Nothing feeds a table full of family and friends like a whole smoked brisket. But wow, does that sound daunting. Slow-smoking a brisket feels like something you should leave to the pros. That’s getting less and less true every day as pellet smokers and off-set smokers get increasingly common in backyards around the country. But just because you have a smoker in your backyard doesn’t mean that you’ll nail a brisket. Let us help you with that.
Below, I’m breaking down how to easily smoke a brisket for 24 hours. 24-hours sounds like a lot. But trust me, this recipe is a lot of downtime with a very fast prep. And then when your family and/or crew gather around the kitchen table, they will be wowed and in love with every single bite of this sweet-savory treat.
Before we dive in, let’s get a few details out of the way. I’m using a pellet smoker. It’s by far the easiest way to get this done as it’ll keep your temp exactly right for the whole cook. You’re also going to have to invest in a grill thermometer to keep an eye on the internal temp of the meat — this is crucial.
Then there’s trimming the brisket. We’ve all probably seen the big bags of whole brisket in the grocery store for $50-$75. Those have to be trimmed before you cook. I’ll address this below. But just to be clear, I’m talking about smoking a full brisket — the point (the fatty layered end) and the flat (the flat end without layers of fat) — and that will need trimming. If you’re getting your brisket from a butcher, they will trim it for you.
Next, there’s seasoning. I like to use old-school Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. It seasons the meat well and ends up with an amazing bark at the end. If you want to go more bold, there are a gazillion seasoning blends out there.
Lastly, you’ll need patience. Don’t rush. This is a set-it-and-forget-it recipe. But don’t let the stall (this is where the brisket will sit at around 160F for hours on end) worry you. Let it ride. You’ll get there. Plus, the stall is where the magic happens and the fats turn into something more, and good bark is created.
Is it worth the time? When you’re cooking for people you truly care about it sure is!
Of course, I also understand that this recipe requires a pretty big piece of equipment to be at your disposal. If you’re looking to cook a brisket in your oven, we have you covered with that recipe right here. Okay, let’s get smoking!
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24-Hour Smoked Brisket
- 12-15 lb. whole brisket
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
What You’ll Need:
- Off-set smoker
- Cutting board
- Trimming knife
- Paper towels
- Kitchen knife
- Butcher paper (unwaxed)
- Preheat your off-set smoker to 200F for at least an hour before you’re ready to start your cook. You need to get a good and even internal heat.
- Remove the brisket from the fridge and remove it from its bag. Use paper towels to soak up any excess moisture. Always trim while the meat is fridge-cold to have an easier and more even experience.
- Using a trimming knife, work around the brisket and remove sinew, silver skin, excess fat, and the edges — rounding it off. This video is a great visual guide (and what I use to this day). Save your trimmings and grind them into burger patties!
- Once trimmed, generously salt the whole brisket — make sure to hit the sides too. Then freshly crack black pepper on all sides of the brisket. How much? Until you’re really tired of cranking that pepper mill.
- Let the brisket rest at room temp for at least 30 minutes to let the seasoning set. (Your smoker should still be warming up anyway)
- Place the thermometer probe into the meaty part of the point of the brisket.
- Place the brisket fat cap up in the center of your smoker. Close the lid and let it ride.
- Make sure to refill your pellets or fire as needed to maintain a 200F cook (mine needs to be topped up every six hours or so).
- Once the brisket hits 175F internal (15-17 hours later), turn the temp on your smoker up to 225F and continue to cook.
- About 4 hours later, the internal temp should hit 203F on the brisket. Remove the brisket from the heat and wrap it in a layer of wax-free butcher paper so that the fat cap is still facing up (if you use foil, you’ll steam the brisket and the bark will get mushy). Place the wrapped brisket in a cooler and let sit for at least 2 hours (up to 4 hours).
- Serve by separating the point from the flat. Slice the flat against the grain. Remove the burnt ends from the point and cube them. Lastly, turn the point and slice against the grain. Make sure to pour any excess fatty juices from the paper over the brisket.
This is fantastic brisket. It’s right where you want it tender-wise. You can cut the meat with a butter knife easily but it’s not mushy at all. When you pick up a slice of the point, do this test: Pull the slice gently like you’re stretching out a piece of, say, gum. The slice should just stay together — it’s called the “accordion test” in BBQ judging circles. The edges might break off a bit in flakes — that’s okay and kind of ideal. This brisket hits that point perfectly.
The seasoning is everything you want — savory and peppery with a good fattiness. The bark is amazing. The burnt ends are unctuous and darkly seasoned.
And it’s just so juicy. Scroll down and look at how juicy that middle cut of the brisket is. It’s fantastic.
Photos of the Process:
At 16 hours:
At 21 hours:
At 24 hours (after a 3-hour rest in butcher paper):