Smoked Bison Brisket: Buffalo Smoking 101

If you’re looking to smoke a bison brisket, fire up your smoker because you’ve come to the right place! Bison meat, also known as buffalo, has a unique flavor and texture that is perfect for smoking. By following the right techniques and using a little bit of smoke, you’ll be able to create a mouthwatering bison brisket in no time. In this guide, we’ll go over all the steps you need to take to slow smoke a delicious and tender bison brisket.

To begin preparing your bison brisket, start by trimming the fat cap to about 1/4 inch. Then, season the meat with a combination of kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and BBQ rub. Next, set up your smoker or pellet grill at a temperature between 225°F and 250°F, using hickory, pecan, or your preferred smoking wood. Allow the meat to smoke undisturbed for the first four hours, and then spritz it with liquid every 30 minutes. Once the bark is firm, wrap the brisket in foil to continue cooking. When the internal temperature of the meat reaches between 195°F and 200°F and it is probe tender, remove it from the smoker. Allow the brisket to rest for one hour before slicing and serving.

Key Points

  • Bison brisket is a delicious and flavorful meat that is well-suited for smoking.
  • When preparing a bison brisket, it’s important to remove the fat cap but leave about 1/4 inch of fat on the meat. The fat will help keep the meat moist and prevent it from drying out during the smoking process.
  • It’s important to season the bison brisket with a rub or marinade of your choice, and set the temperature of your smoker or pellet grill between 225°F and 250°F.
  • During the smoking process, spritz the brisket every 30 minutes and wrap it in foil once the bark is firm.
  • Cook the brisket until it reaches a temperature of 195°F to 200°F and is probe tender.
  • Allow the brisket to rest for about an hour before slicing and serving.

Introduction to Bison Brisket

Bison, also known as buffalo, is making a comeback in America and is now more widely available. Bison meat has a similar taste and texture to beef, although some cuts may be smaller. A bison brisket is slightly smaller than a beef brisket and is leaner, with no marbling. While marbling does add tenderness and juiciness to beef, bison can still be tender and juicy even without it. Bison has its own unique flavor, and when cooked slowly with a touch of smoke, it becomes absolutely mouthwatering and delicious.

Preparation of Bison Brisket

Bison meat is naturally lean, so there isn’t usually a lot of trimming needed. For the best results, follow the general rule for beef brisket and leave about 1/4 inch of fat on the fat cap of your bison brisket. The fat cap serves several purposes when smoking the meat. It protects the brisket from the heat of the smoker and helps to keep it moist. Also, the fat adds flavor and helps to form a bark on the meat. Just be sure not to leave too much fat, as it can prevent the smoke from penetrating the meat and make it difficult to form a bark.

This brisket injection marinade is the secret used in competitions and made by a World Barbecue champion.

Rub and Seasoning for Bison Brisket

The rub is an important step in the brisket smoking process. Not only does the rub add flavor, it plays an important role in developing a bark. Add an even layer of rub around the whole bison brisket, covering every part. If you find the rub isn’t sticking, you can apply a binder to help the rub stick. A binder will prevent the brisket from having a patchy bark. The most common binders are yellow mustard or olive oil. You can either make your own rub at home, or use a store-bought rub. The pre-made rubs from the store contain a lot of salt, so careful if you decide to salt the brisket separately.

You can keep it simple with the rub and just do a Texas style salt and pepper rub. Use a nice, coarse cafe black pepper and quality salt such as kosher salt or sea salt. Apply a 50/50 ratio of S&P. If you want to expand from there, add a little paprika for color, or some garlic powder and onion powder for a savory taste. I’ve written a full-length article on brisket rubs with step-by-step instructions and full recipes for the best homemade brisket rubs. you can check out the article here: Brisket Rub Recipe.

If you’re after a good store-bought rub, the best rubs that I’ve found online are Killer Hogs, Butcher BBQ or Slap Yo Daddy. They’re produced by champion pitmatsers, which is why they are so good.

