How To Cook A Brisket In An Electric Smoker (Everything You Need To Know)

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Cooking a brisket to tender, flavorful perfection is a revered skill in the world of barbecue, and an electric smoker can be your trusty companion in this flavorful journey.

Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or just starting your barbecue adventures, here’s your comprehensive guide on how to cook a mouthwatering brisket using an electric smoker.

How to Cook a Brisket In An Electric Smoker

The mouthwatering smoky flavor of juicy brisket is unrivaled in surprising your friends and family members if smoked perfectly. 

Now you’ll be surprised to know that an electric smoker for brisket helps you to smoke delicious mouthwatering brisket evenly without missing the smoky flavor of charcoal smokers. You’ll just need three things, a recipe, the ingredients, and an electric smoker, which I’m sure you already have.

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My Favorite Recipe & Ingredients To Smoke A Brisket In An Electric Smoker

The most popular way to smoke a brisket is to follow the recipe, which is low and slow. As you know, brisket is a tough and stringy cut of meat that takes a long time in the smoker to be evenly cooked. 

That’s why the slower recipes give off a better taste. The recipe I’m now going to show you is a Central Texas-style brisket recipe, and it may take up to 12 hours of cooking time. 

So, take a long breath and get ready to taste the best-

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup smoked paprika
  • 6 TBS chili powder
  • 6 TBS kosher salt
  • 4 TBS cracked black pepper
  • 4 TBS ground cumin
  • 2 TBS onion powder
  • 3 TBS of crushed garlic
  • 2 TBS dried oregano
  • 2 TBS ground coriander
  • 2 TBS cayenne pepper

Key Ingredients & Utensils:

  • 12-pound beef brisket
  • Aluminum foil & butcher paper
  • Electric Smoker
  • Thermometer
  • Cooking bowl
  • Pyrex dish
  • Latex gloves
  • Serrated knife
  • Boning knife
  • Hickory or Oak wood chips

Don’t forget to taste your homemade brisket rub before adding it to the meat. If you don’t have all these ingredients, or if you don’t like to make the rub yourself, then you can easily go for readymade high-quality brisket rub.

Recipe @ A Glance:

  • Take a medium-size cooking bowl, rinse with faucet water and dry it with a paper towel
  • Mix all the spice rub ingredients evenly in the bowl and make your favorite brisket rub
  • Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and let it come down to room temperature. Better use a cooler for resting brisket. 
  • Clean the brisket off of the silver skin or connective tissues, trim the excess fat, rinse with tap water, and pat dry with paper towels
  • Put on your latex gloves, coat the brisket evenly with your homemade rub, keep the coated brisket in a pyrex dish, airtight the dish with aluminum foil, and refrigerate it for 12 minutes to 12 hours
  • Prepare your smoker (fill it with your favorite wood chips, place water pan and preheat the smoker up to 225˚ F), in the meanwhile, take the brisket out of the refrigerator and unwrap it
  • Check out the smoke and temperature. Once it has preheated to 225°F, get the brisket in the smoker keeping fat side up, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket and let the brisket smoke low and slow by closing the door
  • Keep checking the smoke and refill your wood chips tray if needed, and don’t forget to watch your meat thermometer
  • When the meat temperature reaches 165°F (it may take up to 4 hours), remove the brisket from the smoker, wrap it with butcher paper, and put it back
  • Keep cooking until the temperature of the brisket reaches 195˚ F, you may have to wait for around 8 hours to get that temperature
  • Increasing the smoker temperature to 275°F will help minimize the cooking time, but it’s not recommended as we’re following the low and slow recipe expecting the best taste and tenderness
  • Take the brisket out of the smoker once it reaches 195˚ F, place it on a cutting board and wait 10 to 15 minutes to unwrap and get surprised with the amazing aroma and color of your smoked brisket
  • Rinse your meat cutting knife, wipe it with a paper towel, unwrap the brisket, get a long breath to enjoy the aroma, slice it against the grain, and watch her serve your brisket in a delicious manner

Secrets of Smoking The Brisket Perfectly Without Missing The Real Smoky Flavor

Fat melts slowly over the meat while smoking, the flavor of your spice rub also runs in with the melted fat, and they together make the brisket juicy, tender and yummy. 

If the meat isn’t properly seasoned or has no fat layer over it, then the smoked brisket will lose its juiciness and moisture.

So besides having a great smoking recipe, choosing the best piece of beef and preparing it before, during, and after smoking are also very important to make sure that the brisket smoked in your electric smoker will taste so delicious. 

These simple hints and smoking hacks will get you smoking like a pro-

  • Choosing The Brisket

Saucy burnt ends, thin glorious slices on the plate, and restaurant-quality taste at the comfort of your own backyard – all this deliciousness depends on the cut of meat you choose to cook in your smoker.

