How to Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker

how to smoke brisket in an electric smoker

There is nothing like the succulent and tender meat of a smoked brisket. For those who are unfamiliar, the brisket is the cut of meat around the chest of the cow. Over the years it has gained a reputation to be difficult to cook while keeping it tender, juicy and full of flavor.

The best way to smoke a brisket is taking the low & slow road. My low slow brisket recipe can take up to 12 hours, but, it is worth every hour.

Smoking low and slow is the best method because brisket is a tough, stringy cut of meat. Thus it takes a long time to breakdown into a juicy and tender piece of meat.

Smoking brisket in an electric smoker is a bit of an art form. It can take a long time to figure out exactly what you are doing. Its all about testing and trialing different methods.

You can test different woods, rubs, bastes, wrapping and temperatures. Over time you will find out out exactly what works best for your taste preferences, and what you consider a perfect brisket.

Lets checkout my smoked brisket electric smoker recipe.

Jump Straight to Recipe

How Long to Cook a Brisket in Electric Smoker

Brisket Size (lb)Smoker TemperatureWrapped?Cook Time Guide
Per Pound of Brisket250 FahrenheitNot Wrapped15 Minutes
Per Pound of Brisket250 FahrenheitWrapped in Foil45 Minutes
Per Pound of Brisket250 FahrenheitWrapped in Butcher Paper1 Hour
Per Pound of Brisket300 FahrenheitWrapped in Foil30 Minutes

Step-By-Step: How to Smoke Brisket in Electric Smoker

Pick Your Brisket

Pick the brisket

There are a few things you should keep in mind when picking your brisket:

  • Flexibility: 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. 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. A packer cut is when the fat has not been trimmed and the flat and point are still attached. 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. If you are using frozen brisket ensure read on the guidelines on how to defrost meat safely.
  • Marbling: The marbling is the dispersion of fat between the lean sections of beef. The more marbling your piece contains, the better quality it is.

Trim Your Brisket

Trim the fat

Trimming the fat is a very important part of the process. The fat levels of 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, you won’t get much of that smokey flavor and will end up with a fatty taste instead.

If you trim too much, the beef won’t absorb moisture and will wind up dry.

To trim brisket:

  • Get The Necessary Equipment: The first thing you are going to need is a sharp boning knife. The curved blade on this style of knife will make it easier to remove the chunks from the fat cap. The second thing you need is a cold brisket. Cold meat is easier to cut because the fat is softer, so trimming the fat right out the fridge will be less work on you.
  • Trim All The Sides: First off you want to trim the sides, remove any loose pieces of fat, and then move towards the ends. 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 melt while you are smoking a brisket. To make sure you get an even cook you want to make sure you keep your brisket as even as possible. Make sure to leave around ¼ of fat, as that will protect your beef from drying.

Add a 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.

But 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. If you do like a strong flavor like I do you can use spices such as garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper or red chili flakes.

Add a dry rub

My favorite bbq 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 very 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.

Prepare and Preheat Your Smoker

Prepare and preheat your electric 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 tome 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 chip. You also want a clean smoke, so don’t add too much wood and make sure you let the fire burn down and burn off any dark black smoke. As this will give the meat a bitter taste.

My favorite wood is mesquite or cherry wood chips for smoked beef brisket. Oak or hickory are also good wood options because they compliment the flavor of the brisket.

Get Your Brisket in Your Smoker

Place your meat in the smoker
  1. 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.
  2. 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. 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 towards 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-ups.
  3. Set The Water Pan: Set a pan filled with water/beer/cider, or juice etc in the smoker. Fire draws moisture out of meats, so keeping a pan water will keep the moisture in the chamber. This also helps the smoke penetrate the meat. Once your smoker lids closed, it’s time to let the electric smoker work it’s magic. Sit back watch the fire and grab a beer.
  4. Don’t Open The Lid! This will cause the heat and the smoke to escape, and it will take longer to cook. Keep that lid 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 lid.
  5. 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).

Figure Out How Long Your Brisket Needs

Smoke your brisket

How long do I smoke a brisket per pound? Unfortunately there is not a magic formula here. Because each brisket is so different a lot of different factors come into play. 

But for your first time, you can cook to the rule of thumb of about an hour per pound. A 12-pound brisket will usually take around 12 hours to be done. 

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.

Reach The Perfect Internal Temperature

Check briskets internal temp

Once the internal temp reaches 165°F on your meat probe 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.

Wrapping your meat (aka the Texas Crutch method) will help your brisket come to temperature fast, and add lots of moisture. Another way to tell if your smoked brisket is ready to wrap is when it has started to develop a thick, crunchy bark. This typically takes anywhere from 4 – 7 hours.

Once you have wrapped your meat, you are looking for an internal meat temperature of 190°F in the thickest part.

Rest Your Brisket

Once it reaches 190°F remove the smoked brisket from your smoker. Once you have remove the brisket from the smoker, you MUST let it rest. 

Yes I know, its 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.

In an ideal word and 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 you that tender, juicy perfect bite of meat.

Slice Your Brisket

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! Here are a few of my family members favourite ways to use leftover brisket!

Smoked brisket after being sliced
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

How do you smoke a brisket in an electric smoker?

This is one of those simple and delicious smoker recipes. In this recipe I use butcher paper to wrap my brisket during the cooking process – this is totally optional, you can use aluminum foil or smoke the brisket naked if you prefer.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time12 hrs
Resting time1 hr
Total Time13 hrs 20 mins
Course: main
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 155kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: 80

Equipment

  • aluminum foil / butcher paper
  • spray bottle
  • Smoker
  • Wood Chips
  • latex gloves

Ingredients

Spice Rub

  • 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

Brisket

  • 1 brisket at least 5lbs
  • Apple juice, beer, cider, stock, or water for basting

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Once your brisket has started to develop a nice bark you can either leave it naked, or wrap it. I live to wrap using butchers paper. Depending on your brisket this will between 4 – 7 hours into your smoke. Once wrapped give it one last spray with your baste and place back in your smoker.
  • Smoke for a further 3 – 4 hours or until you achieve an internal meat temperature of 190°F.
  • 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.

