How Long Do You Smoke A Brisket


How Long Do You Smoke A Brisket?

Smoking a brisket is one of the most common methods used to prepare this cut of beef. The process can be time-consuming, but if done correctly can yield amazing results, ensuring incredibly tender meat with a smoky flavor. Smoked brisket is often served as part of a BBQ buffet or for special events such as weddings or family gatherings.

As it takes so much preparation and cooking time, many grocery stores now offer pre-smoked briskets that have been cooked for you already, just requiring reheating before eating. This article will discuss the process of smoking a brisket and how long it takes, as well as some helpful tips for preparing this tasty cut of beef.
How Long Do You Smoke A Brisket

What is a brisket?

Brisket is a cut of beef that comes from the chest area of cattle, usually taken from the lower part of the heart. It is a tough and fatty piece of meat which means it requires cooking in moist heat or by smoking to break down these fibers and make it tender enough to eat.

There are two types of brisket available for cooking, known as the “flat” and “point”. The flat cut comes from the leaner side of the meat and is a flatter piece, with a uniform thickness across its surface. The point cut is thicker and has a peak in the middle. The point is much fattier than the flat cut, with a thick layer of fat on one side.

Both types can be cooked using either method (smoking or moist heat) but which one you choose will depend upon how fatty your brisket is. If it has too much fat, it might be hard to cook and remain moist through smoking. The best type of brisket for this cooking technique is the point cut as it has more fat running through it.

What are the different methods used to prepare brisket?

The two most common ways to prepare beef brisket are by smoking or by braising in liquid until tender. These techniques give very different results due to their specifics – smoking requires applying low levels of heat over several hours to slowly break down tough fibers, whereas braising uses high heat to speed up this process. Smoking is a long process but can result in much more tender meat with incredible flavor, ensuring the brisket remains moist throughout cooking.

Braising your beef brisket would make it very soft and moist, essentially falling apart as you try to pick it up. The advantage of smoking the meat before braising is that there are still some firm pieces left at the end of the cooking time, helping to give structure to the dish when serving. This particular method allows you to use both techniques for preparing your brisket.

What are the benefits of smoking a brisket?

One of the main benefits of smoking your brisket is that it allows for infusing enormous amounts of flavor into the meat. If you are cooking with low heat, there is less chance of the beef burning on the outside before it is fully cooked. You can also use smoke to cover up any unpleasant smells or flavors that might be coming from the meat as it cooks.

Smoking also helps to break down tough fibers within this cut of meat, making it much more tender after cooking. Brisket is naturally a very fatty piece of beef which means it has developed many layers of fat between its muscle fibers to help keep it insulated and warm during cold weather conditions. However, over time these layers have become tougher and harder to chew through.

Smoking the meat allows for some of these layers of fat to melt and run through the muscle fibers, making them more tender. In addition, this helps to keep the brisket moist throughout cooking as any excess fat will drip away from the surface. Smoking can also be used purely as a flavoring technique alongside either braising or grilling your brisket – your preferred method will depend on how fatty it is.

How long do you smoke a brisket?

The cook time for beef brisket depends on two main factors; the size of the cut and its fat content. The larger the piece of meat, the longer it will take to tenderize through smoking. As well as this, meat that is more fatty will also require more time, ensuring that all tough fibers are broken down into a soft and succulent texture.

Larger beef briskets (over 12 lbs) – If you’re using one of these large cuts of meat, be prepared to spend around 16 hours preparing your dish. It’s important to apply low levels of heat throughout cooking so there isn’t an excessive amount of smoke produced in the process. This long cooking time ensures that all tough fibers are broken down but don’t become too dry or burnt during the process.

Medium beef briskets (around 8 lbs) – A medium-sized piece of meat with a fat content of around 4 lbs will take around 9 to 11 hours to complete cooking. During this time, the temperature should be maintained at between 220 degrees F and 270 degrees F, ensuring that all parts are covered by the smoke for maximum flavor.

Smaller beef briskets (under 6 lbs) – As volumes decrease, so does the amount of time required to cook. These smaller pieces of meat should be smoked for no more than 7 to 9 hours and should not be used unless they have a high-fat content. The temperature shouldn’t exceed 250 degrees F when smoking these cuts, again making sure that all parts are exposed to the smoke for maximum flavor.

How Long Do You Smoke A Brisket

What should you know when buying a brisket?

There are a few key elements that will help you choose the best meat for your dish.

Firstly, look at the fat content as this has a direct impact upon how long you’ll need to smoke the brisket. The higher the amount of fat, compared with muscle, means it will take much longer for all fibers to break down and become incredibly tender.

