The Ultimate Guide to Smoked Brisket Burgers: From The Grinder To The Smoker

When it comes to barbecue, few meats hold the prestige and reverence of brisket. The tender, flavorful cut of beef is a staple at barbecue joints all over Texas, and for good reason. But what if you could enjoy the mouthwatering taste of brisket in burger form? The good news is, you can. With a little know-how and the right techniques, you can make a brisket burger at home that rivals some of the best barbecue joints in Texas. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the world of brisket burgers. We’ll explore the best cuts of beef to use, the importance of grinding your own meat, and the techniques used by top pitmasters to smoke the perfect brisket burger.

The best way to make brisket burger patties is by grinding brisket offcuts with brisket fat. Semi-freeze the burgers then smoke with indirect heat using a charcoal grill or smoker. Save all your brisket trimmings (including the fat) and run it through a grinder. You can also substitute brisket with chuck steak. Brisket and chuck have a similar flavor, so if you don’t have enough brisket trimmings, mix some chuck through the grinder.

Key Points

  • The best way to make brisket burger patties is by grinding brisket offcuts with brisket fat
  • Smoke with indirect heat using a charcoal grill or smoker
  • Save all your brisket trimmings (including the fat) and run it through a grinder
  • You can also substitute brisket with chuck steak
  • Mix in some chuck meat if you don’t have enough brisket trimmings
  • Save the brisket fat
  • In large mixing bowl, make a mix of 70% meat to 30% fat
  • Add binder (such as an egg) if desired
  • Add salt and pepper if desired
  • Roll into large 10-12 oz balls, press to compact, and form into patties
  • Place on baking tray lined with wax paper and semi-freeze for 60-90 minutes
  • Smoke or grill with indirect heat for best results.

The secret to the perfect brisket burger lies in the ground beef. To truly capture the flavor and texture of brisket, you need to start with high-quality meat that is ground to the right consistency. I asked some of the world’s best pitmasters how they prepare ground brisket, and the consensus was clear: to make the best brisket burgers, you need to grind your own meat.

Grinding your own brisket allows you to control the fat content, which is essential for a juicy, flavorful burger. It also ensures that you’re using the freshest, highest-quality meat possible. When you grind your own brisket, you can also mix in other cuts of beef, such as chuck, to add depth and complexity to the flavor.

But it’s not just about the meat. The way you cook your brisket burgers can make all the difference. Smoking is the preferred method for many pitmasters, as it adds a rich, smoky flavor that can’t be achieved through grilling. But it’s important to remember that smoking is a delicate process that requires patience and attention to detail.

Smoke Or Grill Brisket Burgers? 

Smoking burgers is a great way to add some extra flavor and depth to your burgers, but it’s important to understand the differences between smoking and grilling.

When smoking, you want to cook the burgers with indirect heat. This means that the burgers should not be directly over the flame or coals, but rather off to the side where they can cook slowly and absorb the smoke.

The key to great smoked burgers is to allow them to sit on the grill for as long as possible, ideally around 45 minutes to an hour. This will give them plenty of time to absorb the smoke and develop that delicious smoky flavor that we all know and love.

If you position the burgers over the flame, they’ll cook within just a few minutes, and won’t have that delicious smoke flavor. So if you’re interested in smoking the burgers, it’s important to keep this in mind and cook them with indirect heat.

I also suggest using different types of wood chips to add different flavors to your burgers. For example, hickory or mesquite will give your burger a strong smoky flavor, while apple or cherry will give it a sweeter, milder flavor. Experiment and find the wood that you like the most!

Also, it’s important to have your grill or smoker at the right temperature. A temperature between 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for smoking burgers. This will give you a nice slow cook, and allow the burgers to cook through without drying out.

Grind Your Own Brisket

The ground burger meat is key to the perfect smokehouse brisket burgers. If you smoke a lot of brisket, you would know there’s a lot of waste leftover when trimming. A brisket needs to be trimmed a certain way, so you end up with brisket offcuts. If you have a meat grinder at home, freeze your brisket trimmings because they make the best burgers! Importantly, save the brisket fat. You want your brisket burgers to contain about 30% fat. 

