Brisket Smoking Tips for a Flaming Good Summer BBQ

Did you know that the world record for the longest television advertisement was from restaurant chain Arbys? They used a 13-hour commercial to showcase their brisket smoking technique in its entirety. But do you know if they actually did it right?

Cooking meat for this long is a fine art. Read on as we give you our essential brisket smoking tips.

Get the Right Meat

No matter how good your smoking process is, the outcome is only going to be as good as what you put in. That comes down to the brisket itself. In fact, you can buy the best meat and have a fairly standard process, yet still, come off as a brisket pro.

Our brisket buying tips are to go for a choice grade or higher. You need lots of marbling in the meat, as this fat will keep it moist throughout the cooking process. It will also keep it tender and add an extra level of taste.

Preheat the Smoker

The most important time for smoking is in the first few hours of the process. To really excel, the meat needs to be in a smoky environment from the start. Putting it into a preheated, hot, and smoky oven from the get-go is essential.

Preheating also lets any green wood dry out. Placing a brisket into a smoker filled with green wood can cause it to have a bitter tang. Get the furnace going for an hour beforehand to give the wood time to dry out.

Start the smoker going to a temperature of between 250 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Wait until the coals are grey, before adding small pieces of wood. This wood will smoke but burn away, so you need to carry this on throughout cooking.


Briskets often come with a large fat cap on the bottom. During the cooking process, this fat is too thick to render down. Therefore it helps to get the best brisket knife possible and cut it down to around 3/8 thickness, making sure it is even.

Grey meat may also exist at the sides of the brisket. Trim this back until the pink flesh just begins to show. You will now have enough to hold taste and moisture, but not so much that it will be a problem when serving.

Apply a Rub

Don’t spend your time scouring the web for the best-smoked brisket recipe. If your meat is good, it is going to take on a lot of flavor from the smoke itself. This means simple is always the way forward.

Stick with the holy trinity of salt, pepper, and garlic. Purists may even omit the garlic, though this does add a little more depth to the already complex flavor.

Place the brisket on a clean sheet pan. Your salt, pepper, and garlic should be spread over the meat thickly, heavily covering it. Pat the spices onto the brisket to help them stick, then turn it over and repeat on the other side.

How Long to Smoke Brisket?

Cooking of the meat should always be done fat side up. This allows the juices to drip down through the meat, preserving the moisture. Your temperature needs to be a consistent 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Each pound of meat needs one hour of cooking time. Start by cooking the meat uncovered. This will ensure the fat and seasoning create the bark.

Halfway through the cooking process, wrap it in foil. This will begin to steam the meat, making it extremely tender. For the last hour of cooking, take this foil off once more.

Manage Your Fire

Once cooking, the key to the most amazing brisket is to manage your fire. You need a consistent temperature, kept over many hours. If you are not experienced in managing a fire, then you should definitely wrap the meat as described above.

Always tend to the fire carefully, increasing the temperature gradually. It is much easier to work heat up than try to bring it down. Practice fire safety by never leaving your smoker unattended, and make sure you know what your ISO fire protection class by zip code is.

Smoke should be kept blue and thin. A huge amount of thick black smoke will ruin the taste of the brisket. As it is cooking over a long period of time, little amounts will be more than enough to get that great smoked flavor.

Rest Your Meat

Before slicing, you should always let your meat rest. While you may have been smoking it for hours, the temptation to dive in needs to be stayed for just a little longer.

The reason for this is that your brisket will still be hot. All of the fats will have liquified. If you cut it open straight away, they will run out, creating meat that dries out quickly.

Instead, give it time to cool so that the juices thicken and stay in the meat when you slice it open. If you need to keep the brisket for a longer period before cutting, such as a few hours, then wrap it in butcher’s paper. This will take off the excess grease but keeps the outer layer from drying out.

Rely on Touch

Many people use a meat thermometer to tell when their brisket is done and it is a great tool to have around. However, touch should be the main factor that helps you decide when the brisket is cooked. Once the temperature of the meat starts to hit around 180 degrees Fahrenheit, you should start to feel the outside bark.

Brisket Smoking Tips

These brisket smoking tips are just the start. Everyone has their own ways of cooking a great brisket, including adding wet sauces or even injecting the meat. Use trial and error to get your technique down.

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