How To Barbecue A Brisket

If your brisket is tender, juicy and flavorful, you already know how to barbecue a brisket! If it's not, read on and you'll learn how it's done.

Beef Brisket Barbecue Basics

Follow the steps and you'll make great barbecued brisket.

  • Buying a brisket - It's preferable to buy a whole, untrimmed brisket. The fat layer (fat cap) melts as the brisket cooks, keeping the brisket moist and adding flavor. You don't have to cook it all at once. Divide it in half or in quarters, freezing the extra to barbecue later. If buying a ten-to-twelve pound piece of meat just scares the dickens out of you, buy a flat cut brisket, or better yet, a brisket point if you can find it. The point is a little fattier, which translates into more flavor.

    What Is a Brisket?


  • Prepping the brisket - If you chickened out and bought a trimmed brisket flat, the preparation has been mostly done. Just check over the meat and thin down any fat deposits thicker than one-quarter of an inch. (Hey, I was just kidding about the chicken thing. It's OK to buy itty bitty pieces of meat...Really!) If you were a man about it, (or a REAL woman) and bought a whole, packer cut brisket weighing twelve pounds, get ready to do a little trimmin'. Actually, all that needs to be done is to trim the fat cap down to about one-quarter inch thick - no thinner - and then score the fat diagonally. Cut just throughtthe fat so you can see the meat in a criss-cross pattern, the cuts about one inch apart. The scoring lets the seasonings reach the meat under the fat cap.


  • Marinating the brisket - Many barbecuers swear that marinating the brisket overnight (or longer) gets flavors down deep into the meat. Beer, wine, fruit juices and water, a little oil, garlic, chopped onions, spices, herbs, salt, sugar...all of these ingredients have their place in beef brisket marinade. They do add flavor. And many cooks believe that acidic liquids like vinegar or lemon juice in marinades has a tenderizing effect the meat.

    How to Make Marinade
    Brisket Marinade Recipes
    Smoked Brisket Marinade


  • Seasoning - dry rubbing the brisket - Brisket dry rubs are in my opinion 100% required when barbecuing brisket. The spice mix can be as simple as a little salt, onion powder and black pepper. Or as complex and combinations of twenty or more spices and herbs. There are many, many brisket dry rub recipes to choose from...or you can make up your own. Have a little fun and experiment!

    Brisket Rub Recipe
    Texas Brisket Rub

How to Barbecue a Brisket

  • Baking Brisket in the Oven
    Cook brisket at 250F to 275F for about 45 minutes per pound. Cooked on a raised rack the brisket will have a nice crust. In a baking dish covered with foil, the meat will cook in its flavorful juices and have a softer texture.

    Oven Barbecued Brisket Recipes

  • Grilling Brisket
    Grill using indirect method at 250-300F for up to one hour per pound. Wrap in foil after halfway done. Remove when the internal temperature reaches 180F (firmer brisket for slicing), up to 195F-200F (fall apart tender for shredding).

    Grilled Bbq Brisket Recipes


  • Smoking Brisket
    Smoke at 225-240F for approximately one hour per pound. You can wrap it in foil after 4 hours, or leave it unwrapped the entire time for a chewy, flavorful "bark". Done at 180F- 200F, depending on the level of tenderness you prefer.

    How to Smoke Brisket
    Smoked Brisket Recipes

  • Crock Pot Brisket
    Cut the brisket to fit, filling the crockpot half to three-quarters full. You can simply pour in a mixture of 1/2 cup bbq sauce and 1/2 cup water or apple juice. Cook on high 4 to 6 hours, low 8 to 10 hours, or until fork tender.

    Brisket Crockpot Recipes


  • Cooking Temperature for Brisket - Beef brisket contains a lot of connective tissue and fat. The best way to make it tender is to cook at a relatively low temperature for an extended time. If it's cooked at 350F, a lot of the moisture will be forced out of the meat. A cooking temperature of 225-240F is perfect when barbecuing brisket. In the oven, you can cook it in the 250-300F degree range. If you have time, try cooking it in the oven at 225F. It could take 12 to 18 hours (at 1 to 1-1/2 hours per pound), but the flavor and the texture will be out of this world!

    About Cooking Brisket


  • Mopping the brisket - When grilling, baking or smoking brush on mop sauce to add flavor and moistness to the meat. This ain't no barbecue sauce. A little beer, wine, vinegar oil and spices is about it. It helps.

    Brisket Mop Sauce


  • Wrapping in foil - Wrapping the barbecuing brisket in foil halfway through the cooking process ensures that the brisket will be moist when it's done. It also cooks a little quicker wrapped in foil. Oh yeah, double wrap with heavy duty foil to prevent leaks. You don't want to lose any of the juices.


  • Final Brisket Temperature
    For slicing - 180F-190F
    Falling apart tender - 190F-200F

    Use a remote grill thermometer and you won't have to open up the grill or smoker to check its temperature.


  • Resting the Brisket - For the most tender, juicy brisket let it rest after cooking. Leave it wrapped in foil, drop it (gently) into a cooler, cover it with two or three bath towels, close the lid and wait. Two hours if you can. If not, at the very least a half hour. During the rest period, the meat fibers relax and reabsorb some of the liquid it lost as it cooked.


  • Saucing the brisket - You can finish the brisket with a basting of sauce during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking, or let everyone do this to their own liking when the brisket is served. Some may not want sauce.

    Brisket Sauce Recipe


  • Slicing the Brisket - Across the grain when cooked to slicing temperature, with the grain when cooked to fallin' apart temperature

    How to Cut Brisket


  • Serving the Brisket - Oh Yeah! Let's eat! I'm so hungry I could eat a horse. But really, you just slice it, pile it on a serving platter and let the eatin' begin. You can't beat barbecued brisket sandwiches, cold beer and potato salad.
  • You now know how to barbecue a brisket with the best of them.

    Some Brisket Recipes You May Enjoy

    Oven Barbecued Brisket

    Bacon Wrapped Brisket

    Marinated Beef Brisket




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