If you don’t have any brisket offcuts, buy some brisket and chuck from your butcher and run the meat through a grinder. If you don’t have a grinder, ask the butcher to grind the meat for you.

Meat Grinder

If you don’t have a grinder, Amazon sell hand grinders for around $40. Otherwise, you can go all in and get an electric grinder for around $130. I don’t use a grinder too often, so I purchased a hand mincer. However, if you plan on grinding large amounts of meat, then I would suggest you buy an electric.

Mix In Some Chuck Meat

If you’re looking to make brisket burgers but don’t have enough brisket trimmings, fear not. Chuck is a great substitute that can help you achieve a similar flavor and texture to brisket.

Chuck is a cut of beef that comes from the shoulder of the cow. It’s known for its rich, beefy flavor and relatively high fat content. This makes it an ideal substitute for brisket, which is also known for its rich flavor and high fat content.

When using chuck as a substitute, it’s important to grind it separately from the brisket. This will allow you to get an even mix of the two meats, and ensure that the chuck doesn’t overpower the brisket. It’s also important to grind the fat separately, so that you can control the fat content of the final product.

If you don’t have a grinder, you can ask your butcher to grind the chuck for you. Make sure you specify that you want the chuck ground with a decent amount of fat, as this will help ensure that your burgers are juicy and flavorful.

It’s also worth noting that chuck has a wonderful flavor, similar to brisket, which means that even when it is used as a substitute, it will still give you a delicious burger.

In summary, if you don’t have enough brisket trimmings, chuck is a great substitute to use. Grind the brisket, the chuck and the fat separately to get an even mix of each and make sure you ask your butcher to grind some chuck with a decent amount of fat to achieve a juicy, flavorful burger.

Save The Brisket Fat

When it comes to making brisket burgers, getting the right meat to fat ratio is crucial. Fat is what gives brisket burgers their delicious flavor and juiciness, so it’s important not to skimp on it.

When trimming brisket, make sure to save all the fat in ziplock bags. Not only will the fat give your burgers enormous flavor, but it will also add moisture, ensuring that your burgers don’t dry out as they cook.

When grinding the meat, it’s important to grind the fat separately from the meat. This will allow you to control the fat content of the final product and ensure that you get the right meat to fat ratio. Once the fat and the meat are ground, place them in different mixing bowls. This will make it easier to mix the fat and meat in the right proportion.

It’s worth noting that a good meat to fat ratio for brisket burgers is around 30% fat. This will give you juicy, flavorful burgers that are not too greasy.

Brisket Burger Patties

Brisket Burger Patties

Homemade brisket burger patties are packed full of flavor.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • Ground brisket
  • Ground brisket fat
  • Ground chuck
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Egg for binder (optional)


    1. Separate the brisket trimmings, chuck trimmings and brisket fat and run them through the grinder separately. 
    2. In large mixing bowl, make a mix of 70% meat to 30% fat. If you’re mixing chuck and brisket, measure an even brisket to chuck ratio. 
    3. If you’re using a binder, mix the egg through the meat. If you would prefer to semi-freeze the burgers prior to smoking, then skip the binder. 
    4. You don’t have to add seasoning, however you can add a little salt and pepper if you like. 
    5. Once combined, roll the ground meat into large 10 to 12 oz balls. 
    6. Apply pressure to compact the meat balls as much as possible. Make sure there are no cracks or air pockets. 
    7. Then, place the meat onto the kitchen scales. Add or remove some of the meat until you have identical weight (10 to 12 oz). 
    8. Squash the meat balls into nice, thick burger patties, again removing any cracks or air pockets. 
    9. Place the burgers on a baking tray lined with wax paper. 
    10. Place the tray into the freezer between 60 to 90 minutes, or until the burgers are firm. 
    11. Once your ground brisket burgers are nice and firm, remove them from the freezer. 

Grind The Brisket Flat Or Point?

When it comes to making brisket burgers, it doesn’t really matter what part of the brisket you use. Some people use the flat, others use the point, and to some pitmasters, it doesn’t really matter as long as you have good quality meat.

The flat, which is the most troublesome part of the brisket, can be used for ground burgers. The flat has an awkward shape and can dry out easily, so some pitmasters opt to use the point instead. However, using the flat can be a great way to make use of the whole brisket and add variety to your burgers.

