
  • Brown Sugar – Brown sugar helps to balance out the flavors and also contributes to the formation of a flavorful crust.

Once you’ve gathered all the ingredients you will need, we will use this process:

  • Prep. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke (Super Smoke for the Timberline grill) with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 225 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 minutes. Mix together garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili pepper, kosher salt and pepper in a small bowl. Season brisket on all sides.
  • Smoke. Place brisket, fat side down on grill grate. Cook brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees (about 3-4 hours).
  • Wrap. When brisket reaches internal temperature of 160 degrees F, remove from grill. Double wrap meat in aluminum foil and add the beef broth to the foil packet. Return brisket to grill and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 204 degrees F (about 3 hours more).
  • Rest. Once finished, remove from grill, unwrap from foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut against the grain and serve.
  • Enjoy!
sliced smoked brisket on a wood cutting board

Tips & Tricks to Perfect Brisket & FAQs

Buy the right brisket. Buying a brisket can seem overwhelming – but there are a couple of things to look for to be sure you have a great brisket for your cookout. Beef brisket comes in two cuts separated by a layer of fat. The first cut, also called the flat cut, is one muscle and is sliced with little fat—which makes it more expensive.

When we’re making brisket for our family, and not a big party, we will go for a flat cut brisket that is trimmed and much smaller so we’re not paying for a ton of meat we won’t be able to eat our way through without getting sick of it. The second cut, the point cut, is sliced with the fat, and is more flavorful.

How much brisket to buy. A 14 pound brisket would feed 25+ people for a BBQ – so don’t think that you need a huge brisket if you’re not all going to be eating a ton of it.

My Pro Tip

Recipe Tip

Know how much to buy – the general rule of thumb for a backyard brisket cookout is to buy 1/2 pound for every person eating.

Trim brisket. Brisket trimming is largely controversial – with many brisket lovers in one of two camps- those that love the extra flavor leaving the fat cap of brisket on gives a brisket (I am most definitely a believer in leaving the layer of fat on a brisket, though prefer it to be cut evenly and trimmed a touch) – and those that trim a brisket of the excess fat for a more even smoking and uniform texture with very little fat cap left on the brisket.

Use pre-trimmed brisket. In many grocery stores, you can find pre-trimmed brisket that is perfect for a family dinner (which I used in the photos in this post) – no extra work needed – though pre-trimmed briskets do tend to carry a little bit steeper price tag than one you can trim yourself. When I am throwing a big party or cookout, we’ll go for the point cut and keep the fat somewhat untrimmed so we can slowly let it render and release all of the amazing flavor into the brisket.

How to get over a temperature stall. While smoking a brisket, there is always a point the internal temperature seems to stall out – which is incredibly frustrating after smoking brisket all day. To get over the temperature stall when smoking a brisket, we wrap the brisket in foil with a little beer, cider vinegar, and butter bath to help the brisket’s temperature rise, cooking it the rest of the way to done in the foil. This is the best way to get over a temperature stall – pop your brisket in foil to keep cooking the rest of the way!

What wood chips to use for brisket. Since brisket has a rich, meaty flavor, it can stand up to smokier, more flavorful wood chips on the smoker. Mesquite and hickory tend to be the most popular for smoking brisket – but we like to cut our mesquite chips with some cleaner, lighter burning fruit woods like cherry for an amazing smoked brisket flavor.

  • Mesquite
  • Pecan
  • Hickory
  • Cherry

Storing leftovers. Leftover brisket can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days. Uneaten brisket you won’t get to within a week should be sectioned off and frozen. Brisket is a meat that is easy frozen and reheated – if you take a little extra care. Brisket is best frozen when vacuum packed or saved in a ziploc bag with the extra air removed as much as possible.

  • Add brisket to bag dry – not covered in sauce – for the easiest thawing.
  • (Sauce will cause your frozen brisket to clump up, which will make it thaw unevenly and can help aid the formation of freezer burn.)
  • When you go to reheat the brisket, let it thaw naturally in the refrigerator for 1 day, then lightly reheat to avoid drying out the brisket.
  • I like to quickly pan-fry leftover brisket with some BBQ sauce in a pan when I’m worried it might be a bit dry, then chop it up slightly and toss it in a sandwich!

Change flavors of your brisket dry rub. When using these dry rub ingredients, it’s important to find the right balance that works for your taste preferences. You can start with a basic recipe and adjust the ratios of the ingredients to suit your tastes. Experimenting with different ratios of the ingredients can be a fun way to find the perfect dry rub for your smoked brisket.

