Smoking Brisket the Day Before You Plan to Serve It 

Serving a flavorful yet tender beef brisket can be quite a daunting task. The perfect brisket demands a marathon effort! Plus you don’t want to leave your guest hungry and waiting! So you may want to cook your brisket the day before!

But will it affect the flavor or texture? Keep reading to find out if it does! Plus, EXACTLY how to smoke a brisket ahead of time (just like a true pitmaster!)

Smoking Brisket the Day Before: When to Try It

Smoking a brisket the previous day can be ideal if you plan to serve a brisket at lunchtime or in the early afternoon. Due to time constraints, a lunchtime brisket may require you to start smoking 24 hours before you plan to eat

How to Smoke Brisket the Day Before

The process of smoking brisket the previous day is outlined below, I like to start 24 hours before I want to serve it.

  1. First, I trim the excess fat, leaving around 1/4 inch of fat. Then, I season it with salt and pepper and allow it to rest for an hour in the fridge.
  2. 24 hours before you plan to eat, preheat the smoker to 225°F, once heated place the brisket in the smoker and insert a temperature probe.
  3. Smoke the brisket until it reaches 150°F-160°F, which will take 7-8 hours. Once it reaches this temperature, wrap it in butcher’s paper.
  4. Place the brisket back in the smoker and turn the temperature to 250°F. Once it reaches 190°F, turn the smoker down to 175°F.
  5. Allow the brisket to continue cooking until it reaches 200°F-204°F. If it hits this temperature before you plan on eating remove it from the smoker and allow it to rest in a cooler.

My Tried and Tested Brisket Recipe

I have smoked brisket a thousand time in many different smoker, I have done a brisket on a Pit Boss, Traeger brisket and a brisket on a Weber. I don’t have a preference as they all come out perfectly, with juicy and tender meat and a crispy bark.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Brisket?

It takes 1.5 to 2 hours per pound at 225° F to smoke a brisket. If it stalls and the temperature stops rising. You need to wrap it in butcher’s paper.

After wrapping the brisket in foil or butcher paper place it back in the smoker until your the brisket internal temp is 200°F, this is when to pull the brisket and put in the cooler. Ensure you also wrap it in a towel and allow it to come down to 140°F before slicing and serving.

Achieving a tender brisket means you’ve got to be in it for the long run. 

Smoking the Flat and Point Separately

Want to speed up the cooking process? You can smoke the flat and point separately. The point has a lot of marbling and an irregular shape, whereas the brisket, flat, is the long and rectangular section of the meat.

As both parts are cooked simultaneously, each half will cook faster, and the point can cook at a higher temperature due to the layer of fat.

Don’t Slice Too Early

Although it may be tempting to carve the smoked brisket. Wait until you are ready to eat! The meat holds onto its moisture better if left whole as brisket slices dry out when reheated.

How to Reheat Brisket

Reheating your brisket will require you to set your oven to 300° F.

Add the brisket with its foil wrapper and wait until the internal meat temperature reaches 145°F.

Then, carve the brisket into slices after removing the foil and drizzle meat juices over them before serving.

Cook Today and Serve Tomorrow?

Regardless of the precision with which a brisket is prepared the day before, it will most likely fail to retain its flavorful meat juices, moisture and fresh texture.

Furthermore, the hard bark developed over hours will soften as soon as it is left to cool in the refrigerator.

Hence, an overnight cook remains your best bet when it comes to achieving a juicy, high-quality, fresh brisket by noon.

The Overnight Cook

An overnight brisket or also called midnight brisket is when you allow the smoker to work its magic while you’re asleep, leaving ample time for the meat to slow cook.

Aim to get the brisket wrapped before going to bed, which will allow you to loosen up. It is best to use heavy-duty foil or butcher paper, not plastic wrap.

Using a good digital thermometer that alerts you if the meat has reached the ideal internal temperature of 150° F and monitoring the smoker’s temperature remains your only task.

The Dangers of Overnight Cooks

An unattended smoker, while you sleep, could act as a major safety risk, with grease fires being common with a charcoal smoker.

Ensuring that your smoker is thoroughly cleaned, with a drip pan in place before attempting an overnight cook is essential.

Using a remote thermometer to alarm you if a problem were to arise is strongly recommended.

Finish Your Brisket in the Oven

Getting peaceful sleep while attempting an overnight cook may seem contradictory at first.

However, the answer could be to finish the brisket in a conventional oven after the wrapping stage and insert a leave-in thermometer into the meat.

As most of the flavor is developed during the first 5-8 hours, this is a safer practice compared to leaving your smoker on all night, without compromising on the smoke flavor.

To Wrap or Not to Wrap?

Wrap the brisket in butcher paper or foil when it hits 150°F to help it past the stall.

It allows the meat to speed through ‘the stall’ period when evaporative cooling results in halting the internal temperature.

Hence, this may be beneficial in limiting the cooking time.

The Faux Cambro Method

The Faux Cambro method promises to keep your brisket fresh by utilizing a technique.

It that involves filling a large dry cooler with 3 gallons of hot water, closing the lid and letting it sit for 30 minutes.

Then, drain the water and line the cooler with clean towels.

This insulated cooler will maintain the quality of your juicy brisket for up to 4 hours if the meat is tightly wrapped in aluminium foil right after coming off the smoker.

The Brisket in Two Stages

This method allows you to split the tedious cooking process into two stages, offering convenience but compromising quality.

The brisket is smoked to 150°F the day before serving and finished off the next day as it reaches an internal meat temperature of 200°F.

The results fail to impress compared to freshly smoked brisket but prove to be better than reheating leftovers.

Set and Forget Smokers – Safe for Overnight Cooks

A set-and-forget smoker is the safest when it comes to cooking briskets overnight.

Electric Smoker

Although these are the safest option for cooking an overnight brisket and as easy to use as a conventional oven, the taste of the brisket tends to be undermined as the meat cooks best on fire.

See my recipe for smoking a brisket in an electric smoker here

Gas Smoker

Gas smokers are as easy to use as electric smokers while producing better-tasting meat.

However, the need for propane may become a problem should it run out during the long cooking time.

Connecting the smoker to natural gas in your home may eliminate this problem.

Pellet Smoker

Using a pellet smoker for your brisket guarantees the best tasting meat and are also relatively easy to use.

Ensuring the hopper is filled with wood pellets and the temperature is set, the pellets provide the brisket with a steady flow of smoke for the entire cook while burning in the firepot. Just ensure you have enough pellets to cook the brisket, you want to allow at least a pound of pellets per hour. If you have an 6-pound brisket, you can expect the smoking process to take about 10-12hours. This means you’ll need about 10-12 pounds of pellets.

See my recipe for smoking a brisket in a pellet smoker here

Do you prefer smoking your brisket the day before or partaking in an overnight cook?

Smoke On!


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.

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