Smoked Brisket: East Vs West Texas Style

Have you wondered about the different between east and west Texas brisket? There are so huge differences in preparation, seasoning and the cooking style, so its worth understanding both so you can figure you which style you want to cook (or purchase) yourself.

We can’t discuss Texas style BBQ without diving in to the other 4 regional styles of barbecue: Kansas City, Carolina, Memphis, and Texas. So Ill briefly touch on those as well.

What Is Texas Barbecue?

Texas barbecue refers to the low and slow methods of cooking meat. It is also important to point out that Texans prefer using wood to fuel their grills. It is superior to charcoal and propane in their opinion.

Texas barbecue can be traced back to the 19th century. This was when many European immigrants settled in Texas.

Texas barbecue pairs well with white bread, pickles, and onions. Many people will serve side dishes such as baked beans, coleslaw, and potato salad.

The Difference Between West Texas Brisket and East Texas Brisket

West Texas brisket and East Texas brisket, while both delicious barbecue dishes, have distinct differences in flavor, preparation, and presentation. West Texas brisket focuses on simplicity, using a dry rub of spices and slow-cooking over mesquite for a smoky, bold flavor. The emphasis is on the meat itself, resulting in a tender, savory experience.

Conversely, East Texas brisket is often characterized by a sweeter and tangier profile. It’s typically marinated or basted in a tomato-based sauce with a hint of sweetness, giving the meat a sticky, caramelized exterior. The cooking process might involve wrapping the brisket during smoking, resulting in a more tender texture.

These regional variations highlight the diverse barbecue traditions within Texas, showcasing the rich and unique flavors that have developed over time.

Four Types of Texas Barbecue

Texas is a big state. This is why it is home to four distinct styles of barbecue.

When you look at the four main barbecue styles, you will see that they are each found in a different portion of Texas.

Central Texas BBQ

If you ever eat “Texas-style” barbecue outside of Texas, it’s Central Texas barbecue.

Central Texas keeps it simple with dry rubs. Many people only use kosher salt and black pepper.

The long cooking time is what steals the show for this type of barbecue. Sometimes the meat will smoke for 20 hours. The results are delectable and mouth-watering!

The most popular smoked meats in Central Texas are brisket and sausage. The sausage is popular because of the number of European immigrants that moved here.

South Texas BBQ

South Texas barbecue has a heavy Mexican influence. Mexican cuisine has impacted a lot of the food in this region for the better!

Many people are familiar with barbacoa. It is traditionally smoked in an underground pit.

In South Texas, people will smoke many different types of meat in an underground pit. However, it’s more likely to find this at someone’s house rather than at a restaurant.

This traditional method of cooking produces amazing meat.

East Texas BBQ

East Texas also loves to slow-cook their meat in the smoker. They’re known for using sweet tomato-based sauces.

They often pull the meat so that it’s great for a sandwich. Then they’ll serve it with a bunch of classic side dishes!

Since this region is so close to Louisiana, you may often find some Cajun flavors in their barbecue.

West Texas BBQ

West Texas will barbecue several cuts of meat from pork ribs to beef ribs or pork shoulder. West Texans have probably barbecued any meat you can think of!

They mostly use mesquite wood and use an open flame to cook their meat with direct heat. This is a lot different from the rest of the state.

The meat will take on mesquite flavors rather than a smoke flavor.

Texas Smoked Brisket

Smoked beef brisket is a staple in all parts of Texas. This is because of its texture and flavors. Cooking it low and slow until it’s tender and juicy is the best way to prepare this cut of meat.

The long cooking time breaks down the toughness so the final product is succulent. Some people serve it plain while others put it on a sandwich. It is increasingly popular to find it in tacos or on pizzas, too.

At many barbecue joints, the brisket sells out fast! So you should arrive early before everyone else eats it.

The Two Types of Brisket

Brisket has a point and a flat. The flat is quite lean while the point is a bit fatty. You can generally ask the restaurant to cut your brisket from your preferred portion.

Barbecue restaurants will ask if you prefer moist or lean meat. The moist meat will be marbled with fat content and have extra juices. This is the point and is usually bursting with flavor.

The lean meat, or flat, will have less fat. However, it will still be delicious.

Now that you understand Texas barbecue and brisket, you can replicate different styles. These barbecue traditions are created to be followed and improved!

Once you understand the basics of brisket, it’s really easy to cook it in a pellet smoker! After learning the different styles of barbecue, use them as guidelines to smoke meat.

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

Hungry For More?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *