Here in Texas, summers are marked by the mouthwatering aromas of BBQ smoking on a backyard grill. With this smoked pellet grill brisket recipe, you too can achieve Texas-style brisket right at home on your own pellet smoker!
If you're new to smoked brisket, chances are the whole process may feel a bit overwhelming. Fear not, I created this tried and true recipe with you in mind.
Cooking a tough cut of meat like beef brisket can be tricky and after many trials and errors, I have finally got it just right. If you follow my recipe step by step, you will avoid the mistakes I've made in the past and have mouth-watering results every time!
Pellet grills are a game-changer for smoked brisket. They produce classic smoky flavors while maintaining consistent temperatures - which makes the whole process a lot easier.
While there are many different methods for smoking brisket, not all are best for pellet grills. Since the heat comes from beneath the grill grates, I have found that Aaron Franklin's popular butcher paper wrap method delivers the best results. It creates a firm, smoky bark while preventing the lean-side from drying out, which is sometimes difficult to do on a pellet smoker.
Don’t forget, the resting period is equally as important as the smoke - don’t skimp on this step! Resting the brisket gives the moisture time to redistribute and reabsorb back into the meat. Slicing too soon will allow the juices to escape leaving you with a dry, tough piece of meat.
Be sure to save your trimmed fat to smoke along with your Traeger brisket. The flavorful tallow it renders is liquid gold and perfect for adding to your butcher paper wrap making your meat extra flavorful and juicy.
If you love barbecue as much as we do, then you’ll also love my Boudin Stuffed Pork Loin Wrapped in Bacon and my Quick Pork Ribs. You'll want to serve them with a side of my tangy Homemade BBQ Sauce. Now that both our stomachs are growling, let’s get to smoking!
Why You Will Love This Pellet Grill Brisket
My family loves this recipe and here are a few reasons why you and your tastebuds will too:
- One word: flavor! The combination of wood smoke and my peppery seasoning rub creates a Texas-style flavor in every bite.
- Easy and low maintenance. After adjusting the temperature on your pellet grill, you can kick back and unwind while the grill does all the work.
- Show off your BBQ skills. This recipe will wow your friends and family and leave them craving for more.
- Tender and juicy. Each bite is so melt-in-your-mouth-delicious that you won't be able to help but go back for more! But save some for leftovers to make delicious BBQ sandwiches the next day.
- Perfect for any occasion. From backyard BBQs to holiday dinners, this smoked beef brisket is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
- Mouth-watering aromas. The smell of your meat smoking on the grill will have your neighbors peeking over the fence to see what's cooking.
Ingredients for Smoked Brisket
This recipe uses simple ingredients you probably already have on hand or can easily find at your local grocery store. (For measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card below.)
- beef brisket - You will need a whole-packer brisket for this recipe. It consists of two parts, the flat and the point, separated by a layer of fat called the deckle. The flat is the larger, leaner portion of the brisket with a consistent thickness and a smooth surface. The point, on the other hand, is the smaller, fattier end that tapers to a point and has a richer flavor and texture.
- seasoning rub - coarse black pepper, coarse kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika for the ultimate Texas-sized flavor
Choosing the Right Brisket
Choosing the right cut of meat is the first step to a great brisket. Look for one with a sufficient amount of marbling (white fat streaks) throughout. Remember, fat equals flavor.
The 3 most common grades of brisket in the United States (in order from highest score to lowest) are prime, choice, and select. (There are some grades lower than select but I don’t recommend them.) I prefer choice grade since it's a high-quality cut that won't break the bank.
Also, choose a brisket that is between 10-14 pounds, since larger cuts tend to be tougher and don't cook as evenly.
Should You Use A Binder On Brisket?
A binder is like glue for your seasoning - it helps it stick to the meat, making your brisket way more flavorful and evenly seasoned. Mustard is most commonly used because of its mild flavor that won't overpower the meat's taste. Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar are some more good options.
Do you have to use a binder? No. Personally, I don't. If I'm having trouble with the seasoning falling off my meat, I will simply mist it with water - that always does the trick.
Do You Smoke Brisket Fat-Side Up or Down
This is a huge debate when it comes to smoking brisket. When using a pellet grill, it's best to start out with the fat-side down. This is because the heat comes from the bottom of the pellet smoker just under the grill grates. The fat cap serves as insulation and protects the lean-side from drying out. Also, the seasoning rub won't drip off as much, giving it longer to penetrate into the meat and form a firm, flavorful crust.
Once wrapped, flip the brisket fat-side up so that the moisture that collects in the bottom of the butcher paper wrap gets trapped against the lean-side. This prevents it from drying out during the stall and is an important step for a juicy, tender smoked pellet grill brisket.
Smoking Brisket Through The Stall
Ah, the dreaded stall. You're chugging along, smoking your brisket to perfection, and suddenly the internal temperature stops rising. Don't worry, this is totally normal and happens to the best of us.
