How to Smoke a Whole Brisket on a Pellet Grill (Guide + Video)

How to Smoke a Whole Brisket on a Pellet Grill (Guide + Video)

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When it comes to smoking big meats like pork butt, ribs, and brisket, the brisket tends to be the one that gives people the most trouble. If you look for help online, you’ll then be buried in options and opinions. (We have over 300 brisket recipes in our own catalog!) Let’s face it, whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pitmaster, getting brisket just right can sometimes be confusing and intimidating. Let’s simplify the process with this sure-fire recipe and give you the confidence to tackle brisket like a pro.

Let's dive in!

TLDR? Watch The Video or check out our step-by-step guide conveniently located below.  

 

Step by Step Guide: 

 1. Trim the Brisket

- Remove excess fat, especially from the point muscle.
- Trim grayish meat around the edges to separate the muscles.
- Trim fat cap to about a quarter-inch thickness, leaving a bit more on the flat muscle.
- Remove hard or excessive fat.
- Round off harsh corners and edges for better smoke penetration and bark formation.
- Save trimmings to render into beef tallow.


2. Season the Brisket:

- Apply a binder (e.g., mustard, olive oil, or beef tallow) to the brisket.
- Season evenly with your choice of rub (e.g., a 50/50 blend of salt and pepper, or a combination of Plowboys Bovine Bold and Cattleman’s Grill Lone Star Brisket Rub).
- If using multiple seasonings, apply the finer one first.


3. Smoke the Brisket:

- Fill the pellet hopper and set the grill to 190°F.
- Smoke overnight, internal temperature should be around 140-150°F after ten hours.
- Increase smoker temperature to 250°F.

 

4. Wrap the Brisket:

- When the internal temperature reaches 160-170°F and a good bark has formed, wrap the brisket using the foil boat method (wrap halfway up with foil, leaving the top open). You can also use your preferred wrap method. A full wrap in foil will cook the fastest.

 

5. Check for Doneness:

- Once the internal temperature is 195-200°F, probe the brisket for tenderness. It should feel like softened butter.
- Pull the brisket off the smoker and let it rest. 


6. Rest and Slice:

- Rest the brisket for at least an hour in a cooler.
- Slice against the grain, with each slice about the thickness of a #2 pencil.
- Serve, noting the flat muscle is lean and the point muscle is fatty.

 

Focusing On The Recipe, Not On The Fire: A Deep Dive

We want this to be easy, so the first thing we want to do is remove any factors that can complicate the process. Pellet grills are a game-changer when it comes to brisket because they produce consistent results with minimal effort. With a pellet grill, you can practically smoke a brisket in your sleep, which is precisely what we’re going to recommend for this cook. We'll walk through everything from trimming and seasoning in the evening, smoking it overnight at a low temperature, and then finishing it the next day, so it's perfectly rested and ready to enjoy.

If smoking brisket on an offset smoker is your thing, we don’t want you to feel left out of this conversation either. The techniques for trimming, seasoning, slicing, and eating a brisket provided here are still useful. For more information on smoking brisket on an offset, check out How To Make The Perfect Texas Brisket On An Offset Smoker.

Look here for more info on Mastering the Offset Smoker

 

Trimming the Brisket:

Start with a whole packer brisket, which consists of two muscles—the flat and the point. Trimming is a great way to ensure even cooking and optimal flavor absorption. Here's a quick rundown of how to trim your brisket:

- Remove excess fat, particularly from the point muscle.

- Trim any grayish meat around the edges to reveal the separation between the two muscles.

- Trim the fat cap to about a quarter-inch thickness, leaving a bit more on the leaner flat muscle.

- Remove any hard or excessive fat to promote better smoke penetration and bark formation.

- Keep the brisket aerodynamic by rounding off harsh corners and edges.

For a deeper dive on brisket trimming, see How To Trim A Brisket.

Pro Tip: Don’t throw your trimmings away! You can easily render your them down to beef tallow for adding more beef flavor

 

Seasoning Choices:

The basic seasoning many people start with is a 50/50 blend salt and pepper. This will give you a good brisket with a nice bark and good flavor. But if you want deeper flavor, there are many options out there. One of our favorite combinations is Plowboys Bovine Bold and Cattleman’s Grill Lone Star Brisket Rub for a perfect balance of sweetness and savory flavors. This is what we’ll be using today.

 

Seasoning the Brisket:

Before applying seasoning, apply a binder like mustard, olive oil, or beef tallow to help everything adhere to the outside of the brisket. This helps to create a stronger bark. For the recipe linked to this article, we used Meat Mitch Whomp White Sauce as a binder.

When seasoning, hold your bottle about 12 inches above your brisket and gently shake out an even layer onto the meat. It’s a big piece of meat, so you can go heavy with it, but not so heavy that you can’t see any meat through the rub. This is especially important on the flat portion of the brisket.

If you are using more than one seasoning, apply the finer ground seasoning first, then apply the coarser ground seasoning.

 

Smoking the Brisket Overnight:

Make sure your pellet hopper is completely full and set your pellet grill to a low temperature, around 190°F to begin smoking the brisket overnight. This slow and steady process allows for maximum smoke absorption and ensures a tender, juicy result. When you wake up in the morning, the brisket should be around 140-150°F. Now you can adjust your smoker temperature up to 250°F and you’ll be ready to wrap in a few hours.

Wrapping the Brisket:

Once the brisket reaches an internal temperature around 160-170°F, you should see a good bark forming and it's time to wrap it. For this recipe, we used a foil boat method, which retains moisture in the bottom while preserving the bark on top. Simply wrap the brisket halfway up with heavy-duty foil, leaving the top open to maintain bark integrity. For more information on wrapping methods, see Wrapping Brisket In Foil, Paper, And Foil Boat Explained.

 

Achieving Perfect Doneness:

Once the brisket shows around 195-200°F on your thermometer, it is time to start probing. This is where many briskets start to go wrong. To pull the brisket off the smoker at its maximum potential, you don’t want to cook to time, and you are only using temperature as a guide, the most critical factor here is tenderness. Use a food probe to poke into the thickest part of the meat all over the brisket. The probe should feel like it is being pushed into softened butter. There’s just a little resistance, but you are not having to force the probe in. This is when you know your brisket is perfect and it is time to pull it off and rest it.

 

Resting and Slicing:

After smoking, let the brisket rest for at least an hour in a warm environment, such as a cooler, to allow the brisket juices to redistribute. This is done by wrapping a towel in the bottom of your cooler, and then placing your brisket on top of it. It should be able to hold temperature for several hours using this technique. Optimal serving temperature for a brisket is around 140°.

When slicing, cut the brisket 90 degrees against the grain to ensure tenderness and optimal pull-apart texture. If you aren’t sure which way the grain is going, flip the brisket over to expose the bottom and you should be able to see the direction the meat fibers are facing. Keep in mind that the flat and point are separate muscles, so cutting across the grain of each will be in a different direction.

Try to cut each slice to roughly the thickness of a #2 pencil. This will give you the best pull-apart tenderness in every bite.

 

Serving:

It’s important to know that the flat muscle is your lean side, and the point muscle is the fatty side. This is why brisket is one of our favorite meats to cook. Whether you prefer the lean or fatty cuts, there is something for everyone, each bite is sure to be a delight.

 

Smoking a whole brisket on a pellet grill may seem daunting at first, but with the right techniques and a bit of patience, you can achieve barbecue perfection. So fire up your smoker, follow these steps, and get ready to impress your family and friends with mouthwatering smoked brisket.


Happy grilling!

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