How to Smoke Brisket in an Electric Smoker (8 Easy Tips & Recipe)

4.73 from 54 votes
4.73 from 54 votes

Smoked brisket is one of barbecue’s best meats. The good news is that you can replicate the tender and juicy beef flavors of traditional charcoal BBQ in other backyard cookers. From the best woods to delicious rubs, find out everything you need to know with our guide on how to smoke brisket in an electric smoker.

electric smoker brisket

Beef brisket is a cornerstone of barbecue tradition, and cooking it low and slow in an electric smoker offers a unique challenge to BBQ fans who want to tackle this barbecue staple. This electric smoker brisket takes a little bit of patience, but the results are well worth the wait!

Loaded with intricate marbling and a rich flavor profile, this classic BBQ meat is made for smoking. Its rich fat content and connective tissue means that there’s no need for marinating or brining: We can let the fat do all the work to ensure the juicy brisket we want.

From mastering meat trimming to choosing the best wood chips, discover how to smoke brisket in an electric smoker today. Let’s get cooking!

sliced brisket

The good news is electric smokers now provide an easier way to smoke brisket without compromising on that great BBQ taste. They’re easy to use and can create a great entry point to smoking for beginners.

In my guide today I’m going to show you how to use your electric smoker to create BBQ’s finest cut of meat: Beef brisket.

electric smoker turned on and with smoke pouring out
Electric smokers are a great way to cook BBQ favorites quickly and easily

How to Prepare Beef Brisket

The key thing to look out for when choosing your beef brisket is to make sure it has a thick layer of fat on it. A good, heavy layer of fat will slowly melt over the meat while it cooks, imparting it with moisture and an incredible flavor.

Also important is to familiarize yourself with the composition of your cut.

Brisket is composed of two main muscles. One is the ‘flat‘, which is a long and slender muscle that runs down the length of the meat, and has a thick layer of fat (called the ‘fat cap‘) on top of it. The other is the ‘point‘, which sits at one end of the cut, with a layer of fat between it and the flat.

point and flat brisket diagram
Photo credit: Serious Eats

The flat is often the most popular part of the beef cut and makes up most of a full brisket. However, the joint does have a lot of intramuscular fat, which some people prefer. The choice of which you want to use is completely down to you… Although, you can even just cook the whole thing.

For the best results, do your preparation the night before cooking. Brisket will have the best possible flavor and texture when left to dry brine with seasoning overnight. If this isn’t possible, try to do it at least 2-4 hours before smoking.

On to the preparation!

how to smoke a brisket in an electric moker

Trim Your Brisket

Trimming is a crucial stage of brisket preparation, and it should be done before any seasoning or marinating. The amount of fat that you leave on it will determine how well your meat will cook, and even how it will it taste.

If you leave too much fat on the beef, it will be difficult for your smoke to penetrate the meat with flavor. If you trim off too much, there won’t be enough fat content left to moisten the meat and give it that beautifully juicy BBQ taste. This is why approaches like Aaron Franklin’s brisket recipe have remained so popular over the years.

At the heart of any good meat preparation is a good reliable knife. For our purposes, you’re going to need a knife that’s about seven or eight inches in length. It can’t be understated how large and tough brisket is in its raw form, so a knife that’s both sharp and long enough is key.

Trimming meat is not an easy task, and in truth, it deserves its own post. Luckily for you, we have written the perfect guide to trimming brisket here. Go give it a read (and take notes!).

Get a Good Brisket Rub

Don’t forget to apply a good rub to your brisket. This will complement the smoky flavors from the cooking without overpowering them.

electric smoker beef brisket rub

The important thing for seasoning is to keep it basic. Some people like to overthink this stage but try not to go overboard. We want the flavors of the meat to come through without an inch layer of seasoning blocking its way. One of brisket’s best attributes is that even when matched with just a bit of black pepper and sea salt it can still taste beautiful.

Luckily, a lot of seasonings and rubs are available pre-made, but I strongly recommend making your own. You can tailor it to your own tastes, and also it’s just more satisfying putting it together yourself.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the rub is to enhance the meat, so cover your brisket with the rub generously. Cover it but rub it in gently. Try using garlic powder, red pepper flakes or paprika.

If you have prepared a marinade then using this window of time to inject the brisket with it. This isn’t an essential step, but if you would like to apply a marinade then check out this recipe here.

Preheat Your Electric Smoker

Choose a smoking wood that will match well with your meat. I recommend going for oak, mesquite, or hickory. Personally, I prefer to match hickory with smoked brisket, but feel free to experiment.

Make sure that whatever wood chips you go for, that it’s a dry hardwood. Going dry will ensure that your smoke is clean. Black smoke isn’t just unpleasant to be around, but it can also impart meat with a really bitter taste.

