This Barbecue Beef Brisket Has a Touch of Southwest Flavor

Succulent Slices of Smoked Brisket

Fire up the grill and try this great barbecue beef brisket recipe. The brisket rub adds a Southwestern flair to the flavor, while the mop sauce helps keep the grilling brisket nice and juicy.

For starters, find a whole brisket weighing 8 to 10 pounds. As whole briskets go, this is on the small side, but a smaller brisket will cook quicker and is easier to fit on a wider range of grills.

You can barbecue your beef brisket in either a charcoal or gas grill, the choice is yours. I prefer the flavor charcoal brings to the table, but the temperature control of a gas grill makes the process a bit easier.


Start with a whole brisket. Trim the fat cap, leaving a 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer of fat over the top of the brisket. Score the fat in a criss-cross fashion, creating a pattern of 1 inch squares. Cut through the fat just deep enough to see the underlying meat. This allows the flavor of the brisket rub and mop sauce to penetrate more easily.

Brisket Rub Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Brisket Mop Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of your brisket dry rub

Combine the brisket rub ingredients, reserving 1 tablespoon for the mop sauce. Whisk the mop sauce ingredients together vigorously. Or add the ingredients to a pint jar, twist on the lid and shake it all up.

Do a little dance while your shaking the mop sauce. If people think you're crazy, just tell 'em you're doin' the "Mop Sauce Boogie"!

Seasoning Your Barbecue Beef Brisket

Rub your homemade brisket seasoning into the meat. When sprinkling the rub on the fatty side, put your hand under the middle of the brisket and lift. All those score marks will open up, allowing the dry rub to get right down onto the meat. Rub the rub into both sides until there's no rub to rub in left.

Now you can go one of two ways. Either put the seasoned whole brisket right onto the grill, or seal it up (wrapped in plastic wrap, or placed into a large plastic bag, or in a covered baking pan).

Put it in the refrigerator, and let those Southwestern flavors penetrate the meat for 24 to 48 hours. Patience is difficult to master, but if you wait, your brisket will taste oh so much better!

Grilling the Barbecue Beef Brisket

As I said before, use either charcoal or gas, to barbecue your brisket. Set up your bbq cooker for indirect grilling.

Using a gas grill: use the two outer burners for heat and position the brisket in the middle. Preheat the grill to 300 degrees, then once the brisket goes in, let the temperature drop to 250 and maintain it there for the duration of the cook.

Using a charcoal grill: build a mound of 25 to 30 burning charcoal briquettes (use a charcoal chimney) against opposite sides of the grill, positioning the brisket in the center.

With a smaller grill, pile 30 to 40 briquettes tightly against one side and place the brisket on the opposite side. In the small grill, you'll need to rotate the brisket every hour or so to ensure even cooking.

As your barbecue beef brisket cooks, baste it with the mop sauce every 30 to 45 minutes. Be quick about mopping. The longer the grill is open, the longer the brisket will take to cook.

I like to use a remote thermometer so I can monitor the brisket temperature without opening the grill. But if you have a standard meat thermometer (heat proof only), you can check the temp when you open the grill to mop the meat.

Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the brisket, and make sure that the tip is in meat, not fat. You'll get inaccurate readings if you're measuring fat temperature.

Barbecue Beef Brisket Done Temperature

How do you want to serve your brisket? Sliced, yet still fork tender, or shredded for sandwiches? For slices bring the brisket internal temperature up to the 185-190 degree range. For brisket that literally just falls apart, that usually happens in the 190-200 degree range. Time for the brisket sauce!

I say usually because every brisket is unique, and comes to its own level of tenderness when it's ready. One brisket might be to the shredding stage at 190 degrees, while another one cooked right next to it could still have some firmness left.

Tenderness depends on several factors; age of the beef, amount of connective tissue, how long or if it was aged.Test the meat with a twist of the fork. You'll be able to tell how tender it is that way, and know if it's just how you want it.

Tips for Grilling a Barbecue Beef Brisket

1. Cook the brisket fat side up. No need to turn it over as it cooks since the heat will be trapped in the enclosed grill.

2. Place the brisket in a disposable aluminum pan. It will soak up its juices as it cooks, making it all the more flavorful and juicy.

3. Cook by internal temperature, not time. Guidelines typically state brisket needs about 1 hour per pound, but since grill temps vary, a meat thermometer is your best bet for turning out a perfectly tender brisket.

4. Let the brisket rest after it's reached its target temperature. Remove the pan from the grill, seal it up with foil, and let it sit untouched for at least 30 minutes, but better yet for a full hour. As meat cooks the fibers contract. When removed from heat the fibers begin to relax, absorbing juices at the same time. Proper resting of meat gives you juicy meat. 

If you have any leftover barbecue brisket the next day, try heating some of the shredded meat with an equal amount of American cheese or Velveeta. Slap a generous amount into a hoagie bun and eat it up. I just about guarantee you'll enjoy the heck out that sandwich!