How to Barbecue Brisket in 7 Steps


Elevate your Fourth of July menu with barbecued brisket. It may sound intimidating but with these tips from the barbecue gurus at, you’ll ace it.

The chefs at say really great brisket only requires salt, pepper and patience. Here are their steps on getting started as a brisket newbie.

How to pick a brisket:

Plan on purchasing a whole packer brisket with both the point and flat muscle included. The grade of your meat matters, prime beef will have more fat marbling which means more flavor and juiciness than a choice graded brisket. Buy about 1/2 pound (or more) of brisket per person you are serving. A 12-14 pound brisket will generously serve about 20-25 people (more if some of those people are kiddos).

Trim the brisket:

This step is so important for how the final product will turn out. Spend the 20-30 minutes you need to trim it properly. Check out these step by step instructions  for trimming your brisket.

Season your brisket

Texas style is simply coarse salt and coarse black pepper. My only addition (and this is personal preference, you can skip it if you’re a purist) is to add garlic powder as well. Doesn’t really change the flavor or take away from that amazing smoked beef, but adds a little extra layer of goodness. PRO TIP: Mix your salt, pepper, and garlic in an old spice shaker container and shake the spices out at about 2 feet above your brisket while seasoning. This will create a nice even layer of salt, pepper, and garlic across the entire surface of your brisket.

Smoke your brisket

Use a nice hardwood in your smoker. I used oak as the base wood with a little bit of cherry mixed in. The goal here, whatever type of smoker you are using, is consistent heat and a steady flow of thin blue smoke. I wish I could tell you an exact time that smoking will take, but alas, that’s kind of the beauty of BBQ. It’s done when it is done. For the initial smoke phase, I plan about 8 hours at 225 degrees F for my 12-13 pound briskets to reach 165 degrees F. However, your brisket will enter a phase in between 145 degrees F and 165 degrees F where the liquid evaporating from the surface of the brisket will cool it while your grill is trying to cook it. This is called the stall, and the time frame is different during this phase for every brisket I’ve ever cooked. This is where a good internal thermometer comes in. For this cook, I used my Thermapen MK4. PRO TIP: many people argue fat side up or down on a brisket cook. Guess what? I did two briskets, one up and one down. There was no difference in final product. Place it on there however you prefer!

Wrap your brisket

This is one of the most crucial steps, in my opinion, to achieving that super juicy tender brisket with that killer dark caramelized bark. Opinions differ between using foil and peach butcher paper, but I am fully converted to the butcher paper after years of using foil. My briskets have never had a better smoke flavor and a more delicious bark. I’ll never go back to foil! You can pick up peach butcher paper at your restaurant supply store or on Amazon HERE. The brisket gets wrapped up like a present, folding edge over edge until it is fully sealed. Return the brisket to your smoker with the folded edges down and continue on at 225 degrees F until the internal temperature of your brisket reaches 202 degrees F at the thickest part (make sure your thermometer is in meat, not fat). This step varies in time, but can take anywhere from 5-8 hours. I usually plan an extra 2 hours for each of my brisket cooks because if it is done early, I can always set it in a cooler and hold it for a while during the next step.

Resting your brisket

DO. NOT. SKIP. THIS. STEP. Resting your brisket allows so many of those hot and bubbly juices to settle down a little and redistribute to the meat. It also brings your brisket down to perfect slicing and serving temperature. Just leave it in the butcher paper and let it relax while everybody sets the table and pours some drinks.

Slicing your brisket

You want to slice your brisket against the grain for maximum tenderness, but remember, there are two overlapping muscles and two different grain directions. I split the point and flat sections and slice each individually against the grain before serving.