How to Smoke a Perfect Beef Brisket in a Pellet Smoker

Smoking a beef brisket in a pellet smoker may seem intimidating, but with the right techniques, tools, and some patience, you can achieve competition-worthy results right in your own backyard. A properly smoked brisket should have a dark, flavorful bark on the outside and tender, juicy meat inside. Follow this step-by-step guide to smoking brisket success.

Choosing the Right Brisket

  • Look for a full packer brisket, which contains both the flat (leaner) and point (fattier) sections. This gives you the most options for slicing and leftovers.

  • Choose a Prime or Choice grade brisket with good marbling. More fat means more flavor and moisture.

  • Allow 1/2 to 1 pound of uncooked brisket per person, as brisket shrinks significantly during smoking. A 12-14 lb brisket will feed 10-14 people.

Trimming and Preparing the Brisket

  • Trim off any large hard fat deposits and excessive surface fat, leaving about 1/4 inch of fat cap. This helps the brisket cook evenly.

  • Season liberally on all sides with a brisket rub. Salt and pepper are classic, but feel free to experiment with other flavors.

  • Let the seasoned brisket rest overnight in the fridge for maximum flavor penetration.

Setting Up Your Pellet Smoker

  • Set the smoker to 225°F using a flavorful wood pellet like hickory, oak, or mesquite. Preheat with the lid closed for 15 minutes.

  • Place a drip pan underneath the brisket to catch drippings (for making sauce later!)

  • Cook the brisket fat side down to protect the meat from drying out.

Monitoring Temperatures

  • Insert a digital meat thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket, without touching bone.

  • Smoke until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160°F, about 1 hour per pound (a 12 lb brisket will take 12 hours).

  • At 160°F, double wrap the brisket tightly in butcher paper or foil and return to the smoker.

  • Continue cooking until it reaches 205°F, about 3 more hours. This tenderizes the tough brisket fibers.

Letting It Rest

  • Remove the brisket from the smoker and let it rest wrapped for at least 1 hour before slicing.

  • This allows the juices to reabsorb back into the meat. Slice too early and the brisket will dry out.

Slicing and Serving

  • Unwrap the brisket and transfer to a cutting board. Reserve any accumulated juices.

  • Slice the brisket across the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices for maximum tenderness.

  • Chop or cube the fattier point section for burnt ends if desired.

  • Serve the brisket warm with the juices for dipping, along with traditional BBQ sides.

Handy Tips for Success

  • Use a water pan in the smoker to help regulate temperatures. Refill as needed.

  • Spritz the brisket every few hours with a mix of apple juice, cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. This keeps the surface moist.

  • If the bark is getting too dark, wrap the brisket in butcher paper earlier, around 150°F.

  • Let the brisket rest in a cooler wrapped in towels for up to 4 hours. This gives you flexibility for serving time.

  • Save the fat drippings to make a flavorful au jus dipping sauce.

Troubleshooting Common Brisket Issues

Problem: Brisket bark is hard, dry, or burnt.

Solution: Trim excess surface fat before cooking. Make sure smoker temp doesn’t exceed 250°F. Wrapping earlier also helps.

Problem: Brisket is tough and dry even when probe tender.

Solution: Make sure to slice across the grain. Injecting with broth and cooking to a higher internal temp also helps.

Problem: Brisket doesn’t have smoke flavor.

Solution: Use more flavorful wood pellets like hickory. Make sure chips aren’t burning up too fast. Add a smoke tube if needed.

Problem: Brisket takes forever to cook.

Solution: Make sure the smoker temperature is accurate. Cook at 250°F+ if time is tight. Injecting the brisket also speeds up cook time.

Achieving the Perfect Smoked Brisket

Smoking a brisket with consistent temps and proper resting results in fork-tender meat and crispy bark. With the right preparation and monitoring, your brisket will have family and friends begging for your secret recipe. Though it takes time, the end result of smoked meat perfection is well worth the wait.

The next time you fire up your pellet smoker, challenge yourself with a beef brisket and see the results for yourself. You’ll quickly be on your way to becoming the neighborhood’s go-to pitmaster!

Brisket on a Pellet Grill


How long does it take to smoke a brisket on a pellet smoker?

Press the rub into the meat, then season with the Cattleman’s Grill Lone Star Brisket Rub. Let sit until the rub looks wet on the surface of the brisket. Place the brisket on the second shelf of the smoker. Smoke at 190ºF overnight (8-10 hours).

What is the 3 2 1 rule for brisket?

Try the 3-2-1 rule for brisket! This popular smoking method is simple: smoke the brisket at 225°F for 3 hours, wrap it in foil and continue cooking for 2 hours, then unwrap it and cook it uncovered for 1 hour.

How do you keep brisket from drying out on a pellet smoker?

Keeping a water pan in the smoker is the best way to retain moisture.

Do you flip brisket on pellet smoker?

If You Ask Us, Fat-Side-Down Is The Way To Go So, the next time you’re cooking a delicious cut of brisket on your wood pellet grill, remember these tips: no flipping, basting, braising, and always cook fat-side-down.

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