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Original poster
Aug 3, 2006
Hello everyone,

Great site! I could spend hours reading it, but I must dive right in with a couple of questions.

I use a standard horizontal smoker.

I have now smoked 4 briskets, all were good, but I don't think I am there yet. They all seemed a bit dry. I start the fire with standard charcoal, then when they turn ash gray, add the wood chunks. I keep the temp around 200 degrees and cook for 1 1/2 hours per pound, just like I have read.

Now the questions. I use the wood chunks and regular oak wood exclusively and find that I have to regulate the temp every 30 minutes or so. I read that alot of folks can put in the wood and leave it alone for a while. If so, how do you do that? I also read that some use lump charcoal. If so, do you add it to the fire while the brisket is on? Won't that ruin the meat?

The last question is how do the experts keep the brisket from getting too dry? Do you wrap it 5 hours or so into the cooking? I have read and heard alot about it. I would appreciate any advice.

Thanks in advance for anyone that is willing to give me some advice.

All the best,

Rob Davis
Welcome to SMF, Rob-nice to have you here.

First off let's get the temp up a bit on your smoker. 225-235 degrees will be good. Have you tried mopping/spraying your briskets while they smoke? Three hours into the smoke begin spraying the meat with your choice of liquid (some use fruit juices). Bring your internal temp upto 170 degrees and wrap in some heavy duty aluminum foil. Put the brisket back into the smoker and bring the internal temp upto 190 degrees. Place the wrapped brisket in an aluminum pan or glass baking dish and place the whole thing in a blanket lined insulated cooler, cover with a couple more blankets and let it rest for a couple of hours before slicing.
As for the 1 1/2 hours per pound-use it as a guideline and not as a rule. As they say in these here parts, "it will get done when it's done"!
Welcome Rob.

As to your heat questions, You need to be more specific on the type of smoker you are using. Make and model will help us to pinpoint the exact type you are working with. If you use some type of pre burn chamber you can add charcoal all you want, the bad smoke has already burned off. If not, then add in smaller doses.

Glad you are enjoying the smoking of your meat, now grab a cold one and jump right on in. Give us more details, and we can be more specific. Also did you do any modifications to your smoker?
Hey guys,

Thanks for the responses. I am using a Char Broil that I bought at Lowes. It has the fire box offset. The black ones you see at Home Depot and Lowes, pretty standard I guess.

I find that using the wood chunks and hickory logs works good for me, but like I mentioned earlier, I have to constantly check the temperature. I have read where some can actually leave the smoker alone for hours at a time. Any truth to that? Maybe not with my smoker, I just don't know. Thats why I asked about the lump charcoal. I never thought you could put charcoal in the fire box while the meat was in the smoker. I was led to believe that would ruin the taste of the meat.

I get the brisket to 170-180 degrees no problem. My problem is although all of them were good, and my family loved them, I just thought they were too dry. I have had great brisket, and it wasn't dry like mine. I do not mop the brisket, but am starting to think that is the answer. The only problem with that, is that I love the bark, and don't want to lose it.

Sorry for the long post and the novice questions, but thanks again for your interest.

I always use something with either a natural sugar, or added brown sugar to mop. I am doing a brisket this weekend, and plan to spray it down every hour or so, with an Apple juice/brandy mix.

I use a vertical, but give it some time, I know the horizontal smokers will be here before the end of the day. One of the mods that I considered even for my WSM is a Charcoal basket. Not sure if it works with your mostly wood burns.
Hey Rob,

I have a question for you. You say you have to adjust your temp every half hour or so. Do you have to increase it or decrease the temp?

As far as drying out goes, If you will wrap your brisket as Dutch describes and let it rest for about an hour or longer if possible, the juices will redistribute in the meat and it will be very tender and juicy. When you open the foil be careful, as it usually is very steamy and full of juice.
Reserve this juice and pour it back over the meat when you slice it up.
Hey Rodger,

Thanks for the reply. I guess its not really every 30 minutes, but I have read that some people can leave the smoker alone for a couple of hours and I have never been able to do that.

Most of the time I adjust is because its too hot. This is usually a result of me getting it too cool and having to add wood. In retrospect it seems I play catch-up all the time with the temperature. I know I need to get better at that.

