Trying Brisket for the first time.

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Sep 11, 2006
Lenexa, KS
I'm going to try and smoke a brisket for the first time this weekend. I have a Masterbuilt Electric smoker that I will be using. The smoker has a digital thermostat so I can keep the temp pretty constant. I've done ribs, pork butts, sausage but this is my first go around with brisket.

I've seen an awful lot of stuff relating to brisket but have a few questions. I'm a bit confused on the temp setting and how long. There's a guy at work here who smokes for 2 hours at 215 and then another hour w/out smoke. he then wraps with foil for about 4-5 hours at the same temp and that's it.

I've seen a lot of stuff posted about taking the brisket out and wrapping it with towels, etc. and placing in a cooler.
There's just so much stuff out there about cooking brisket and a little unsure of myself on what to do.

If any of you 'experts' can enlighten me I would be much appreciated.

Thanks, appreciate everyone's time.
Hi again Jefmker

Did you get the outlet mod installed?
I have discovered that you can place washers with different size holes
on top of the flu and control how much venting you want.
In cooler weather it works fine this way and reduces the heater on time
somewhat. If you go smaller than a 3/8" hole size in the washer some
sweating will occur inside the box.
1/2"-3/4" works fine for me in cold weather.
I have not ever done a brisket but would think 225* (low & slow)
would be right.
Don't think you would need to wrap to get a good bark on.
Wrapping and using a cooler or wrap in foil and leave in smoker with a temp setting of 140* for 1-1 1/2 hours will help when it is finished
would be advisable.

I would follow any of the posts here that appeal to you and think
the results would be fine
A good starting point is the sticky at the top of this forum on basic brisket smoke. Check that out, and if you still have questions - fire away.

I usually smoke at 225-240F smoker temp 'till the brisket gets up to about 180F internal meat temp. I spray it with a mix of 3 parts apple juice and 1 part bourbon to enhance the bark about every 40 minutes or whenever I add wood to the smoker. At 180F internal I wrap in a double layer of heavy duty foil along with about a quarter cup of my spray mix and put back in the smoker (without smoke) to cook up to 195F internal for slicing or 205F internal for pulling. Whan I take it out at the chosen finish temp I wrap (still in the foil) in several old bath towels and put it in an insulated cooler to rest for as long as two hours. If you leave the probe from the thermo in you can monitor the temp of the resting meat. My experience is that this process usually results in fork tender brisket.

Hope this helps.

Take care, have fun, and do good!


Hey Illini, yes I did get those mod's on the smoker. To control the vent I used a 5inch pipe nipple and attched a gas valve to the top of it to control the opening of the vent. I'll have to take a pic. and let you see. I've used it a couple of times since and the problem from before seems to be resolved.

Here's what I figured I would do:
1. rub the brisket down and let it sit for at least 12 hours.
2. set the temp to 225 and let the brisket get to 180 internal temp.
3. use smoke for no more than 3 hours to get to 180 internal temp.
4. once at 180 internal temp, wrap with foil w/apple juice
5. wait until the internal temp gets to at least 195 and remove and wrap in towels and place in a cooler for at least an hour.

I'm only cooking about about a 5lb brisket. I've kind of figured it would take about 3 hours to get to the 180 internal temp and then about another 4-5 hours to get at the 195.

Hope this works. I know 95% of everything is having a good plan and the other 5% is execution. At least that's what my football coach used to tell us :-)
Sounds like you have a game plan :)

I have done 3 bone in butts before and instead of toweling and using a cooler.......leave in the foil they are in keep them in the smoker and reset the temp to 140* and let them "rest" right there.

Work good for me and I was certain that they would not cool too much
Kind of takes a step out of the process

Good Luck with the brisket :P

Sounds like a good starting point. Please monitor the temps. Briskets sometimes "plateau" or hang at a temp for what seems like a long time. In my experience that's somewhere around 150F. I did a 5.8 lb brisket flat last Sunday, and it took 6 hours to get up to 180F. I keep a cook log and just took a look at the log for that cook and that brisket hung in the 155-165 range for a long time. Watching the temps will take the guesswork out of knowing when it's done. Good luck with it, and please post pics. We love food p0rn.

