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.
New to smoking meat. We have white butcher paper with one side that has a shiny coating. Do we use this? If so, do we wrap the shiny side in or out? In other words should the shiny side touch the meat?
Paul & Taryn
Some white butcher paper can have a wax coating which will not work with smoking. It is possible that the paper that you have is food safe for wrapping and preserving food but not for cooking. However, if it has a wax coating the wax will melt onto your food from the heat of the smoker.
When allowing the brisket to rest in the cooler do you put ice in the cooler?
Paul & Taryn
No, you are using the cooler to insulate the brisket and keep it hot. Not to cool it down.
Oh my goodness.
I have two small briskets - trimmed and about 1.5 to 2 inches thick. One weighs about 2 lbs and the other is almost 3 lbs. I would like to follow this recipe but am wondering how long each step will take to acheive those temperatures. It’s about 1 degree F here
Paul & Taryn
It's impossible to know exactly. My guess is 2-3 hours to reach 160 and then another 1-2 hours to reach 202. I'm basing these times off of recipes we have for smaller cuts of beef, such as chuck roast.
I am a Texan whose Grandfather used to smoke briskets to perfection on a caveman smoker, and I have ruined more briskets than I can count in my fancy pants Bradley electric smoker. This is the first one that has ever turned out perfectly - we used mesquite pucks and followed your directions exactly, and it tasted just like my Grandpa's! Thank you SO much!!
can you use aluminum foil instead of butcher wrap?
Paul & Taryn
You can but butcher paper works better. Foil will cook faster. The butcher paper is porous and stills allow smoke to permeate the paper.
Do you have any idea how long it takes to get to 170? I’d like to throw it on around midnight and get some sleep but don’t want it to get too warm as I sleep.
Paul & Taryn
It takes 7 to 9 hours to reach that temperature.
I am making a 20lb brisket for a big family get together. Any idea how this size would effect my cook time or how long it will take from start to finish?
That's a great question, Chelsea. And that is a big brisket! First, a question for you. Is that 20lbs after trimming? You want to trim down that fat cap. If you haven't trimmed it down yet, you might drop it by 3 to 5 lbs. It might be closer to 15 lbs that you smoke. It will take about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes per pound to smoke the brisket at 225 degrees F. Remember to give yourself plenty of time. You can rest it in a cooler after it finishes smoking for up to four hours and you will be fine. A long rest is better than wishing you had more time.
I'm planning on smoking an 8 to 10 pound brisket next weekend for a family gathering of 8. You say to smoke the meat for 7 to 10 hours before wrapping, but I didn't see any mention of how long it should take to get to the 202 degree point afterwards. What should I expect?
Great question. In my recipe, I was smoking a 13 lb brisket that I trimmed about 2 lbs of fat off. At 225F, it will take about 75 minutes per lb(give or take an hour or so). There are several factors that go into the time, which is why monitoring the internal temperature is important. When you wrap the brisket, it makes it easier for the meat to heat up and cook. It will typically take about 2 to 3 hours to go from 170F to 202F once the brisket is wrapped. It can take longer, it can be shorter depending on the size and shape of the meat. Patience is the key. The beauty of brisket is that you can finish early and keep it in a cooler for several hours before serving it. So if you plan to serve it at 4 pm. Shoot to have it finish at 1:30 or so. If it cooks faster and finishes at noon, stick it in the cooler. It will stay hot and in a safe temperature zone until 4 pm. If it takes a little longer and you finish at 3 pm. Perfect, let it rest for an hour before serving. The key is your final internal temp. I hope that helps. Good luck with the smoke!
I am cooking for an event 24 hrs later? Can follow the above recipe and wrap for 4hrs and refrigerate? Slice and reheat? If so- reheat and then slice? Suggestions? I have made this recipe several times but rarely have leftovers. Wondering if possible?
Paul & Taryn
We rarely have leftovers either. I think you can wrap for 4 hours and then refrigerate it. I would reheat and then slice the brisket so it doesn't lose moisture.
Which part of the brisket do you put the temp probe in? The thickest part? Thanks!
Yes. I will leave the temperature probe in the thickest part as it smokes. When I think it is done, I will check a few places to make sure it has cooked evenly. Some thermometers have multiple probes so you can monitor the whole brisket while it smokes.
Has anyone ever smoked their brisket ahead of time and froze it? Then reheated for a family get together.
Paul & Taryn
Yes, we do this all the time!
Alfonso Juarez III
What type of thermometer would you recommend for asserting the core t internal temperature alarm. I have a silverton and it has a hard wired thermometer.
I primarily use the Traeger meat probe. I also use a wired one with two probes if I want to measure a few different spots while it cooks. ThermoPro TP-17 Dual Probe Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer, I bought it on Amazon. You can set both probes for different temperatures. The built-in alarm is loud and I am able to hear it with no problem. I mostly use it on a big piece of meat, or when I am smoking multiple items. It also works well for a quick instant-read if I want to check the internal temp on something.
I love how simple this was to do. So juicy and tender. Everyone loved it. Thank you!
Jo Anne T.
I also have a Traeger grill, and you are right, they are the best! Mine has been used mainly for smoked turkey at Thanksgiving and brisket and ribs the other months of the year, but since I learned the trick about wrapping in the pink butcher paper, I will be smoking more briskets! Currently have ribs thawing for later today, and will use the butcher paper wrap on these also! Love Traeger!
We made this for one of our summer cook outs and it was perfection! Everyone loved it!
So delicious and tender! Loved it!