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Perfect Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe

18 Reviews

The bold and juicy flavor of Smoked Brisket is everything! We have the perfect smoked brisket recipe that is flawless every time!

This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.

A photo of perfectly smoked brisket sliced and sitting on a wooden cutting board with bottles of BBQ sauce laying next to it.

Smoked Brisket on a Traeger 

Admit it, no other protein does it quite like beef. Beef tastes amazing, and that taste belongs on my table. When you start with such a delicious high-quality protein, the culinary possibilities are endless! You can sear it, grill it, roast it, use it as an ingredient or make it an entrée, the list goes on and on.

Add a wood pellet smoker into the mix and then you have the best beef on the globe. Brisket is a huge cut of beef and can be quite expensive, so we want to make sure you smoke it to perfection. The smoker makes it so easy, and the quality is top shelf!

What Is Brisket?

Let’s start with what this meat is that we are smoking. Brisket is a cut of beef from the breast or lower chest of a cow. It is one of the toughest cuts of beef, but when it is smoked, braised, or slow roasted, it renders into juicy, tender and flavorful beef bliss. All you need is time and a few tools and simple tricks.

Note that there is a lean side and a fatty side to brisket, and you need both to make the perfectly smoked brisket that we are after. The lean side of the brisket has a tighter grain and is harder to make tender.

This is where we divide the men from the boys in the smoking world. Making that lean side melt in your mouth is when you know you’ve reached the peak of brisket perfection. We will help you do just that!

A photo of perfectly smoked brisket sliced with a beautiful smoke ring.

How to Smoke a Brisket

Let’s jump right into the best way to smoke a brisket and then we will answer all sorts of questions below.

Step 1: Select Your Brisket

When it comes to purchasing a brisket, there are few tricks we have learned to picking out a good brisket. First, check the grade of the beef. There are three different grades — Prime, Choice, or Select. Prime is going to be your highest quality and best brisket, but it is going to be quite pricey. If you have the money to spend, go with Prime. If you don’t, then Choice is an excellent way to go.

Also, when you pick up the brisket, make sure it has good flexibility. You don’t want a brisket with tough hidden fat in the middle. You also want to find a brisket with a nice even flat section so that it cooks more evenly. Get a brisket that is untrimmed too so that you can trim it yourself.

Step 2: Prep Your Brisket

Place your brisket on a large cutting board fat side down and trim off any silver skin or excess fat that is on the flat end of the muscle. Square the edges so that the meat will cook more evenly, and then flip the brisket over and trim the fat cap down to about 1/4 inch.

Prepare the dry rub as listed in the ingredients in a small bowl and rub it all over both sides of the brisket.

Step 3: Smoke Your Brisket

Preheat your Traeger to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and use your favorite wood chips (see section below for a list of the different types of wood chips). Place your prepared brisket (unwrapped) in the smoker with the pointed end facing the main heat source. It doesn’t matter if you place it fat side down or fat side up. Smoke it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit which will take about 8-9 hours.

A photo of perfectly smoked brisket sliced on a wooden cutting board.

Step 4: Smoke Some More

Roll out a large sheet of peach butcher paper. Remove the Traeger beef brisket from the smoker and place it on the butcher paper. Spray the brisket with apple cider (or juice) and wrap it in the butcher paper. Place it back in the smoker (seam side down so the wrap stays secure) that is still set at 225 deegrees F and smoke it until the internal temperature reaches 195-202 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest section of the meat. This will take anywhere from 3-4 hours, totally 12 hours of cooking. It doesn’t matter which way the pointed end faces this time.

Step 5: Let Your Brisket Rest

Once you have reached that magical number of 202 — the temperature for fall apart brisket — lower for sliceable brisket, pull the smoked beef brisket out of the Traeger and let it rest for at least 1-2 hours. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! It is critical to having the most tender and juiciest Traeger brisket.

Step 6: Slice Your Brisket

When the smoked brisket has rested, slice it. See the sections below for slicing properly. Serve it up with all your favorite BBQ sides!

A photo of a perfectly smoked brisket with a delicious crusty bark sitting in peach butcher paper.

