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Guide To Smoking Delicious Brisket in Your Electric Smoker (Updated Jan. 2019)

When it comes to barbecue, there is nothing like the succulent and tender meat of brisket.

​The muscle around the chest of the cow AKA "​brisket" is famous for being difficult to cook. Smoking brisket a slow process that can take up hours to tenderize this stringy cut of meat.

It’s been said that smoking brisket in an electric smoker is an art; When done right you’ll bite into a tender, juicy, complex flavor of beef. If done wrong, you can end up with the meaty equivalent of rubber.

Yes, a smoked brisket takes a long time to cook, but with a little bit of patience and some light reading here, you will have your friends and family lining up for this beauty.

how to smoke brisket in an electric smoker

How to Smoke A Brisket in Electric Smoker

​Below you find the steps to producing perfect brisket each and every time!

1. How To Pick Your Brisket

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

  • 1
    Flexibility: Look for a brisket that bends easily, 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.
  • 2
    The Size & Weight: Briskets can come in different sizes, from smaller trimmed 5 lbs cuts to a full-sized packer cut. What size and weight you decide on will depend on how many people you are cooking for, the size of your smoker and your budget. 
  • 3
    The Point & The Flat:  You may have heard the terms point and flat thrown around. The point is the fattier part of the brisket, and the flat is the more lean end. A packer cut is when the fat hasn’t 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, so both ends can cook more evenly. If you are using frozen brisket ensure read on the guidelines on how to defrost meat safely.
  • 4
    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.

2. How To Trim Your Brisket ( & Also How to Give it A Rub)

Trimming the fat is a very important part of the process. The amount of fat the meat has will determine how your meat will cook.

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.

  • 1
    Get The Necessary Equipment: The first thing you are going to need is a sharp boning knife and a cold brisket. The curved blade on this style of knife will make it easier to remove the chunks of fat. 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.
  • 2
    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, that is called the deckle. It has to be removed, as it probably 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.


Make sure you season your brisket. This dry rub below is perfect if you want a flavorful outer crust (bark). It will also complement the smoky flavor of brisket.

When it comes to the seasoning, keep it simple. While lots of people like using complex rubs, the beauty of the brisket is that with sea salt and black pepper you can still produce magic on the smoker.

If you want more of a mix of flavors, you can use ingredients such as garlic powder, paprika, red pepper flakes or you can always buy a pre-made barbecue rubs.

Remember that the mission of the rub is to enhance the flavor of the meat, so cover your brisket with the rub, but be gentle, as using too much spice can be overpowering.

My Simple Rub Recipe

My favorite rub is a super easy, you don't need any kitchen skills and only takes minimal time to prepare.

Throw the following ingredients in a bowl, mix it and then as the name implies, give the brisket a rub:

  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder (I use 3 tablespoons because I like a lot of heat, adjust this to suit your spice taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (trust me, stay away from traditional granulated sugar, this is a bad mistake!)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano (If you have homegrown use this as it gives a more fresh flavour)
  • 3 teaspoons of garlic salt (I tend to use a lot of garlic salt because I love garlic, alter this to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (Again I use a fair amount of this, change this measurement to your spice requirements)

Be sure to check 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.

3. Preheating Your Smoker

Preheat your electric smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and then put your chosen wood chips in the smoker box.

Try choosing a smoked wood flavor that will complement your beef, like oak or hickory.


I have found that the Smokin It Smoker or the Cookshack Smoker yield the best results for brisket. If are looking for something a little bit cheaper, I would have a look at my best smokers under $200 recommendations!


4. Managing The Fire & Treating The Brisket (Real Good)

Before you place your meat, it is important to preheat your smoker, and that the temperature has been stabilized at 225 degrees, keeping this temperature will allow the meat to cook more evenly.

When it comes to managing the fire, is important to use a dry wood, you want your smoke to come out clean, so don’t add so much to avoid a cloud of black smoke, as this will give the meat a bitter taste.


My favorite is mesquite wood chips for smoked brisket.