You should also check out the size of your brisket before cooking as this can vary from one cut to another. The larger pieces tend to be better suited for smoking as they have more time to develop flavor during this process. This is because low-intensity heat needs to be applied in order that tough collagen doesn’t break down too quickly into a strong-tasting jelly that isn’t appetizing.

The best beef brisket will also have a significant fat cover across the top and sides, making it much easier to turn when cooking. This prevents meat juices from dripping onto the fire and burning during the smoking process, which would give your meal a bitter flavor. Look for firmness when touch is important if you want to avoid buying a piece of flesh that’s too soft or moist.

What types of smokers are there?

Electric smokers – Electric smokers are particularly suited to beef briskets as they cook over a longer period of time. The increased cooking times mean that the meat can cut loose from its bones without becoming too dry and brittle, whereas shorter cooking times would cause it to crumble into a less appetizing texture. In addition, electric smokers don’t usually need you to check or refuel them during cooking, meaning your dish can be left unattended for up to 15 hours!

Gas smokers – Gas smokers have been known to provide some of the best flavors for those smoking their own briskets as these types of cookers use low-heat fuel sources such as propane gas cylinders. This provides a strong flavor due to the sheer volume of smoke created on top of such low temperatures, which is why gas smokers are the most popular type of smoker in many regions.

Charcoal smokers – Charcoal cookers can also create one of the most mouth-watering flavors when smoking a beef brisket and will usually be around 9 hours in length give or take an hour depending on weather conditions and the specific piece of meat you decide to use. These types of smokers require larger quantities of wood chips so it’s important that you know how much fuel is required for your particular size and cut, otherwise you may end up with insufficient smoke for flavor!

How do you smoke a brisket?


Before you begin the cooking process, it’s important to prepare your ingredients and equipment. You’ll need a large beef brisket (around 10 lbs) with a high-fat content if possible. This will ensure that all fibers break down slowly during smoking, producing much more tender meat that is extremely moist throughout cooking.

A small amount of seasoning should be used over the top and sides of the meat, just enough to add flavor but not so much that it becomes rubbery in texture after long periods of exposure to smoke.

Your smoker should also have been prepared before cooking begins, ensuring there are no areas exposed to hot air when preparing food. It’s important not to cook directly on an open flame as this can burn your dish before all parts are exposed to smoke.


1 – First things first, you’ll need to prepare your smoker for cooking meat. You should have already prepared an area of indirect heat, using hot coals or burners that are turned off at the time being. The aim is to expose all parts of the brisket to low levels of smoke and slow-burning heat in order to break down tough fibers gradually over a long period of time without causing damage through burning or charring. If not done correctly, this process can produce burnt sections in meat which will overpower the flavor and spoil the dish entirely.

2 – The next step is to place your beef brisket on a large mesh tray and leave it in your oven for around 20 minutes. If you want, you can rub seasoning over the top and sides of the meat to simply add flavor.

3 – When 20 minutes have elapsed, open your oven and place a small amount of liquid smoke flavoring at the bottom of the tray before placing the beef brisket directly on top. You’ll now need to slow-cook your meat for around 60 minutes per pound at between 225 degrees F and 250 degrees F as this will allow all fibers in the meat to break down gradually without charring or burning due to high levels of heat exposure. We recommend regularly turning your beef brisket so that it smokes evenly across all areas during this time frame.

4 – After approximately 8 hours be sure to check your smoking process before determining whether or not your meat is ready for serving. If the internal temperature of the beef brisket reaches around 190 degrees F, it’s ready to be pulled out and set aside until required.

5 – The final stage is to slice your meat across the grain into thin pieces that can be used for sandwiches or other dishes. We recommend using a sharp carving knife in order to prevent fibers from tearing when slicing through them as this will ensure they’re not too tough after cooking.

Make sure you follow these instructions precisely if you want quality results every time! You should expect tender meat fiber all across your dish with reduced toughness due to low heat exposure during cooking over many hours.

Tips for smoking a beef brisket:

Invest in a meat thermometer – this will allow you to monitor the internal temperature of the meat at all times, ensuring that it is cooked through but not overcooked. Steaks and other cuts of beef do not require such constant attention, but because brisket requires cooking for several hours, a thermometer can be your best friend when making sure the right internal temperatures are reached.

Have extra wood chips on hand. You may need to add more during cooking if there isn’t enough leftover from the beginning. The type of wood used for this kind of smoking does make a difference to the final flavor, so experiment with different types until you find one that suits your taste buds.

