Smoked Pellet Grill Brisket

Brisket that's moist and tender with a smoky flavor and great bark, all achieved on your pellet grill.
pellet grill brisket

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When it comes to BBQ, brisket is king. A proper brisket has a great bark, is moist, tender, and has a great smoky flavor.

There is a lot of skepticism on whether you can smoke a great brisket on a pellet grill and I believe you absolutely can, read on and I’ll show you how. 

You’ll learn all of the secrets of trimming, seasoning, wrapping, and resting which are all important steps for getting a tasty brisket, plus I’ll show you the best tips on how to get that authentic smoked beef brisket flavor on a pellet grill!

sliced brisket on a wooden chopping board
If you stick to the basic techniques they’ll go a long way toward turning an average piece of brisket into one you’ll want to brag about to your buddies.

If you like pellet grill recipes check out our pellet grill turkey or pellet grill smoked chicken.

Choosing a brisket

You want to choose a brisket that has a lot of marbling and intramuscular fat. As the saying goes, fat equals flavor. It also means that you will get a more juicy and tender smoked brisket.

I usually opt to get at least a prime-grade brisket as the price between prime and choice is usually not too far off.

For best results, you want to get a whole packer brisket, which is made up of the lean flat cut and the fattier point cut.

Here we are using a Wagyu brisket from Snake River Farms. The marbling on their Wagyu briskets is second to none and the end results are amazing.

Snake River Farms Wagyu Brisket
Pros:
  • Welled marbled American Wagyu makes for super juicy, tender brisket
  • Choose from 9-20+lbs
  • Excellent consistency
Cons:
  • Expensive
CHeck price Read Our Review

One tip for choosing a brisket is to use the bend test. Pick up a few and try to bend them in half or grab one end and wiggle it up and down. 

If the brisket feels too stiff there probably isn’t enough fat running through the meat. You want one that has more give and is floppier as silly as that sounds. That’s the winner winner brisket dinner! 

Trimming your brisket

I’ve never met a brisket that didn’t need to be trimmed and if you disagree chances are you’re still chewing on the fat from the last one!

Brisket has a ton of fat around the meat, especially on the point side and a proper trim can make or break it. 

Here are a few reasons why you should trim your brisket: 

  1. Allows for even cooking: I think it was Aaron Franklin who coined the term “aerodynamic” which seems to be widely adopted by everyone these days. 
  2. Allows the fat to render: If you leave too much fat on a brisket it will not properly render and you will be left with too much fat at the end which is not appetizing. 
  3. Allows the rub to penetrate: Removing fat and exposing the meat will allow the rub and smoke to penetrate the meat. Otherwise, you are just seasoning mostly inedible fat. 

When I trim a brisket, I like it to be nice and cold as it’s easier to work with. Place the brisket in the freezer for an hour and then trim it as the fat gets hard and easier to cut. 

On the top side, I remove most of the fat. On the bottom, I leave about a quarter inch of fat under the bottom of the flat and trim off all the fat from the point. 

Don’t throw away the extra fat though. Make some delicious beef tallow and use it for other cooks later!

I also like to trim the thin part of the flat in the front so it doesn’t dry out. This brisket already had a really thin flat so I didn’t want to trim too much and waste a lot of meat. 

Brisket rub

There are many different ways to season a beef brisket. The purists will say you only need salt and pepper for Texas style smoked brisket, but I think that’s a little boring. 

If I’m making my own brisket rub I usually add garlic powder and onion powder. A little smoked paprika is good too.

My homemade brisket rub

For this cook, I used a Bold Beef rub from Caribeque and it came out delicious. 

Don’t be afraid to really season your brisket and make sure you coat it well on all sides. Beef brisket is a large cut and needs a heavy coating of seasoning.

Sometimes I will season a brisket the night before and really allow the rub to penetrate into the meat. This also saves on prep time the day of as you can just remove it from the fridge and then place it onto your smoker.

My #1 tip for smoking brisket on a pellet grill

Pellet grills have made barbecue accessible to a whole new generation of cooks. The one downside is that food cooked on a pellet grill can lack that deep smoke flavor many of us crave.

To get around this, I chose to smoke it overnight.

I set my Pitboss 1600 Pro pellet smoker to the smoke setting which kept the temperature between 180-190°F. 

Most guides will tell you to smoke brisket at between 225-250°F, so why the low temp?

Cooking at this super low temp allows the grill to produce as much smoke as possible. The slower cook also gives extra time for the brisket to take on smoke.

I put the brisket onto my smoker right before I went to bed around 11 pm and woke up around 6 am to check on it. It was around 150°F internal and was starting to develop a nice bark and crust. 

From there I bumped up the temperature to 250°F until the internal temperature reached 175°F and decided to wrap it in butcher paper (more on this later). 

The other good thing about smoking the brisket overnight is that you don’t feel rushed during the day. With the brisket already halfway done by the time I checked on it, I had plenty of time to make sure it was cooked and rested properly.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve underestimated the cooking time for smoked beef brisket and rushed it. Good bbq takes patience and you have to take your time. When it’s done, it’s done. Every piece of meat is different. 

If you are a big believer in spritzing, an overnight cook may not be the best option for you. 

For the first 7 hours of the cook, I didn’t spritz as I was sleeping. I did spritz it when I went to check on it for the first time and twice more before I wrapped it.

You can spritz with water, an even mix of apple juice and apple cider vinegar, or beef broth.

The brisket still came out great and the bark was amazing but the smoke ring was a little lacking which could have been due to the late spritzing. 

cooked brisket on wooden chopping board
The bark was just the way I wanted it, almost black but not burnt.