I will work at wrapping the brisket at 170 and also mopping, but my question to you is don't you lose the good bark if you mop all the time?

Thanks again,

I don't mop briskets or butts.

I personally have never seen the need to. I rub them with what I want on it and let it go. It seems to me that a lot of opening and closing the smoker to squirt some cold liquid on the meat just slows down the cooking. If you notice on my last smoke

I put my meat in and went to bed and didn't open the smoker up for 10 hours. Now my smoker doesn't require me to keep close tabs on it to keep the temps steady, but I personally think the less you mess around with things, the better off you are.
howdy smokeisgood.

good to finaly have you hear.

the problem is your smoker. i use the same one and i have the same problem. if its hot enough outside i can go maybe 3-4 hours with out tending my fire. but generaly i have to maintain my fire every hour or so. i have learned to to well with mine but i do have to have time to watch it. i have done well with brisket and making pulled pork, which are both long smokes.

the problem is the metal on our smoker is too thin to maintain heat. on everyone elses, the metal is around 1/4" thick +/- so it holds the heat in and lets it go slowly to maintain a good temp. i talked to a guy a few weeks back and he gets his fire going and comes back 14 hours later to get his brisket off. lucky s.o.b.

i have been doing noting more then a pork loin or something sim. because of the work involved with maintaining the fire. i try and also make sure it fairly warm out to make it easier on me, say 75 and warmer.

dont get me wrong i love my smoker but i wanted to make sure i was going to be into smoking before i invested 2k into a good smoker. but knowing what i know now i can probably find a good one for less then that. i just have to get something i dont need and hope to grow into it.

the only thing i can imagine on your brisket is your getting trimed brisket or your over cooking it. dont get me wrong, the skinny end is usually a little dry but not to the point like its like over cooked chicken breast.

email me with any questions at any time. i will give you my email accout to get me direct.
smokeisgood, your offset isn't designed for extended unattended burns. Adding fuel every 30-60 mins is just the nature of that kind of beast.

Wrapping-you can wrap by time (not the best idea) or temp (this is ok) but I've had the best results by wrapping when the bark looks like I want it to (is the color I want). The bark will still continue to darken a little, but not nealy as much as it will unwrapped.

Dry-Moisture is a subjective thing. Keep in mind that brisket has to be cooked waaayyyy past what would be considered well done for most other cuts of beef to get it tender. Anything cooked to that degree just isn't going to be prime rib juicy. Can good tender brisket be moist, absolutely, is it ever going to be juicy, probably not.

A lot of competition cooks inject briskets to up the beginning moisture content, this helps some but won't make a world of difference.

The best thing you can do to end up with better brisket is to start with better brisket. Look for "choice" briskets. Most of what you find in the stores is going to be "select". "Choice" is a better cut with better marbleing and will generally end up moister then a select.

One other question, are you cooking fatcap up or down? If you're cooking fatcap up, try it fat cap down. The idea of fatcap up self basting the meat is just a myth and the meat really doesn't work that way. Fatcap down will protect the meat from the direct heat of an offset better and yield a less dry finished product.

Keep cooking briskets, you don't get good at cooking briskets by cooking ribs
Hi Rob, You got some great advice there. I have the same beast of a smoker.. I have to tend to fire every 30 to 45 minutes, I'm going to modify it some to see if that helps and I'll let you know if it helps. BTW if you have a long smoke say 12 hours or so and you're going to foil the brisket, After you foil it I'd toss it in the oven in the house at 225 deg for the duration of the cooking time seeing how at that point your not going to get anymore smoke into the meat and why use up your charcoal and time tending the fire when you don't have too.

Wow! Everyone, thanks for the replies and help. This site is really fantastic.

Its a shame brisket isn't as easy to do as a butt, but if it was that easy, it wouldn't be fun!

Even though I have had difficulty with briskets, its still great to fire up the smoker and do one.

I have been going to Winn Dixie or Publix and getting the briskets that are out in the display cases, this may be part of my problem. Can you just ask the butcher for a "choice" brisket? I am assuming all of mine have been "select" like it has been mentioned. Any advice on the lingo I should use when talking to the butcher?