Another option is to separate the flat and the point. Consider smoking the point, which is the fattier part of the brisket, and then run the flat through the grinder. The flat is usually very lean, so it is important to mix a decent amount of fat through and blend 30% into the meat. This will give you a more moist and flavorful burger.

Mix In Some Pork Belly

Some pitmasters like to add a little pork belly to their ground brisket when making brisket burgers. Pork belly is a cut of meat that comes from the belly of the pig, and it’s known for its high fat content. This makes it a great addition to brisket burgers, as it will add a lot of flavor and moisture to the final product.

If you’re interested in trying this method, a good ratio to follow is 2:1; two parts brisket to one part pork belly. This will ensure that you have the right balance of flavors and that the pork belly doesn’t overpower the brisket.

When grinding the pork belly, it is important to note that it should be ground separately from the brisket. This will give you more control over the final product and ensure that you have an even mix of both meats. Once the pork belly and brisket are ground, you can mix them together in the desired ratio.

Adding pork belly to your brisket burgers will give you greasy, juicy burgers that are packed with flavor. You’ll be amazed at how delicious they taste and how much they resemble the flavors of the traditional BBQ joints.

Saving Your Trimmings is a Good Habit

Throughout the year, as a pitmaster, you’re probably cooking or smoking a variety of barbecue meats such as brisket, chuck, pork butt, etc. One tip that can help you make the most of your barbecue meats is to save all your trimmings. Instead of throwing away the scraps and offcuts, save them and use them to make delicious burgers.

There are a couple of ways to save your trimmings. You can either freeze them, or use a vacuum sealer.

Preparing the Brisket Burgers

When making brisket burgers, it is important to weigh each patty using kitchen scales to ensure that they are all the same size. This is necessary because the burgers will be cooked to an internal temperature, and it is important for them to cook evenly. If you are grilling the burgers instead of smoking them, weighing the patties is not necessary.

For a genuine Texas style smokehouse burger, you want to make a nice big, thick hamburger patty (in the 10 to 12 oz range). Roll the ground beef into a large ball, then weigh each ball on the scales. Then flatten them into burgers, making sure the meat is compact with no holes.

Fresh burgers will fall apart in the smoker, so you want to put them in the freezer for a short while. Don’t leave them in the freezer any longer than 90 minutes, otherwise they’ll freeze. Instead of using binders like eggs, I prefer to semi-freeze the meat before putting them in the smoker. As for seasoning, it is personal preference, but you can use salt and pepper or any other seasoning that you like.

How To Smoke Brisket Burgers

Smoker setupCreate two zones, a hot-zone and a cool-zone. Set up grill for indirect cooking. Place charcoal on one side if using a kettle grill, use deflector plate if using a kamado-style grill, and no setup necessary if using a pellet grill.
WoodThe best wood for smoking burgers is hickory, oak, pecan or mesquite. Mesquite will give a real Texas BBQ flavor. Mix in a little cherry wood to give the burgers some color. Stronger pellets are recommended if using a pellet grill. Use wood chunks or chips for charcoal grill.
Temperature The ideal temperature for smoking brisket burgers is between 250° F and 275° F. Adjust vents to maintain temperature within this range.
Cooking stepsPlace the burgers on the grill for about 30 minutes before flipping.
Flip the burgers and cook until safe internal meat temperature is reached. Cook the burgers between 140 to 145° F for medium rare, 150°F to 155° F for medium well, and 160° F for well done.

Do You Use Seasoning? 

Some burger recipes will use lots of seasoning in the ground meat. However, when using brisket, you want the meat to be the star of the show. Seasonings may overpower the natural brisket flavors, so be careful. The seasonings should complement the natural beef flavors—not dominate. 

If you decide to season the burgers, coat the outer layer of the brisket burgers with salt and pepper. Use a nice coarse black pepper, such as a 16- mesh cafe grind—just like Aaron Franklin. 

For more of a savory taste, mix in some garlic powder, a little paprika, or an all-purpose seasoning. 

Set Up Your Smoker

No matter what type of smoker you are using, it is important to set up your grill for indirect cooking. This means creating two separate zones on your grill, a hot-zone and a cool-zone.