5. Cooking The Brisket (Finally, I Know)

  • 1
    Bring Your Brisket to Temperature: Take your brisket out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature for about an hour before putting it on the smoker.
  • 2
    Placing Your Meat: Place the meat in your smoker fat side up, the melting fat pouring over the brisket will help keep the meat moist. All smokers work differently, so if yours has the heat coming from underneath the beef, then it’s important to cook with the fat down, as that will avoid drying. Put the point towards the fire, remember that this part 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: Once the meat is placed, set a pan filled with water on the smoker. Fire absorbs the moisture out of meat, so keeping a pan water will keep the moisture in the chamber, and help your meat have more smoke penetration. Once your smoker lid is closed, it’s time to let it do it’s magic and just watch the fire. Don't Open The Lid! This will cause the heat and the smoke to escape, and it will take longer to cook. So keep that lid closed for as much as you can, and if you need to check on the temperature, using a wireless digital thermometer is the best way to do so while avoiding the heat loss of opening the lid.
  • 4
    Set The Water Pan: Once the meat is placed, set a pan filled with water on the smoker. Fire absorbs the moisture out of meat, so keeping a pan water will keep the moisture on the chamber, and help your meat have more smoke penetration. Once your smoker lid is closed, it’s time to let it do it’s magic and just watch the fire.
  • 5
    After Three Hours: After Three Hours: The first three 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 every 30 minutes -1 hour. This will help keep you meat moisture, and also help develop that tasty crust (bark) around it.
  • 6
    Wait For Internal Temperature to Reach 195 Fahrenheit: Make sure you using your digital meat thermometer to continually check the internal temperature of the brisket. The brisket will be thoroughly cooked and ready to take out once it has reached 195 degrees Fahrenheit.


My Thoughts on Masterbuilt Brisket Recipes
​Now there are brisket recipes all over the internet. However I have found that the Masterbuilt brisket recipes are top notch! Along with advice from my dad it was what helped me master the art of brisket!​

6. How Long Will It Take to Smoke The Brisket Per Pound?

You know the saying, if I had a dollar for every time I got asked​ ..

My friends are always asking, “how long to smoke a brisket per pound”?  I would be a bloody rich man if that was true. I tell them

Well, I say, it bloody varies.

You should cook your brisket on an hour per pound ratio, a 12-pound brisket will usually take around 12 hours to be done, but no two briskets are the same, so factors such as the thickness of the meat will influence the cooking time.

A brisket larger than 12lbs will take 9 - 12 hours to fully smoke while briskets around 5 lbs will take about 5 hours.

7. What Should Your Brisket Internal Temperature Be?

You want your brisket to have reached an internal temperature of 195°F before eating. However, when cooking a brisket, there is something known as the stall.

This is a period of time when the temperature stops increasing because of evaporation, and the brisket will cool down. This is where the wrapping your brisket comes along.

Once the beef has reached 165 degrees you can wrap it in aluminum foil, or unwaxed butcher paper, making sure that there are no holes or open spots.

This will make your meat achieve the right temperature faster, and speed up the whole process

​If you have some folk over that aren't to keen on red meat, I suggest you try another family favorite of mine, smoked chicken.

​Now when your smoking chicken breast in electric smoker, it can be a fine art. You don't want to overcook them as they will taste like cardboard. And under cooked.. well you don't even want to go there!

8. How Long Should I Let My Brisket Rest?

Once you have taken your brisket out of the smoker, you MUST let it rest.

Yes, the smell of your smoked brisket will make you want to eat it right away. However, letting the beef rest will allow all the juices to be dispersed back around the brisket.

In an ideal word you want to rest your brisket until it has come down to an internal temperature of 170 degrees. This can usually take around an hour.

If you cut it too early all tasty juices will end on your plate or chopping board.

Give it some time will ensure you get you that tender, juicy perfect bite.

9. How Should I Cut My Brisket?

For slicing your brisket, you want a serrated knife, and you need one with a blade long enough to slice your brisket in one hit, without shredding the beef.

I have put together a list of the best carving knives that I use.

The flat and the point have different grains, so start by cutting against the grain of the flat, and 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, 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 have some folk over that aren't to keen on red meat, I suggest you try another family favorite of mine, smoked chicken.​

​Now when your smoking chicken breast in electric smoker, it can be a fine art. You don't want to overcook them as they will taste like cardboard. And under cooked.. well you don't even want to go there!

Final Thoughts

As much as the family loves my smoked pork butt I think that my brisket will always be the clear winner.

Make sure after you successfully completed your first brisket you grab a celebratory drink and give yourself ​a cheers.

It is a skill that everyone will appreciate! Afterwards tuck in to that delicious meat.

​If you enjoyed my brisket recipe and looking for more delicious idea for your smoker, look no further! You have to try my bacon jerky recipe!

​It might sound usual at first, but I can't tell you how many friends and family have begged for this recipe! You will need a smoker, if you haven't got one ​check out my best electric smokers recommendations

Still Hungry For More? 

4.6 (92%) 15 votes

Charlie

You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!

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