What Does Aaron Franklin Do? We Answer 33 FAQ’s About The Pitmaster

If you want to become a master of barbecue, you need to learn from the master. Aaron Franklin is a barbecue guru. When it comes to low-and-slow barbecue, everyone wants to know how Aaron Franklin smokes brisket, ribs, turkey, and everything else. I wanted to find out all there was to know about Aaron Franklin’s barbecue methods. So I did some research.

1. When Does Aaron Franklin Wrap Brisket?

Franklin wraps brisket when it “looks right”. He doesn’t follow strict times or temperatures when trying to decide what to wrap a brisket. Also, no two briskets are the same. In a YouTube video, Franklin wrapped the brisket 6 hours into the cook. However, he said other days it could be 4 hours, while other days it could be 8 hours. No two briskets are the same, so it changes from cook to cook. So there’s no right or wrong answer. Every brisket is different, so the wrapping time will change. More often than not, Franklin goes by” look-and-feel”. He looks for specific signs related to the color or texture of the meat. Aaron observes the fat, see if it’s rendered. He looks at the color of the bark. Once he’s satisfied with the bark, the color, and the fat rendering, then he will wrap the brisket. This could be 4 hours into the cook, or 8 hours.

2. How Does Aaron Franklin Wrap Brisket?

  • Aaron Franklin usually wraps his brisket in butcher paper rather than foil.
  • He wraps about 6 to 8 hours into the cook.
  • In his public videos, Aaron always wraps, but says he doesn’t always wrap brisket.
  • Franklin doesn’t follow any hard-and-fast rules. It depends on the brisket. It depends on the color.
  • If he is using a harsh wood, then Franklin will wrap the brisket. It also depends on the type of smoker and the type of smoke.
  • Brisket will need to be protected sometimes from the type of smoke coming out of your smoker. If he looks like the brisket needs some protecting, then he will wrap.

3. When Does Aaron Franklin Pull His Brisket Off The Smoker?

You don’t want to remove the brisket too early, otherwise the meat will be too chewy. Aaron Franklin rarely uses thermometers. So when deciding if the brisket is done, Franklin will go by “look-and-feel” rather than exact times or temperatures. Franklin picks up the brisket, and gives it a jiggle. He says the brisket should be “nice and floppy” when cooked to perfection. Franklin suggests using a toothpick or thermometer probe to test for tenderness. If the brisket feels like butter when poked, then it’s reached perfect tenderness. If there’s resistance, then it needs more time in the smoker. Although it’s not recommended to go by exact temperatures, you’ll find that when a brisket reaches the ideal temperature, the internal meat temperature should be around about 203° F. This seems to be the magic number that most pitmasters follow.

4. Does Aaron Franklin Wrap His Ribs?

There are two YouTube videos available where Aaron Franklin cooks pork ribs, and beef ribs. When smoking pork ribs, Franklin wraps them in aluminium foil about 2 hours into the cook. Then he squirts barbecue sauce onto the ribs and gives them a spritz. He then cooks the ribs for another 2 hours wrapped in foil. However, Franklin doesn’t wrap beef ribs. When it comes to beef, Franklin applies a different technique. Check it out here: How Does Aaron Franklin Smoke Beef Ribs?

5. Does Aaron Franklin Use Mustard As A Binder?

In his public videos, Aaron Franklin doesn’t use yellow mustard as a slather. However, Franklin will sometimes use olive oil as a binder, but it depends on the meat. He rarely uses a binder for brisket, but he slathers olive oil onto pork ribs and pork butt prior to adding rub. In one YouTube video, Franklin used hot sauce as a binder for ribs. When smoking turkey, Franklin doesn’t need a binder. This is because he soaks the bird in a wet brine overnight. If the turkey is wet enough, the rub to stick.

6. How Does Aaron Franklin Wrap Brisket?

Aaron Franklin uses pink butcher paper to wrap his brisket. He places two layers of paper onto the table, then places the brisket on top. He folds the edges, then rolls the brisket twice in paper. Aaron uses butcher paper from a company called Abco. See the table below for the best butcher paper’s on the market, including the paper Franklin uses.