Be prepared for a lot of smoke. Because beef brisket needs to be smoked for several hours, the sheer volume of smoke this produces will make it difficult to keep it out of your eyes and hair. If possible, use a stove with an exhaust fan that vents outside so you don’t have to deal with such thick smoke in your home.

It can be difficult to maintain consistent heat when smoking your brisket. Since the temperature drop will occur incredibly fast when you open the smoker door, it is best not to check on the meat too often during cooking time. Doing so may cause fluctuations in temperature and slow down the process considerably, causing meats like this to take even longer than they need to cook through properly.

Should you use injections?

Injecting a beef brisket prior to smoking will allow you to amplify the flavors that are already present within the meat. This can be useful for some people, but it’s worth pointing out that injecting is not necessary when cooking this kind of dish and it may actually be more difficult than simply using the seasoning on top or beneath the surface of your meat itself.

Some people do prefer to inject their meats during cooking in order to ensure that meat fibers are saturated with intense flavorings at all times. However, if you follow our instructions above for preparing and smoking your brisket without injections it should turn out great regardless of what approach you take!

You’ll find yourself enjoying beef brisket whether or not you decide to use injections so don’t worry too much about this as it doesn’t need to be a concern during the cooking process. This is just another option that will allow you to take your dish to the next level if you want to!

What are some good brisket injections recipes?

The type of injection you use can vary considerably depending on what flavors you want to add, so we recommend experimenting with different options until you find one that works well for your taste buds. We’ve included some easy injection recipes below to get you started:

Sweet and Spicy Brisket Injection – Mix together 1/2 cup water, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, and a pinch each of cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Use this mixture to inject into the brisket once it has been seasoned before smoking takes place.

Coffee Beef Brisket Injection – Brew up a strong pot of coffee using one part water and two parts ground coffee beans (use about two tablespoons of coffee grounds for every six ounces of water). After the coffee has cooled, mix in 1/2 cup beef stock and 2 tablespoons salt. Use this mixture to inject into your brisket before cooking.

Texas Brisket Injection – Mix together 1/2 cup salt, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and one teaspoon cumin. Use this mixture to inject into your brisket before smoking takes place.

Southern Style Beef Injection – Combine 1/2 cup salt, 1/4 cup black pepper, 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, and 3 cups water. Use this mixture to inject into your brisket before cooking.

How do you use a dry rub on a beef brisket?

Using a dry rub is an excellent way to add flavor quickly after smoking takes place. Because we recommend applying it towards the end of the process, this method will allow you to enjoy your finished dish even more and get full value from all of its delicious flavors!

Once again, there isn’t one singular type of dry rub that everyone will like so we encourage you to experiment with different options until you find one that suits your individual tastes. To make things easier we’ve included a few ideas below:

If you can’t tell already, we love the flavor of Texas beef brisket which is why so many of our dry rub recipes start this way. You can include a tablespoon each of salt and black pepper for every pound that your meat weighs as well as a pinch of cayenne pepper to add just enough heat. That’s where most people would stop but if you want to take things even further you could try adding one part brown sugar for each tbsp that your salt and pepper mixture incorporates as well as three-fourths tsp garlic powder per teaspoon that exists in your blend. This will create an incredible combination – it’s hard to go wrong with these ingredients!

One ingredient we left out is usually considered to be essential by most people who know how to smoke beef brisket accurately – cumin. This is because some cooks prefer to allow the flavor of their meat to shine through on its own instead of adding anything that may encroach upon its natural flavors.

Although this isn’t necessary since there are so many options available, if you want your dry rub to include cumin we’d recommend using one part each of cumin seeds and chili powder for every three parts salt/pepper/garlic powder (if you decided to go with our Texas-style option) or brown sugar (if you went with the sweeter blend).

What types of wood do you use to smoke a beef brisket?

Our favorite option is to stick with hickory wood when smoking beef briskets since its flavor complements the meat well and permeates throughout it nicely. There’s something about the taste of smoked food that has been prepared over an open flame using this type of wood that always leaves us wanting more!

Oak is another popular choice but it is slightly stronger than hickory so we recommend using less if you’re trying it for the first time. If you’ve already developed a preference for oak then go ahead and use as much as you’d like – we won’t judge!

Pecan wood isn’t quite as common but we really enjoy how versatile it can be when cooking things such as this. We recommend alternating between hickory and pecan while cooking your beef brisket if you want to try out a mix of both at the same time.

These are just three suggestions that we personally love but there are many more options that can be used. Apple, cherry wood, maple wood, and fruit woods, in general, all work great so don’t feel like your options are limited! Just remember one thing.