Choose the Right Brisket: Look for a brisket with good marbling, which indicates a higher fat content. This fat will render during cooking, keeping the meat moist and flavorful. Aim for a brisket with a thick, even fat cap on one side.

Trim with Care: While some fat is essential for flavor and moisture, excessive fat can result in a greasy finished product. Trim the brisket’s fat cap to about 1/4 inch thickness, removing any hard or excessive fat.

Season Generously: Season the brisket liberally with a dry rub or marinade at least a few hours before cooking, preferably overnight. Use a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and other spices to enhance flavor.

Preheat and Stabilize the Smoker or Grill: For smoking, preheat your smoker or grill to around 225-250°F (107-121°C) and stabilize the temperature before adding the brisket. Consistent low heat is crucial for achieving a tender result.

Use Indirect Heat: Place the brisket on the smoker or grill away from direct heat, using the indirect cooking method. This allows the brisket to cook slowly and evenly, preventing it from drying out.

Maintain Moisture: Place a water pan in the smoker or grill to help maintain moisture levels and prevent the brisket from drying out during the long cooking process.

Wrap During Cooking: After a few hours of smoking (usually when the internal temperature reaches around 160°F or 71°C), consider wrapping the brisket in butcher paper or aluminum foil. This helps retain moisture and accelerates the cooking process, resulting in a juicier brisket.

Monitor Internal Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to monitor the brisket’s internal temperature. For optimal tenderness, aim for an internal temperature of around 195-205°F (90-96°C) in the thickest part of the meat.

Rest Properly: Once the brisket reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the smoker or grill and let it rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour before slicing. Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier final product.

Slice Against the Grain: When slicing the brisket, always cut against the grain to ensure tenderness. Cutting with the grain can result in chewy, stringy meat.

Serve with Sauce or Au Jus: Serve the sliced brisket with your favorite barbecue sauce or homemade au jus to add extra flavor and moisture.

Practice Patience: Good brisket takes time to cook properly, so be patient and resist the urge to rush the process. The end result will be well worth the wait.

Recipe FAQ’s

My brisket temperature isn’t going up?

To get over a temperature stall when smoking a brisket, wrap brisket in foil with a little beer, cider vinegar, and butter bath to help the brisket’s temperature rise, cooking it the rest of the way to done in the foil.

What is a Brisket Mop?

A “mop” is just a liquid bath to baste your smoked brisket with, usually made from beer, apple cider vinegar, and spices.

How long does brisket take to smoke?

To break down the connective tissue in a brisket, we’re cooking it slow with low heat – brisket takes about 8 hours of smoking time.

Can I start brisket on smoker and finish in the oven?

If your brisket is taking a while, you can always pop it in the oven for the second part of cooking after you’ve developed a rich, smoky bark on the outside of the brisket. This is a great tip if the weather doesn’t cooperate or you run out of wood chips to keep your fire going.

What is brisket?

Brisket is a cut of beef taken from the breast or lower chest of the cow. It is known for its rich flavor but requires slow cooking to become tender due to its tough muscle fibers.

How do you cook brisket?

Brisket is typically cooked low and slow, either by smoking, roasting, or braising. It is a popular cut for barbecue and is often smoked for several hours until tender.

What is the difference between flat and point brisket?

The brisket consists of two main muscles: the flat (also known as the lean) and the point (also known as the deckle). The flat is a leaner, thinner portion, while the point is thicker and more marbled with fat. Each part offers a different texture and flavor profile.

How long do you cook brisket?

Cooking times for brisket vary depending on the cooking method, size of the brisket, and desired doneness. Generally, brisket can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to cook low and slow in a smoker or oven.

How can I tell when brisket is done?

The best way to determine if brisket is done is by using a meat thermometer. Brisket is typically done when it reaches an internal temperature of around 195-205°F (90-96°C). Additionally, it should feel tender when pierced with a probe or fork.

Why should I wrap the brisket in butcher paper?

Wrapping brisket in foil or butcher paper during the cooking process, known as the “Texas crutch,” can help retain moisture and accelerate cooking. Foil creates a tighter seal and can result in softer bark, while butcher paper allows for more airflow and a firmer bark.

How do I store and reheat leftover brisket?

Leftover brisket can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or frozen for longer storage. To reheat, wrap the brisket in foil and warm it in a low oven until heated through, or use a sous vide cooker for precise temperature control.

What are some common rubs and seasonings?

Common brisket rubs and seasonings include salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, cumin, and brown sugar. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite flavor profile.

How should I serve Brisket?

Brisket is delicious served sliced alongside barbecue sauce or au jus. It pairs well with classic barbecue sides like coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad, or cornbread. It can also be used as a filling for sandwiches, tacos, or wraps.

