My Secrets to a Perfect Brisket Every Time

If you haven’t figured it out by now, my last post was an April Fools Day joke. I really had a lot of fun shooting the pictures and writing the post.  But there is nothing funny about today’s post.  Today I’m going to share with you my secrets to a prefect brisket. I have been trying to conquer the brisket for the last two years and I have finally perfected my recipe and techniques.
Brisket BBQ Sandwich
The brisket is from the lower chest of the cow and is actually two separate muscles. Being from the chest means the muscle get a lot of work and is not a naturally tender cut, but with a little time and some patience, it can the tenderest piece of beef you’ve ever stuffed in your face.  As for the flavor of the brisket, it cannot be beat.  Add some seasoning and smoke to that beefy goodness and you’ve got pure BBQ nirvana.

1.    Cooking the perfect brisket begins in the meat section.  Regardless of the size the brisket, just be sure that it is CHOICE grade.  I like to get the whole brisket in the vacuum pack or packer briskets.

2.    The only fat I trim off the brisket is from the meat side; I do not trim the fat from the cap.  I do score the cap in shallow cross cuts so the seasoning will penetrate the fat, flavor the meat, and also help the fat cook off faster.

3.    To season the brisket, I start by coating both sides of the brisket with oil, then liberally season with my favorite BBQ Rub, which happens to be mine.  Rub the seasoning into the meat to ensure it sticks and forms a flavorful crust during the cooking.
Brisket Seasoned with AlbuKirky BBQ Rub
4.    OK, the brisket is seasoned and ready to go, but the most important flavor comes from the smoke.  I like to use mesquite charcoal mixed with chunks of mesquite wood, and for additional smoke, I add mesquite chips during cooking. I only add the chips for the first 4 hours. Whatever combo you use, just be sure you see a constant trail of white smoke coming from your smoker.  As for soaking the wood chips or chunks, I prefer keeping them dry, it’s just easier and it keeps the heat in the smoker stable.

Brisket Fat Cap Down

5.    Which side is up? I have researched extensively and cannot find a definitive answer.  So my definitive answer is, it depends.  Start out with the fat side down and allow the meat to absorb the smoke.  As the meat cooks, the seasoning will start to form the crust and eventually bark up.  If the meat is cooking a little too fast, or it’s looking more like char than bark, I will flip the meat and finish smoking with the fat cap up.

6.    Low and slow is the key.  I keep the temperature in my egg between 225-250.  As for cooking time, that’s tough to say, it depends on the size of the brisket; roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound.  An 8-pound brisket will take 8-10 hours. Just saying, if you’re going to cook a brisket don’t make any other plans, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday.

7.    I don’t like the smell of burnt grease and I don’t want that smoke ruining the flavor of my brisket, so I fill my drip pan with water and keep it filled during the cooking process.  The water will catch the drippings, avoid that burnt grease smoke, and also add some moisture to the heat.

Brisket and flavorful liquid

8.    OK, this is my big secret to getting the brisket tender… the foil wrap.  After the brisket has smoked for 4 hours, I pull the brisket off and set it on a sheet of foil big enough to wrap the brisket completely.  But before wrapping the brisket, I pour in about a cup or so of beef broth.  Then I wrap the brisket up and return it to the grill for another 3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 170-180F.
Brisket Wrapped in Foil
9.    It’s not a brisket unless it has bark and that smoky crunchy crust is the hallmark of perfection.  To be sure you get that bark, remove the brisket from the grill and remove the foil, return to the grill fat side down and continue cooking for one more hour. 
Brisket with Bark
10. The brisket may be done cooking, but it’s not ready yet.  Take the brisket off the smoker and allow it to rest about ½ hour. Here’s a handy trick…you can wrap the brisket back up in foil, then wrap in a towel and place in cooler.  It will stay warm for up to 3 hours.

11.  As I said earlier, the brisket is made of two separate muscles and the grain of the meat runs in different directions depending on which piece you are slicing.  Be sure to slice the meat across the grain.  Cutting across the grain ensures each bite will be tender.
There it is people.  Two years of serious brisket research in 11 simple steps.  The key is patience. I’m not a patient person, but I have learned over the past couple of years to just let the brisket cook and let the smoker work it’s magic.  If you need some help or have any questions feel free to email at  Happy grilling my friends!

2 thoughts on “My Secrets to a Perfect Brisket Every Time

  1. Nothing beats experience, does it? Nice post Kirk.

    I'm also glad to see I'm not the only one that uses cast iron when smoking, not just grilling. I find it helps even out temps because of the extra thermal mass.

  2. Yes, there is a great deal of satisfaction when I finally get it right.

    My wife got me the Craycort Cast Iron Grill for Valentines day. I really like the removable grate, can easily add smoking chip or water to my drip pan during cooking. It's purty cool.

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