There is nothing like the succulent and tender meat of a smoked brisket.
The brisket is the cut of meat from the chest of the cow. It can be difficult to cook while keeping it juicy and full of flavor.
So, the best way to smoke a brisket is to take it low & slow, allowing all the connective tissue to break down.
My brisket recipe can take up to 12 hours, but, this masterpiece is worth every hour.
Smoking brisket in an electric smoker is a bit of an art form.
You can test different woods, dry rubs, bastes, wrapping and temperatures.
Over time you will find out exactly what works best for you, and what you consider a perfect brisket.
Let’s check out my smoked brisket in an electric smoker recipe.
Table of contents
How Long to Cook a Brisket in Electric Smoker
|Brisket Size (lb)
|Cook Time Guide
|Per Pound of Brisket
|Per Pound of Brisket
|Wrapped in Foil
|Per Pound of Brisket
|Wrapped in Butcher Paper
|Per Pound of Brisket
|Wrapped in Foil
Step-By-Step: How to Smoke Brisket in Electric Smoker
1. Pick Your Brisket
There are a few things you should keep in mind when picking your brisket:
Look for a brisket that bends or flexes with ease. This means the brisket has a smaller amount of connective tissue. A brisket with less connective tissue will make for a more tender final product.
- Size and Weight:
Briskets can come in all different shapes and sizes. From a small trimmed 5 lb cut to a full-sized packer cut. However, the average brisket is 10 to 16 pounds. The size and weight you decide on will depend on several factors. How many people you are cooking for, the size of your smoker, and your budget.
- The Point and The Flat:
You may have heard the terms ‘brisket point’ and ‘brisket flat’ thrown around. The point is the fattier part of the brisket.
The flat is the more lean end. See how to smoke a brisket flat here.
A packer cut is when the fat has not been trimmed and the flat and point are still connected.
If you decide to get a packer cut you might want to consider finding one with a thicker flat. This is so both ends cook evenly.
Note: If you are using frozen brisket ensure you read the guidelines on how to defrost meat safely.
- Marbling: The marbling is the dispersion of fat in the beef. The more marbling your brisket contains, the better quality it is.
2. Trim Your Brisket
Trimming the fat is a very important part of the process.
The amount of fat left on the meat has will determine how your meat will cook. A decent fat cap will keep your meat moist.
If you don’t trim enough fat at the top, the smoke will be unable to penetrate the meat as well.
If you trim too much, the beef won’t absorb moisture and will wind up dry.
Steps to Trimming Brisket:
Get The Necessary Equipment:
1. You are going to need a sharp narrow curved boning knife.
The curved blade on this style of the knife will make it easier to remove the larger pieces near the fat cap.
2. You want your brisket to be cold for trimming.
Cold brisket is easier to cut, so trimming the fat right out of the fridge will make it easier for you.
Trim The Brisket:
First off you want to trim the sides, remove any loose pieces of fat, and then move towards the ends.
Make sure to leave around ¼ of fat, as that will protect your beef from drying.
Between the flat and the point, you will find a large thick layer of fat, this is the deckle.
You should remove this because it won’t render while you are smoking a brisket.
Note: some butcher will have already removed the deckle.
Think about where you will place your brisket in the smoker.
If you have areas that run hot, leave a little more fat to protect your meat.
To make sure you get an even cook you want to make sure you keep your brisket as even as possible.
3. Add a Binder and Rub to Your Brisket
Adding a rub to your beef brisket is important.
A dry rub will enhance the natural flavors of the wood chips and brisket.
A dry rub will also help develop a thick crunchy bark and season the meat, to ensure the rub sticks to the meat add a binder, the most commonly used binder is mustard.
You should keep your brisket seasoning simple.
The beauty of the beef brisket is that you don’t need to add too many intense flavors to make it delicious.
My favorite BBQ brisket rub is super easy, you don’t need any kitchen skills, and only takes seconds to prepare.
Throw the following ingredients in a bowl, mix it, and then as the name implies, give the brisket a rub.
Remember to coat the brisket well.
If this mix is not enough for the size of your brisket, simply double or triple the recipe.
- 3 tablespoons of chili powder (I use 3 tablespoons because I like a lot of heat, adjust this to suit your spice tolerance)
- 1 tablespoon of Kosher or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (trust me, stay away from traditional granulated sugar, this is a big mistake!)
- 1 tablespoon of dried oregano (If you have homegrown use this as it gives a more fresh flavor)
- 3 teaspoons of crushed garlic (I tend to use a lot of garlic because I love garlic, alter this to your taste)
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (again I use a fair amount of this, change this measurement to your spice tolerance)
Be sure to taste the rub before adding it to the meat.
