Let’s make your summer cookouts extra delicious with this smoked pellet grill brisket! After cooking low and slow, this Texas-style smoked brisket comes out melt-in-your mouth tender, and smoking a beef brisket is surprisingly simple, even if this is your first brisket. Your summer barbecues will be everyone’s favorite spot when this brisket is on the menu — it’s the ultimate summer dinner.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Makes you look like a pit master: One taste of this smoked pellet grill brisket and everyone will be in awe of your smoking skills. It can be our secret that it wasn’t nearly as hard as people might think.
Works on any type of smoker: While this recipe specifies a pellet grill, it works on any type of smoker for your convenience. Whether you have a Traeger, Pit Boss, Green Egg or any other type of smoker, you can apply these directions to that unit.
Requires very little hands-on cooking: Once we trim our brisket, most of the work is done, so you’re free to kick back with a cold one and enjoy good company. How’s that for easy hosting duties?
Feeds a crowd: Depending on the size, a whole brisket can feed 10-20 people. Yes, it’s an expensive cut, but when you consider how much delicious, succulent meat you get, it’s a pretty good deal.
As you can see, a Texas smoked brisket recipe requires only three simple ingredients. Although I live in Denver now, I grew up in Houston and went to college in Waco, Texas, at Baylor University, so I’ve had my share of wonderful briskets. Trust me — you don’t need a fancy dry rub to make the best smoked brisket.
Whole packer brisket: This brisket includes the point cut and flat cut in one piece. The flat is the largest part of the brisket with a leaner texture while the point is the fattier piece that’s great for making shredded brisket. You can buy the flat and point separately, but that’s not what we want here — get the full packer brisket. This cut typically runs from 10-16 pounds, but it could be as large as 20 pounds.
If you can swing it, I recommend getting prime briskets from a local butcher shop rather than a chain grocery store. Quality does make a difference.
Salt and black pepper: Yep, that’s it. Smoked Texas brisket is all about letting the meat shine. We don’t want to distract from that tasty cut of beef. Of course, you can use your own BBQ rub if you insist, but it’s unnecessary for an authentic Texas brisket. You don't need garlic powder, chili powder, brown sugar and all those other spices to make a flavorful brisket.
How to Trim Brisket
Step 1: Let’s walk through how to trim brisket. This may seem intimidating, but once you start trimming, you’ll see it’s not as hard as you might think.
On one side, you’ll notice a fat cap covering. We want to trim the extra fat so that it’s about ¼-inch thick, and then trim any gray edges (photo 1).
Now we flip the meat over and use a sharp knife to remove excess silver skin, and you can remove large areas of fat if you would like. It should look similar to this after trimming (photo 2).
Don’t feel like you need to be perfect here with the extra fat. Just remove what you can. There will be some remaining, and that's just fine. Some people don't ever bother trimming the extra fat on this side.
From here, we cut out this large fatty piece, leaving the meat underneath intact (photos 3 and 4). This is a hard lump of fat that does not break down even with low and slow cooking, and you will not want to bite into this piece. We’ve now trimmed our brisket.
If you'd like to see a full video tutorial, Aaron Franklin of Austin's famous Franklin Barbecue shows how he trims his brisket.
Step 2: We mix together the salt and pepper and sprinkle it all over the surface of the meat, including both sides and the edges (photo 5).
Now we place the rubbed brisket fat-side up directly on the grill grate in a 225-degree pellet smoker or the smoker of your choice with a water pan. The cooking process should be low and slow for the most delicious brisket. To ensure best results, we insert a leave-in probe thermometer in the thickest part of the flat cut.
The Stall and Texas Crutch
Step 3: Once the internal temperature reaches about 160 degrees, it will hit a cooking stall where it will maintain the same temperature for hours. This happens as the connective tissue begins to break down, so to help our brisket get out of the stall and remain moist, we wrap it like a present in peach butcher paper, known as the Texas crutch (photo 6).
Pro tip: Keep in mind, the exact stall temperature can vary. If you notice the internal temperature number stalling or going up and down when it’s in the 155-degree range, go ahead and wrap it.
