How-To Guides

How to smoke a brisket

How long to smoke a brisket?

Nothing compares to fork-tender and deliciously smoky beef brisket barbecued low and slow. For this, you’ll need a kamado bbq or an offset smoker to achieve a low, consistent temperature for a long period of time. Smoking brisket has a lot of connective tissue, so it takes plenty of time to break down. For a 2.5kg brisket, expect a 7-8 hour cooking time (excluding resting time) as standard.

However, as with all low ‘n’ slow barbecue cooking, we always cook to temperature, not time. Aim for your brisket to reach an internal temperature of 92-94°C — this means a meat thermometer is essential to ensure fall-apart, melt-in-your-mouth meat.

Best way to smoke a brisket

  1. Preheat the smoker around the 110°C mark. The temperature should be monitored throughout the cook.
  2. A rub (mixture of dried herbs, spices, salt and sugar) can often be used prior to smoking to enhance the flavour of the meat. This can be added just before cooking, although a day ahead would give more time for the flavours to penetrate.
  3. Generously rub your chosen spice blend, or a simple season of sea salt and cracked black pepper, all over the brisket, covering each side.
  4. Place your brisket fat side up onto the grill, close the lid and leave your meat to cook.
  5. A ‘bark’ will form during cooking, often a good while before cooking is complete. If this is the case, then wrap with butchers’ paper or, more accessible, greaseproof paper. This should be several layers thick and will act as protection from the bark creating a thick inedible layer which will reduce the yield of the edible smoked product.
  6. Your brisket needs an internal temperature of 92-94°C. When it’s cooked, you’ll easily be able to push a knife into the meat without any resistance. Keep an eye out for something called the ‘smoke ring’ (see Top tips). If achieved, you’ll know you’ve done an exceptional job.
  7. For best results, you’ll need to let your brisket rest for at least 30 minutes (ideally an hour) after cooking. Resting inside the wrapped layer is advised. You can also take it to this stage, allow it to cool and keep in the fridge if you are planning on cooking ahead of time.

Top tips

  • When properly slowly smoked, something called the ‘smoke ring’ occurs. This is a pink area beneath the dark exterior, up to 3mm wide. Produced by a chemical reaction between the pigment in the meat and the gases produced from wood or charcoal, barbecue advocates often see this as confirmation all has gone as it should during cooking.
  • Fruit woods such as hickory, oak, and pecan blend wonderfully with brisket. As you want to create a steady smoke for several hours, you need to use chunks instead of woodchips or pellets, as they will burn far too quickly. These should be added alongside charcoal to provide longevity during the brisket’s long, slow cook.