Texas is known for barbecue brisket, which is basically a big hunk of meat slathered in salt and pepper and cooked low and slow in a smoker for up to 10 hours. To get a perfect crust on a brisket, you’ll need a wood fire kept at 250-275 degrees F and you’ll need to tend it every half hour. This brisket recipe is adapted from one created by Aaron Franklin, owner of Austin’s famous Franklin Barbecue. It includes all the tips you need to cook a delicious Texas-style brisket.
Franklin uses un-waxed pink butcher paper to wrap his meat after six hours, but aluminum foil works almost as well.
- One 12- to 14-pound brisket, trimmed (ask the butcher to trim the brisket for you if you're not sure how)
- 1/2 Cup brisket rub (see below)
- Shaker bottle (optional)
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Aluminum foil
- Meat thermometer
- Seasoned firewood chunks (oak, hickory, pecan or apple) or charcoal with chimney
For the rub:
- 1/4 Cup Morton brand kosher salt (or any kosher salt)
- 1/4 Cup 16-mesh black pepper
One hour before you want to get the brisket into the smoker, apply the rub to the brisket. Shake the seasoning evenly across the entire surface of the meat. Even distribution is important. Allow brisket to get to warm temperature.
Light a wood fire or put coal in a chimney about a half hour before you want to start the meat. Allow temps to reach 250 degrees F. You’ll need to keep it between 250 and 275 degrees F throughout the process. When the smoke is gray (not black), place the brisket on the grill, fat side up.
Fill a water pan and place it in the smoker. The brisket needs the steam so it won’t dry out.
Keep the lid closed for the first 3 1/2 hours. Resist opening it. After 3 1/2 hours, check the meat every half hour. If the brisket seems dry, spritz the meat with water once or twice an hour.
After the 5-hour mark, watch for a dark, almost mahogany, crust to form. Check the internal temps with a meat thermometer. When it reaches 160-170 degrees F, it’s time to wrap it. Use towels to pull out the brisket. You’ll need a long sheet of aluminum foil to wrap it tightly. Put the wrapped brisket back in the smoker or, if you want less of a hassle, you can put it in an oven set at 275 degrees F. The smoking part of the process is over, now you just need to maintain heat.
Two hours after you put the brisket back in, feel the brisket to determine if it’s tender. A tender brisket should feel soft and pliable to the touch. Internal temps should reach 200 degrees F. Once done, pull the brisket out and let it rest fully wrapped until the internal temperature is 140–145 degrees F (about 1–2 hours).
Slice it with a serrated knife against the grain, never with the grain.
For the rub:
Every good brisket needs a rub. Franklin recommends Morton brand kosher salt and black pepper.
If you want to kick it up a notch, you can add in granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika and/or seasoning salt. If you do opt for seasoning salt, remove an equal amount of salt from your rub.
Combine your rub and mix well. For best results, put it in a shaker bottle, which will help with even distribution.