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Texas-Style Smoked Brisket

Published on 12/01/2023 by Umamiology
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This is the Texas-style smoked beef brisket recipe you’ve been searching for. Deliciously crispy bark with a moist and juicy, melt-in-your-mouth texture – this smoked brisket is something truly unique.

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I’ve lived in Austin, Texas for over 14 years. And in that time, I’ve had delicious Texas barbeque at least once a week, almost every week – which comes out to about 700+ barbecue meals in total.

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I’ve tried just about every famous barbecue joint in the area, including Salt Lick, County Line, Terry Black’s Barbecue, and Bert’s Barbecue – just to name a few. So I’d like to think – that compared to the average barbecue enthusiast, I’ve got a bit more experience, making me a bit of an expert in the area.

Salt-Lick-Driftwood-Fire-Pit
The Famous Fire Pit at Salt Lick Driftwood

It’s been a while since I’ve moved away from the Lone Star State, and I’ve searched long and hard for that same rich quality of smokey Texas-style barbecue… but I’m afraid it just isn’t available in my area.

So, I’ve taken it upon myself (and my smoker) to recreate that same slow-smoked and boldly seasoned brisket, that I’ve come to know and love – and I’m happy to share this recipe with all of you.

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Texas Barbecue = Slow Smoked

Slow smoking is the key to great Texas-style barbecue – which means you need a really good smoker.

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There are many smokers out there – each with their merits and their deficiencies. If you’d like to see a review of some of the top smokers out there, as of late 2023, this video from The Barbecue Lab, does a great job.

I’m currently rocking the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 – which is a decent mid-level smoker, that is quite affordable.

But for those of you that are have the extra money to spend, I’d recommend getting a Traeger, like this Traeger Ironwood Wood Pellet Grill – which in my opinion, is one of the most advanced and efficient smokers out there.

Traeger-Ironwood-XL
Traeger Ironwood Wood Pellet Grill

But no matter what smoker you have – the actual secret to good Texas-style barbecue brisket is the technique, so let’s get on with the craft.

The Ingredients for Texas-Style Smoked Brisket

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The Equipment Needed

Prep The Brisket

The key step to amazing Texas-style smoked brisket happens right on the cutting board before the meat ever touches the smoker/grill. You’ve got to trim this glorious piece of meat in just the right way to ensure you get a nice flavorful bark and the brisket stays juicy and tender throughout the cook. Don’t sleep on this step – it’s the foundation upon which the rest of this recipe builds on.

Start out with a nice & sharp carving knife – we’re going to do a good deal of trimming so having a well crafted knife is essential.

Begin by removing your brisket out of the vacuum-sealed plastic and positioning it lengthwise, with the fat cap side towards you, on the cutting board. (The fat cap is the fatty flap that protrudes out from the thicker, high point of the brisket.)

Pro Tip: It’s easier to trim your brisket straight out of the fridge – as the colder temperature helps solidify the meat and fat.

Trim The Brisket

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Start by evening out the thickness of the brisket overall, by cutting off some of the thinner flat edge of the brisket. Having a brisket that has even thickness across the board, helps to make sure it cooks evenly – and avoids burnt portions where the meat is slimmest.

Pro Tip: Don’t discard the meat that you carve out of the flat portion to even out the brisket. It’s good quality meat that you can use in stews, or grind up to make nice hamburger patties.

Then, look around your brisket and find any rough, discolored or hard pieces of fat around the edge of the brisket – you’ll want to trim all of that off to get to a nice, clean and uniform shape to the brisket.

Umamiology-Smoked-Brisket-ProcessShot34

Then, locate the hard, inner fat layer at the “point” of the brisket. Here, you can carve out this inner fat portion so that the point of the brisket sits more evenly and doesn’t protrude upward. Then also trim the fatty flap of the fat cap that we identified earlier so that you get to more even thickness across the whole brisket.

Shaving The Top Fat Cap

Across the top fat cap – start shaving the fat layer so that approximately 1/2 inch of the fat remains. You want enough fat so that it renders during the smoking process and keeps the meat moist, but if you leave too much fat on, then as you eat the brisket, you may wanna cut off the fat, as it’s too oily to consume.

Lastly, flip the brisket over and trim away some of the silver skin that exists on the underside of the meat.

Pro Tip: Unless you are entering a bbq competition, this trimming portion of the brisket does not have to be perfect. But if you have to err one way or another, err on the side of leaving more fat on, than trimming too much. You can always remove fat after the cook as you are eating, but if you trim too much to begin with, you might end up with a drier brisket.

And that’s it – you are now ready to season the brisket.

Seasoning Your Texas-Style Smoked Brisket

This step is fairly simple. You only need a binder (like mustard) and a good quality rub, like this Salt Lick Dry Rub that I’m using in this recipe.

