If there’s one thing you should aim to master in your Kamado Joe, it’s the smoked brisket. I asked three brisket masters how they smoke a competition style brisket, so if you have a spare 12 hours this weekend, you can try out these pro tips yourself. In this post, I’ll show you how to set up your Kamado Joe for brisket, walk you through all the preparation from the selecting the best brisket at the butcher shop through the high-level techniques that will blow your dinner guests away.
|The Brisket||Select a good brisket at the butcher shop and choose your smoking wood (hickory, pecan, oak, mesquite, or any fruit wood will work)|
|The Wood||Use wood chunks rather than chips or pellets and consider burying the wood underneath the charcoal for a better-tasting smoke|
|Temperature||Smoke the brisket at a low temperature (between 220°F and 250°F) for several hours to break down the connective tissue|
|Thermometers||Use a quality remote meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of your Kamado Joe and adjust the vents as needed|
|Bury The Wood||Fill the fire box with lump charcoal, place wood chunks on top or bury them underneath, and light the fire using a fire lighter|
|Vent Adjustments||Open all the vents when starting the fire, then adjust as needed to maintain the target temperature|
- Barbecue rub
- Olive oil or yellow mustard for a binder
- Apple cider vinegar or apple juice for the spritz
- Prior to cooking, apply a dry brine to the brisket using sea salt or kosher salt and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
- * Optional. Inject the brisket for extra flavor and moisture.
- Apply a binder of either olive oil or yellow mustard so the rub sticks.
- Sprinkle a barbeque rub onto the meat.
- Aim to get the temperature of your Kamado Joe up to 250°F.
- Insert the deflector plate or the SloRoller for indirect cooking.
- Place 4 chunks of your favorite smoking wood onto the charcoal, then place the brisket onto the grill.
- Mop or spritz the brisket every hour for the first 5 to 6 hours.
- Wrap in foil or butcher paper once the internal meat temperature reaches between 150°F and 160°F or the bark is set.
- Continue cooking until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 203°F or is a tender as butter when probed.
- Rest for 1 hour, or hold the brisket in a dry cooler wrapped in a towel for up to 4 hours.
Serving Size:85 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 246 grams
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Deflector or Slo Roller?
You have two options smoking on a Kamado Joe, and it will depend on whether you have the slow roller or the regular deflector. If you own a Big Joe 3, they included the SloRoller, but now you can buy a SloRoller for the other KJ models. To be honest, there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two. The SloRoller will produce a better smoke ring on the brisket, and will cook more evenly. The SloRoller has an amazing ability to disperse the heat evenly. However, the regular Kamado Joe deflector is perfectly good and you won’t notice much difference to the final product. Despite Kamado Joe’s promotional video for the SloRoller, it doesn’t make the meat taste any better, in my opinion. If you want to fork out $250 for the SloRoller accessory, I won’t discourage you. I think it’s a great option, especially if you love big smoke rings.
How To Fit A Whole Packer Brisket On A Smaller Kamado Joe
Unless you’ve got a Big Joe, you may struggle to fit a full pack of brisket onto your Kamado grill grate. One trick I’ve seen people use on YouTube is placing a rib rack onto the grate, and drape the brisket over the top of the rack. Then once the brisket shrinks with cooking, you can remove the rib rack.
Smoking Wood For Brisket
It doesn’t matter what smoking wood you choose for brisket, because unlike other cuts of meat, brisket can handle just about anything. Hickory, pecan, oak, mesquite, or any of the fruit wood will blend wonderfully with brisket. Chunks work best, but avoid using woodchips or pellets will burn far too quickly. We want to create a steady smoke for several hours.
Where To Lay The Wood?
There are countless debates in barbecue, such as the foil vs butcher paper debate, or the brisket fat side up vs the fat side down argument. The other debate is where to place your wood on the charcoal. Most people scatter the wood chunks on top of the charcoal, however many believe this can produce smoke that is undesirable. By burying wood chunks underneath, the charcoal will cause the wood to smolder, producing a better tasting smoke.
The Best Temperature For Smoking Brisket
The best temperature for smoking brisket is between 220°F and 250°F. Brisket has a lot of tough connective tissue, so it needs several hours to breakdown. Cooking the brisket at a low temperature gives the meat a time to break down the connective tissue, and the result is the tender, juicy brisket we know and love. If you want to know how a brisket master smokes brisket, check out this article: What Temperature Does Aaron Franklin Smoke Brisket?
