How to Smoke a Brisket | Beginner's Guide

How to smoke a brisket guide

Brisket? Or Brisket!!! These are the two most common responses to brisket when it comes to prepping and cooking brisket. For some cooks, they had a bad experience trying to cook a brisket and it didn’t turn out how they would have liked. Maybe because it’s a larger cut of beef and expensive, or is there a legitimate intimidation factor? Perhaps the relationship with brisket started on the wrong hoof? Here at Lane’s, we believe with the proper information, communication, and desire, you too can create a delicious brisket!

Be sure to check our How to Smoke Brisket video below or on our YouTube page. Plus, follow us on social (Instagram - Facebook - Youtube) to stay updated on our latest content and recipes.  

What is Brisket?

Brisket comes from the chest of the cow. Traditionally this is a tough cut that includes a flat and point. The flat is super lean with tons of muscle fibers and the point is fattier with tons of flavor. To break down those tough muscles fibers takes time and skill. What was known more as trash or a throw-away cut has now become the pinnacle of the BBQ world to showcase the skill of the person cooking the brisket. It also puts brisket into a category (expert) that most people are not willing to try as frequently as a pork butt, ribs, or chicken. Let’s be honest, this isn’t the Sunday roast that is usually dry, tough, and flavorless. (No offense to Mama’s out there! We appreciate you and love you dearly.) Brisket is a cut of beef that has the potential to be some of the juiciest and most flavorful meat you’ve ever put in your mouth if it is been prepared and cooked correctly. Low and slow is always going to win in the Brisket BBQ'ing world.  

Where can I buy Brisket?

What you really want is a whole Packer style brisket. The packer style brisket is going to have both the flat and point. Knowing your local butcher is a huge advantage and they can really help you find what you want to cook. The next best place to find packer brisker is in Sam’s Club or Costco. Sometimes their meat section will have more cuts that occasionally are not found in the local grocery. If you have any doubts or questions don’t be afraid to ask the people who are working behind the meat counter.

There are also a good bit of online companies that will send you fresh frozen cuts of meat. Here are a few that we have tried out Halteman Family Meats, KOW Steaks, Vermont Wagyu, and Snake River Farms.

How big/large of a Brisket should I buy?

It all really depends on how many people you are trying to feed. We prefer to cook a 12-15 lbs brisket. You can find larger brisket, but this is the weight that we have found the best success with. 

How do you trim Brisket?

Showing the thickness of the brisket fat cap

Once you have the raw brisket you need to trim the fat cap leaving a ⅛-¼ inch of fat for cooking purposes. Be sure to trim your brisket while it is super cold. The fat will become gummy as it comes to room temp and will be a pain to trim. Cold brisket and a sharp boning knife can make this process less frustrating! At the end of the day, you will only yield 6-7lbs after you have trimmed and cooked your 12-15 lbs brisket.

How do you season a Brisket?

All you need is BARK! A good long smoke along with a fantastic seasoning is the only way to get that brisket bark we all love. Don't hold back, the reality is brisket is a dense cut of meat and adding more on the outside allows those flavors to work their way through the meat as it cooks. We do not use any injections to boost internal moisture. If you cook the meat properly you should not need any added solutions to help with moisture. Just let that cut of meat shine.

Seasoning the brisket with layers of flavor

Best Lane's Brisket Rubs

  • Lane's Brisket Rub - Your even blend of Salt, Pepper, and Garlic with a touch of thyme.
  • Lane's Brancho Rub - Add a bit of Brown Sugar, Espresso and Ancho Chiles to your Salt, Pepper, and Garlic blend. Brancho gives your brisket a Great dark bark
  • Lane's Scorpion Rub - Great blend of Salt, Sugar, and Heat. Scorpion touch on all the flavors for any palette 
  • Lane's 50/50 Salt and Pepper - True traditional Texas style. Large grain 16 Mesh Pepper and Salt is all you need to just let the brisket shine.