How do I carve brisket?

When carving brisket, slice against the grain to ensure tenderness. Start by separating the flat and point muscles, then slice thinly against the grain across the width of the brisket.

sliced smoked brisket on a wood cutting board

What to Serve With Brisket

If you’re looking for delicious, hearty, home-cooked sides that stick to your ribs, look no further than our favorite cookout sides!

Classics like our The Best Ever Bean Bake Recipe, crispy crunchy and buttery Grilled Potatoes, easy Grilled Zucchini and Squash, and a sweet and spicy Spicy Grilled Watermelon to finish!

Of course brisket is also delicious with Air Fryer Corn on the Cob, easy to whip up Bacon Crab Deviled Eggs, and our very favorite Easy Air Fryer French Fries Recipe!

whole smoked brisket on a cutting board

If you love The Best Easy Smoked Brisket Recipe as much as I do, please write a five star review, and be sure to help me share on facebook and pinterest!

Click here to view the web story for this recipe!

sliced smoked brisket on a wood cutting board

CONNECT WITH SWEET C’S!
Be sure to follow me on social media and get in on all the fun!

Only have 30 minutes to get dinner on the table? Sign up for my 30 minute dinner plans direct to your inbox!
Find and shop my favorite products in my Amazon storefront here!

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week – and be sure to tag @sweetcsdesigns on social media – I love to see your creations!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

More like this from Sweet C’s Designs

sliced smoked brisket
Print

Best Easy Smoked Brisket Recipe Ever

The Best Easy Smoked Brisket Recipe – delicious crunchy and juicy brisket bursting with smoky flavor – easy recipe perfect for beginners.
Course Grill and Smoker
Cuisine American
Keyword bbq, beef, beef grilling, brisket, grilling recipes, paleo, smoked brisket
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 45 minutes
Servings 12 people
Calories 137kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 1 15 lb brisket
  • Brisket Baste:
  • 1 cup beer
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup beef stock
  • 5 tbsp butter melted
  • Brisket Rub:
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Instructions

  • When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke (Super Smoke for the Timberline grill) with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).
  • Set the temperature to 225 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 minutes.
  • Mix together garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili pepper, kosher salt, pepper, and brown sugar in a small bowl.
  • Season brisket on all sides.
  • Place brisket, fat side down on grill grate.
  • Cook brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees (about 3-4 hours).
  • While it is cooking combine the beer, apple cider vinegar, beef stock, and butter to make a brisket baste.
  • When brisket reaches internal temperature of 160 degrees F, remove from grill.
  • Double wrap meat in aluminum foil and pour the brisket baste around the meat within the foil packet.
  • Return brisket to grill and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 204 degrees F (about 3-4 hours more).
  • Once finished, remove from grill, unwrap from foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Cut against the grain and serve. Enjoy!
  • Can’t get enough? Check out all our recipes.
  • Master cooking this piece of meat from beginning to end and check out our ultimate guide for how to smoke brisket.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 137kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 1263mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




51 Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Would you suggest applying the rub to the brisket 24 hours in advance or does that ruin the brisket?

    1. Katherine says:

      You can do that as a way to marinate it. You may notice after 24 hours that the meat has started to “sweat” which is when the salt sinks in and the exterior appears a little moist. Simply take a paper towel and dab the moisture up before starting the smoking process. Enjoy!

  2. Teresa L Gustafson says:

    5 stars
    OMG!!! We just ate this brisket! It was to die for!! The one thing we did different was to add a Summer Shandy beer and nothing else, when you get to the part to wrap in foil!! The smoke ring on this was crazy!!! So tender and very easy!

    1. Courtney ODell says:

      Ohhhhh a shandy sounds like a perfect addition! But only if you saved some to sip too 😉

  3. Kelly says:

    Can you freeze this after it’s cooked?

    1. Katherine says:

      Yes! Make sure it cools completely and I would freeze it in its juices, freeze it before slicing.

    2. Megan Joyce says:

      This recipe looks amazing! What do you recommend for a cooking temperature and total duration of cooking for a smaller brisket like 8 pounds?

      1. Katherine says:

        To smoke an 8 lb brisket, you typically smoke it at a low temperature of around 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooking time is usually about 1 to 1.5 hours per pound, so for an 8 lb brisket, you’d be looking at approximately 8 to 12 hours of smoking time. However, it’s important to note that the exact time can vary based on the specific cut of meat and the smoker used. The key is to cook the brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of around 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal tenderness. I use an internal probe to alert me, I have this one.