Aaron Franklin is the master of brisket. Franklin’s barbecue techniques are known all over the world thanks to YouTube and Masterclass. The best way to learn anything is by following a master. When it comes to the smoked brisket, it’s easy to complicate things. Franklin’s style of barbecue is all about simplicity. I wanted to explore some of Aaron’s techniques and apply them to my own barbecue.
Aaron Franklin cooks brisket at 250° F on an offset smoker until the meat has reached ideal tenderness. Depending on the size of the brisket, the total cook time can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. In one YouTube video, Aaron smokes an 8 lb brisket for 8 or 9 hours at 250° F.
- Aaron Franklin cooks brisket at 250° F on an offset smoker
- Cook time can take 8-12 hours depending on the size of the brisket
- Ideal temperature range for brisket is 225°F-250°F
- Aaron Franklin uses an offset smoker, also known as a stick burner, to smoke brisket
Common Temps Aaron Franklin Cooks Meat
According to the YouTube cooking videos, Franklin cooks meat at various temperatures. Whenever Aaron Franklin is cooking ribs or pork butt, he keeps the temperature in the 275°F range. However, when smoking brisket, Aaron holds the temperature around 250° F for the entire cook.
|Pork Butt||275° F|
|Beef Ribs||285° F|
How To Prepare a Brisket Like Aaron Franklin
When Aaron Franklin is preparing a brisket, he doesn’t get too caught up in complex rubs, injection, spritzing, etc. Franklin’s philosophy is to let the meat to be the star of the show. Like a true master, he relies on instinct and doesn’t follow strict times and temperatures.
Franklin goes by “look and feel” and will change his mind on-the-fly. Sometimes we can get too caught up in all the brisket techniques. Instead, we should train ourselves to know what a brisket should look like at each stage of the cook.
The Aaron Franklin Brisket Method Step-By-Step
Trim your brisket to 1/4 of an inch fat. This will help the rub adhere to the meat and give you a nice, crispy bark.
- For the rub, Franklin mixes kosher salt and 16-mesh cafe grind black pepper in a 50/50 ratio. This simple but effective rub will give your brisket the perfect balance of flavor.
- Unlike some pitmasters, Franklin doesn’t use a binder (also known as a slather) on his brisket. He relies on the salt and pepper rub to do the job.
- Before putting the brisket in the smoker, Franklin brings it up to room temperature. This helps the meat cook more evenly and reduces the cook time.
- Franklin cooks his brisket at 250° F on an offset smoker. This is the ideal temperature for breaking down the tough connective tissue in brisket, which is key to achieving that tender, juicy texture.
- Franklin cooks his brisket fat-side-up. This allows the fat to render down and baste the meat as it cooks, adding flavor and moisture.
- To keep the brisket moist, Franklin uses a water pan in his smoker. This helps to regulate the humidity and prevent the meat from drying out.
- Franklin allows 12 hours to cook a brisket, or about 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound. This gives the meat plenty of time to break down the connective tissue and build layers of flavor.
- After 6 hours, Franklin wraps the brisket in butcher paper. Some say he even uses beef tallow at this stage to add even more flavor and moisture.
- When the brisket is done, Franklin removes it from the smoker and lets it rest for at least an hour before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute and makes the meat easier to slice.
- Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to smoking a brisket like Aaron Franklin.
The Ideal Cooking Temp for Brisket
The ideal temperature range for brisket is between 225°F and 250°F. This allows the brisket plenty of time to sit in the smoker and absorb smoke. Cooking the brisket at 250° F is the ideal temperature to allow the connective tissue in the brisket to break down over that time. Anywhere within this range is going to be safe. You can increase the temperature after the brisket has been wrapped, as this will help you push the meat through the stall.
Brisket is a tough cut of meat with a lot of connective tissue. The only way to break down that connective tissue is time at low temperatures. The faster you cook, the less time to meat has to break down the connective tissue. Once you get towards the 300°F range, your brisket will cook faster, spent less time breaking down all that connective tissue.
Brisket also needs time to build layers of flavor. During the first phase of the cook, you want the brisket sitting at a low temperature for as long as possible. You want to give the brisket time to build the bark and allow the smoke to penetrate the meat.
Should I Inject Brisket? Injection Recipe And Pumping Guide
This brisket injection marinade is the secret used in competitions and made by a World Barbecue champion.
