This smoked beef brisket recipe is perfect for a crowd. It will also deliver bragging rights to you for best smoked brisket!
Mention the word barbecue to an American and you are almost guaranteed to receive an opinion on whose is the best style and from which part of the country it hails from. But with this easy barbecue brisket recipe you can make your own at home.
Although the rest of the world associates the word barbecue as the implement you cook on, here in the US it is used to describe food that is slow-cooked. Barbecue is often cooked using some smoke and then eaten with an accompanying, sweetish sauce.
Think of pork ribs, as well as pork shoulder or Boston butt for pulled pork. And then there is slow smoked beef brisket. Throughout the United States there is a passion associated with barbecue that sees no end to determining whose is the best version! This easy smoked beef brisket recipe, which you can cook in the oven or in a smoker, is sure to impress family and friends.
Today on Compass & Fork we feature an easy smoked beef brisket recipe, slow-cooked in the smoker to impart great flavors and taste. A cheaper cut of meat, brisket is just a perfect cut suited to cooking long and slow. When pre-marinated with a brisket rub recipe for smoking and then slow-cooked over smoke for many hours, it is the perfect cut of meat for feeding a crowd.
Fresh from our road trip to the American south, we delve into the history of barbecue. Where did it start and how did it spread around the country?
The Passion of Barbecue in the American South
I make no secret of the fact I love delving into the history of food. In that regard I found our trip to the American south incredibly interesting as to why the diet is so different there compared to the American north.
Without getting into too much detail, it is true that after the Civil War, people in the south were desperately short of money, food, everything really. People were forced to eat cheap and easily available food to even survive. Coupled with this the fact many, now freed African Americans were self-made cooks on plantations, they became the chefs of the South. The food they cooked therefore proliferated throughout the South.
Think shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy and vegetables like okra and collard greens. Rice and corn-based foods became common. It wasn’t just the ingredients that were different. It was also the cooking methods, such as the use of frying, that was introduced by African American migration throughout the South. You can learn more about Low Country Cuisine here.
The History of Barbecue
It was in this environment that barbecue developed. There is little doubt some of the spices used in the preparation of early barbecue was because of African American migration. But the cooking method for barbecue was most likely a result of the Native American practice of cooking slowly over a smoking fire over the course of a day.
As African American cooks and chefs started to move throughout the rapidly growing United States, their barbecue traveled with them allowing local variations to develop. Today, per Time Magazine, there are 4 major barbecue styles:
- Memphis. Pulled pork doused in a sweet, tomato-based sauce is a favorite.
- North Carolina. Whole hog with a vinegar-based sauce.
- Kansas City. Pork ribs cooked with a dry rub.
- Texas. Pulled pork in the east and slow smoked brisket in the west.
Our smoked beef brisket recipe might follow the Texas method of cooking but the spicing for the dry rub is more what you would find in North Carolina. So, in that regard our smoked beef brisket recipe is a hybrid version featuring the best of both worlds.
The bottom line is that any of these methods are brilliant. Just pick one and go with it!
A Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe
Looking to feed a big crowd?
The brisket is first prepared by removing any excess fat and then scoring it to allow the brisket rub recipe for smoking to permeate the meat for a good 24 hours. We are basically using a beef brisket rub for smoking as a dry marinade to deeply impart flavor into the brisket.
How to Cook Smoked Brisket
For a seven pound piece of brisket, I like to allow for about 1 hour cooking time per pound at 220 degrees Fahrenheit (or 105 degrees Celsius).
Place the brisket, uncovered, straight into the smoker for the first half of cooking, basting every hour.
For the second half of cooking, cover the smoked brisket with foil and place back in the smoker to complete the cooking. T
Then remove my slow smoked brisket from the smoker and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. While the meat rests prepare any fixings to accompany the brisket. The brisket is juicier as the juices develop as a result of the meat being rested.
This might sound like a lot of work but most of it is passive. And the results make it worthwhile. Your family and friends will be very happy.
And, as I said at the outset, this smoked beef brisket recipe might just give you bragging rights for best barbecue amongst your family and friends. So, this smoked beef brisket recipe really is an easy barbecue brisket to make at home. As for accompaniments, you can’t go wrong with coleslaw and corn.
If you are cooking in the oven, follow the same directions and temperatures listed, but maybe add a small amount of liquid smoke to impart that smoky flavor.
Wondering what are the best wood chips to use to smoke beef? Hickory, mesquite or oak wood chips are perfect for smoking beef.
Looking for something else to cook on the smoker? How about Smoked Turkey or Carolina Style Ribs?
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- Dry Rub
- 7 lb beef, brisket trimmed of excess fat
- 1/4 cup salt, ground sea or kosher salt
- 3 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp black pepper, ground
- 1 tsp white pepper, ground
- Basting Sauce
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup tamari (soy) sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- The day before, trim any excess fat from the beef brisket so there is no more than a half inch depth of fat. Score the remaining fat using a diamond shape so the scoring cris-crosses the brisket.
- Place all dry rub ingredients in a bowl. Combine well. Massage the dry rub into the scoring making sure you evenly apply the rub over the whole brisket. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- One hour before cooking, remove the brisket from the refrigerator. Pre-heat the smoker (following the manufacturer's instructions) to approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 105 Celsius. Prepare the basting sauce.
- Place the beef brisket in the smoker and cook between 200 and 220 Fahrenheit for 4 hours basting with the pre-prepared basting sauce every hour. Remove the brisket and cover with foil. Place the covered brisket back in the smoker an continue to cook for a further 3 hours.
- Remove the beef brisket from the smoker and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce (optional).
You said “cover in foil” did you cover the top, or wrap it in foil?
That’s a good question Sherry. I put the cooked brisket in a casserole dish and cover the sides and top with the foil in a semi tight fashion. I don’t fully wrap it. So the foil is between the edge of the casserole dish and the brisket on the sides. That way the casserole dish catches all the juices.
Not to be a pick… but you got your styles mixed up. Memphis is known for the dry rub not KC. KC has the typical thick tomato/molasses style sauce.
I certainly don’t profess to be an expert on American BBQ styles but FYI, I am quoting Time Magazine from last year saying dry rub was a Kansas City favorite. As I said at the start of the article this topic does generate a lot of differing opinions.
Andrea @ Cooking with Mamma C
This looks so good, and I appreciate the background on BBQ! I need to try all the variations. 🙂
It is hard life having to try all the different BBQ in the US. I would love to try them all.
Your brisket looks delicious! And so easy to make! My father in law will love this for a special dinner
Thanks Cindy. I do love how the slow cooking with brisket – a perfect way to cook it.
Debi at Life Currents
My husband loves brisket. This is a total keeper recipe! I’ll be sharing it with him. Thanks!
It is funny how appealing this is to men! What is it about BBQ and men? It must be the fact you cook over smoke and fire that is so appealing to our ancestral practices.
Kavey at Kavey Eats
I love the American passion for good barbeque. Here’s it’s more of excuse to get outside when it’s not raining and throw any old thing on the barbeque till it’s burnt on the outside and raw in the centre! This brisket recipe looks fab!
Well the good news is that BBQ brisket is cooked for so long (and low) that there is almost no chance of it being under-cooked.
This is a great, informative post and brisket is one of my favorites. I love the flavors of the rub and the basting sauce.
The rub is the key! And then the basting to keep it all nice and moist.