To power through the stall, wrap your meat in butcher paper or foil. This helps retain moisture and speed up the cooking process. I prefer to wrap after about 6 hours of smoking when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165-175°F and a nice, dark bark has formed.
I've also found that increasing the temperature of the grill by about 25 degrees after the brisket is wrapped, helps shortens the stall time. Don't panic though and bump the temperature up too high - you will risk drying your meat out. Remember, even though the internal temperature may not be rising, your brisket is still cooking.
Is it Better to Wrap Brisket in Foil or Butcher Paper?
Which wrapping material you choose will impact the texture, flavor, and cooking time of your brisket. Foil and butcher paper are the most popular options. I've tried both and here are the results I've had:
The foil-wrapped brisket was more tender and juicy but had a less smoky flavor that tasted slightly "pot roasty". Also, the smoke ring was less noticeable and the bark was softer.
On the other hand, the butcher paper-wrapped brisket had a beautiful smoke ring, a traditional smoky flavor, and a firm bark. The only downside was, it took 2 hours longer to cook than the foil wrapped did.
Both are great options but deliver different results. Choose which one to use based on the qualities you're most looking for in your brisket.
How to Smoke a Brisket on a Pellet Grill
Here are the steps and process images for how to make this recipe. (More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Start by trimming away most of the silver skin, fat, and grey edges from the lean-side of your brisket.
Flip it over and trim the fat cap down to a quarter-inch thickness.
Be sure to save your fat trimmings and place them in an aluminum pan to smoke along with your meat.
In a small bowl, stir together the black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.
Apply the seasoning blend all over the brisket, including the sides, pressing it into the meat.
Wrap the brisket tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, giving the seasonings time to flavor the meat.
Place your brisket fat-side down directly onto the grill grates and the pan containing the fat trimmings onto an upper rack. Close the lid and smoke at 225°F.
After 4 hours of smoking, strain the rendered fat through a metal strainer into a heat-proof container. Allow the liquid tallow to cool and solidify at room temperature.
Remove your brisket from the smoker once it reaches an internal temperature of 165-175°F and a dark bark has formed, typically after 6 hours.
Place it lean-side down on pink butcher paper coated with 1 cup of solidified tallow. Roll it tightly, tucking any excess paper under the brisket, and place it back in the smoker at 250°F with the fat-side up to continue smoking.
Start checking for doneness when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 190°F. It should feel like softened butter when probed with a thermometer. This can be anywhere between 190-210°F. Remove immediately when done.
Rest your brisket inside the butcher paper wrap for at least 2 hours before slicing. This will give the juices time to redistribute throughout the meat.
Using a long, serrated knife, cut the brisket against the grain into pencil-thin slices.
Serve with pickles, onions, burger buns, and my Southern BBQ sauce. Enjoy!
- Pellet grill: Pellet grills are designed to provide consistent heat for long periods of time, making them ideal for slow-cooking brisket. I use a Camp Chef.
- Wood pellets: Pellet grills require wood pellets to generate heat and smoke. There are many different types of wood pellets available, each with its own unique flavor profile. Oak pellets are a popular choice for a Texas-style flavor, but you can experiment with different ones to find the flavor that you prefer.
- Probe meat thermometer: It's important to monitor the internal temperature of the brisket during the smoking process to ensure that it is cooked to perfection. A good meat thermometer will allow you to do this easily and accurately.
- Sharp knives: When it comes to trimming and slicing brisket, it's important to use the right knives to get the job done correctly. For trimming, a sharp boning knife works well to remove any excess fat or silver skin from the meat. When it comes to slicing, a long, sharp serrated knife is the best option.
- Pink butcher paper: Make sure it is unwaxed and uncoated.
While brisket is best eaten when freshly smoked, there is no need to throw out leftovers. Simply place them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
To reheat the brisket, wrap it in foil and warm it in the oven at 325°F until the meat is heated through. You could also use it to make delicious sandwiches or tacos - yum!
Tips and Tricks
Here are some top tips to ensure your pellet grill beef brisket turns out perfect every time:
- Generously season: Use all the seasoning rub in this recipe on your brisket. It may seem like a lot but you want the flavors to penetrate into the meat and a nice crust to form on the outside.
- Warm to room temperature: Take your brisket out of the refrigerator for one hour before smoking. This will allow it to come to room temperature and cook more evenly.
- Choose the right wood pellets: The type of wood pellets you use will impact the flavor of your meat. Hickory and oak are popular choices for brisket as they provide a strong and smoky flavor.
- Use a probe meat thermometer: To monitor the internal temperature of the meat and to check for tenderness.
- Wrap it up: When your brisket reaches an internal temperature of 165-175°F, wrap it in pink butcher paper. This helps to retain moisture and prevent it from becoming too dry.
- Let it rest: Once you take the brisket off the pellet grill, it's best to wait for at least 2 hours before slicing it. This will allow the juices to redistribute and ensure a moist and tender brisket.
