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Using a Small Grill to smoke a Brisket


Joined Nov 9, 2020
Hello. I'm new here so I'm not entirely sure where to ask this question, so forgive me if I have misplaced it.
I'm a college student on a budget, and currently own a small drum-style charcoal grill that I primarily use on my tailgate for weekend cookouts and whatnot. I've wanted to do some smoking, as I grew up in a South Texas home with a nice ceramic smoker with all the "bells & whistles" per se. Trouble is, the grill I have is extremely small. It has two grates on it, a left and a right side. A few weeks ago I smoked a small (~6 lb after trimming, starting around 8 pounds) pork shoulder roast for pulled pork (~10 hours) as a "proof of concept" to see if it was even feasible to smoke something in a grill that small. I ended up having to check it every 15 minutes or so to add coals from a campfire nearby, as the small volume of coals (keeping the temp around 225-275) would not sustain themselves by simply feeding new fuel. Additionally, I was using a meat thermometer that I stuck into the air outflow vent because there is no thermometer included in the grill. It was a pain in the backside, but turned out beautifully. Very moist, fall apart tender, great bark. I've been itchin' for some burnt ends and brisket lately, but am concerned about the size of the grill. When I smoked the pork shoulder, I placed all of the coals on the far right close to the air intake, while the meat was placed to the far left to avoid any direct heat. The cooking area I used last time was about 12-14 inches long by 7-8 inches wide. I will have to measure when I get the time.

Here is a link to the grill I currently own. I have had it for roughly 2 years and it has seen a reasonable amount of use (3-4 weekends a month). And yes, I do understand that this is not the ideal tool to smoke a brisket, I'm trying to make due with what I have.

The question(s) is(are), do you think it is possible to find a brisket that would fit in the dimensions described? How far away do the coals need to be from the meat to prevent direct cooking/dried out meat? Can I cut a brisket into 1/3s to make it fit?

chef jimmyj

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I'm a Point fan. I prefer the more flavorful fatty meat over the lean Flat. In your situation I would search out a Point or Flat rather than trying to find a small packer. That said, there is no reason you can't cut a full packer, lengthwise, to fit...JJ


Meat Mopper
Joined Jan 18, 2020
It's the cook, not the cooker that determines the results.
Sounds like you already have your answer, I suggest you either buy a point only cut and go to town.
If it seems to be getting too hot on one end or the bottom, just rotate or swap ends every hour.
Opening the lid costs you cook time but if you are going to be adding fuel pretty often, then that's not an issue.
You are looking for it to be super tender when you stick a chopstick in it and/or jiggle like jello when lifted and shaken.

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