How to Smoke A Brisket In A Charcoal Smoker (in 10 Simple Steps)

Do you love smoked Brisket so much that you always order it at your favorite barbecue joint?

Do you want to try making it yourself but you are a little wary?  

There’s nothing to be afraid of. I will take you through a brisket recipe that will give that barbecue joint a run for their money.

If you’ve never attempted to make a smoked Brisket, I understand why.

It’s really not the fastest go-to recipe in the world. But here’s one thing: if you are looking for a way to knock your guests off their feet, or if you’re just looking to put your skills to the test, then this Brisket recipe is for you.

 A lot of people swear by Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue’s method of smoking brisket and it is indeed quite the technique.

Here, however, I hope to make this experience very seamless, so this will be a beginner-friendly brisket recipe in every sense.

Before we go into the recipe, let’s go over a couple of things.

What Internal Temperature Is Optimal For Smoked Brisket?

You want the brisket to reach an internal temperature of 203°F, once you hit this temperature, you can pull your brisket from the smoker. Then you want to rest your brisket in a cooler until it reaches 140°F. This will allow the juices within the meat time to redistribute.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Brisket on a Charcoal Smoker?

Its take one hour per pound of brisket to cook. So it depends on the size of the brisket your cooking as well as many other factors.

The best way to know if your brisket is cooked is by monitoring the internal temperature.

You also want to reach the optimal internal temperature for brisket is 203°F, once you hit this temperature, you can pull your brisket from the smoker.

Up to 10 hours for a smoked Brisket? Count me out!”.

All that will change when you have that delicious meat in your mouth, then you’ll realise it was totally worth it.  

However, if you really don’t like idea of spending most of your day at the grill, there are alternative smoking methods that take less time (approximately 5-6 hours).

How to Trim Your Brisket

Trim off fat from the brisket so there’s just about ¼ inch layer of fat. The layer is used as a shield between the heat source and the meat itself. Yet, too much fat hinders a properly cooked brisket.

What If You Don’t Have a Charcoal Smoker?

First of all, let me just say that you don’t have to limit yourself to a charcoal smoker, especially if you’ve never used it before. You could use:

However, smoking a brisket on a charcoal smoker will guarantee amazing results, and this is why I want to show you how to use it.

What Wood to Use for Smoked Brisket

Here are some of my favorites types of wood to use for smoking brisket

  1. Hickory: Hickory is a strong and robust wood that produces a rich, smoky flavor and adds a slightly sweet and bacon-like aroma.
  2. Oak: Oak is a versatile wood that provides a medium to heavy smoke flavor. It burns evenly and can enhance the natural flavors of the meat without overpowering it.
  3. Mesquite: Mesquite is a bold and intense wood with a strong and distinctive flavor. It burns hot and fast, so it is often recommended to use it in moderation or in combination with milder woods like oak.
  4. Pecan: Pecan wood offers a sweet and nutty flavor that is milder than hickory but stronger than fruit woods.


How to Maintain The Temperature in Your Smoker

When smoking, resist the urge to check on that smoked brisket all the time: aim to open the lid as little as possible.

Heat loss can ruin your perfect smoked brisket.  It would also prevent you from getting that perfect smoke flavor. Don’t say I didn’t tell you!

Eager to get right into the recipe? I bet you are.


What You Need to Smoke A Brisket

  • Charcoal Smoker
  • Instant read thermometer/probe thermometer
  • Grill thermometer
  • Aluminum foil or Butcher paper
  • Paper towels
  • Smoking wood chunks of your choice
  • Baking paper
  • Beef Brisket either prime or choice

Brisket Rub

Below is my brisket rub recipe, if you want to see my other favorite rub recipe check this out.

  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt or coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Apple juice

Note:  One barbecue trick is to let your seasoned meat rest for at least 1 hour about applying the rub: this will allow the mix to be fully absorbed into your brisket.

Method for Smoking a Brisket on a Charcoal Smoker

Step 1: Trim your brisket, leave 1/4 inch of fat.

Step 2: Mix salt with the ground pepper and cayenne and rub it all over your brisket; let your brisket rest for 1 hour

Step 3: Prep your smoker: make sure the hot charcoals are placed evenly on one side. Add your wood chunks next to the charcoals and then cover with the grate. Cover with the lid and heat up until your grill temperature reads 225–250°F

Step 4: Next, the brisket goes onto the heat source with the fat side facing the heat. Now let it smoke. Adjust vents to control the temperature throughout the smoking process. Check the coals and chunks of wood every 45 minutes and replenish if necessary.

Step 5: After the first 3 hours, it’s time to check: spray your brisket with apple juice and flip it to the other side. Apple juice will help maintain moisture and help the smoking process. 

Step 6:  After about 1 hour, you can wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or butchers paper and let it smoke a bit more. This is to retain the moisture of the meat.

Step 7: Keep checking and flipping your brisket every 3 hours. Use your probe thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

Step 8: you know your brisket is done when it offers little to resistance when probing the thickest part of the brisket. Your meat is done when the internal temperature measures a of 190 – 205°F. However, I believe that 204°F is the perfect temperature to pull brisket.

Step 9: Take this delicious lump of moister and tender meat off the smoker and let your brisket rest in a cooler for 1 hour. Leave the brisket in foil as this will help retain the moisture.

Step 10: Lastly, place your finished brisket on a clean board and slice it into beautiful slices. Serve and enjoy!

Note: If you have leftovers make sure you try my brisket pie! It’s a family favorite.

Wow! What a day, huh?  You know it’s good when you can pull it off with minimum effort.

Make sure you enjoy your smoked brisket with your favorite barbecue sauce and some a good red wine, like a malbec or merlot You deserve it!

Smoke On!


Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

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 adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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