Umamiology-Smoked-Brisket-ProcessShot56

Simply coat the top and bottom of the brisket with the mustard and apply a generous dusting of the dry rub on both sides.

Let sit in the fridge overnight, or for at least 3 hours to let the flavor from the rub infuse into the meat.

Smoking Your Brisket

Prepare your smoker by loading in your charcoal and your choice of smoking wood (I prefer mesquite). Then set your smoker to 230°F.

When you smoker is ready, place your brisket on the top rack (or away from the source of heat) and place a baking rack underneath to collect the drippings from the meat.

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Pro Tip: If you are using a smoker/grill with just one rack layer, place your brisket away from the charcoal and ensure that you are redirecting the smoke to flow over your meat.

If you have a meat thermometer, this would be a great time to plug it into the thickest portion of the brisket. (I am using the wired thermometer that came with my grill, but there are many new and advanced wireless thermometers out there like this MEATER Plus.)

Smoke for about 2 hours on 230°F.

Once 2 hours have elapsed, dial up your smoker temperature to 250°F and smoke until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 170°F. (For me, this step took about 8.5 hours.)

Pro Tip: For any meat that you smoke, doneness is always determined by internal meat temperature, not cook time. Cooking time will always vary based on the performance of your smoker (how evenly the heat is distributed, etc) and your location/environment (external temperature, etc). For this reason, having a meat thermometer is crucial for this kind of cook.

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Wrapping Your Brisket

When your brisket hits 170°F, remove from the grill, and wrap the brisket tightly in butcher paper.

Pro Tip: Add in dollops of beef tallow or butter into the butcher paper wrap to make the brisket nice and moist during this last step of the smoking process.

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Return the wrapped brisket back to the smoker and continue smoking until the meat hits an internal temperature of 205°F (some call this “probe tender” as the meat probe should easily slide in and out of the meat at this temperature).

Final Reveal

Once the brisket has hit an internal temperature of 205°F, pull the meat off of the smoker and let it rest in an empty oven (turned off) for about 1.5-2 hours for the brisket’s juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

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Once the brisket has cooled to about 140°F (for me, it took just over 90 minutes) – unwrap your brisket from the butcher paper wrap and place it on your cutting board.

Slice the brisket to order (try not to pre-slice too much, as the meat can start to dry out when sliced too early) and serve with your choice of bbq sauce.

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Serve and enjoy! (Want the perfect drink with your Texas-Style Smoked Brisket? Pair with this Smoked Old Fashioned.)

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Pro Tip: Leftover brisket? Try this great recipe for Texas Twinkies – using your left over smoked brisket meat.

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Watch me make this dish, by heading over to our YouTube, Instagram, TikTok or Pinterest pages.
If you liked this recipe, you’ll love these too:

Texas-Style Smoked Brisket

5 from 12 votes
This is the Texas-style smoked beef brisket recipe you've been searching for. Deliciously crispy bark with a moist and juicy, melt-in-your-mouth texture – this smoked brisket is something truly unique.
Author: Umamiology
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 14 hours
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Ingredients 

Instructions 

Prep The Brisket

  • The key step to amazing brisket happens right on the cutting board before the meat ever touches the smoker/grill. You've got to trim this glorious piece of meat in just the right way to ensure you get a nice flavorful bark and the brisket stays juicy and tender throughout the cook. Don't sleep on this step – it's the foundation upon which the rest of this recipe builds on.
  • Start out with a nice & sharp carving knife – we're going to do a good deal of trimming so having a well crafted knife is essential.
  • Begin by removing your brisket out of the vacuum-sealed plastic and positioning it lengthwise, with the fat cap side towards you, on the cutting board. (The fat cap is the fatty flap that protrudes out from the thicker, high point of the brisket.)
  • Pro Tip: It's easier to trim your brisket straight out of the fridge – as the colder temperature helps solidify the meat and fat.

Trim The Brisket

  • Start by evening out the thickness of the brisket overall, by cutting off some of the thinner flat edge of the brisket. Having a brisket that has even thickness across the board, helps to make sure it cooks evenly – and avoids burnt portions where the meat is slimmest.
  • Pro Tip: Don't discard the meat that you carve out of the flat portion to even out the brisket. It's good quality meat that you can use in stews, or grind up to make nice hamburger patties.
  • Then, look around your brisket and find any rough, discolored or hard pieces of fat around the edge of the brisket – you'll want to trim all of that off to get to a nice, clean and uniform shape to the brisket.
  • Then, locate the hard, inner fat layer at the "point" of the brisket. Here, you can carve out this inner fat portion so that the point of the brisket sits more evenly and doesn't protrude upward. Then also trim the fatty flap of the fat cap that we identified earlier so that you get to more even thickness across the whole brisket.