But I don’t want to make you study the terms like packer cut, point, flat, deckle (must be removed), marble, fat cap, etc., as you don’t need to be a pro butcher to smoke a piece of beef. Those who even can’t cut onions can easily smoke. So, don’t worry!

Your eyes and hands are enough to find out the best piece of meat. When choosing the brisket, the first thing you should look for is the thick layer of fat over the meat. 

This fat will make your brisket juicy while smoking, and having enough dispersion of fat between the lean sections of meat will give off even better moisture.

The next thing is that the more tender your brisket, the better it is. So, your brisket should have zero or at least a minimal amount of connective tissue. 

Next, pick up a brisket and try to bend it or place it on your hand and try to balance. The more it bends, the less connective tissue it has. In other words, your brisket should be flexible enough.

One more thing you should consider when choosing your brisket is the size and weight of the meat. Check out the user manual of your smoker. Most electric smokers can handle 10 to 12 lbs of brisket. 

The size of your brisket will also help you determine exactly how many people you’re smoking for. 10 lbs are enough to serve 10 to 15 hungry birds.

Ops! I forgot to tell you that your brisket shouldn’t be 100 days old. Check out the date on the pack and go for as fresh as possible. 

And of course, don’t forget to follow the guidelines on how to defrost meat safely if you buy frozen brisket.

  • Trim Your Brisket

Hopefully, you’ve bought a super flexible brisket with a thick layer of fat. I don’t know how thick it is. 1/4 inch thickness is enough to ensure the perfect moisture. 

But, if there’s too much fat on the meat, then the brisket won’t be evenly infused with a smoky flavor. Trimming is the solution to this issue.

Trimming also helps to make sure the same thickness of fat all over the brisket. First, trim all sides, cut off loose fats (if any), then trim off the ends. 

Trim off until you can see the reddish meat underneath the fat. The thickness of the fat doesn’t have to be exactly 1/4 of an inch. Just do your best with a reliable knife.  You can read this to be more clear about trimming your brisket.

  • Add a Spicy Brisket Rub

Who doesn’t love the sounding crunch that comes out from biting on the crispy layer of a fried chicken? You can also create that desirable exterior crust on your brisket. The crispy layer is known as the brisket bark when it’s formed on the brisket.

It’s true that a bit of brisket black pepper and sea salt can make the brisket taste good. But, to make the flavor more desirable and to form that dark brisket bark on your brisket, you’ll need to give your brisket a spicy rub.

You can make your own spicy rub by mixing the ingredients I’ve listed above. Or you can go for the store-bought dry rubs. 

Different rubs will give off different flavors. So, feel free to try different rubs at different times. Some people keep their brisket in the refrigerator for 10 to 12 hours after rubbing.

I don’t have such patience. Moreover, I see that the rub spends a long time (12 – 13 hours) with the brisket in the smoker. 

So, I never let my brisket sit for more than 15 minutes in the refrigerator after giving it the rub. This stage of smoking brisket is also known as seasoning or marinating.

  • Preheat Your Electric Smoker

During this instant seasoning, I load wood chips to fill the fuel tank of my electric smoker. One pound of wood chips can smoke for 45 to 50 minutes. 

Based on the recipe I’ve represented above, you’re going to smoke for around 12 hours. So, you’ll need a big bag full of wood chips.

Though I’ve never tried, my grandma taught me a secret that’ll help you make your wood chips burn for longer than usual. 

Soak the chips in water for 30 minutes, air dry for the next 30 minutes, then wrap them in heavy-duty aluminum foil, poke dozens of small holes in the foil and place the foil in the smoker tank. 

It may generate smoke with a bit of a different flavor. So, you shouldn’t follow this if you’re going to smoke for the first time.

Anyway, once the fuel tank is loaded with wood chips, fill up the water tray and place it inside the food chamber of your smoker. You may add 3 TBS of liquid smoke into the water if you want to impart a strong smoky flavor to your brisket.

Now make your smoker run if the weather is okay and wait for the heat to settle at 225°F. It’s very important to stabilize the heat before placing your brisket in the smoker rack. 

Otherways, instead of smoking, the heat will start burning your brisket. Also, don’t forget to check the color of the smoke. 

It must be white. Black smoke always imparts a bitter taste to the meat. If you don’t overload the wood chips, the smoke will definitely be white.

  • Get Your Brisket In The Smoker

Hopefully, after enjoying the 15 minutes of cool seasoning with a spicy rub, your brisket is now at room temperature. So, don’t hesitate to place it in the smoker rack. 

Just keep the fat side up. But if the heat comes from beneath the meat, then you’ve to place your brisket keeping the fat side down.