How to Slice Smoked Brisket

There are two different muscles layered in a Brisket so slicing can be tricky. The best way is to slice against the grain and then before coming to the point, completely cut that end off and turn it to slice against that opposite grain. Some pieces will not look as nice but it will be more tender. 

Why Slice Against the Grain?

Yes, the direction you cut meat matters. Slicing against the grain breaks down the muscle fibers to give you a tender slice of beef. If you don’t slice against the grain you’ll have a less tender result.

How to Tell If Smoked Brisket Is Done

You will know that the Traeger brisket is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 202 degrees Fahrenheit.

What to Serve with Brisket

Now you have your perfectly juicy pellet grill brisket ready to devour, but what should you eat with it? We love to eat it with all the classic BBQ sides, such as:

And what would a BBQ feast be without a phenomenal dessert to top it off? We like to go with our razzleberry pie or the always classic apple crisp. Both should be eaten a la mode, of course!

A photo of perfectly smoked beef brisket sliced and ready to devour.

Can You Smoke Brisket In The Oven?

If you don’t have a smoker, it is possible to cook brisket in the oven? You won’t get the same smoky flavor and that beautiful smoke ring, but your brisket will still be delicious. It will just be different.

Ok, back to cooking brisket in the oven. Going low and slow like we do in the smoker will dry the meat out in the oven, so it needs to be cooked a little faster and at a little higher temperature. Follow all the instructions listed below for smoking the Brisket but wrap it first and place it in the oven that has been preheated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook it for 6 hours covered and then uncover it and cook for another 2-3 hours.

You will know it is done when it holds a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest section of the meat for at least an hour and it has a crust bark on the outside.

How Long Will Smoked Brisket Last?

If you store smoked brisket properly, it will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. It needs to be in an airtight container.

If you want it to last a little longer, store it in the freezer. Place the smoked Brisket in an airtight container and then cover it in heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer wrap, or a heavy duty freezer bag. It will last in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How Long Can Smoked Brisket Sit Out?

Any smoked meat that has sat at room temperature for more than 2 hours should be discarded. If you can keep it at a temperature above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, then it is considered safe to eat for a maxium of 4 hours.

A photo of perfectly smoked brisket sliced on a wooden cutting board.

What Is a Smoke Ring?

When you cut into your beef, there may be a pink ring just under the outer crust (or bark). This ring is called the smoke ring that forms during the smoking process. The smoke ring is good however it is not an indicator of good flavor or juiciness.

What Is a Mop Sauce?

It can also be helpful to have what is called a “mop sauce.” A mop is a thick liquid sauce, typically apple cider vinegar or tomato juice based, that is sprayed or mopped onto the beef during cooking. This will help keep the beef moist during the smoking process.

We like to save all our sauce action for after the brisket is ready to eat, but experiment with what you like best. When we are ready to dig in, we like to have our classic BBQ sauce on hand as well as our mustard BBQ sauce.

A photo of perfectly smoked brisket sliced on a wooden cutting board.

What Are the Best Cuts of Beef for Smoking?

The best cuts for smoking are generally the tougher, larger cuts of beef because a longer, more gentle cook time and temperature melts the fat and tenderizes the beef. Smoking a cut of beef gives it so much flavor. These cuts include:

  • Brisket
  • Ribeye Roast
  • Back Ribs
  • Country Style Ribs
  • Tender cuts (like a Tri-Tip Roast, Tenderloin Roast or even Individual steaks) can be smoked for flavor

Finish on Grill/In Oven: Country Style Ribs, Tri-Tip Roast, Coulotte Roast, Top Sirloin Petite Roast, Ribeye Petite Roast, Tenderloin Roast, Ground Beef Burgers, Individual Steaks (15 minutes or less).

What Type of Wood Should I Use for Smoking?