Butcher paper or foil? 

I almost always wrap my brisket with butcher paper. The butcher paper allows the brisket to breathe and not steam like aluminum foil tends to do, therefore retaining a much better bark, which for me, is one of the most important aspects of good smoked brisket.

brisket wrapped in butcher paper on the grill

Using butcher paper does make the cooking process a bit longer than if you are using aluminum foil, but the results are well worth it.

I also think wrapping with foil can change the taste of brisket. To me when I use foil it can get that pot roast taste versus the more pronounced beefy flavor you get when using butcher paper. 

How to smoke brisket on a pellet grill

1. Trim

Trim your brisket so all the hard fat is removed and the top has the meat exposed.

raw brisket on wooden chopping board

On the bottom, trim all the fat from the point and leave about a quarter inch on the flat.

bottom side of raw brisket on wooden chopping board

The Snake River Farms Wagyu brisket we used for this cook had plenty of intramuscular fat and I wasn’t too concerned about it drying out from trimming off too much.

2. Season

You need to season your brisket thoroughly on all sides.

If you need a binder, mustard or olive oil works just fine. I’ve even seen people use mayo!

I didn’t need a binder and just went ahead and seasoned with Caribeque Bold Beef rub. If you want to make your own, check out our homemade rubs. Make sure to get a nice even coat all over and pat it down.

I let it sit on my counter for 20 minutes before placing it on my smoker. 

3. Smoke

For this cook, I used my Pit Boss 1600 Pro. I used the smoke setting which holds the temperature between 180-190°F.

The newer pellet smokers have this option but if yours doesn’t just put it on the lowest setting possible. This will allow more time for the brisket to take on smoke which I believe a brisket needs for it to taste the way it’s supposed to. 

You can use pretty much any smoke wood for brisket.

If you have a second rack on your smoker, place the brisket on there with a foil pan underneath, fat cap pointing down.

raw seasoned brisket on the grill
The foil pan will help catch the fat dripping and you can add a little water to the pan to provide extra moisture in the cooking chamber.

After 7-8 hours check on your brisket and go ahead and spritz with water for the first time.

If you are happy with the bark and the internal temperature is reading 165°F or more go ahead and wrap with butcher paper.

cooked brisket on grill with temperature probe in it reading 170°F
Taking the temperature in the thickest part of the flat is the sweet spot.

Turn up the temperature of your smoker to 250°F. 

If your brisket is not ready to wrap, still proceed with spritzing and raise the temperature of your smoker to 250°F, then wrap when you are ready. 

brisket wrapped in butcher paper on the grill

Once the brisket is wrapped there is nothing to do but wait until the temperature in the thickest part of the flat reaches between 200-203°F.

To keep track of the temperature you can leave in a temperature probe and set an alarm when the brisket reaches your preferred temp or push an instant read thermometer in every so often to monitor.

When you are temping the meat, push down with your probe and see how it feels. It should glide through with little resistance. 

4. Rest

When your brisket is done, leave it wrapped in butcher paper, then wrap it in an old towel. Place the wrapped brisket into a cooler with the lid closed. This is known as the faux cambro method.

Leave it in a cooler for at least one hour, two hours is ideal and you can even go up to six.

brisket wrapped in a towel
You could even rest for up to 6 hours if needed. 

Resting is one of the most crucial elements in cooking brisket.

That’s why I never panic if I finish a brisket a little earlier than I was planning to because that just means I have more time to rest it. 

Resting allows the meat to relax and slowly absorb the juices back into the center.

If you don’t have a cooler or cambro, you can set your oven to the lowest temperature (preferably around 170°F) and leave it in there until you are ready to slice into it. I’ve also heard of people wrapping with plastic wrap and resting it that way, but that’s a technique I have yet to try. 

5. Slice and serve

For slicing brisket, see our method on the best way and the knife we think is the best.

The flat and point will need to be cut at different angles for the best results. You can also shred some of the point for sandwiches. 

sliced brisket on chopping board

For the traditional Texas-look, serve the brisket sliced on a sheet of pink butcher paper with some slices of white bread and a handful of pickles.

Other brisket recipes

Pellet grill smoked brisket recipe

pellet grill brisket

Smoked Pellet Grill Brisket

Moist and tender brisket with a smoky flavor and great bark, all achieved on your pellet grill.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 hours
Total Time: 15 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 792kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger

Ingredients

  • 11 lb full packer brisket
  • 4 tbsp beef rub You can use our recipe or a store bought rub

Instructions

  • Trim the brisket making sure to get rid of any of the hard fat. Remove most of the fat from the top side and on the fat side. Trim the fat from the point and leave a quarter inch under the flat.
  • Season your brisket on all sides liberally with rub.
  • Set your smoker to 180-190°F.
  • Put your brisket in the smoker with the fat cap pointing down. Place a foil pan underneath on the rack below, with a little water, to create moisture and to catch the drippings. Leave to smoke for 7-8 hours.
  • When the temperature of the brisket reaches an internal temperature of around 165°F and you are happy with the bark, wrap it in butcher paper, and raise the temperature of the smoker to 250°F and continue smoking.
  • When the thickest part of the flat is probe tender around 200-203°F remove the brisket from the smoker.
  • Wrap the brisket in an old towel and rest in a cooler for at least 1 or up to 6 hours before carving.

Nutrition

Calories: 792kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 104g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 309mg | Sodium: 396mg | Potassium: 1687mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 156IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 12mg
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