The Ultimate Guide to Brisket

The Ultimate Guide to Brisket

A juicy brisket is one dish that is so versatile and delicious that no other cut of meat can compare. Beef brisket can be cooked fast for a tender and sliceable piece of meat, or cooked low and slow for fork tender pulled brisket. We will walk you through what brisket is, picking the perfect beef brisket, brining or not brining, and how to cook brisket. 


Read on for: 

1. What is Brisket?
2. How to Pick the Perfect Beef Brisket
3. How to Cook a Brisket 
3. How to Smoke a Brisket 
4. How to Cook Brisket in the Oven
5. How to Cook Brisket in a Slow Cooker
6. So why Brisket? How should I serve it?


What is Brisket?

Beef Brisket 

Beef brisket is a cut of meat from the chest of the animal. The thick part of the beef brisket is called the, "point" and the thinner part is called the, "flat". The point often has more marbled fat and the thinner portion is more lean. Beef brisket is said to be a tough cut of meat, so preparation and cooking is key to getting a juicy and moist result. 

How to pick the perfect Beef Brisket  

At the market and need to pick the best-looking brisket?  
When at the market, find a brisket with the most uniform fat. Look at the available cuts and check the white fat on one side of the meat. The fat layer should be uniform across the whole brisket. Stay away from a fat layer that tapers off to one end. This could result in uneven cooking and a dry end result. For a better value choose a brisket with a fat layer about ¼ to 1 inch thick. This helps to trap moisture and keep the brisket as moist as possible. Too much fat can raise the price of your brisket and hinder the ability of marinade or rub to penetrate the meat.  

Local Butcher 


If you want to pick the best cut, your local butcher is the perfect person to ask. When visiting your local butcher, you are likely to find a wider meat selection than in most supermarkets. Many of the cuts will have been made in-house, making for a fresher cut of meat. Your local butcher is can also help you choose the best brisket or other cut of meat because they are knowledgeable and can help answer any questions you have.  

How to Cook Brisket   

To Brine or not to Brine?   

Should you brine your brisket before cooking? If so, should it be a wet brine or dry brine? A wet brine is when meat is soaked in seasoned salted water for a period before cooking (preferably overnight) so that the meat can absorb the water and flavors before cooking. You can add and mix all sorts of seasonings and flavors in the brine.  
A dry brine seasons meat just like a wet brine, but it doesn't use liquid. Instead, a dry brine involves rubbing the salt and seasonings directly onto the meat followed by a rest in the refrigerator for a period (preferably overnight) before cooking.  

Brining is up for debate in many smoking and cooking communities. Some argue that it has little effect on the outcome of the meat, while others swear that brining is the reason their meat comes out perfectly, regardless of cooking in a drum smoker, barrel grill, oven, or slow cooker.
If cooking in a drum smoker or barrel grill like the Pit Barrel®, the environment created inside is humid so it is not necessary to brine your brisket to achieve amazing results. However, it will most likely enhance the flavor as you are able to include seasonings that the brisket will absorb overnight. The salt dissolves some muscle proteins, which will lead to the meat contracting less during the cook and results in a more tender brisket. So if you want to brine, go for it! But don’t worry if you don’t have time, the brisket always comes out amazing nonetheless.

Cooking and Internal Temperature   

Brisket can be cooked low and slow for a shredded beef style dish, or hot and fast for juicy sliced beef.  
Hot and fast brisket is cooked approximately 3-4 hours, or until the center of the thickest part of the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160-170º. Cooking at a temperature of around 300 degrees creates restaurant quality juicy brisket perfect for slicing.  

Low and slow brisket is cooked for approximately 8-9 hours, or until the center of the thickest part of the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160-170º. Cooked ar around 225 degrees, this method created a shreddable beef brisket perfect for many different kinds of meals like brisket sandwiches or even added to chili.   