Tips for smoking a brisket:

You’ll need to make sure that your smoker stays between 225°F and 240°F for the entire cooking process. If you see one of its temperature readings rising higher than this, try using a lower heat setting until it returns to normal. This is very important – smoking meat requires a low cooking temperature or else it will be overcooked by the time the inside reaches a safe eating temperature!

Keep an eye on how much smoke is being produced during each session as well because too little can result in poor flavor while too much means you’re going to have to wait longer since water can’t evaporate from your brisket if it becomes saturated with smoke. Adjusting the thickness of each piece of wood that you add to your smoker along with the number of them that you’re using should help with this factor.

Some people recommend injecting their beef brisket before putting it in the smoker but we don’t really think that’s necessary when you use the right combination of ingredients (such as those that exist in our Texas-style dry rub). If you do decide to inject, make sure to monitor your internal temperature carefully in order to ensure safety!

Keep in mind these are simply suggestions since they aren’t set in stone. Feel free to experiment and come up with flavor combinations of your own once you’ve mastered some of these tips!

Good smoked brisket recipes:

We’ve already given you the best beef brisket recipes that we know of but if you’re still looking for more options, check out some of these :

Southern-Style Barbecue Brisket – this one uses a tomato sauce-based mop to really flavor the meat while it cooks. It also includes ingredients such as garlic salt and liquid smoke which give it an authentic southern taste.

Texas Style Beef Brisket – this recipe is meant to be cooked at home in large quantities so it should be able to serve anywhere from ten people all the way up to fifty or sixty! It’s very easy to prepare too since there are no hard or complicated steps involved.

Smoked Beef Brisk with Bourbon BBQ Sauce – try this recipe out next time you’re hosting a party or just want to treat your family with an amazing feast. It’ll be the perfect dish to serve up on special occasions that deserve something really exciting and delicious!

These are just three recommendations of many but hopefully, they will get your creative juices flowing if you’ve never tried smoking a beef brisket before. If you do give any of them a shot, make sure to snap some pictures before serving it up because we would love to see how yours turns out in comparison!

Let us know which ones are your personal favorites once you’ve had a chance to try them all since we’re always eager for new ideas when it comes to recreating this delicacy for our own enjoyment. Just remember, our main goal here is to help you re-create that amazing texture and taste that we all love so much by imparting as many of our expert tips as possible.


How do I keep the heat even while smoking a brisket?

By placing aluminum foil at different levels in your smoker. This will not only suppress some of the heat but also prevent any flaring that might result from dripping fat hitting hot spots inside your smoker. Keep checking during the entire process and readjust as necessary if needed.

Is it necessary to use hickory wood when smoking a brisket?

It’s optional but it will give that traditional barbecue taste. You can also just use regular or mesquite if you don’t have hickory available in your area, or if you’d like to experiment with other kinds of flavors. But make sure to always go for fruit woods whenever possible since they’ll help balance out the fatty beef flavor.

Should you smoke the brisket with the fat side up or down?

This is entirely up to you but we’ve found the most success when the fat side faces down, especially if it’s particularly thick. You’ll find that some rendered fat will drop through and collect beneath it and this will help keep the leaner sections moist as they finish cooking. But feel free to experiment with keeping your brisket flat or even rotating it throughout the process for added flavor and moisture dynamics.

What goes well with smoked brisket?

Baked beans always go great (and there are tons of recipes out there), as does coleslaw (especially our sweet version) and french fries (if you’re feeling indulgent). If you want a sauce, consider going for a classic barbecue sauce for an authentic taste although a little spiciness is always exciting too.

How often do you turn a brisket over when smoking?

You should always aim for one flip, which happens around the 3-hour mark. Beyond that, some folks only keep it on for another 30 minutes but you can do so if you feel like your meat is cooking fast enough or if you’d like to mix things up throughout. Just be sure to use plenty of oil when flipping and consider scrubbing down your grates before adding your brisket back over for added peace of mind.

What’s the best way to slice a smoked beef brisket?

The more traditional approach is to cut it into thin slices against the grain after removing most of the fat cap (although there are many who argue this isn’t necessary since these pieces will mostly melt off by the time you finish smoking) with a very sharp knife. You could also just serve it in chunks for a more rustic look, which is especially nice if you plan on using it for sandwiches since they don’t typically require any kind of particular presentation.

Should I wrap my brisket?