The fat down recommendation sounds like a great idea. I have been cooking exclusively fat up. I also use a water pan underneath.

Once again, thanks so much for the help. I realize my smoker has limitations, one day I'll get one that has more insulation value.

All the best everyone! Have fun smoking!

Welcome. I also have a Silver Smoker. The first time I smoked with it I had a little trouble regulating the temp. I made a few modifications before my second attempt and, wow, what a difference! I have only had my smoker for about a month, so I've yet to smoke in cold weather. I can say that I do get a good, consistent temperature for about 4-5 hours now (225-250). I smoke with lump charcoal and good sized wood chunks of various flavors. Let me know if I can help you in any way with your Silver Smoker...
Rob, In my original post it says to spray/mop after three hours-the reason is to keep the bark intact. Also, spraying won't drag on the bark like using a mop would.
amen to that brother, i try not to open my smoker for the first three hours or so and only thrn to see if its still in there. after searing the fat side of the whole brisket on a very hot grill i put it fat side up at 200-225 for six hrs and then wrap it for the next trhee or more, like the man said Its done when it gets done. the only mopping that i do is from the juices on the side of my mouth. gato
I'm a newbie and just bought a charcoal water smoker and plan to do a beef brisket about 10 pounds the model # is 06701289 never done it before what I'm reading is at 200-225 for about 6 hours then wrap in tinfoil for another 3 at least. What do I use for rub, and do I marinate and leave for 24 hours first?? I need some help thanks from newbie
I'm a newbie and just bought a charcoal water smoker and plan to do a beef brisket about 10 pounds the model # is 06701289 never done it before what I'm reading is at 200-225 for about 6 hours then wrap in tinfoil for another 3 at least. What do I use for rub, and do I marinate and leave for 24 hours first?? I need some help thanks from newbie
Brisket is a very tough one to do by time, you really just have to go by temperature. I like to put a heavy amount of dry rub on my briskets about 6-8 hrs. before they go on the smoker - don't put to much salt in your rub, it will dry it out. Run your smoker around 225-235 and let the brisket get to an internal temp of 170° this might take a while because you will hit a stall around 150° or 160°. The stall can last for anywhere from 4-7 hrs. on average (some can go longer). It is during the stall that all the connective tissue, fat, and tough meat is being broken down into something tender, juicy, and edible - so don't rush it! Let the stall do it's job. Once you are out of the stall your temps will start to go up again, when you get to 170'ish either wrap in 2 or 3 layers of heavy foil, or place in a covered foil pan - I like to add about 1/4 Cup of beer as well. Then let it  go to 185-195° pull it out of the smoker dump the juices into a plastic container put the juices in the freezer to let the fat float up and solidify. Wrap the foiled brisket in towels and put into a cooler for 2 hrs. to rest. For the juices, once the fat is set up pull it off and toss it, then the rest of the juices can be re-heated and poured over the brisket once it is sliced up for serving.
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Welcome to the SMF. I see you're getting some good advise already, we have friendly members here who like to help. It's all good my friend.
Thanks for the advise, is there a prefered wood to use over charcoals or both. And can I add charcoal while my meat is smoking?? After I wrap in tin foil do I leave on smoker?? sorry for all the questions but want to get right. My buddy is a butcher and is getting my cut for me how much fat should be left???

Thanks again Newbie
Thanks for the advise, is there a prefered wood to use over charcoals or both. And can I add charcoal while my meat is smoking?? After I wrap in tin foil do I leave on smoker?? sorry for all the questions but want to get right. My buddy is a butcher and is getting my cut for me how much fat should be left???

Thanks again Newbie
Base heat source is charcoal or lump charcoa, then you toss 3 or 4 fist sized pieces of hickory (or other flavor wood) ontop of your charcoal. If you light your smoker using the minion method you should hopefully get several hours of use before you have to add more (not sure what exact model of smoker you got). I would do some poking around on the forum for your specific smoker and see what people are doing for adding more charcoal in mid-smoke.

If you do have to add more, use a chimney starter get a full chimney lit and going well, then add it to your smoker. This keeps you from getting the nasty light up smoker from the charcoal on your food and avoids the temp. dropping to low as it tries to light the charcoal. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.