What to do now? Maybe you’re going to close the lid of your smoker. You can do this. But do you know that smoke and heat are prone to escape? 

So, if you don’t want them to run away, leaving the brisket uncooked, don’t forget to insert a wireless meat thermometer into the thickest part of your brisket. Now you can close the door and let your electric smoker show her magic.

The thermometer will keep you informed about the internal temperature. You can have a nap before the brisket reaches 165°F. 

A 10/12 lbs brisket of average shape takes nearly 4 hours to reach that temperature. This is the crucial time when the brisket takes in the most smoke and gets flavored.

Now, you’ll have two options. Either you can generously keep spraying your brisket with apple cider/ vinegar every 30 minutes for the next couple of hours, or you can simply follow my favorite Central Texas style.

  • Smoke Your Brisket in Central Texas Style

Take the brisket out of the smoker once the interior heat of the beef reaches 165°F and wrap it with peach butcher paper. 

Aluminum foil paper also does the job, but butcher paper gives off the better bark leaving the interior juicy and tender. 

Now put back the wrapped brisket in the smoker, close the door again and let the smoker play its game until the interior temperature of the brisket scores 195°F. 

  • Let Your Brisket Take a Rest

Digital electric smokers will automatically stop cooking as soon as the temperature reaches 195°F. If yours is not of that advanced model, then do the job manually and pull out your brisket from the smoker.

If everything is okay, the overwhelming smell of your smoked brisket will make you crazy about biting it almost instantly. 

But, you’ve to show off your patience for a few more minutes if you want to let the moisture disperse evenly throughout the brisket.

Even after removing your brisket from the smoker, it continues to cook with its own retained heat. This period of cooking, in fact, yields even more tender meat. 

So, if you want to serve the best to your guests, then you’ve to allow the brisket at least an hour to rest after taking it out from the smoker.

  • Unwrap And Slice Your Brisket 

I know how challenging it is to wait for an hour to unwrap that smoked beauty. Now you’ll need a serrated knife to cut your brisket into attractive thin slices. 

Cut against the grain and try to maintain the same thickness for all slices. Most of the home chefs cut their brisket into 1/4 inch thin slices. I’m yet to learn this technique. 

Anyway, you just try your best and be careful not to scrape off the crispy brisket bark while slicing and serve it immediately. If you let the sliced brisket take rest, it’ll dry out.

How Long Does It Take To Smoke A Brisket In An Electric Smoker?

If you follow the above low and slow recipe and smoke a piece of 12 lbs brisket, it’ll take around 14 hours. 

Final smoking wrapped in peach butcher paper for 8 hours, primary smoking for 4 hours, seasoning with dry rub for 15 minutes, trimming may take around 45 minutes and an hour for rest.

Essentially, it will take less time if you smoke a smaller brisket and increase the smoker temperature from 250°F to 275°F or even more also helps minimize the cooking time. 

However, a common rule of thumb is an hour per pound, and to get an even more specific time frame

choose your brisket

Do You Wrap The Brisket In An Electric Smoker

It’s not any of the musts to follow smoking rules. Rather it depends on your recipe and personal preference. Central Texas-style is my favorite recipe. In this recipe, I wrap my brisket with foil paper after a certain cooking period. 

Some people also wrap it in foil, some other chefs wrap only the edges, and others leave the brisket naked in the smoker. You can try all these methods to experience different tastes.

What Is The Best Wood For Smoking Brisket

Most smoking enthusiasts like to use fruitwood chips/ chunks, such as apple or cherry, to smoke their brisket. But I don’t like the fruit flavor. 

Moreover, post oak wood is most widely used in Central Texas-style brisket smoking, making me a big fan of this wood. Yep, I’m crazy about Texas crunch, and I’m sure that you also will love its dark bark.

Sometimes I also mix other wood to get a bit different flavor, and I always go for wood chips as it gives off a better smoke. Anyway, you can have a look at this guide on wood chips if you want to know some of the most interesting facts about smoking wood.

The Last Tips

Spice rub and wood chips impart flavors but controlling temperature is the key to smoking brisket without missing the restaurant-quality smoky flavor. 

If you can’t control the heat properly, some of the briskets will remain uncooked, while some areas will be overcooked.

So, to ensure even cooking, there’s no alternative to temperature control, and a wireless digital meat thermometer will keep you informed about the internal temperature without opening the door of your smoker.

Whatsoever, the good news is that it’s very easy to control the heat in an electric smoker, and that’s why most beginners are now in a rush to know how to cook a brisket in an electric smoker. 

Another good news is that even a badly smoked brisket is damn tasty. So don’t worry, just get your hands on smoking brisket right now.

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