Texas Crutch Brisket [How & When for the Best BBQ Bark]

The Texas Crutch is one of the best barbecue methods for smoking the perfect beef brisket. With some aluminum foil and a smoker, the cooking method is one of the best ways to overcome the BBQ stall. Find out everything you need to know with our guide and Texas Crutch Brisket recipe.

texas crutch brisket

The Texas Crutch is a tried and true method used by competition pitmasters to produce deliciously tender and juicy meat. It can be used for ribs and pork butt, but today we’ll be focusing on its best use: Beef brisket.

Texas Crutch beef is perfectly juicy and tender. When brisket’s cooked in foil, it has the perfect mouthfeel while rich in smokey flavor. Find out everything you need to know to make the perfect Texas Crutch brisket.

What is the Texas Crutch?

The Texas Crutch is a smoking method that involves wrapping meat in foil during low and slow cooking to speed up the cook. The method is thought to have been invented on the BBQ competition circuit but is so effective that it’s now used worldwide.

But it’s not all about speed. The method helps with moisture retention, which is a crucial factor in producing elite-level barbecue. It’s also a proven way to push your meat through the dreaded ‘stall’.

texas crutch brisket in aluminum foil recipe guide

What is the BBQ Stall?

The stall is frequently seen when smoking brisket and is also known as the BBQ Stall or The Brisket Stall. It happens when your beef’s internal temperature hits between 145-175°F and starts to see the liquid in the meat begin to evaporate. This causes the meat to cool down, which in turn slows down the smoking process. This means that while getting the meat temperature to about 145°F is relatively quick and easy, pushing it past this point can be frustrating. It’s not uncommon to see the brisket ‘stall’ and stay around the same temperature for hours.

This is where the Texas Crutch steps in. When the meat hits that 145°F mark, you wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper to stop evaporation. This helps to keep the meat moist while pushing the internal temperature through the stall and get it cooked in good time.

Benefits of the Texas Crutch

Reduces cooking time. Wrapping the brisket in foil helps to push it through the stall, reducing the amount of time you are waiting for the internal temperature to increase.

You burn less fuel. Reducing the amount of time that the brisket is sitting on the smoker means that you burn less wood and coal. Saving hours’ worth of wood or charcoal pays off in the long run!

Juicy beef. Allowing the beef to retain moisture by wrapping it means that your brisket keeps a lot of its natural juices, leaving you with one heck of a juicy cut of meat.

Cons of the Texas Crutch

It’s not all good news. Keeping meat wrapped means that the smoke coming from your firebox can’t penetrate the meat, preventing it from enriching it with your chosen wood. It risks preventing a beautiful bark from developing on the meat, which is the iconic crunchy layer that forms on the surface brisket’s surface.

Fortunately, Susie over at Hey Grill Hey has come up with a workaround that acts as a happy medium between the two. Susie suggests letting the brisket stay in the stall for a little bit of time before wrapping it. This should allow it to develop some bark before being covered to retain that moisture. She suggests wrapping it when your meat hits 165°F.

Aluminum Foil vs. Butcher Paper

There’s a bit of debate around whether you should use aluminum foil or butcher paper for wrapping meat for the Texas Crutch. There are advantages to each, so which one you go will come down to which of these are most important for you.

A benefit of using foil is that it’s better than butcher paper at retaining all the moisture generated by the brisket. Whether that’s the juicy run-off from the meat as it cooks or vapor, all of it will stay within the foil pouch and enrich it with more flavor and moisture. You can recycle the moisture collected in the foil to use in BBQ sauce or drizzle it over the meat as you’re serving.

A significant benefit of using butcher paper is that it’s porous, which allows the meat to breathe and exposes it to more smoke from the fire. This can help give the meat more flavor from the wood and retain a bit more bark to it.

Texas Crutch Pro Tips

If you use butcher paper, make sure you are using food-grade paper that doesn’t contain either wax or silicone. Anything ‘food-grade‘ is approved by the FDA, as is safe to have direct contact with food.

Wrap at 165°F. This temperature should achieve a nice ‘sweet spot’. This is where brisket has been in the stall for enough time to develop a good bark but still benefits from the effects of being wrapped in foil.

Wrap tightly. This is especially important if you’re using foil. Wrapping it tightly should help to reduce the occurrences of pockets for condensation puddles to form. These can produce a steaming effect, smothering your brisket and ruining the texture.

texas crutch brisket
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Texas Crutch Brisket

The best recipe for ensuring moist and juicy barbecue brisket. Using nothing more than simple foil or butcher paper, it’s easy to see why wrapping meat is a popular tactic on the BBQ competitions circuit!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, BBQ
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 13 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 lb whole beef brisket
  • 2 tbsp coarse sea or Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Start by trimming the brisket. Place it on counter surface with flat facing upwards and remove silver skin and excess fat.
  • Start up smoker to 225°F. Ensure you are set up for indirect heat, and add your chosen wood (if in doubt, use oak or hickory).
  • Apply the seasoning generously across your brisket. Try to rub it in as firmly as possible
  • Once smoker is at stable cooking temperature, transfer brisket to smoker grates. Set up dual probe smoker thermometer to read both ambient temperature and meat internal temperature. Close lid and leave brisket to reach 165°F. This can often take between 6-8 hours, depending on size of brisket.
  • Roll out foil on work surface, and transfer brisket to center. Wrap the brisket tightly so it is sealed against leaks, and doesn’t allow for puddles to form.
  • Place wrapped brisket back in smoker with seam side down. This will allow the weight of the brisket to hold the seam shut tight.
  • Continue to smoke at 225°F until internal temperature reaches 200°F in the thickest part of the meat.
  • Remove wrapped brisket from smoker and place on cutting board. Leave sealed and allow to rest for one hour.
  • Slice against the grain to serve. Enjoy immediately!

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