The last thing you want to do is add the rub to the brisket and discover you don’t like it.
Note: You can apply your rub the night before. Just make sure you wrap it tightly in cling wrap before returning the brisket to the fridge.
4. Prepare and Preheat Your Smoker
Before you place your meat in your smoker, it is important to preheat your smoker.
Before adding in your brisket, make sure the smoker temperature has stabilized at 225°F.
Maintaining 225°F will give your brisket plenty of time for the connective tissue to break down. This will leave you with a tender & juicy result.
When it comes to managing the fire, it is important to use dry wood chips.
You also want clean smoke, before you add in the meat.
Make sure you let the fire burn down and burn off any dark black smoke, you want a thin blue smoke. The dark black smoke will give the meat a bitter taste.
Oak or hickory are also good options, as they compliment the flavor of the brisket but don’t overwhelm it.
5. Get Your Brisket in Your Smoker
- Bring Your Brisket to Temperature:
If you have refrigerated your brisket after adding the dry rub, let it come to room temp. This usually takes around an hour depending on size.
- Placing Your Meat:
Place your beef brisket in your smoker fat cap up. The melting fat soaking through the brisket will help keep the meat moist.
Just remember, All smokers work differently. If your heat source is coming from below the meat, it’s important to cook with the fat down, as that will avoid drying. If your heat source is to the side always make sure the point end is facing toward the fire.
Remember that the point has more fat, so it won’t dry out by being closer to the heat. Place the flat near the smokestack, as this part is leaner and can burn easily. Ensure you use a drip pan to reduce the risk of flare-up and catch any of the delcious drippings to use later in a gravy or sauce.
- Set The Water Pan:
Set a pan filled with water/beer/cider, juice, etc in the smoker. Fire draws moisture out of meats, so keeping a pan of water will keep the moisture in the chamber. This also helps the smoke penetrate the meat. Once your smoker lids/ door is closed, it’s time to let the electric smoker work its magic.
Sit back, grab a beer and watch the smoke.
- Don’t Open The Door or Lid!
This will cause the heat and smoke to escape, and it will take longer to cook. Keep that lid/door closed for as much as you can. If you need to check on the temp using a wireless digital meat thermometer is the best way. This will help avoid heat loss from opening the unit.
- After 2 Hours:
The first 2 hours is when your meat will take in the most smoke flavor. After that time use a spray bottle and spray water, beef stock, vinegar or apple juice onto your brisket. Do this every 30 minutes -1 hour. This will help keep the meat moist, and also help develop that tasty crust (bark).
BBQ Legend Steve Raichlen gives some great advice on dealing with the stall.
“A well-documented phenomenon that as you smoke a brisket, the temperature will rise, then stay at around 160 degrees, and actually drops a few degrees, for an hour.
We call this the stall and it results from the evaporation of the moisture from of the brisket“. Steve Raichlen
6. Figure Out How Long Your Brisket Needs
I get asked a lot, “how long do I smoke a brisket per pound?”
The rule of thumb is about 1.25 hours per pound.
But there are so many varying factors.
Each brisket is a different size, along with your type of smoker, weather conditions, and choice of fuel.
Here are the timing and temps of a brisket I cooked last weekend
My Smoked Brisket Cooking Time Calculation
Meathead Goldwyn suggests smoking brisket at 225°F so that is what I always do!
I went with his suggestion and created this calculation for working out how long to cook brisket.
It will take 1 hour and 30 minutes per pound (lb) of brisket at 225°F (or 107°C)
A brisket I smoked last weekend was 9lb. Here is the actual cooking time
9lb brisket x 1.5 hours = 13.5 hours with a cooking temperature of 225 °F
However, please only use this as a rough guide, always remember no two briskets are the same.
Factors such as the thickness of the meat will influence the cooking time.
A beef brisket larger than 12 lbs will take 9 – 12 hours to fully smoke while briskets around 5 lbs will take about 5 hours.
The key is to keep an eye on the temperature of the brisket using a temperature probe.
7. Reaching The Perfect Internal Temperature
If you find your internal temp reaches 145°F then start to slow down, you may be experiencing “the stall”.
It can take hours for the temperature to get from 145°F to 165°F.
At this point, your brisket is sweating. As the muscles contract in the meat, they push out moisture.
That moisture makes its way to the surface of the meat. It then evaporates and cools the surface temperature of the meat down as well the temperature in the smoker.
If this happens you can do the following:
1. Wrap your meat
The stall is caused when the meat contracts and pushes moisture to the surface of the meat.
