Smokey, fall apart, melt in your mouth, so delicious smoked beef brisket. It could very easily be the best part of the weekend. Time to try this Traeger Brisket recipe.
One of my favorite parts is the thick tasty bark that develops on a brisket from the long smoke. It adds flavor but also helps keep all those lovely juices inside to cook and break down the brisket. Low and slow is the name of the game here. Using my Traeger Grill to not only hold a constant temperature but to also monitor the internal temperature of the brisket makes this pretty easy. Instead of having to constantly monitor the grill, I was able to set this Traeger brisket and listen for the temperature alarms while I get some other stuff accomplished.
Step One - Trim the brisket.
How to Trim a Brisket
When you purchase a large whole packer brisket, you have to spend some time trimming the fat. Place the entire brisket on a large cutting board. You will need a sharp knife to trim the fat cap as well as the fat from the edges, and the big piece of fat that divides the flat from the point. If you want to learn more about the differences between the flat and the point click here. I started with a 13 pound brisket and I probably had to trim off about 2 to 3 lbs of fat.
Step Two - Season the brisket.
What Seasoning Should I Use?
I wanted to make this one very easy and highlight the flavor of the meat without going too crazy with seasonings and rubs. I mixed equal amounts of freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, and garlic powder. Be generous with the seasoning. This is a very thick piece of meat.
The easiest way to season the brisket is to lay it in a tray and massage all of the seasonings all over it. If you need to make more seasoning go ahead, you want the whole outside to be nicely coated. Take some care to massage the seasoning into the sides, and all the nicks and crannies of the meat.
After I seasoned the brisket, I put it back in the refrigerator for several hours. Meat absorbs smoke better when it is cold and after trimming the brisket and seasoning it, it had been out of the fridge for about 20 minutes of prep time. It also gives more time for the seasoning to permeate the meat in this Traeger brisket recipe.
Step Three - Fire up the Smoker (in this case, Traeger Grill)
How to Smoke a Beef Brisket
Wood selection is a personal choice. Some prefer a certain type of mix over others. I went with Traeger pecan pellets for this brisket. I filled up the pellet hopper and set the Traeger temperature to 225°F. Once the grill reached temperature, I placed the brisket directly on the grill grates with the fat side up. This allows the fat as it melts, to slowly baste the brisket. I then set the internal temperature probe alarm to 170°F and I stuck it into the thickest part of the meat. I figured it would take about 7 to 9 hours to reach that temperature. I then went to sleep for the night.
Once the brisket reaches 170°F, I wrapped it in butcher paper and place the wrapped brisket back in the grill, still at 225°F, this time the fat side was down. I reset the internal temperature probe alarm to 200°F. The goal is to smoke the brisket to until the internal temperature reaches 202°-205°F. I knew that if I come to check it at close to that, I would be able to hit a few different spots with my meat thermometer to ensure evenly cooked throughout the whole brisket. We want to allow the fat and connective tissue in the brisket to completely break down to give us that tender fall-apart brisket we enjoy so much.
Step Four - Let it rest.
Once the brisket reaches 202°F throughout, remove from the smoker, wrap it in a towel, and place it in a cooler to rest. Let it rest for at least two hours. We were bringing this brisket to a friend's house for dinner, it ended up resting in the cooler for about 4 hours and was perfectly hot, delicious, and moist when it came time to slice and serve.
Seasoning - You can use this simple dry rub, your own favorite rub. Sometimes I like to experiment with making my own combination using a premade seasoning for the grocery store. Taste and make some additions to the spices. Add some brown sugar if you want it sweeter or if you are looking for more heat, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper will do the trick.
Don't Wrap - If you want to forgo wrapping the brisket, you can. But you will need to work at keeping the brisket moist as it smokes. I recommend using apple cider vinegar, or even apple juice will do. Beef broth can also work here. Fill a spray bottle and use it to spritz the brisket every 20 minutes or so for the final 3-4 hours. This helps the beef retain moisture in the meat and the bark.
Use BBQ Sauce - If you have a favorite BBQ sauce. Maybe you have a secret family recipe. Go ahead and start mopping that on the brisket after the bark gets developed. You can start mopping it with sauce at about the 8 hour mark. That will give you a well-developed bark and smoke ring.
Traeger Brisket Tips
When slicing the brisket, always slice against the grain. I started by slicing the flat, and when I got to the point, the grain changes. You then just turn it 90 degrees and continue to slice.
You can use bbq sauce and mop sauce on the brisket if you want. Wrapping the brisket allows you to retain moisture if you want to forgo the sauce as I did.
Smoking a brisket on a pellet grill might catch some flack from die-hard pit bosses, but if you are looking for delicious juicy brisket and don't want to tie up your whole weekend making dinner, you have to smoke your brisket on the Traeger.
For the best results and great smoke flavor, use the super smoke feature on your Traeger for the first 2 hours. It will help to develop a smoky bark and a beautiful smoke ring.
What type of wood pellets should I use to make an amazing brisket?
I firmly believe in personal preference here. I like Pecan and Hickory for my beef brisket recipe. Traeger's signature blend is also excellent and you can make your own blend with hickory and cherry as well.
What if I don't have a Traeger Pellet Grill?
You can use any pellet smoker. The key to a delicious brisket is being able to maintain a steady grill temperature and having good hardwood pellets for the smoking process.
Can I use this recipe with a charcoal or stick burner smoker?
Yes. You will have to closely monitor the temperature of the smoker. There are many more factors that will impact the cooking process when you have a traditional smoker. Some of these factors will also impact the hours of cook time so monitoring the internal temperature of the meat is important.
How to serve Traeger Brisket
I served this naked, no bbq sauce or gravy. Serve it with these side dishes: smoked cheesy potatoes, smoked cauliflower, smoked cornbread, or grilled broccoli. Another favorite is to serve the brisket with our smoked mac and cheese or smoked baked beans. A fresh garden salad is another great choice. You really don't need much else when you have a perfectly cooked Traeger smoked perfect brisket.
If you want to also cook your dessert on the Traeger as the brisket is smoking, I highly recommend my favorite Smoked Cheesecake or if you want to make it simple, you can't go wrong with smoked chocolate chip cookies.
If you are looking for an easy smoked brisket recipe that you can use your pellet grill or Traeger grills to complete, this is the recipe for you.
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup ground black pepper
- ¼ cup garlic powder
- 13 lb whole beef brisket
- Trim excess fat from the brisket. Be sure to locate the ridge of fat between the point and the flat. The fat cap side should be cut down to only have ¼" of fat on that side. Be sure not to take too much off. You can always take it off little by little. If you take too much off, you can't put it back.
- Season the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Be sure to massage the seasoning into every side and crack on the brisket.
- Once seasoned, let the brisket rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
- Preheat your smoker or pellet grill to 225°F. Once it is preheated, place the brisket on with the fat side up. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 170°F.
- Once the brisket reaches 170°F, wrap it in butcher paper and place it back in the smoker at 225°F. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 202°F.
- Once the brisket reaches 202°F. Remove from grill. Let it rest for at least 2 hours. I recommend wrapping it in a towel and placing it in a cooler while it rests.
- After the brisket has finished resting, slice and serve. Be sure to slice the brisket against the grain. The flat and the point have a different direction of grain by about 90 degrees.
Originally Published on August 27, 2021. Revised and Republished on March 23, 2023.