How to Smoke a Brisket
Bring the best of Texas to your own backyard with delicious, slow-smoked beef brisket. All it takes is a few simple tips and a little time. We’ll teach you the basics — let’s get started.
What You’ll Need
Before starting, make sure you have everything on this list. We recommend Kingsford® Original Charcoal Briquets. And don’t skip the digital meat thermometer — it’s the best way to get your brisket done right.
- Kingsford® Original Charcoal Briquets
- Kingsford™ BBQ Smoking Chips, Hickory or Mesquite
- Drip pan
- Digital Meat Thermometer
- Digital BBQ Thermometer
- Long-Handled Tongs or Long-Handled Metal Spatula
- Paper Towels
- Aluminum Foil
- Small Fork
- One 10 to 12 lb. Brisket
- Dry Rub
- Apple Juice
- Salt and Pepper
- Cooking Oil
How to Prep
- Soak a few handfuls of Kingsford™ BBQ Smoking Chips (Hickory or Mesquite) in warm water 30 minutes before placing atop the coals.
- With a knife, trim off the excess top fat, leaving a ¼” thick layer of fat to keep the meat moist during the long cooking process.
- Sprinkle on a few tbsp. of dry rub.
- Refrigerate for several hours to let the dry rub penetrate the meat, or simply put the brisket on the grill after applying the dry rub.
How to Prep
How to Build Your Fire
- Give your top grill grate a good brushing and set it aside.
- If you’re using a kettle-type grill, use an indirect technique like The Charcoal Snake to set up your grill. Be sure to use a drip pan with water directly underneath the meat to stabilize the temperature.
- For backyard smokers, set it up for a long smoke. Learn more about smoking here.
- With either method, add a few handfuls of Hickory or Mesquite Kingsford™ BBQ Smoking Chips (that have been soaked in warm water) on top of the coals.
- You’ll want to keep the grill temp at Low Heat — 225°F. How to control the heat when grilling with charcoal.
- Add the grate and let it heat up.
How to Gauge Grill Heat Without a Thermometer
Carefully hold your hand about 5” to 6” above the grate, and refer to the temperature settings below:
• High Heat (450° to 550°F):
2 to 4 seconds
• Medium Heat (350° to 450°F):
5 to 6 seconds
• Low Heat (250° to 350°F):
8 to 10 seconds
Make sure your clothing doesn’t touch the grate, and always move your hand away from the heat before you feel discomfort.
When you’re at temp, put cooking oil on a folded paper towel. Grab the oiled paper towel with long-handled tongs and oil the grate thoroughly.
- When you’re at temp, put cooking oil on a folded paper towel. Grab the oiled paper towel with tongs and oil the grate thoroughly.
How to Build Your Fire
Smoking Time & Temp
- Place the brisket fat side up on the top rack, cover with the lid and bring the temperature up to 225°F, using the vents to regulate the temperature.
- Knowing the temperature in your grill is crucial, so if your grill doesn’t have a temperature gauge, purchase a digital BBQ thermometer to measure the air temp inside your grill.
- Check the temperature of the grill every hour, staying as close to 225°F as possible.
- Resist the temptation to open the lid unless you need to add more charcoal or soaked wood chips to maintain temperature and smoke.
- When the brisket’s internal temperature reaches about 150°F, the brisket’s surface evaporation causes the meat’s internal temperature to plateau. Pitmasters call this “the stall.” Don’t worry, this happens!
What Should I Do if the Internal Temp of the Meat Plateaus? Either wait out the stall, or wrap the brisket tightly in two sheets of heavy aluminum foil with ½ a cup of apple juice added (aka The Texas Crutch) and bring the grill temperature or the grill back up to 225°F.
- When the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 195°F it should be properly smoked. Depending on the method of smoking, the time can vary. This can take 1 to 1 ½ hours per pound.
- The internal temp of brisket can increase by 10 degrees after it’s been removed from the grill, so keep this in mind when you’re checking the internal temperature of the meat. It will help make sure your brisket isn’t overcooked.