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How to Smoke a Brisket

You guys, I can’t wait for you to learn how to smoke a brisket. I'm a little obsessed with how delicious smoked brisket it, so I got the help of a fellow blogger who, in her own words, "has lost count of how many briskets she smoked."

So stay here and learn everything there is to know about smoking a brisket.

Sliced smoked brisket

This guide for how to smoke a brisket was written by me and Marci, the expert brisket smoker. 🙂

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First thing, you don’t need a fancy smoker. We have a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker that you can buy online from Walmart, Amazon, or Cabela's. If you love smoked meats, smoked salmon or other smoked fish, and if you like experimenting with new recipes and have the space for it, then it's definitely a fun "toy" to have!

Oh, and if you're really into your cooking "toys" and gadgets, then you would love a Blackstone griddle and this Blackstone breakfast hash browns with bacon & egg recipe.

How long does it take to smoke a brisket?

You want to calculate about between 30 and 60 minutes per pound when cooked at a temperature of 275°. To narrow that wide time range down, you can use 40-50 minutes per pound. For example, a 12-14-pound brisket cooked at 275 degrees Fahrenheit will take between 10 and 12 hours.

Sliced smoked brisket on a cutting board

More meaty brisket recipes to try: Sous Vide Corned Beef

What kind of meat do I need to smoke a brisket?

When selecting a meat to smoke, you want to go with what is called a “packer brisket” or "packer-style" brisket. This simply means that the brisket includes two different cuts: the point (which is fattier section), and the flat (which is the leaner section). This way you get a bigger cut of meat and have a little variety in the result, giving everyone what they want.

You always want to go a little bigger on the pounds because you will end up cutting off 2-3 pounds of fat. Cutting off fat can be controversial (cue the ones who say all the flavor is in the fat!), but this brisket comes out so good even without excess fat. I leave a little fat on, but don't need thick layers of fat on the brisket. If you like the fat, you can certainly leave it on.

You can find a packer brisket at your local butcher shop. They can be a little pricey but you are often times supporting a local company. Some larger grocery stores might have it on sale some time, so I try and keep my eye out for those as well. 

Ingredients to make smoked brisket


Instead of these simple seasonings, you can use your favorite seasoning!

Special equipment

How do I prepare a brisket before I put it in the smoker?

I like to trim off as much fat as I can possibly get off the packer. Most folks who smoke for competitions will do this as well. However, backyard enthusiasts will leave fat on as it will feed more people. I simply don’t like the way the fat tastes and neither does anyone else in our family. I’d recommend trying to get as much fat off as you can. Don't worry, there will still be plenty of fat left over for flavor!

Brisket with the extra fat trimmed off

Alright, this next step is VERY important. It’s one that you don’t want to skip. You want to liberally season all the sides of the brisket with kosher salt! When I prepare a brisket I’ll lay quite a few paper towels down on a 11×13 baking sheet (or a large platter) and place the brisket on top. This will help to absorb any moisture and help to dry out the brisket.

Brisket coated with kosher salt

Once I’ve seasoned all the sides of the brisket I will then place it in the refrigerator to dry out the meat for at least 12 hours. I try to go for 18 hours if I have the time. This dry rub step makes for a really flavorful, tender brisket that has has flavor on the inside as well as the outside.

Brisket after dry brining with kosher salt

Pat the brisket with a paper towel. The kosher salt draws out any moisture and the top should have moisture sitting on the top. Then simply put a generous amount of garlic salt and black pepper on all sides of the brisket. Press the seasoning into the brisket with your hands. I like to season the packer so that I don’t see any of the meat. It does give the brisket a lot of flavor, so if you aren’t used to flavor you’ll want to do less, especially on the black pepper side.

Brisket seasoned with black pepper and garlic salt

Allow the brisket to come to room temperature before placing it in the smoker.

More dry brined meat recipes: Dry Brine Roasted Turkey Breast and Crispy Dry Brine Chicken

What is the proper way to smoke a brisket?

You want to preheat your smoker to 250F for at least an hour to get the smoke rolling. A brisket can only take on so much smoke flavor, around the first 4 hours is when it will get the smoky flavor from. You can use a dry rub spice mixture, but we like it with just simple old garlic salt and black pepper.

Seasoned brisket in a smoker

What is the "brisket stall?"