We put the wrapped brisket back on the smoker, insert the leave-in thermometer again and continue to cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 200-205 degrees with 203 degrees being the sweet spot. While the temperature probe should be accurate, I like to double check by inserting the meat thermometer in another spot or two. When the brisket is ready, you should be able to easily insert the thermometer like a hot knife to butter.
Step 4: Now we remove the brisket from the smoker and let it rest for at least an hour or even up to two hours. After that nice long rest, we’re ready to carve, slicing across the grain on a cutting board (photo 7). Each cut of meat will have their grains running a different direction, so you'll have to rotate the meat as you slice.
Just look at all that bark and the pink smoke ring. It’s pellet grill brisket perfection!
Bonus: If you’d like more recipes for your smoker, you should try my smoked tri tip, smoked burgers and smoked whole chicken. And don't miss my round-up of best pellet grill recipes.
How to Serve
For Texas purists, they don’t need any accompaniments and just want the smoked beef brisket in all its glory. That said, sandwich bread, onion slices and pickle chips are often served on the side. Sauce usually isn’t served with Texas brisket, but if you like sauce with brisket, you do you. My coffee-bourbon BBQ sauce and honey-sriracha BBQ sauce are always favorites.
And what’s a good cookout without side dishes? Try some of these:
Cooking brisket is not an exact science, but plan for 90 minutes per pound at 225 degrees. Not every brisket will cook the same, but 90 minutes is the standard guideline.
For an evening dinner, I start smoking the brisket the night before serving and check on it throughout the night. Yes, it’s a commitment, but I’ll do anything for my delicious meat baby. Hey, it's a labor of love.
For a real Texas brisket, go with oak or mesquite. Personally, mesquite is what I use. Brisket is a big meat, so we need a boldly flavored wood pellets. Save the fruit woods for lighter fare.
For the perfect brisket, the general rule of thumb is to place the fat side of the brisket up. During the smoking process, that layer of fat will melt and render all over the meat, making for an ultra flavorful, juicy brisket. If you place the fat side down, you'll lose all that wonderful fat rendering.
Let the meat rest for one hour at minimum, but I like to give it two hours if possible. To rest the brisket, I create small vents in the butcher paper and let it simply sit in room temperature. It's large cut of meat that it holds the temperature well.
However, if you'd like to hold the meat for even longer, wrap the brisket in a towel and place it in a dry cooler without ice. This should hold the temperature for about six hours, which is great if you need to prepare the brisket ahead of time.
And please do not ever skip this important step. A cut this large needs time for the juices to settle. If you cut into the brisket, it will be dry, and you will have wasted all that time and money. Keep in mind, the rest time is separate from the cooking time.
Yes, simply place the brisket on a large baking sheet and continue cooking in the oven at 225 degrees. Sometimes you may come across bad weather and need to finish cooking inside.
I actually had to do this recently because of an equipment issue, and the brisket was still a huge hit with succulent, tender meat. Fortunately, it was after wrapping the brisket in butcher paper, so a lot of that smoke flavor already infused the meat.
For easier trimming: Trim the excess fat on the brisket when it’s cold. The fat slices through much easier when it’s still firm.
Don’t overtrim the fat cap: While we don’t need all that fat, we do want some of it to keep the brisket flavorful and moist. Keep about ¼ inch of fat.
Let the butcher do the work for you: Don’t want to bother with trimming? Ask the butcher to trim. I’ve also bought a pre-trimmed brisket, and that hard fat chunk was still in tact, so you might want to specify you’d like it removed.
Allow the brisket to sit at room temperature before smoking: While this step is technically optional, it helps with more even cooking if we can take the chill off the meat.
Get the right type of butcher paper: Make sure you use a food-grade butcher paper. You can also use aluminum foil, though I prefer butcher paper because it’s porous. This allows it to breathe and retain moisture but not so much moisture that it overly softens the bark. I get my butcher paper on Amazon.
Keep an eye on your pellet hopper: We're smoking for a long time, so you want to make sure you don't run out of wood pellets. Refill as needed.