The moisture then evaporates into the air and cools the surface of the meat and the temperature in the smoker.
You can stop this from happening by wrapping your meat.
This practice is common with pitmasters and is also known as the Texas crutch.
You can wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or unwaxed butcher paper.
Be sure to make sure that there are no holes or open spots.
Give your brisket a baste with your water/beer/cider, or juice mixture before wrapping. This will ensure it doesn’t dry out.
To know if your brisket is done you are looking for an internal meat temperature of 195 – 203°F in the thickest part of the brisket.
2. Turn Up The Temperatureure
You can try to counterbalance the effects of evaporation by turning up the temperature to 300°.
When your brisket gets to 165° bring the temperature back down.
How to Test if The Brisket Done?
When the meat temp hits 190°F, I start poking it with a thermometer probe.
If it’s done it should slide in and out with very little resistance. should slide in and out with little resistance.
I also prod it with my finger or pick it up, you want it to jiggle. If it moves like jelly it’s most likely done.
8. Rest Your Brisket
Once it reaches 195 – 203°F remove the smoked brisket from your smoker.
Once you have removed the brisket from the smoker, you MUST let it rest.
Yes I know, if it’s your first time smoking and the smell of your smoked brisket will make you want to eat it right away.
But, letting the smoked beef brisket rest will allow the juices to be dispersed throughout the brisket.
For best results, you need to let your smoked brisket rest until the internal temperature reaches 170°F.
The bad news is this can usually take around an hour.
If you cut it too early all tasty juices will end on your plate or chopping board and it will become a real mess.
Give it some time will ensure you get that tender, juicy perfect bite of meat.
9. Slice Your Brisket
For slicing your smoked brisket, you need a cutting board and a serrated knife.
You need one with a blade long enough to slice your brisket in one hit, without shredding the beef.
The flat and the point have different grains. So start by cutting against the grain of the flat.
When you get to the point, turn it around and cut against the grain of the point, and be careful not to scrape off the bark.
Your slices should be around ¼ inch thick or around the thickness of a chopstick.
Only cut the brisket when you are ready to serve it with your favorite side dishes. Cutting the brisket too early will cause it to dry out.
If you are planning to serve it later, keep it wrapped and uncut, to help it maintain all its moisture.
If you need a more in-depth rundown on cutting a brisket check out my step-by-step guide to cutting brisket.
What to do With Leftover Brisket?
There is nothing better than leftovers!
Especially brisket, I think it almost tastes better after a few days!
Just make sure you know how to reheat brisket (so it doesn’t go dry)
Here are a few of my family members’ favorite ways to use leftover brisket!
Recipe for Smoked Brisket
How Do You Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker?
- aluminum foil / butcher paper
- spray bottle
- Wood Chips
- latex gloves
- 3 tbsp chili powder use 1 – 2 if you don't like too much spice
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp oregano preferably fresh if not dried is fine
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 3 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper leave out if you don't like spice
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 brisket 8 pounds
- Apple juice, beer, cider, stock, or water for basting
- Ensure the brisket is at room temperature. If it is in the refrigerator get it out 30 – 40 minutes prior to preparing.
- Trim your brisket. Trim any excess fat, the deckle and any silver skin. Make sure you trim the fat layer so the brisket is even so you get a nice even cook.
- Dry rub your brisket. In a medium size bowl add the chili powder, kosher salt, black pepper, brown sugar, oregano, garlic salt, onion powder, cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper and mix thoroughly. Using latex gloves rub the brisket with your rub. Make sure to coat your brisket evenly using all the rub. Depending on the size of your brisket you may need to double the rub recipe to coat it fully. The rub will help add flavor to the brisket as well as help the bark form.
- Preheat your smoker to 225°F following your smokers manufacturers instructions. I like to use mesquite to my wood chip box, however, feel free to use your favorite wood chips.
- Once you have pre heated your smoker to 225°F and you have a clean smoke add in your brisket fat side up. Set your thermometer and water pan then close her up. You want to smoke your brisket for 3 hours without opening the smoker. At 3 hours open the smoker and spray with your chosen basting liquid. Do this every 30 minutes.
- If you find internal temp reaches 145°F then start to slow down, you maybe experiencing “the stall”. It can take hours for the temperature to get from 145 degrees F to 165 degrees F.You can wrap the brisket it in aluminum foil or unwaxed butcher paper. Be sure to make sure that there are no holes or open spots. Give your brisket a baste with your water/beer/cider, or juice mixture before wrapping. This will ensure it doesn’t dry out.
- Smoke for a further 3 – 4 hours or until you achieve an internal meat temperature of 195 – 203°F in the thickest part.
