Step by Step Instructions to Smoke/ BBQ/ Cook a Brisket

Step by Step Instructions to Smoke/ BBQ/ Cook a Brisket
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So you bought a brisket and now, let’s smoke/ BBQ/ cook this brisket! If you’re trembling with excitement, then you are ready!. We all feel that buzzy, lightheaded feeling knowing an excellent meal is coming soon!

For more information on the two muscles that make up a brisket, trimming and general guidelines, click this link to a Brisket Basics 101.

Objective: Moist brisket that is melt in your mouth tender. Silent moments of joy or pleasurable moaning at the dinner table is absolutely acceptable.

Be prepared, briskets are large cuts of meat that needs heat and time to tenderize, so expect your cook time to be 4-10 hours with 1-2 hours of rest time! But, it will be worth the wait!

Whole brisket cooking on BBQ/ Smoker

How to Smoke/ BBQ/ Cook a Whole Brisket


  • BBQ/ Smoker/ Grill
  • Oven
  • heavy duty aluminum foil or pink butcher paper
  • large aluminum pan, like turkey roasting pan
  • large cooler or bath towels for insulation while resting


  • 1 brisket trimmed, preferably whole,
  • spice rub
  • wood chunks or chips if desired
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 1/2 can beef broth


  • Sprinkle a heavy coat of spice rub all over and on all sides of the meat. You should not be able to see the meat through the spice rub. Let rest for at least 30 minutes or until the rub looks wet (can also be done overnight, just ensure the brisket is covered so it doesn't dry out in the fridge).
    SmellaQue Tip: if you want a prominent smoke ring, season your brisket the night before. The salt and sugar in the spice rub will set up a smoke ring about 1/4" around the brisket when you slice a cross section.
    Whole Brisket - Rubbed with spice rub
  • Warm up the smoker to 250F or 275F. Add wood chunks or chips for flavor
    SmellaQue Tip: Don't bother soaking wood chips. Water will not penetrate the wood by soaking. Further, the water will steam off before the wood creates smoke.
  • Put the brisket fat side down on the smoker for 1-3 hours. Smoke will attach to the exterior of the brisket and set the bark (spice rub and surface of the meat will caramelize). For AA or Select briskets, consider adding a water pan on a lower rack, under the brisket, to maintain moisture in the smoker and therefore, keep the brisket moist.
  • At the ~2 hour mark when the bark is set (you can NOT easily rub it off with your finger), melt 4 tablespoons of margarine and pour on top of the brisket to keep the brisket moist. Spritzing water help, but tends to just evaporate or steam off).
    Whole brisket cooking on BBQ/ Smoker
  • At the 3 hour mark, lay out heavy duty aluminum foil or pink butcher paper. Wrap the brisket (fat side down) TIGHT with ½ can of undiluted beef broth in the foil/ paper. I usually place the foil/ butcher paper wrapped brisket into a large aluminum pan (like a turkey roasting pan) in case it springs a leak.
    Whole brisket, ready to wrap
  • Transfer brisket to the oven at 300F or back onto the smoker at 275-300F and cook until probe/ bamboo skewer tender tender (about another 2-3 hours). If you use an instant read thermometer, the brisket will likely be probe tender 190-205F.
    "Probe tender" means there is little resistance when inserting the probe, where it feels like inserting into butter when inserting and withdrawing the probe.
    If the probe slides into the brisket and it feels like peanut butter (slight resistance), you are close, continue cooking for at least another 15-30 minutes and test again.
    If the probe slides into the brisket and it feels likeraw meat/ steak (quite a bit of resistance), more cooking time is required,continue cooking for another 30-60 minutes and test again.
  • Rest – Place brisket into a cooler with the lid slightly ajar or lay an old bath towel on top of the brisket on the counter (with the foil/paper intact) to rest for 1-2 hours. The cooler/ towel keeps the brisket insulated. This is the opportunity for the brisket to cool slowly (which is important to keeping it tender) and absorb moisture. If the brisket cools off too quickly, the fibers tend to seize and it won’t be tender.
  • Slice the brisket in pencil-thick slices AGAINST the grain. Try to restrain yourself from eating the brisket off the cutting board 😉
    Slices of brisket flat

1 thought on “Step by Step Instructions to Smoke/ BBQ/ Cook a Brisket”

  • Great recipe come’s out Juicy tender tasty cooked in my Oklahoma Joe’s barrel smoker.

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