It’s entirely up to you since there are pros and cons of doing so. On the one hand, wrapping can help lock in flavor and moisture levels but on the other, it might cause a loss of smoky flavor if your brisket sits for too long after smoking. You can also feel free to finagle with some foil near the end of the process as a way to keep it from cooking too fast from all of the residual heat which won’t crisp up the outside as nicely.

What happens if you over-smoke brisket?

You get something that’s difficult to eat, overly smoky, and difficult to cut. Basically everything you don’t want from a finished dish. You can reduce the intensity of the smoke by rinsing off your brisket before using but going overboard likely won’t result in anything edible unless you’re doing it on purpose for a very specific taste profile.

Does wood affect the flavors in smoked brisket?

Although there are some folks who swear by hickory wood for its heavy, distinct taste, it’s really just a matter of your own personal preference. The more you experiment with different kinds of wood chips and planks, the more likely you’ll be able to create something that perfectly complements your dish (perhaps even outdoing the original dish itself if you got it right). But don’t let our opinion dictate yours since there are certainly other equally good options available.

Can you mix pellets in the smoker?

There’s a common misconception that you can’t mix wood pellets in with your regular chips but this is simply not the case. In fact, you might even find yourself doing so if it turns out that one of them runs low before the other. As long as they have roughly the same BTU output and similar densities, there’s no reason why you can’t combine them to make a stronger flavor profile happen.

Do I need special equipment to smoke beef brisket?

While smoking an entire hog is understandably tricky without having the proper equipment on hand, our recipes work well with a standard, everyday charcoal or even gas grill. You can also opt to use an oven if you’d like but you’ll lose the characteristic smoky flavor that comes with these recipes.

Can I tell when the brisket is done by touch?

It’s hard to tell since beef is usually incredibly dense meat but you can at least use the temperature to gauge its readiness. Anything between 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit should be cooked through although many will recommend aiming for 170 degrees as a more optimal cooking level.

How long should you rest the brisket before slicing it?

You definitely want to wait around 15 minutes or so before slicing into your brisket but like with any meat, it will continue cooking if you let it rest too long. You can always cut off a piece earlier just to see how ready it is and then slice the rest up after this initial checkup. Beef brisket should be at its best when allowed to cool for around 10 minutes.

How do you store smoked brisket?

The safest and most effective method for storing your brisket is to seal it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge although you can also choose to freeze it if necessary. Just make sure you wrap up your smoked brisket properly before putting it into storage or else you risk exposing it to oxygen which will only expedite its deterioration (and any potential off-flavors that might be lurking within).

How long does brisket last in the fridge?

It’s pretty difficult to say since there are a lot of variables involved but if stored properly, beef briskets should remain good for up to 10 days. Wrap it up tightly and keep it away from oxygen or else it might get moldy if your storage method doesn’t kill off these intruders outright. If you’ve ever tried smoked brisket before, share your thoughts on our guide below! We’d love to hear from others who have experience with this delicious dish so please chime in if you know anything that we don’t.

Does beef brisket freeze well?

As with any meat, we recommend trying to use your beef brisket quicker than later since freezing can cause all kinds of problems with its texture and taste levels. If you do plan on keeping some around for emergencies, we suggest cutting shreds of your leftovers before freezing them individually so that you can simply reheat them in a pan or oven when needed.

What’s the best way to reheat smoked brisket once you’re ready to eat?

The common practice is actually just to slice it up and pop it back in the smoker for a few minutes so the edges get nice and crispy again. But since this isn’t exactly an optimal solution, consider grilling your brisket slices on the barbecue or even throw them into the oven if you feel like heating things through quickly will work better. You can also just heat up whatever leftovers you have after storing them overnight in the fridge but remember that cooking any leftovers too long can dry out your dish.

How should I clean my smoker after smoking the brisket?

The most important thing you need to look out for in terms of cleaning is leftover charcoal and ash. Remove them in a careful manner and then move on to scrubbing down the grates with a brush while being cautious not to scratch anything. After this, consider investing in an electric grill cleaner so your dish doesn’t get too messy from now on.


Of course, you’ll want to continue checking up on your brisket throughout the smoking process in order to make sure it’s done so don’t assume that just because you’ve unfastened your smoker lid means everything is ready. Use your oven probe thermometer for this task since it provides a lot more accurate temperature readings than you might think at first glance.

Smoked beef brisket is one of the most delicious dishes around although making one can take time especially when you’re still getting used to your smoker. Don’t get discouraged by any potential pitfalls during the preparation phase and consider consulting our guide if things are taking too long or seem out of place at any point along the way. Smoking anything doesn’t have to be difficult but it definitely takes a lot of patience and skill so stay diligent and you’ll be making this dish in no time.

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