How to Smoke Brisket

Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe

Brisket is not just an American staple but a BBQ goal to achieve perfection of the tender, juicy bend. This is a fool-proof recipe that will lead to restaurant-quality results.  
  • 1-2 16 lb. beef brisket(s), full packet 
  • Olive oil 
  • Pit Barrel Beef & Game Rub 
  • ½ cup beef broth/consommé, beer, water, or other wrapping juice 
    1. Light your Pit Barrel® according to the instructions, remove the brisket from the package, rinse gently with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. 
    2. Using the sharp Ultimate Chef’s Knife, trim all but ⅛ – ¼” of the hard white fat from all sides of the brisket. Carve out most of the two large nuggets of fat on the sides, being careful not to separate the two muscle groups (the point and flat). Finally, slice off about ½” of each of the long edges to remove any grey meat. Tip: Cut off one corner of the thin end of the flat, across the grain, to serve as a slicing reference. 
    3. Lightly coat all sides of the brisket with olive oil, followed by a liberal coat of the Beef & Game Rub.  Insert one hook into the center of the thick pointed end of the brisket, leaving enough of the rod (U-shaped) end of the hook exposed to allow it to be hung on the rod, about 3 inches down. Hook the rod end of a second hook over the pointed end of the first, pull to apply tension, then insert the second hook through the meat until secure. 
    4. Hang the brisket from the rods in the center of the barrel, and secure the lid. Cook approximately 3-4 hours, or until the center of the thickest part of the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160-170º. 
    5. Remove the brisket from the Pit Barrel® to a large platter or sheet pan, remove the hooks, and wrap it fat-side-down in a double layer of heavy-duty foil, adding the broth/consommé, beer, water, or other wrapping juice before sealing the foil. Tip: Wrap it as tightly as you can without piercing the foil. 
    6. Remove the rods from the Pit Barrel®, install the grill grate, and put the wrapped brisket on the grate with the sealed/crimp of the foil facing up. Re-insert the Pit Barrel® rods (to control the ventilation), secure the lid, and continue cooking the brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of 200º, for about 1-2 hours. 
    7. Remove the brisket from the cooker, and let rest for at least an hour either tented with foil or wrapped in a towel and placed in a cooler (without ice).  Tip: You can hold a cooked brisket in a cooler for up to 6 hours. The longer you hold it, the better the results. 
    8. Remove the brisket from the foil, reserving the foil liquid, and separate the point from the flat by slicing through the layer of fat between them. Remove any excess fat from each part of the brisket. Slice the flat portion across the grain to ¼”, then cut the point into cubes. Then drizzle with some of the reserved foil liquid. Sprinkle the cut meat lightly with Beef & Game Pit Rub

    How to Cook Brisket in the Oven

    Baked Beef Brisket Recipe 



    1. If your brisket has a layer of fat, trim down to 1/4 of an inch. Add your rub to coat all sides of your brisket, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for overnight or about 8 hours. 
    2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Add the brisket to a roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil or a lid, bake for about 3 hours. 
    3. Take the brisket from the oven, turn it over, and baste with your prefered cooking liquid. Place back into the roasting pan and continue cooking for about 2 hours, or until the brisket if fork tender. 
    4. Take brisket out of the oven and place on a cutting board. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing against the grain and serving. 

    Slow Cooker Brisket Recipe

    Shredded Beef Brisket Recipe 

    Slow cooked beef brisket is juicy, delicious and perfect for a pulled briskets sandwich. Cooked in it’s own flavorful sauce, this recipe is sure to impress.  
    • 3 lbs beef brisket  
    • 1 yellow onion, sliced thin 
    • 4 cloves garlic 
    • 3 tablespoon olive oil  
    • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce  
    • 3 tablespoons Dijon or stone-ground mustard  
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar  
    • 1/3 cup ketchup  
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder  
    • Salt and pepper to taste    
    1. Season your beef brisket with salt and pepper. You can also add any of your favorite rubs for additional flavor.  
    2. Heat a medium cast-iron skillet with olive oil. Once the oil is smoking, brown the brisket until golden brown on all sides.  
    3. Add the browned brisket to a slow cooker with the fat size facing up.  
    4. Lower the heat of the cast iron skillet to medium low, add olive oil if necessary, and sauté the onions and garlic until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add to the slow cooker with the browned brisket.  
    5. In a medium bowl, stir together the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, ketchup and chili powder until combined. Add the sauce to the slow cooker.  
    6. Cover and cook on low heat for about 9 hours, or until the brisket easily pulls apart with a fork.  
    7. Add the brisket to a cutting board and slice the fat from the top. Shred the brisket with two forks. Add back to the slow cooker and cook for an additional hour.   
    8. To serve, add to hot buns with crisp coleslaw or over mashed potatoes.  

    So why Brisket? How should I serve it?

    Simply because it's the King of BBQ. Brisket is the perfect cut of meat for many different meals. When picking a brisket at the market or your local butcher, be sure to choose one with a uniform layer of fat for the best results. Once you choose whether to brine or not to brine, brisket is so versatile that it can be cooked in a barrel smoker, oven, or slow cooker for delicious results. It can be cooked hot and fast or low and slow to get different textures for whatever application you want to use it for.
    Best of all, serving your beef brisket is as easy as it was to make it. Add pulled beef brisket to a hearty chili or over creamy mashed potatoes, or slice hot and fast brisket for a brisket and cornbread platter or brisket sliders. We hope this guide helps you fall in love with brisket and its many uses!