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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Annabelle is an experienced food writer and editor. She focuses on common sense, easy to replicate recipes formulated to help keep things fresh and exciting while fitting into her day to day life as a wife and mother.
Ask any BBQ lover, and they’ll tell you that smoked brisket is one of the best-tasting smoked meats around.
As brisket tends to be a more expensive cut than other smoked meats, it can be a little intimidating to smoke for the first time, especially for those people just getting into the world of BBQ-ing.
The good news is, by following a few simple steps and carefully selecting the brisket you use, you can learn how to smoke a great-tasting brisket in your electric smoker.
Here, you’ll find an in-depth look at how you can impress your friends and family with a well-seasoned and juicy cut of smoked meat.
Choose Your Brisket
Before learning how to smoke a brisket in an electric smoker, you must make sure you’re selecting a high-quality piece of meat. You should choose a brisket that is as tender as possible.
To do this, take the piece of brisket you’re looking to buy and balance it across your hands. The more the brisket bends, the more connective tissue it has, a telltale sign of a quality piece of meat. So try to choose the piece of brisket that bends the most.
It’s important to consider the size of your electric smoker before you purchase a piece of meat. A piece of brisket that’s 10 lbs. or less will be fine for most smokers.
You’ll also want to look out for a piece of brisket that has a thick layer of fat surrounding the meat. The fat slowly melts over the meat as it cooks and infuses it with moisture and natural flavor.
Brisket has two muscles. There’s the point muscle, also called the deckle, which is at the end of the brisket. This muscle contains more fat than the flat cut, which takes up most of the brisket and is composed of long, sinewy muscle fibers. Most people cook the flat cut when smoking brisket, but you can instead smoke the deckle muscle. You won’t need to cook this section for as long, and the result will be especially tender and flavorful. If you can’t decide between either muscle, cook the whole cut.
Prepare and Trim Your Brisket
Once you’ve selected your cut of meat, it’s time to prepare your brisket for smoking.
Take your piece of meat and trim the surrounding fat. Leave a thin layer of fat coating the brisket’s flat cut so that the meat remains tender, moist, and juicy throughout the smoking process.
When trimming the cut, remember to remove the fat cap first. Most of this fat will surround the point section of the meat. If you’re planning on smoking the whole brisket, make sure you also remove the chunky fat layer’s edges that lie between the flat and point cuts.
Next, apply a dry rub to your brisket. You can put a variety of seasonings in this rub, but make sure you’re picking a mixture that enhances the brisket’s overall flavor without overpowering it. Salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic all complement the umami taste of the smoked meat.
Make sure you keep your raw brisket at room temperature for up to an hour before putting it on the grill. Doing this will allow the meat to cook more evenly.
1. Set Up Your Electric Smoker
Once you’ve prepared your meat, set up and preheat your electric smoker. When you add wood chips to the mix, make sure you’re using an option that complements the flavors of your brisket.
Mesquite hardwood has spicy notes that elevate the taste of Texas-style brisket, while oak produces a clean, thick smoke that infuses your cut with a distinctive, woody flavor. Hickory wood has tinges of sweetness that blend well with the beefy taste of a well-smoked brisket.
Preheat your electric smoker so that it reaches a temperature of 225°F, then keep it at this temperature for 15-20 minutes before you start smoking your meat.
2. Smoke Your Brisket
When learning how to smoke a brisket in an electric smoker, put your trimmed cut on your grill, with the fatty side facing up. When the meat cooks, the fat will melt and flow downward, passing through the center of the cut and imbuing the whole brisket with rich, juicy flavors.
Make sure your cut is to the side of the rack so that the electric element doesn’t directly heat your meat. This removes moisture from the cut, dehydrating it. You should also fill a water tray and place it next to the heating element so that you’re keeping the brisket juicy and tender throughout the smoking process. Place a drip tray or pan directly underneath your meat to catch the run-off from fats and oils.
Try to use a wireless thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of your meat. This saves you from having to open up the smoker’s lid to check the brisket’s temperature manually, letting in cold air.
Leave your cut to cook for 3 hours, then open the lid and baste or spritz the meat with stock, water, butter, or apple juice to infuse it with more moisture. Repeat this every 30 minutes for another 5 hours. Wrap the brisket in butcher paper and smoke for another 4-6 hours until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 200°.
3. Leave the Meat to Rest
When the brisket reaches 200°F, take the cut out of the smoker and put it on your kitchen counter to rest for between 10-15 minutes. This time allows the brisket’s fats and juices to settle back down into the meat.
4. Carve the Brisket Against the Grain
Always cut against the grain. This means that you should look at your brisket and see which way the muscle fibers are running before cutting across these fibers rather than alongside them. Bear in mind that the brisket consists of two cuts so that the fibers might run different ways in each muscle. We’ve made a review of great knives for slicing briskets that will help you do the job.
Interested on trying new recipes? Here is our guide for smoking Boston butt in a electric smoker.