What’s the Best Way to Smoke a Brisket with a Homemade Texas-Style Rub?

If you’re a fan of barbecue, you already know that brisket is the crown jewel. It’s a challenge to perfect, but when you do, the reward is a flavorful, juicy cut of beef that has been slow-cooked to perfection. It’s the epitome of Texas barbecue – a full-flavored cut of beef, heavily smoked, and coated with a tasty rub that enhances the meat’s natural flavors. Today, you will be learning how to smoke a brisket using a homemade Texas-style rub.

Choosing the Perfect Brisket

Before you even fire up your smoker, the first step in achieving an exceptional brisket is selecting the right cut of meat. You want to look for a full packer brisket. This cut includes both the flat and the point. The flat is the leaner part of the brisket and the point has more marbling and fat, which imparts more flavor during the cooking process.

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When selecting your brisket, pay attention to the fat cap. A good brisket will have a thick, white fat cap that is evenly distributed across the meat. This cap will slowly render out during the cooking process, keeping the brisket moist and flavorful. Look for a piece that is as uniform in thickness as possible, as this will allow for even cooking.

Preparing Your Homemade Texas-style Rub

Now that you’ve selected the perfect brisket, it’s time to prepare your Texas-style rub. This rub is a simple blend of spices that will enhance the natural flavors of the beef, creating a beautiful, flavorful crust once smoked.

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A traditional Texas rub consists of equal parts kosher salt and black pepper. For a bit of extra flavor, you can include additional ingredients like garlic powder and chili powder. But remember, the star of the show is the brisket. The rub’s job is to compliment the beef, not overpower it.

To apply the rub, make sure your brisket is dry. Then, liberally apply the rub all over the brisket, making sure to get into every nook and cranny. The brisket can then be wrapped in plastic and left in the fridge overnight to allow the rub to penetrate deeply into the meat.

Setting Up Your Smoker

When it comes to smoking a brisket, maintaining a consistent temperature is essential. You want to aim for a temperature of 225°F (107°C). This low and slow method of cooking allows the collagen in the brisket to break down, resulting in a tender, juicy cut of beef.

Fill your smoker with a good quality hardwood. In Texas, post oak is traditionally used, but hickory or pecan will also give you a lovely, smoked flavor. Ensure the wood is well soaked in water first to create plenty of smoke.

Cooking Your Brisket

On the day of your cook, remove your brisket from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. This should take around an hour. This ensures that your brisket will cook evenly.

Place your brisket in the smoker, fat side up, and close the lid. This way, as the fat renders, it will drip down and baste the meat, adding extra moisture and flavor.

Remember, brisket is not a quick cook. Depending on the size of your brisket, you could be looking at anywhere from 8 to 12 hours of cooking time. Be patient and resist the urge to constantly check on your brisket. Every time you open the smoker, you lose heat and smoke, which can significantly prolong the cooking process.

Knowing When Your Brisket is Done

Knowing when your brisket is done can be a bit tricky. Don’t rely on time alone; instead, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the brisket. You’re aiming for an internal temperature of 195°F to 203°F (90°C to 95°C).

But temperature isn’t the only indicator of a done brisket. You’ll also want to check the tenderness. The point end of the brisket should feel soft and jiggly. If you insert a probe into the flat end, it should go in and out smoothly, like a hot knife through butter.

Remember, smoking a brisket is a labor of love. It takes time, patience, and a little bit of practice. But once you’ve mastered it, the result will be a beautifully smoked, tender, and juicy brisket that’s sure to impress at your next barbecue.

Wrapping Your Brisket in Butcher Paper

After your brisket has been smoking for several hours, you’ll notice it has achieved a beautiful, dark bark. This is the sign that it’s time to wrap your smoked brisket in butcher paper. Wrapping the brisket helps to keep it moist and tender while continuing to cook. It also prevents the brisket from absorbing too much smoke, which can result in a bitter taste.

To wrap your brisket, you’ll need enough butcher paper to completely encase the meat. Spread out the paper on a flat surface, and place the brisket in the center, fat side up. Fold the paper over the brisket, tucking in the ends to create a neat package. You want it to be wrapped tight enough to keep in the juices, but not so tight that it tears the paper.

Once wrapped, return the brisket to the smoker and continue to cook until it reaches the desired internal temperature. At this point, the butcher paper will have turned a deep, rich brown, soaked with the juices from the brisket.

But why butcher paper rather than aluminum foil? Unlike foil, butcher paper is breathable. This allows the steam to escape, preventing the brisket from stewing in its own juices. This helps to maintain the integrity of the bark while still keeping the meat moist.

Resting Your Brisket

Now that your brisket has reached the perfect internal temperature, it’s time for one of the most crucial steps in the brisket recipe – the rest. Resisting the urge to slice into your beautiful, smoked brisket straight away is a challenge, but it’s absolutely essential for a juicy, tender result.

Remove the brisket from the smoker and leave it wrapped in the butcher paper. Place it on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and let it rest for at least one hour. During this time, the brisket continues to cook slightly, and the juices redistribute throughout the meat. This ensures every bite is as juicy and flavorful as possible.

For the best results, rest your brisket in a cooler. The insulated environment helps to maintain the brisket’s temperature while it rests. Simply place the wrapped brisket in the cooler, close the lid, and leave it undisturbed for at least an hour, although some prefer to let it rest for up to 4 hours.


Mastering the perfect Texas-style smoked brisket is no small feat. It takes time, patience and practice. But with the right cut of beef, a simple dry rub, and a dedication to low and slow cooking, you can achieve a tender, juicy, and flavor-packed brisket that would make any Texas barbecue enthusiast proud.

Don’t forget – the keys to a great brisket are selecting a high-quality piece of meat, applying a flavorful Texas rub, maintaining a consistent temperature in your smoker, using high-quality wood for smoke, wrapping your brisket in butcher paper, and allowing it to rest properly before serving.

So light up your smoker, prepare your brisket with love, and get ready to enjoy a taste of authentic Texas barbecue. Your beautifully smoked brisket is sure to be the star of any gathering, bringing a touch of Texas to your own backyard.