What Smoker Does Aaron Franklin Use To Smoke Brisket?
Aaron Franklin uses an offset smoker (also known as a stick burner). These are the most difficult smokers to control and are not recommended for beginners. Stick burners have a firebox for the wood on one side and a separate cooking chamber for the food.
Real offset smokers are expensive, and delivery makes up much of the cost. Many hardware stores sell cheap offset smokers, but avoid these imitations because they aren’t worth the trouble. These offset smokers may look like a stick burner, but they perform nothing like a true offset.
Genuine offset smokers are well insulated with thick metal, whereas the cheap offsets have thin metal. When a smoker is poorly insulated, they are difficult to control and burn through excessive fuel.
How To Keep The Temperature Stable
Leave your brisket alone during the first three or 4 hours of the cook. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is opening the lid constantly. This will destabilize your smoker, especially in winter, where it’s important to hold in the heat. Constantly spritzing will suck all the heat out of the smoker.
Some people spread every hour on the hour, and their smokers will end up having to work double time to maintain the temperature. Constantly opening the lid will add hours onto the cook.
The Hot-And-Fast Brisket
One of the latest trends in barbecue is the hot-and-fast brisket. You can smash out a brisket in 4 -5 hours smoking in the mid-300s. If you going to try this, make sure you buy a brisket that has some good marbling, and use all the techniques such as wrapping and spritzing, otherwise the brisket may end up tough or dry.
Brisket needs time at low temperature in order to break down all that connective tissue, and it needs more time on the grill to absorb smoke flavor. A hot- and-fast brisket will not have as much a smoke flavor, and the point will be a little chewy.
The Great Brisket Showdown: Hot-and-Fast vs Low-and-Slow
Aaron Franklin’s Masterclass – Is It Worth It?
If you are a Masterclass subscriber, then it’s definitely worthwhile checking out Aaron Franklin’s course. Aaron’s YouTube channel has some fantastic videos, but the Masterclass goes more in-depth. If you really want to know how to cook barbecue, then I highly recommend checking out Aaron’s Masterclass.
Masterclass is a subscription service similar to Netflix, Disney Plus, or Amazon Prime. Unfortunately, you cannot get one month free or 30-day trial like other streaming services—you have to pay $15 to $20 a month. If you really want to do Franklin’s Masterclass, pay $20 for one month, then cancel your subscription. It’s well worth the money.
Standard Barbecue Rub
I found this great rub recipe through How To BBQ Right. I use this recipe and alter it slightly depending on what I'm cooking. Made by the guys at Townsend Spice & Supply: https://townsendspice.com/
- - ½ Cup Paprika
- - ½ Cup Salt
- - ½ Cup Sugar
- - ½ Cup Granulated Garlic
- - ¼ Cup Granulated Onion
- - ¼ Cup Chili
- - ¼ Cup Cumin
- - 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
- - 2 Tablespoons Dry Mustard
- - 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
- Combine all the spices together in a large mixing bowl
- Store rub in rub shakers
Standard Brisket Cook Times
|Brisket Size||Temperature||Cook Time||Including Resting|
|12 lbs||225°F||18 hours||19 hours|
|18 lbs||250°F||18 hours||19 hours|
|12 lbs unwrapped||225°F||19 hours||20 hours|
|18 lbs unwrapped||250°F||19 hours||20 hours|
|16 lbs||275°F||10 – 12 hours||11-13 hours|
|16 lbs unwrapped||275°F||11-13 hours||12-14 hours|
My Favorite Brisket Tools
Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.
Meat Injector: Injecting meat is a great way to take your barbecue to the next level and help you make competition-style brisket. An injector is the only way you will be able to get flavor and moisture into the middle of the meat. The Beast Injector is a stainless steel injector that is sturdy and affordable. Check the latest price on Amazon here.
Brisket Marinade: The best injection solution on the market is the Butcher BBQ Brisket Injection. This marinade is used in competitions and is made by World Barbecue Champion pitmaster, Dave Bouska. You can find the marinade on Amazon here.
Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.
Brisket Rub: These days I make my own rub when possible, but I always have a few pre-made rubs for when I’m running low. Barbecue guru Malcom Reed produces Killer Hogs, one of the best brisket rubs I’ve found over the years. Another great rub is Slap Yo Daddy, made by brisket master and multiple World Barbecue Champion, Harry Soo.
Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.
Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.
Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.