When you first smoke a brisket you may encounter "the stall." I did. I got scared and in the end there was nothing to worry about! The stall can happen when the internal temperature reaches 160-175F. As the heat from the smoker renders the pockets of fat, the fat liquifies. As the fat liquifies it engages with the meat and cools. Once the fat renders the meat will begin to heat back up again.

Some folks will wrap their meat at this time to help get the temperature back up to around 180F, but it’s not necessary, I don’t do it. Just have faith that a piece of meat in a 250F smoker will eventually get past 160-175F in temperature.

How do you smoke a brisket and keep it moist?

This step is key when it comes to smoking a brisket. Once the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 195-210° you want to remove the brisket from the smoker. Wrap the brisket in aluminum foil and allow it to rest for at least an hour. I typically either put it in a small cooler or in the oven if we aren’t taking it with us! Foil keeps the brisket from drying out.

Brisket wrapped in foil to cool

Do you put brisket in foil when smoking?

Okay… some people believe in wrapping brisket in foil to smoke, but, I never have. Here’s why….I feel like when you wrap any meat in the smoker, it’s not going to absorb all of the smoked flavor because it’s wrapped. So I save the foil for after the smoker.

Do you put brisket fat side up or side down when smoking?

The answer is simple, the fat side faces the side your heat source is coming from. Often times the heat is coming from the bottom of the smoker, in which case you want to put the fat side down.

How to slice brisket

When slicing a brisket, you want to slice AGAINST the grain of the meat. If you are new to slicing brisket look at the grain of the meat and slice the opposite way. This allows for tender brisket. Slicing with the grain is going to be a tougher chew.

Hand holding slice of brisket

How to reheat brisket

You want to be careful when reheating the brisket because it can dry out and continue to cook. I recommend putting the leftover brisket in aluminum foil in the oven at 250F for about 20 minutes. You can also heat up in a skillet or the microwave if you need it quicker.

What to serve with smoked brisket

Smoked brisket goes with pretty much ANY side dishes! In the summer, pair it with this loaded broccoli salad with bacon, potato salad with egg, broccoli ranch pasta salad, or a grilled vegetable salad. In colder weather, serve it with some mashed potatoes (try these canned potato ones!) or cheesy scalloped potatoes and pan-fried Brussels sprouts for a more comfort-food meal.

What to make with leftover brisket

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Sliced brisket on a cutting board
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5 from 12 votes

Smoked Brisket

Try this Smoked Brisket recipe. It's super simple you'll wonder why you've never smoked a brisket before!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time12 hours
Dry brine and resting time13 hours
Total Time1 day 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Servings: 20
Author: Kate


Special equipment


  • Trim off as much fat as you can off the brisket.
  • Place paper towels on a 11x13 baking sheet or large platter. Place the brisket on top.
  • Liberally season all sides of the brisket with kosher salt. Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours before smoking.
    Brisket coated with kosher salt
  • After 12 hours in the fridge, liberally season the packer brisket with garlic salt and black pepper on all sides. Press the seasoning into the brisket with your hands. I like to season the brisket so that you don't see any meat. If you don't want it spicy, don't use too much black pepper.
    Let rest and come to room temperature for about an hour.
    Brisket seasoned with black pepper and garlic salt
  • While the brisket is resting, preheat your smoker to 250F. You can use any wood chips that you like.
  • Place your brisket fat side down in your smoker (no foil needed). Ensure the smoker has air flow. You may need to add wood chips every hour, so be sure to keep an eye on that. If you can keep the door closed during this process, that is best as it doesn't allow the smoke to escape.
  • Smoke your brisket for 30-60 minutes per pound, though I recommend aiming for 45-60 minutes per pound, or about 10-12 hours for a 12-14lb brisket.
  • Once your brisket has reached 190-210F internal temperature, it is time to remove it. Wrap the brisket in aluminum foil and let rest for at least an hour.
  • Slice the brisket against the grain and enjoy!



Nutrition facts will vary depending on how much salt you use, how much fat you trim off, and how big your servings are. 
Read the blog post for lots of brisket-smoking tips!


Calories: 423kcal (21%) | Carbohydrates: 0.2g | Protein: 56g (112%) | Fat: 20g (31%) | Saturated Fat: 7g (35%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 169mg (56%) | Sodium: 913mg (38%) | Potassium: 902mg (26%) | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.002g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Calcium: 15mg (2%) | Iron: 5mg (28%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

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