Pair this smoked pellet grill brisket with a bold stout, and you are in for a delicious match. The smoky brisket is perfect with the stout’s roasted malt, and stouts show off a robust mouthfeel that can stand up to such a big, rich meat.
If wine is more your style, a syrah is a nice pairing for brisket. Syrah has some big berry notes for some contrast but also shows off some spice and even a smokiness that beautifully matches our cooking style.
Or maybe you love a cocktail. I’m always a big fan of bourbon with beef. My sweet tea mint julep is wonderfully refreshing on a hot summer day.
For the ultimate backyard party, serve this pellet grill brisket, and everyone will feel full and happy. It’s the perfect summer dinner for a crowd.
More Summer Dinner Recipes
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Smoked Pellet Grill Brisket (Texas Style)
- Large cutting board
- Sharp knives
- Peach butcher paper
- Pellet grill smoker (you can also use any other type of smoker)
- Wood pellets preferably mesquite or oak for Texas style
- Leave-in meat thermometer
- 1 (12-16) pound whole packer brisket
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup black pepper
- Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and immediately start trimming. To trim, cut the fat cap so that it's ¼-inch thick and trim any gray edges. Flip the brisket over and trim any excessive fat patches and silver skin. Locate the hard fat mass near the point cut and remove it, leaving the meat underneath the fat intact. (Please refer to photos in the blog post if needed.)
- Stir together the salt and pepper. Sprinkle all over the surface of the meat and fat cap, including the sides. Let it sit in room temperature for an hour.
- Prepare the smoker and set it to 225 degrees. Add a water pan in the smoker (and keep it filled while cooking) and place the brisket fat-side up directly on the grates with the point cut closest to the heat source. Insert a leave-in thermometer in the thickest part of the flat cut.
- Close the smoker and smoked until the smoker reaches about 160 degrees. This is about when the temperature will stall for several hours. Remove the brisket and wrap it like a present so that it's nice and sealed in peach butcher paper to help the brisket get out of the stall and remain moist.
- Place the brisket back on the smoker with the leave-in thermometer and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 200-205 degrees with 203 degrees being the sweet spot.
- Remove from the smoker. Create a small vent in the butcher paper and let the brisket rest in room temperature for at least an hour or up to two hours. Do not skip this step. Skipping this step will result in a dry brisket. If you need to keep the brisket longer, wrap it in a towel and place it in a dry cooler with no ice for up to six hours.
- Slice the brisket across the grain, keeping in mind that the different cuts will have grains running in different directions. If desired, serve with smoked baked beans. Enjoy!
- Don’t want to bother with trimming? Ask the butcher to trim. I’ve also bought a pre-trimmed brisket, and that hard fat chunk was still in tact, so you might want to specify you’d like it removed.
- The exact stall temperature can vary. If you notice the internal temperature number stalling or going up and down when it’s in the 155-degree range, go ahead and wrap it.
- Make sure you use a food-grade butcher paper. You can also use aluminum foil, though I prefer butcher paper because it’s porous. This allows it to breathe and retain moisture but not so much moisture that it overly softens the bark. I get my butcher paper on Amazon.
- We're smoking for a long time, so you want to make sure you don't run out of wood pellets. Refill as needed.
- Save any leftovers for this delicious brisket mac and cheese.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Matthew Armstrong says
How long until the stall is reached for an 11 lber?
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
Hey, Matthew! With the caveat that every cut of meat cooks a bit differently, I allot up to eight hours, though it could be closer to six hours if your meat cooks a bit quicker. If you need to wrap it a bit earlier, say the 150 degree F range, that should be fine too. There's some flexibility there.
Dianne Hatley says
I am southern Carolina girl and I made my rub with kosher salt, black pepper and garlic powder. After trimming and applying rub I slathered the brisket in yellow mustard. I wrapped it and placed In refrigerator for several hours. Cooked per your instructions and it was absolutely fabulous! Perfecto!
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
Sounds like some good eats! Thanks so much for trying it.