Once you have loaded your chosen wood chips into your smoker, preheat the smoker and wait for the temperature to settle at 225°F (107°C). It’s important to wait for the temperature to settle for a good period of time as this will help cook the meat more evenly without creating any hot spots or uncooked areas.

sliced bbq beef brisket
Photo credit: Another Pint Please

How to Cook Beef Brisket

As mentioned earlier, ensure that the brisket has been out of the refrigerator for at least an hour prior to cooking. This will help bring it to room temperature, creating a better cook.

When ready, put your meat on the rack in your smoker. Make sure you place it with its fat side up. This ensures that when the fat starts to melt away, it does so over the meat, infusing it with our moist, fatty flavor.

However, if the main heat source of your smoker comes from lower down in the smoker, move the rack lower down in the smoker to ensure that the heat isn’t facing toward the underneath of your meat, effectively drying it out.

Place the point end of the brisket towards the heat source of your smoker. This has more fat so won’t be at risk of drying out.

Set up a wireless digital thermometer, with one probe in the meat and one in the smoker chamber. Make sure your drip pan is in place to help capture run-off and reduce flare-ups.

Finally, place your water pan filled with water in the smoker. This will help keep moisture in your smoker’s chamber, reducing the dry-out that fire can cause and keeping a healthy amount of smoke in the smoker.

Close the smoker lid or door firmly. Leave it and don’t open it until the next step. Smoke and heat can escape very quickly, which will disturb your meat.  Your thermometer will help you keep a watch over your brisket’s progress without having to open your smoker prematurely.

The time needed for your brisket to cook will vary depending on the size of your beef cut. However, you can safely leave it for the first three hours while your smoker does its magic. Once this time has passed, open your smoker and use a loaded spray bottle with water or beef stock on it. Spray generously.

Spraying it with brisket spritz will help keep the meat moist, but it’ll also help develop a beautiful crust on the meat. Do this every 30 minutes while you wait for the meat to reach 190°F/90°C. Once it has reached this temperature then your brisket is cooked and is ready to be removed.

Once you remove the brisket from the smoker, it’s crucial to leave it to rest. As tempting as it might be to start serving it up immediately, resting brisket lets its juices settle through the meat and maintain its texture. Leave it for around 10 minutes.

Not sure what to serve it with? Check out our best brisket sides for some inspiration.

How Long Does Brisket Take to Be Smoked?

You will always want to aim for 190°F (90°C), but a good rule of thumb is an hour per pound. This means for a 5lb brisket, you’ll need about 5 hours. However, this can vary so always be mindful of measuring internal temperature.

What Internal Temperature Is Best for Smoking Brisket?

190°F (90°C) is the ideal internal temperature for perfectly smoked brisket.

Be careful of the brisket stall. This is a period that can occur where the heat in the smoker has started to evaporate moisture from the flesh of the meat, which can significantly reduce, or even halt, the increase of your brisket’s temperature.

To help combat this, I recommend using aluminum foil to wrap the brisket when you get to 165°F/75°C. This will lock in the heat and help your meat get over the line to hitting that 190-degree mark.

As a safety measure, it’s also important to test the meat with a fork to check how tender it is. If you can use the fork to twist in the meat then your brisket is ready.

Should You Dry Rub Brisket Overnight?

For the best results, try seasoning your brisket the night before and leave it to sit in the refrigerator overnight. This will effectively dry brine the beef overnight, enhancing the flavors and giving you the juiciest and best tasting results.

How to Cut Smoked Brisket

Remember that your brisket consists of two main parts: The flat and the point. These two parts are comprised differently, so needed to be approached differently.

Using a serrated knife, start by cutting against the grain of the flat. Aim for a quarter-inch thickness. When you get to the point, turn the brisket around and cut against the grain of the point. Be careful not to cut off any of the bark.

smoked beef brisket barbecue

Electric Smoker BBQ Brisket

4.73 from 54 votes
Using a BBQ electric smoker is an easy way to smoke brisket without compromising on that great barbecue taste.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Resting20 minutes
Total Time8 hours 50 minutes



  • Rinse and pat dry the brisket.
  • Trim the fat cap, leaving about 1/4-inch of fat. Trim away any other excess fat on the brisket. Remove the silver skin from the underside of the meat.
  • Preheat your electric smoker to 225°F (107°C)
  • While your smoker heats up, apply the trimmed brisket with BBQ rub. Apply liberally and rub across all sides of the meat.
  • Transfer brisket to smoker. Apply meat probe to meat. Aim for thickest part of the brisket.
  • Smoke at 225°F until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 160°F. Usually 6-8 hours.
  • Carefully remove brisket from smoker and wrap in foil tightly. Transfer back to smoker.
  • Allow the brisket to smoke until internal temperature reaches 190°F (88°C), usually a further 2 hours.
  • Remove the brisket from the smoker and transfer to cutting board. Leave foil on and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.
  • Slice brisket against the grain into slices 1/4-inch thick. Serve up and enjoy.


About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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