Times and Temperatures for Smoking a Brisket

There are several ways/methods you can use depending on your own comfort level and the equipment you have to cook on. We are going to walk you through our method which has proven to be tried and true. 

  • Fat Cap Up - No matter what you are smoking on we always smoker our brisket fat cap up. 
  • Brisket Smoking Woods - We like to use are Cherry or Applewood for a ceramic or offset smoker. If we are using a pellet smoker we will use the a Cherrywood pellet or a hardwood pellet blend.
  • Ceramic - On a ceramic you will be smoking indirect using deflector plates. Load up your charcoal as full as you can. Use a water tray to keep moisture in the smoker. Smoke at 275 degrees for 6/hrs. You are looking for 180 degrees internal temp after the stall and after the bark has formed, wrap (See the next section for the wrap guide) and put back on the smoker until 202-205 - pull it. 
  • Pellet smoker - Set your smoker to 275 degrees and smoke for 6/hrs. You are looking for 180 degrees internal temp after the stall and after the bark has formed, wrap (See the next section for the wrap guide) and put back on the smoker until 202-205 - pull it. 

How to wrap a Brisket

The brisket will naturally go through a stall at 150 to 160 where it seems dead. It takes about 30-40 mins for the stall, but afterward, the brisket will begin to climb to the 202-205 range. At 180 we pull the brisket and wrap it. You can wrap using aluminum foil or butcher paper, we use two pieces of aluminum foil in the + shape. The key to wrapping is to keep it as air-tight as possible. Remember, fat side up!  Place it back on the heat to finish at 202.

Now the controversy is that wrapping destroys the bark or causes it to be soggy. You worked so hard to create that bark so why would you intentionally screw it up? Well, the wrapping does steam the bark for a few hours, but the end result of having a tender and juicy brisket outweighs the lightly steamed bark. 

Resting your Brisket

We are completely adamant that brisket needs a 2 hour minimum to rest. You can just keep it wrapped and throw it in a cooler or oven for the rest.  Every brisket that we cook goes through this resting period. But why? Well, you just cooked a piece of meat for an extended amount of time. The meat (don’t forget it’s a muscle) has tensed up and it needs time to relax and allow the juices to disperse evenly throughout the brisket. Patience is all part of the process. Cutting it too early can cause the meat to be tough and chewy. However, if you will let it rest, good things are on the horizon.

Slicing Brisket the Correct Way

Lastly, slicing is another huge part that if not done correctly can have a major impact on the final outcome of your brisket. You must slice the brisket against the grain which normally is easy. However, the direction of the grain changes in the point versus in the flat. We are right handed - so we like to slice the brisket with the flat on the left and the point to the right. Where the two sides meet is where you want to make your initial cut. You then can slice the flat. Before you slice the point rotate it 90 degrees then slice.

Enjoy the Ride!

As you invest in the BBQ world we hope that you see that you get to make incredible meals for friends and family, but also the process of BBQ'ing is part of the fun. I know there is nothing better than spending time prepping, cooking, and delivering a meal that brings smiles to faces. Before I will fix my own plate I find myself taking a moment to serve others, smile, and enjoy the significance of relationships. Let’s be honest anything worth having is gonna be difficult. Cooking brisket is no different. If you want a great tasting brisket it’s gonna take time, technique, and skill. Perhaps cooking brisket isn’t the easiest, but hopefully, you will #KEEPEXPERIMENTING  

Brisket Guide Video

Brisket Recipes

Typically you just will want to go to town on the brisket you just smoked along with some good sides. Sometimes you have leftovers and sometimes you don't, but we got some recipes you will want to tryout on that fresh or leftover brisket. 


Joanie Meiman

We tasted your out-of-this-world-as -good-as-Austin-TX brisket today @ Mercier Orchard’s 80th celebration.
Thank you! Having lived in Austin a long time, we’re very picky about our barbecued brisket. You got it right;)

Benton Harbor

Good brisket piece. Thanks!

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