7. How Much Is Aaron Franklin’s Masterclass?

To access Aaron Franklin’s Masterclass, you need a Masterclass subscription which is $180 per year. Unfortunately, you can’t buy Franklin’s Masterclass because it’s similar to other streaming or subscription services like Netflix, Audible or Amazon Prime. The Masterclass subscription is also priced similarly to other streaming or subscription platforms, so it can become costly if you’re using multiple services. Unfortunately, there’s no free first month with Masterclass. So that means you can’t just watch Aaron Franklin’s Masterclass and cancel your subscription.

8. What Temperature Does Aaron Franklin Smoke Brisket?

In general, Aaron Franklin cooks brisket at 250° F. This is a standard cooking temperature for brisket. Anywhere between 225° F and 250° F is a normal range for brisket. This is the perfect temperature for low-and-slow cooking. You don’t want to go over 275°F because your brisket will be at risk of drying out. The secret to low-and-slow cooking is keeping the temperature in the 225° to 250° F range. Franklin cooks at 275°F when smoking other cuts such as pork butt or ribs.

9. When Is Aaron Franklin’s Brisket Done?

Franklin goes by look-and-feel rather than strict temperatures or times. Franklin will only remove the brisket from the smoker once it has reached the perfect tenderness. If the meat isn’t tender, he will keep cooking. Every now and then he will pick up the brisket and give it a shake. Sometimes he will poke the meat with a thermometer or a toothpick. Pitmasters like Franklin will continue cooking the brisket until the meat is as tender as poking a stick of butter.

10. Aaron Franklin’s Texas-Style Salt And Pepper Rub

Aaron Franklin uses 16-mesh cafe grind black pepper and kosher salt for his rub mixture. When putting his seasoning together, Franklin uses a 50/50 mix of salt and pepper. This is a basic Texas rub which is common in Central Texas, where Aaron originates. Sometimes called a Dalmatian rub, this seasoning mix is designed to let the meat be the star of the show. Not the seasoning.

Franklin doesn’t use the typical barbecue rub with multiple spices. Instead, he uses a simple mix of salt and pepper. Sometimes he mixes in some paprika.

11. Aaron Franklin Salt And Pepper Ratio

Franklin applies a 50/50 mix of salt and pepper when making his Texas-style rub. He places the S&P in a container and swirls as he applies the rub to the meat. When seasoning brisket, Aaron will apply a layer of kosher salt first, then sprinkle the pepper. When cooking ribs, pork butt or turkey, Aaron applies the salt and pepper together.

12. Does Aaron Franklin Cook Fat-Side-Up Or Fat-Side-Down?

Franklin smokes brisket fat-side-up because he cooks on an offset smoker with the heat source coming from the side. People who cook fat-side-down have smokers with a heat source coming from below. The idea of fat-side-down is to shield the meat from the heat. The fat prevents the leaner part of the roast from drying out. Franklin faces the brisket point towards the heat box. This will shield the brisket flat from being exposed to the high heat.

13. Does Aaron Franklin Spritz With Apple Cider Vinegar?

Aaron Franklin uses apple cider vinegar as his main spritzing method. Apple cider vinegar is nice and sticky, so it helps everything stick together. Franklin recommends either apple juice, apple cider vinegar, or water with some hot sauce. Use a spray bottle rather than a mop brush. Franklin doesn’t like mopping brisket because it’s too messy.

14. Aaron Franklin Brisket Rub

Aaron Franklin uses a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and black pepper as his brisket rub. This is a traditional Texas-style rub, sometimes called a Dalmatian rub. Aaron uses 16- mesh cafe grind black pepper and Morton’s kosher salt.

15. Aaron Franklin Brisket Temp?

Aaron Franklin cooks brisket at 250° F, but he doesn’t cook to a specific internal meat temperature. Although in one YouTube video, Franklin said the temperature internal temperatures of his brisket is usually around 200° F when done. However, Franklin cooks to tenderness, not time or temperature. Like most pros, Franklin performs a series of tenderness tests before making a decision. Once the brisket is as tender as poking butter, he calls time on the brisket.