- For best results let your brisket meat rest wrapped for around 1 hour, or until it has reached a temperature of 170°F.
- Slice and enjoy your brisket warm with your favorite sides and loved ones.
Wondering What to Do Next?
Read out where to buy the best brisket, order your required size and get smoking.
Click here to find out where to buy brisket online
I get many many questions from my online community about smoking brisket. So I thought I would put a few of the common questions below.
How long does it take to smoke a brisket in an electric smoker?
To smoke a brikset its around 45 – 60 minutes per pound at 225˚F.
This will differ slightly depending on your smoker and the thickness and size of your brisket.
How long do you cook a 3 1/2 pound brisket in an electric smoker?
So for a 3/ 1/2 pound brisket, it will take 5 hours and 15 minutes to cook.
It takes 1 hour and 30 minutes per pound (lb) of brisket at 225°F (or 107°C).
1.5 *3.5 = 5.25 at 225°F
Do you wrap a brisket in an electric smoker?
Wrapping brisket is a controversial topic.
There is no straight yes or no answer. It does come down to personal preference.
When it comes to wrapping brisket you have three options:
Foil Wrap: Smoking brisket in foil is one of the most popular ways to smoke a brisket. This is because the foil creates a mini oven within your smoker. This helps keep your brisket moist and cook it a little bit faster.
However, the downside to wrapping your brisket in foil (the Texas crutch) is that you can’t achieve such thick bark.
Butcher Paper: Wrapping your brisket in butcher paper is similar to foil. However, butcher paper still allows your meat to breathe and the smoke to penetrate.
Butcher paper still creates a little oven inside your smoker and keeps the brisket juicy & moist. The bonus to the heat and smoke being able to penetrate the brisket means you still achieve a decent bark.
No Wrap: The main perk of not wrapping brisket is that you can achieve a much deeper smoke flavor. Since there is nothing between the brisket and the heat source the brisket also has a much thicker bark.
However, the downside to smoking a brisket without wrapping (naked) is that the smoked brisket can dry out much fast, even when cooking low slow.
How long does it take to smoke a brisket at 225?
If you smoke a brisket at 225°F it takes 1 hour then 30 minutes per pound.
Each cook differs depending on the brisket, smoker, and outdoor temperature.
I would highly recommend using a digital meat thermometer to keep an eye on your brisket’s internal temperature.
Why does brisket or ribs stick to aluminum foil when smoking?
If your meat is sticking to the foil try using more baste or liquid.
You can try using parchment paper however it does have a tendency to rip, which means you might lose all your precious meat juices!
How long and at what temp do you cook a 3 lb brisket in a HEB cooking bag?
Preheat oven or grill to 375°F. and remove the brisket from the packaging.
Place a large sheet of heavy-duty foil in a large, shallow baking pan and cook for 30 -40 mins.
On a grill place brisket on grill over low to medium heat, out of direct contact from flame or heat source.
Should I marinate brisket with Lipton onion soup the day before I cook it?
Some of the best brisket sauces are made with Lipton onion soup.
To get the best flavor possible it is recommended to get the marinade the night before.
Looking to cook a fiery brisket bowl?
We recommend checking out this fiery Vietnamese crispy brisket salad, yum!
I want to smoke 5-10 pound brisket do I have to rotate them
There is a lot of debate regarding whether to flip or rotate your brisket.
Some say, start fat cap down (towards the heat) and flip it midway.
Others will tell you never to open the lid until its fully done, it is all trial and error, and what tastes best to you
Difference between flank cut and point cut beef brisket
The flank cut and point of brisket come from underneath the cow, the breast portion is where you will find the brisket whereas the closer to the belly you will find the flank.
Flank steak is good for cooking at a high heat whereas brisket works well for long, slow cooking methods.
Just to note brisket is made up of two cuts, the flat cut, and point cut.
The flat cut makes up the majority of the brisket. It’s is usually longer with a thick layer of fat on top that keeps the meat really juicy and moist when cooked.
This cut is best for slicing and most likely what you’ll find in your supermarket.
Whereas the point cut is thicker, smaller and has more connective tissue, and marbled with fat.
The fat gives it more flavor but you don’t get as much meat. The point cut is usually used shredded for sandwiches or ground into hamburger beef.
Can you season up frozen brisket?
You can season a frozen brisket however you won’t get a penetrate of the flavor into the meat, it will create a great bark though!
Smoked brisket is an absolute classic but it can be tough to get it right.
If you follow my method, you will nail it! If you have any questions, just ask, I am always here to help.
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 nature with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork)
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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