Shaving The Top Fat Cap

  • Across the top fat cap – start shaving the fat layer so that approximately 1/2 inch of the fat remains. You want enough fat so that it renders during the smoking process and keeps the meat moist, but if you leave too much fat on, then as you eat the brisket, you may wanna cut off the fat, as it's too oily to consume.
  • Lastly, flip the brisket over and trim away some of the silver skin that exists on the underside of the meat.
  • Pro Tip: Unless you are entering a bbq competition, this trimming portion of the brisket does not have to be perfect. But if you have to err one way or another, err on the side of leaving more fat on, than trimming too much. You can always remove fat after the cook as you are eating, but if you trim too much to begin with, you might end up with a drier brisket.
  • And that's it – you are now ready to season the brisket.

Seasoning Your Brisket

  • This step is fairly simple. You only need a binder (like mustard) and a good quality rub, like this Salt Lick Dry Rub that I'm using in this recipe.
  • Simply coat the top and bottom of the brisket with the mustard and apply a generous dusting of the dry rub on both sides.
  • Let sit in the fridge overnight, or for at least 3 hours to let the flavor from the rub infuse into the meat.

Smoking Your Brisket

  • Prepare your smoker by loading in your charcoal and your choice of smoking wood (I prefer mesquite). Then set your smoker to 230°F.
  • When you smoker is ready, place your brisket on the top rack (or away from the source of heat) and place a baking rack underneath to collect the drippings from the meat.
  • Pro Tip: If you are using a smoker/grill with just one rack layer, place your brisket away from the charcoal and ensure that you are redirecting the smoke to flow over your meat.
  • If you have a meat thermometer, this would be a great time to plug it into the thickest portion of the brisket. (I am using the wired thermometer that came with my grill, but there are many new and advanced wireless thermometers out there like this MEATER Plus.)
  • Smoke for about 2 hours on 230°F.
  • Once 2 hours have elapsed, dial up your smoker temperature to 250°F and smoke until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 170°F. (For me, this step took about 8.5 hours.)
  • Pro Tip: For any meat that you smoke, doneness is always determined by internal meat temperature, not cook time. Cooking time will always vary based on the performance of your smoker (how evenly the heat is distributed, etc) and your location/environment (external temperature, etc). For this reason, having a meat thermometer is crucial for this kind of cook.

Wrapping Your Brisket

  • When your brisket hits 170°F, remove from the grill, and wrap the brisket tightly in butcher paper. Return the wrapped brisket back to the smoker and continue smoking until the meat hits an internal temperature of 205°F (some call this "probe tender" as the meat probe should easily slide in and out of the meat at this temperature).
  • Pro Tip: Add in dollops of beef tallow or butter into the butcher paper wrap to make the brisket nice and moist during this last step of the smoking process.

Final Reveal

  • Once the brisket has hit an internal temperature of 205°F, pull the meat off of the smoker and let it rest in an empty oven (turned off) for about 1.5-2 hours for the brisket's juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
  • Once the brisket has cooled to about 140°F (for me, it took just over 90 minutes) – unwrap your brisket from the butcher paper wrap and place it on your cutting board.
  • Slice the brisket to order (try not to pre-slice too much, as the meat can start to dry out when sliced too early) and serve with your choice of bbq sauce.
  • Serve and enjoy! (Want the perfect drink with your Texas-Style Smoked Brisket? Pair with this Smoked Old Fashioned.)
  • Pro Tip: Leftover brisket? Try this great recipe for Texas Twinkies – using your left over smoked brisket meat.

Nutrition

Calories: 1113kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 143gFat: 52gSaturated Fat: 18gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 0.001gCholesterol: 422mgSodium: 628mgPotassium: 2377mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 466IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 213mgIron: 19mg

*Nutritional information is just an estimate derived by an online calculation tool.

FAQ

What is the best temperature to smoke a brisket?

There are many different answers, but most recipes will tell you to smoke at temperatures between 220°F and 250°F. I prefer to start out at 230°F and end at 250°F.

How long does it take to smoke a brisket?

For any meat that you smoke, doneness is always determined by internal meat temperature, not cook time. You’ll know your brisket is done when it reaches 205°F internal temperature. At a 250°F smoking temperature, it can take anywhere from 9 hours to 12 hours for the brisket to reach the 205°F internal temperature for doneness.

What is the best smoker, to smoke a brisket?

If you have the extra money to spend, I’d recommend getting a Traeger, like this Traeger Ironwood Wood Pellet Grill – which in my personal opinion, is one of the most advanced and efficient smokers out there.

Share this recipe!