If you cook the brisket too fast, you risk drying it out. High temperature is one of the major causes of tough and dry brisket. Equip yourself with a quality remote meat thermometer so you can measure the ambient temperature of your Kamado Joe. This will allow you to make adjustments if the temperature is spiking. You don’t need a fancy thermometer. There are several quality meat thermometers on the market at an affordable price. Check out my article on meat thermometers to find out more.
How To Set Up Your Fire in Your KJ
Fill the fire box with lump charcoal and place the smaller pieces to the side. Make a gap in the middle and place some larger pieces of coal into the gap. Place a fire lighter in the middle of the fire bowl and allow 20 minutes for the coal to ignite. Once lit, spread the coals around amongst the unlit coals.
Either bury the wood under the charcoal, or spread the wood chunks across the top of the fire. Don’t put the wood too close together, because you don’t want them all to burn at the same time.
Some pitmasters bury the wood so it smolders, producing a better smoke. Experiment with different techniques and see what works best for you because, apart from the fundamentals, there’s no right or wrong way to smoke meat.
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When you’re starting the fire, open all the vents to get some oxygen flowing through to get the fire burning. Once the temperature is reaching towards the target temperature, start winding back the vents. You want to keep the top vent open a crack, and the bottom vent open about an inch. Keep your eye on the temperature with a remote thermometer, and adjust the bottom vent accordingly. Ceramic cookers are amazing heat insulators, so once you reach your target temperature, it should hold there for hours.
Mop or Spritz Your Brisket
Your brisket is going to be in your Kamado Joe for hours, which puts the meat at risk of drying out. During the long brisket cook, keep your meat nice and moist by opening your Kamado Joe every hour and give you a brisket a mop with your favorite mop source or spritz with your spritzer. I use apple juice, but you can use beer, apple cider vinegar, wine, broth, or melted butter. For more ideas, check out The 10 Best Liquids For Spritzing Brisket.
No matter what you use to add moisture to your brisket, the important thing is to keep your brisket wet so it will attract more smoke. A wet brisket will slow down the cook by cooling the meat. Some people skip the mop or spritz, because they believe the constant opening and closing of the pit will cause the smoker to lose heat and therefore extend the cook time. This may be a problem with other types of smokers, but the Kamado Joe has an amazing ability to retain heat in the ceramic materials. Therefore, it won’t do it any harm opening the lid.
However, keep in mind if you keep the lid open too often, the temperature could spike because the fire will get a big shot of oxygen, then you’ll be struggling to bring your Kamado Joe back down. If your Kamado gets out of control, you risk drying out your brisket.
Wrap Your Brisket In Paper Or Foil
I highly recommend wrapping the brisket for the last stage of the cook. You can try smoking a brisket unwrapped, but most pitmasters wrap briskets. Unwrapped brisket will have a better bark, but it will take longer to cook and the meat may become a little dry. Wrapping the brisket in foil or butcher paper will hold in the juices and create steam. Wrapping makes for a tender, juicy brisket, and is one of the most important steps of the smoked brisket. For a better understanding, check out When To Wrap Brisket?
We wrap brisket once the internal temperature reaches between 150°F and 160°F. By this stage, a nice bark should have formed on the outside of the brisket. The brisket would have absorbed smoke for 5 to 6 hours so there will be a lot of smoke flavor. For a more in-depth comparison, check out this article: Paper vs Foil.
When Is It Done?
A brisket can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, even longer if you take into consideration resting or holding. But as with all low-and-slow cooking, we don’t go by time; we cook to internal temperature.
We cook competition style brisket to an internal temperature of 203°F. if you have done everything else right, the brisket should be near perfect. To get that kind of precision, you need the right tools. Meat thermometers are your most important tools, so make sure you’ve got a good instant-read thermometer and a remote digital ‘leave in’ thermometer with at least two probes. If you want to find out when barbecue pros remove brisket from the smoker, check out Brisket Done Temp: We Asked The Pitmasters.
|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|
Allow The Brisket To Rest
A great way to ruin your brisket is to slice it as soon as you have removed it from your Kamado Joe. You need to allow least 30 minutes to an hour to allow the brisket to rest and redistribute some of those juices. Slicing too early will cause all those precious juices to spill out all over the cutting board. If you’re not ready to slice, wrap it in a towel and place in a dry cooler where it will hold for upwards of four hours. Resting Brisket In A Cooler. Why Do It?