Standard Barbecue Rub

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:

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • - 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


  1. Combine all the spices together in a large mixing bowl
  2. Store rub in rub shakers

The Best Temperature for Smoking Bison Brisket

Set the temperature of your smoker between 225°F and 250°F. This is the standard low and slow cooking range and is perfect for brisket. This lower temperature will give the meat plenty of time to absorb smoke and allow time for the fat and connective tissue to break down and render.

If you’re using a charcoal smoker, keep the temperature under control because you risk drying out the meat if you expose the brisket to high temperatures. You can increase the temperature after you have wrapped it, but don’t go higher than 275°F.

Hot-and-fast brisket has become a popular trend in barbeque, but be careful cooking a bison brisket with this method. Bison contains less fat and no marbling, so it may not turn out as well as a marbled beef brisket cooked at 350°F.

How to Smoke Bison Brisket in 5 Steps

Once you have prepared the buffalo brisket, fire up your smoker or your Traeger pellet grill. It doesn’t matter what smoker you are using, as long as you keep the temperature stable and follow the five steps below:

Step 1: The First 4 Hours

For the first 4 to 5 hours, leave the brisket alone. Let it sit in the smoker and absorb smoke. The aim of the first phase of the cook is to form a crust on the outer layer of the meat. The crust, or bark, is one of the best parts of the smoked brisket and developing the perfect bark on a brisket is an art form. Avoid spritzing or mopping during the first few hours because this will cause the rub to run off the meat, and opening and closing the lid of your smoker will destabilize the smoker.

Step 2: Spritzing

After the bison brisket has been sitting in the smoker for several hours, touch the bark to see if the bark has set. If the bark is firm and the rub doesn’t stick to your fingers, then commence spritzing. Take a spray bottle and fill it with either apple cider vinegar, apple juice or plain water and spritz the meat every 30 to 40 minutes.

Spritzing will help cool the meat and slow down the cooking. We want the brisket to sit in the smoker for as long as possible. The meat needs time to absorb smoke and needs time to render the fat and connective tissue. Wetting the meat will also help replace moisture and produce larger smoke ring.

Step 3: Wrapping in Foil

Wrapping is an important step in the brisket smoking process, but deciding when to wrap the brisket can be confusing. Some people say you should wrap the brisket once the meat reaches 150°F, but this may be too soon. Monitor the internal temperature, but eyeballing the bison brisket should be your priority. Don’t wrap the meat until the brisket has a firm crust and a nice dark color. Wrapping will soften the bark, so you need to make sure the bark is firm before it’s wrapped. Wrapping will speed up the cooking and help the meat push through the stall. It will steam the meat, keeping it moist and tender.

Wrap the brisket in two layers of aluminium foil and place the thermometer probe back inside the meat. Alternatively, use butcher paper for a better bark. To know the difference between foil and butcher paper, check out this article I wrote a while back: Foil or Butcher Paper?

Step 4: Checking for Doneness

Once the buffalo brisket has been wrapped, place it back in the smoker or bring it inside and finish it in the oven. It won’t make a difference at this point because the brisket won’t take on any more flavor. You can increase the temperature of your smoke or oven to 250°F to 275°F.

Keep the thermometer inserted and keep a close eye on the internal meat temperature. Once the meat reaches the 190s, begin regular tenderness checks. The perfect brisket should feel like poking a stick of butter with a toothpick or a thermometer probe. There should be no resistance when you remove your instant-read thermometer.

“Brisket Done Temperature – We Asked The Barbecue Pitmasters”

Step 5: Resting and Slicing

Resting is the last step, and one of the most important. If you slice the brisket too soon, all the meat juices will be lost. Open the foil a little to vent the meat and let it rest for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour because you will get some carryover cooking. If you’re not ready to slice and serve, place the bison brisket in a dry cooler for up to 4 hours where it will remain hot. If you want to know why, check out this article: Why Rest Brisket In A Cooler?

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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