- Slice against the grain: To make your meat softer and easier to chew, it's really important to cut it across the direction of the muscle fibers.
Other Recipes You'll Love
Looking for other recipes like this? You'll love these!
Here are some of my favorite dishes to serve with smoked brisket:
Be sure to check out my how-to video in the recipe card below!
Smoked Pellet Grill Brisket - Texas Style
- Sharp Knives (a boning knife for trimming and a long serrated knife for slicing)
- 1 (10-15 pound) whole packer brisket
- ⅓ cup coarse black pepper
- ¼ cup course kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons onion powder
- 2 Tablespoons paprika
- Start by placing your brisket lean-side up on a cutting board or baking sheet. Trim away most of the silver skin, fat, and grey edges on the sides.Tip: Cold fat is easier to trim, so it helps to freeze the brisket for 30 minutes before trimming.
- Flip the brisket over with the fatty side up. Cut off any hard fats and trim the fat cap down to a quarter-inch thickness.
- Save your fat trimmings and place them in an aluminum pan to smoke along with your brisket.
- Optional: Lightly rub a binder, like Worcestershire sauce or yellow mustard, all over the brisket to make the seasoning stick to the surface.
- In a small bowl, stir together the black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Apply the seasoning blend all over the brisket, including the sides, pressing it into the meat.
- Wrap the brisket tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, giving the seasonings time to flavor the meat.
- Sit your brisket out at room temperature for 1 hour before smoking.
- When ready to smoke, fill the hopper on your pellet grill with the wood pellets of your choice (use oak pellets for a Texas-style flavor), adjust the temperature to 225°F, and set the smoke setting to the highest it will go. Allow the grill to preheat for 15 minutes with the lid closed.
- Place your brisket fat-side down directly onto the grill grates and the pan containing the fat trimmings onto an upper rack. Insert the attached probe thermometer into the center-most part of the brisket. Close the lid and smoke at 225°F.
- After 4 hours of smoking, remove your fat trimmings from the smoker. Pour them through a metal strainer collecting the liquid tallow in a heat-proof container. Cover and let sit at room temperature to solidify.
- After about 6 hours of smoking your brisket, or when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165-175°F and a dark bark has formed, remove it from the smoker.
- Unroll 2 sheets of pink butcher paper to 4 times the width of your brisket, overlapping them by 1 inch. Smooth out about 1 cup of your solidified tallow onto the end of the butcher paper in the dimensions of your brisket. Place your brisket lean-side down on top of the tallow. Fold the long sides of the paper in and over your brisket. Roll it up tightly until the fat-side is facing back up. Tuck any access paper in and under your brisket.
- Place your brisket back in the smoker fat-side up, and increase the heat to 250°F. Close the lid and continue smoking. Start checking for doneness when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 190°F. It should feel like softened butter when probed with a thermometer. This can be anywhere between 190-210°F. Remove immediately when done.
- Rest your brisket inside the butcher paper wrap for at least 2 hours before slicing. This will give the juices time to redistribute throughout the meat. Slicing too soon will most likely render a dry, tough piece of meat. (If resting for only 2 hours, sit on the counter at room temperature. If resting for 3-8 hours, wrap in a towel and rest in a cooler with the lid closed.)
- Using a long, serrated knife, cut the brisket into thin slices against the grain. To do this, start by cutting the brisket in half - this helps to separate the flat (the thinner, flatter half) from the point (the thicker, fattier half). Starting along the short end of the flat, make pencil-thin slices. Take the other half (with the point) and turn it 90 degrees before slicing.
- Serve with pickles, onions, burger buns, and my Southern BBQ sauce. Enjoy!
Storage:Place leftover brisket in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. To reheat, wrap in foil and warm in the oven at 325°F until the meat is warmed through.
*Nutritional facts are calculated by third party sources and are not always accurate. If you are on a special diet, we highly recommend you calculate these values personally.
Frequently Asked Questions
A pellet grill is a type of grill that uses wood pellets as fuel. The pellets are made from compressed sawdust and come in a variety of flavors, such as hickory, oak, mesquite, and applewood. The most popular brands of pellet grills are Traeger, Pit Boss, Green Mountain, Camp Chef, and Weber.
The cooking time for smoking brisket on a pellet grill can vary depending on the size of the brisket and the temperature of the grill. Generally, it can take anywhere from 10 to 16 hours. It's important to monitor the grill temperature and the internal temperature of the brisket throughout the cooking process.
Yes, it's important to let your brisket rest for at least 1 hour after smoking it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and helps prevent it from drying out.
To ensure tenderness, it's important to slice your brisket against the grain. Start by cutting the brisket in half - this helps to separate the flat (the thinner, flatter half) from the point (the thicker, fattier half). Starting along the short end of the flat, make pencil-thin slices. Take the other half (with the point) and turn it 90 degrees before slicing.