How long does it take to smoke a brisket in an electric smoker?

Every brisket will cook differently, however as a general rule of thumb you are looking at 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.

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 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 breath 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?

Each cook differs depending on the brisket, smoker and outdoor temperature. A good rule of thumb is smoke for 1 hour then 30 minutes per pound. I would highly recommend using a digital meat thermometer to keep an eye on your briskets internal temperature.

Hungry For More?

33 thoughts on “How to Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker”

    1. Howdy Jay. Thanks for the heads up on this! You want to let your brisket rest until it has reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees. This usually takes about an hour (give or take)

    1. Howdy H, this does depend on your smoker type, the size of your wood chip tray and the wood chips themselves. However in most cases you would be looking at every 4 – 6 hours.

  1. Charlene mcdonald

    Per this article I smoked a 4 1/2 lbs brisket for 5 hours and that’s wasn’t long enough by a couple of hours . Rub tasted great but it probably should have been in 2 hours a lbs

  2. Todd Cashdollar

    My question is, with an electric smoker, do you have to keep adding more wood chips as they burn out? If so, how often on average, do you change chips?
    Also, this may be dumb but — what does cutting with or against the grain mean?

    1. Hiya Todd!!

      No silly questions here (I’ve already asked my dad all of these!!) I usually add me chips when the temp is go to go, then I add more in 20 minutes or so then once a hour. What sort of smoker are you using, it can vary a lot

  3. I plan on smoking about 80 pounds of brisket for a large event – I want to cook this ahead of time, like two weeks or so, and then vacuum seal it and put it in the freezer until just before the event when I will thaw it in the refrigerator. I think it would be best to vacuum seal the brisket whole, still in the foil, once its temperature reduces down to 170 degrees. When I reheat prior to the event, I will slice the meat prior to serving. I would love to hear your thoughts on my plan, your suggestions are welcome

    1. Thanks Hank, I saw you also made the gravy, you must have had a business day cooking!! Love to know what sides you had with your smoked brisket (i looooove the smoked potatoes)!!

  4. Looking to make a 9lb brisket tomorrow ( dry rub tonight ) in a Char Broil electric. Given the size of my cut and the smoker, is it considered ok to just cut the cut in half? Any special place? Thanks for the explanation about the point and flat, maybe right around there?

    Also, the CharBroil recipe seems somewhat close, but a lot more ( 1/4 C vs 1 Tbl for a lot of the big parts. ) Any comment on that? Is it just stronger, or meant for a larger cut?

    Thanks for any insight,
    – Seth

    1. Hi Seth,

      No worries at all! Nothing like a brisket on a Sunday afternoon! I have encounted this with big briskets before, I have tried a few things. You can cut it I would suggest, turning it over, here you you will see a fat vein. Cut following that vein and this will help separate the point from the flat. Make sure when you place then in the smoker the point (the thicker cut) is on the top rack. It has more fat, and will help baste the flat.

      Next option is slightly folding the brisket (emphasis on slight!!) You want to use a wire tray, bend it in the middle like an upside down U. Use the wire tray edges to help maintain the shape.
      The brisket will shrink during your cook and the U will be gone at the end. Not to sure about the Char Broil recipe, when making a rub I always make more than I might need I would go for the bigger measurments!

      Let me know how you go!

      Charlie

  5. Can I cook it the day before and warm it up in overnight with a bit of beef broth . As I need to do a turkey and ribs also.

    1. Hiya Ethel!

      You sure can reheat brisket!! It will be just as delicious if not better! Start by preheating your oven to 325f. Move your brisket into a disposable aluminum tray. I would definitely use beef broth or any cooking juices you have left over from the day before! Make sure you also cover it with aluminum foil! You needs to ensure reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees, will ensure it is safe to serve! Love to hear how you cook out goes!!

      happy cooking,

      Charlie

  6. Can you cook this the day before wrap it then slice pour a bit of beef stock and warm it up. I have ribs to smoke day of the barbecue .

  7. I recently made this beef brisket about 3 weeks ago, and by following your recipe to the point, it came out just fine. My family really enjoyed it so much, that they want me to make it for Thanksgiving. Thank You for placing this recipe on the app.

  8. I have a Bradley Electric Smoker. I am getting the best results by doing the following:
    Temp up to 235
    Brisket wrapped in peach paper fat side down.
    No more than 6hrs in the smoker. (Do not try to cook it to 195 in the Smoker – Has always come out dry)
    Wrap in foil with apple juice or cider and put in the house oven at 225 with a thermometer till 195. – (much faster cook)
    Let rest to 170.
    Cut against the grain. It bloooody delicious thanks for the smoked brisket recipe Charlie!!!!

  9. Mastering the smoked beef brisket has been difficult for me but this has helped me a lot Charlie! Thanks for breaking down how to smoke a brisket in an electric smoker for us dummies!

    1. Hey James!!!

      Stoked your a fan of the brisket, love how to how how you served it and if you had leftover (thats one of my most favorite parts!!!)

  10. A great read! One question I have is do you leave the rubbed brisket in the fridge overnight, before cooking the next day?

    1. 5 stars
      Hi Mark! Only if you have the time, you will get a better bark if you do and a little better peneration of the flavors! You cooking one up this weekend?
      Charlie! 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    Looking forward to trying this! I will be smoking my first brisket this weekend. Glad that I found your step by step guide to break it down. Thanks for posting!

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