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Jamie Purviance

Beginner Brisket

  • People

    Serves 10

  • Prep Time

    30 mins

  • Grilling Time

    9 to 12 h

Serves 10
Prep Time
30 mins
Grilling Time
9 to 12 h

the Ingredients

Recipe1 Brisket 1900X941 Medium1 Overlay
  • 12 pounds 1 each untrimmed whole beef brisket, including both flat and point sections
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 cups favorite barbecue sauce
  • 10 hamburger buns, split

Special Equipment

  • water smoker
  • spray bottle
  • instant-read thermometer
  • parchment paper
  • heavy-duty aluminum foil


  • 01 Using a very sharp knife, trim the fat on the fatty side of the brisket so it is a scant 1/4 inch thick, making sure it is no thinner than that. On the meatier side, remove the web-like membrane so the coarsely grained meat underneath is visible. Make sure to cut away and discard any hard clumps of fat on both sides of the brisket.
  • 02 In a small bowl stir together the salt and pepper. Coat the entire surface of the brisket evenly with the seasoning. Put the brisket on a plate and refrigerate until ready to smoke (you can do this up to 12 hours in advance).
  • 03 Prepare the water smoker for indirect cooking over very low heat (200° to 250°F). Brush the top cooking grate clean.
  • 04 Spray the brisket on both sides with water to wet the surface. Add 3 or 4 large mesquite and/or oak chunks to the smoker. When smoke appears, place the brisket, fat side down, on the top cooking grate, and cook over indirect very low heat, with the lid closed, until a nice dark crust forms on the surface, about 4 to 5 hours, adding the remaining wood chunks to the smoker after the first hour. The surface color of the brisket is important as it indicates you have created a good “bark” and the brisket will no longer absorb much smoke. While color is the primary indication, you should also check the internal temperature of the brisket with an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part; it should register between 150° and 160°F.
  • 05 Remove the brisket from the smoker and spray it again on both sides with water. Spray a large sheet of parchment paper with water to dampen it, then wrap the brisket in the parchment, covering it completely. Now wrap the brisket in heavy-duty aluminum foil, again enclosing it completely.
  • 06 Place the wrapped brisket, fat side down, on the top cooking grate and continue cooking over indirect very low heat, with the lid closed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the brisket registers 200° to 203°F and the meat is so tender than when you press it with your fingers through the foil it feels like a giant marshmallow, 5 to 7 hours or longer. Tenderness is a more important indicator of doneness than temperature, as timing can vary according to the beef breed and characteristics of the meat.
  • 07 Transfer the brisket, still wrapped in parchment and foil, to a dry, insulated cooler, close the lid, and let the meat rest for 2 to 4 hours.
  • 08 Unwrap the brisket and place it on a cutting board, being careful to keep the precious juices trapped in the wrappings. Pour the barbecue sauce into a medium saucepan and warm over medium heat on the stove until hot, about 5 minutes.
  • 09 While the sauce heats, cut the brisket across the grain into thin slices. Serve the slices with as much or as little of the sauce as you like. You can either drizzle the reserved meat juices over the slices or add them to the sauce. If the meat from the flat portion of the brisket is a little dry, coarsely chop it and mix it with as much sauce as you like.
  • 10 Serve the brisket warm on the buns.

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