Brisket Preparation – How To Trim Like Franklin
Trimming The Brisket
Trim most of the fat of the fat cap, but leave about 1/4 inch. The deflector plate in the Kamado Joe should protect the brisket, but the fat will shield the brisket and it keep moist. However, if the fat cap is too thick, it’s going to be hard to form a bark and smoke will not penetrate the meat. Another pro tip is to save all your fat trimmings to make tallow.
Brisket Selection – How To Buy The Best Meat
The perfect smoked brisket begins at the butcher shop, where you select your piece of meat. Beef is categorized by meat grades, so you should always buy the best you can afford. If you’re smoking a brisket for a special occasion, fork out the extra cash to buy one of the best grades of beef.
When selecting a brisket, it’s important to identify marbling. The marbling that is going to make your brisket tender and juicy. You also need to know how much fat should be on the brisket. If you are just buying a flat, make sure it has fat on the bottom and the top. Brisket Flats can dry out easily, so the extra fat will assist it during the long cook. If you want to know more about choosing the right brisket, you might be interested in these articles:
Tallow – The Pitmasters Secret Ingredient
One of the hottest trends in barbecue is smoking brisket with beef tallow. Many of the popular barbecue joints in Texas are using tallow on their briskets, and this will take your brisket to the next-level and give the meat a massive flavor boost. Before cooking oils, people used tallow to cook most of their food, and McDonald’s used tallow for deep frying the french fries before switching to oil.
Beef tallow is rendered fat that has had the impurities removed. Tallow is the equivalent of pork lard. It’s simple to make tallow. All you need to do is cook down the fat, and you have tallow.
An easy way to make beef tallow is to put the fat trimmings in an aluminium pan, and place it in your Kamado Joe alongside the brisket (if you have room). Otherwise, you can make beef tallow in a pan on the stove but it will stink your house out. If you have an outdoor grill with a side burner, this will be the best place to make your tallow. I’ve written a full-length article on tallow that you can check out here: How To Make Tallow And Use In On Your Barbecue
How To Put Tallow on Brisket
The best way to add tallow to your brisket is during the wrapping stage. As you are laying out your foil or butcher paper, smear the tallow over the paper. Butcher paper works best with tallow, but you can try it with foil. Once the brisket is wrapped, the fat tallow will keep the meat tender and juicy. In most taste tests, the brisket cooked with tallow is noticeably different and is found to be more juicy and moist.
Brine Your Brisket
Salt plays an important role in the smoked brisket. Not only does salt add flavor, but it also helps keep the brisket moist by retaining liquid during the cook. The best way to add salt to your brisket is by dry brining. Some people skip this step and have salt in their rub. I prefer to salt my meat separately, and keep my barbecue rub salt free. Avoid brining your brisket if you use a salty rub. I’ve made that mistake before and ruined a brisket that turned out far too salty because I brined and used a salty rub. For more information, check out the Step-By-Step Guide to Brining Brisket.
Pump Your Brisket With Marinade
The pros will inject most competition style briskets with marinade or some other liquid solution. Injecting will really take your brisket to the next level by adding moisture to make the meat juicy, and it will give it a major flavor boost. There are some awesome solutions on the market, and you can find out more in this post when I go into great detail about injecting your brisket and where to find the best products to take your brisket to the next level. Should I Inject Brisket? The Brisket Marinade Guide.
Apply A Slather So The Rub Sticks
Before applying your rub, apply a binder to your brisket so the rub will stick. Smear olive oil or yellow mustard all over the brisket. This will give the rub a chance to bind to the meat once the cooking begins. The taste of the slather isn’t noticeable once the brisket has finished. All your taste buds will recognize is the taste of the smoke and the rub and the meat. Binder For Brisket-Should You Slather?
I find the champion pitmasters make the best rubs for brisket, so when I’m shopping for rub, they are my go-to brands. Harry Soo, the world brisket barbecue champion, has a line of rubs called Slap Yo Daddy. Malcolm Reed (the guru with the best BBQ YouTube channel) has a line of rubs called Killer Hogs. Butcher BBQ also makes an awesome competition rub worth trying. Check out my Brisket Rub Guide where I walk you through the best home-made recipes and the best store-bought rubs.
- - 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
How To Slice Brisket
Slice your brisket against the grain and you’ll find it will be more tender than if you slice with the grain. Try to resist slicing the whole brisket, because your leftovers will taste much better when you have kept the roast intact. When you go to reheat your leftovers, brisket slices canned be dry.
How To Serve Brisket Leftovers
If you have a Cryovac machine, this is the best way to store brisket leftovers and you can also reheat them sous vide. If you want to know the best way to store and reheat brisket leftovers for the best results, check out this article that I wrote a while back.
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.