If you are using a kettle grill, you will need to place the charcoal on one side of the grill and cook your burgers on the opposite side. This allows the burgers to cook with indirect heat, meaning the heat will not be directly under the meat. This method helps to prevent the burgers from burning and allows them to cook evenly.

If you are using a kamado-style grill, such as a Big Green Egg, the deflector plate will give you indirect heat. This plate is placed above the charcoal, separating the heat source from the meat. This allows the meat to cook with indirect heat and helps to prevent burning.

If you are using a pellet grill, you do not need to worry about creating zones or separating the heat source from the meat. Pellet grills will give you that indirect heat no matter where you place the burgers on the grill, making it very easy to achieve consistent results.

What’s The Best Wood For Smoking Burgers?

The best wood for smoking burgers is hickory, oak, pecan or mesquite. The burgers are only going to be on the grill for a short while, so you want to get as much smoke flavor as possible. Mesquite will give a real Texas BBQ flavor. The great thing about mesquite is it will infuse a lot of smoke flavor in a short period. However, some people might find mesquite bitter. Other good wood choices are pecan or oak. I sometimes mix in a little cherry wood to give the burgers some color.

If you’re using a pellet grill, try use stronger pellets rather than the milder fruit woods. Mix a 50/50 blend of hickory with any fruit wood is a great combination.

If you’re using a charcoal grill, wood chunks will provide a consistent flow of smoke for the entire cook. You can also throw on a few wood chips just to keep the smoke rolling. Once your smoker has come up to temperature, throw a couple of chunks of wood on the fire. Wait for some nice clean smoke to roll out before adding the burgers. 

What Temperature Do You Smoke Brisket Burgers?

The ideal temperature for smoking brisket burgers is between 250° F and 275° F. If you keep the temperature within this range, the burgers won’t dry out. If you’re using a kamado, a kettle grill, or other charcoal smoker, adjust your vents until your smoker stabilizes in the 250° to 275°F range. 

How To Smoke Burgers

  • Place the burgers on the grill, and let them absorb smoke flavor for about 30 minutes before flipping. 
  • Flip the burgers, and cook until the burgers reach a safe internal meat temperature using a good instant-read thermometer. 
  • Cook the burgers between 140 to 145° F for medium rare. For medium well, take it to around about 150°F to 155° F. If you want the burger well done, take it to 160° F. 

How Long Will it Take to Smoke Burgers? 

When smoking brisket burgers, the cooking time will vary depending on the temperature of your smoker and the thickness of the burgers. If you’re cooking at a temperature of 275° F, it will generally take around 1 hour for the burgers to reach the appropriate internal temperature. However, it is important to note that cooking time can vary and should not be the sole focus.

It is important to monitor the internal temperature of the burgers using an instant-read thermometer, rather than relying solely on cooking time. The internal temperature of a burger should reach 140°F for medium rare, 150°F for medium, and 160°F for well done. Cooking to internal temperature, rather than time, ensures that the burgers are cooked to the desired doneness and prevents under or over cooking.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the size and thickness of the patty, as well as the temperature variations within the smoker, can affect the cooking time. So, it’s always a good idea to check the internal temperature of the burgers before taking them off the smoker.

Build-A-Burger: Tips For “Next-Level” Burgers

Apply a glazeUse your favorite barbecue sauce and apply with a basting brush in the last 10 minutes of the cook. Once the burgers have reached the desired internal temperature, coat the burgers in the sauce.
Melted CheeseAdd cheese to the burger patties towards the end of the cook, and leave them on the grill until the cheese melts.
Caramelized OnionCaramelize some onion and mushroom for the burger topping.
Add BaconFry up some bacon to add to the burger.
Burger bunsUse a kaiser roll, potato bun, brioche or any other favorite burger bun.
Assemble the burgerAssemble the burger with all your favorite combinations. Place the burger patties with the melted cheese onto the burger bun, pour on the caramelized onions and mushrooms, add bacon, garlic mayo, green chillies and chopped tomatoes.

My Favorite Meat Smoking 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 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.

Wireless Thermometer: The latest thermometers on the market have no wires and can be controlled by wi-fi via your phone. Airprobe 3 is the best of this technology.

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.

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.


Author and founder at Meat Smoking HQ

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