Take care, have fun, and do good!



P.S. - If you are interested there is a good cooklog to be downloaded from:

It sounds like you've done your homework! At 5lbs, you must have gotten a cut. Did you get a "Point" or "Flat"? I doubt a Point will reach 180* after only 3 hours.

Illini, leaving the meat on the Smoker at a lower temp is fine, but realize that you are still applying heat to the finished product. The main purpose of using the dry cooler is to allow the juices that have been pushed toward the center during the cooking process to gradually permeate the entire cut. I always dry cooler mine for no less than 2 hours.

Hope this helps!


""Illini, leaving the meat on the Smoker at a lower temp is fine, but realize that you are still applying heat to the finished product. The main purpose of using the dry cooler is to allow the juices that have been pushed toward the center during the cooking process to gradually permeate the entire cut. I always dry cooler mine for no less than 2 hours.""

I appreciate your comment on my technique

My logic: (and this would only be true with an insulated electric smoker with an on/off temperature controller) There is no more heat applied until the Butts and the internal smoker temp drops below the safe range of 140*. The effect as I see it is that no more heat is applied until the whole mass (finished product/inside of smoker box) drops out of the safe range. With 2 or 3 large butts in there this usually takes about
1.5 hours with ambient outdoor temps of 70-85*

I reset temp controller for 140* when internals on butts reach 195*
The butts go to 200+* before starting to cool and dissipate heat to the

Also when I go to this mode a cap is placed on the top vent and with the magnetic door seal the whole thing becomes practically air tight.

What have I overlooked here?
Why is this different from coolering?
As I understand you, you are basically killing the element until the T-Stat reaches 140* and sealing up the smoker. If this is correct, heat is still being applied by the ambient temp as it slowly drops to 140*. Much like if I were to cook biscuits in the oven then turn the element off, but leave them on the rack. They would still continue to cook until the temp dropped below a certain level.

I am not trying to criticize your technique, everyone has their own way of cooking and our credo here is "Whatever Works For You!". I am just offerring, as Moderator, my insight on Post's that I read.

If you feel this works for you, and you don't like using the Dry Cooler - continue to do what you like best.

SoFlaQuer; I assure you that critcizm has not crossed my mind!
I appreciate you comments on my method and your "biscuits in the oven" statement has me wondering if trying the cooler method is something to try. Next time I will do just that and compare the methods. Never too old to learn :D

BTW this link shows some "rested" in the smoker

Again thanks for the conversation and your comments.

Jefmkr; Sorry I stepped on your post.
How did the brisket turn out?
That's some mighty fine lookin' 'Q, Illini!

I'm not sure where it is in the archives, but you might want to try my "Double Rub" technique....I think you'll like it. If you can't find it, let me know and I'll go over it with you.

Well everyone the brisket turned out pretty good. Had a few people over and everyone loved it. Of course, as the cook, I thought it could have been better, but the masses said it was really good.

Everything worked out pretty good. I started at 10am and smoked cooked for a little over 2 hours. At 1pm it reached 180 degrees and I poured 1/2 cup apple juice and wrapped it with foil. At 5pm it hit 195 degrees for the internal temp and I took it out and wrapped it with towels and such and placed it in a cooler. I left the thermometer in and at around 6:30 I took it out of the cooler, sliced it all up and we were eating a little after 7pm.

Worked out great. Watching the KU basketball game, having a few beers and eating BBQ, my kind of evening.

I was going to take some pics but my 16month old son got a hold of the digital camera and decided to see how far he could throw it. Man he's got an arm on him, now i'm needing to buy another camera :-)

It was pretty tender and real easy to slice through. It had a very small light pink smoke ring, wish I could have gotten it a bit darker and more pronounced but i'll just keep trying and refine the technique a bit.

Anyways, thanks everyone for your tips and advice, I really appreciate your input.

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