The type of wood you choose really depends on what type of flavor you want in your end product. Here are the basics for the type of flavor each type of wood provides:

  • Hickory – Provides a sweet, savory and hearty flavor to the beef. One of the more popular woods due to its strong flavor.
  • Mesquite — Will give a very smoky flavor and is great for cooking smaller cuts during a shorter period of time.
  • Oak — One of the more common woods used for smoking. Has a subtle flavor that is great for cooking larger cuts as it won’t be too overpowering
  • Apple — Will provide a sweeter taste and mild fruitiness. Great for mixing in with another wood type or by itself.
  • Pecan – Provides a rich, sweet, nutty flavor to the beef. Great as a mix in since it can tend to be sweeter.
  • Cherry – Offers a hint of fruitiness to the beef and is great used by itself or mixed with another wood.
  • Maple – Will give the meat a sweet, light and mild smokiness flavor. Great for mixing with other wood or by itself.

More Traeger Recipes:  

A photo of perfectly smoked beef brisket sliced and ready to devour.

Perfect Smoked Brisket

4.17 from 18 votes
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 16 people
The bold and juicy flavor of Smoked Brisket is everything! We have the perfect smoked brisket recipe that is flawless every time!

Ingredients

  • 12 pound Brisket
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt Coarse
  • 1 Tablespoon Pepper Fresh Cracked
  • 2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Granulated Garlic
  • 1/3 Cup Apple Cider (or Apple Juice)

Instructions

  • Remove any silver skin or excess fat from the flat end of the muscle. Trim down the large portion of fat that looks like a crescent shape. Trim any excessive or loose meat and fat from the point of the meat. See notes
  • Square the edges so the meat cooks more evenly. Flip the brisket over and trim the top fat cap to about 1/4" thickness. In a mixing bowl mix the rub. Spread over the brisket.
  • Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F using super smoke and your favorite chips. Place the brisket on the smoker with the pointed end facing your main heat source. Close the lid and smoke until 165 degrees F , about 8-9 hours
  • On a large work surface, roll out a big piece of peach butcher paper and center your brisket in the middle. Spray with apple juice. Wrap the brisket Return the wrapped brisket to the smoker, seam side down so the weight from the brisket crimps the edges of the paper wrap down tight.
  • Close the lid on the smoker and, maintaining 225 degrees F, until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 205 degrees F in the thickest part of the meat (takes anywhere from 3-4 hours).
  • Remove the brisket to a large cutting board and allow to rest for 2 hours before slicing. This is absolutely necessary and cannot be skipped in brisket smoking.

Notes

  • Brisket fat does not melt down and make the meat juicy like pork does. Instead the fat sits and is awkward so it's best to trim that fat away.
Left overs can be kept in the refrigerator for 4 days.
Nutrition Facts
Perfect Smoked Brisket
Amount Per Serving (6 ounces)
Calories 548 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 211mg70%
Sodium 1147mg50%
Potassium 1159mg33%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 71g142%
Vitamin A 290IU6%
Calcium 22mg2%
Iron 7mg39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

A photo of perfectly smoked brisket sliced and sitting on a wooden cutting board with bottles of BBQ sauce laying next to it.

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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Recipe Rating




10 comments

  • Recipe looks good, as far as letting ot rest, there was no information. Had to look elsewhere for information on that. Otherwise, stellar.. Ty

    • Reply
    • I’ll be sure to fix that, I’m glad you liked it!

      • Reply
  • When you let this rest, do you keep it in the butcher paper? Do you wrap it in towels and put it in a cooler? I just got a traeger and also a huge brisket. I’d love any tips!

    • Reply
    • I use the butcher paper

      • Reply
  • My husband loved it so much !!!!! I’m making it again for him.

    • Reply
    • Woop woop! It is so dang good!

      • Reply
  • We’ve found that separating the two muscles that make up a brisket (the flat & the point) prior to smoking gives better results (less fatty) and also yields delicious burnt ends. A good smoker (better than a Traeger pellet ‘smoker’ (sic)) is also very helpful. If you must use a Traeger, use better pellets than Traeger’s (theirs has an artificial/chemical flavor; Power To The Pellet is much preferred). For the advanced, a stick burner is the way to go with chunks of hickory; for those less into it, a good electric smoker (like Cook Shack’s) also gives great results.

    • Reply
    • Really great advice!! For some reason I always prefer to keep the brisket whole but maybe I will have to give it another try cutting the two apart. 🙂

      • Reply
  • Great recipes!!

    • Reply
    • Thanks Karl!

      • Reply

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