16. Does Aaron Franklin Have A Cookbook?

Aaron Franklin has a few cookbooks on Amazon. You can check them out here. First, there’s the Franklin Barbecue Smoking Manifesto, which was published back in 2015. The more recent release is Franklin Steak, and the Dry Aged Meat Book. You can also buy the two books in a bundle on Amazon.

17. Aaron Franklin Texas Rub Recipe

The Dalmatian rub is another name for a Texas style rub that is famously used by pitmaster Aaron Franklin. The Texas rub is a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and cafe grind black pepper ground to a 16-mesh. The mesh size is how pepper size is graded. If you want 16-mesh pepper, you can buy a large bag of whole pepper corns on Amazon here. Then, all you need is a pepper grinder to make 16-mesh. Here is a table to help you better understand pepper sizes.

Pepper Mesh
Whole Black Pepper6 – 8 
Half Cracked Black Pepper6- 8 
Quarter Cracked Pepper8-10 
Coarse Black Pepper12- 14
Table Ground Black Pepper18 -28
Restaurant Ground Black Pepper22 – 28
Fine Ground Black Pepper30 – 34
Ground White Pepper60

18. Aaron Franklin Internal Temp Brisket

Aaron Franklin doesn’t stick to a strict internal meat temperature when smoking brisket. He performs tenderness tests rather than times or temperatures.

19. Does Aaron Franklin Inject Brisket?

Aaron Franklin doesn’t inject his brisket. Injecting is mostly a practice reserved for competition pitmasters. Franklin is a big believer in keeping things simple. He likes the natural meat flavors to be the star of the show. He isn’t a believer in thick rubs with lots of different seasonings or injections.

20. Aaron Franklin Kosher Salt

Aaron Franklin uses Morton’s Kosher Salt in his rub recipe. He uses a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and black pepper when making his rub. With brisket, Aaron will apply the kosher salt separately to the pepper. Franklin will also use Morton’s kosher salt in his brine recipe for turkey.

21. Aaron Franklin Brisket Knife

When slicing brisket, Aaron Franklin uses a 12-inch slicing knife with a serrated edge (not scalloped). These are by far the best knives for slicing brisket. When trimming brisket. Franklin uses a boning knife which is much smaller.

22. How Does Aaron Franklin Trim Brisket?

Aaron Franklin trims his brisket, leaving a quarter inch of fat on the fat cap. He may leave half an inch in some areas of the brisket that may be vulnerable to heat. Franklin removes the silver skin from the underside of the brisket. He will also remove blood vessels or anything that won’t render. He will also cut out the deckle—the thick layer of fat between the point and the flat muscle. To trim brisket, Aaron uses a sharp boning knife commonly used by butchers and caterers.

23. Does Aaron Franklin Use Mustard On Brisket?

Aaron Franklin rarely uses a binder on brisket. However, he recommends olive oil on pork butts and ribs. Aaron Franklin goes very light on his rub for brisket, because he likes to highlight the natural beef flavor. Binders only need to be added if you want to apply a thick layer of rub.

24. When Does Franklin Wrap Brisket?

Aaron Franklin wraps brisket once he’s satisfied with the color and feel of the bark. He waits for the brisket to have a nice mahogany color, which should occur usually around about 6 hours into the cook. Aaron waits for the fat to have rendered off the meat. This can occur anywhere between 4 to 8 hours into the cook depending on the size of the brisket. Franklin doesn’t always wrap. It all depends on the brisket. Although, in most of his public videos, Franklin always wraps brisket.

25. What Smoker Does Aaron Franklin Use?

Aaron Franklin uses an offset smoker the majority of the time. Also known as stickburners, offset smokers have a firebox separate from the cook chamber. It’s an ideal design because the meat can cook with indirect heat rather than direct heat. A stick burner burns wood splits rather than wood chunks or charcoal. Some people use some charcoal to start the fire, but you maintain the temperature through throwing logs onto the fire. This gives the meat a smoky flavor, because wood is the primary heat source.

With charcoal smokers, the primary heat source is coal, so with these types of smokers, you need to throw on chunks of wood for the smoke flavor. I do not recommend that beginners start out with offset smokers because they are very difficult to control. Not only that, offset smokers are extremely expensive. Don’t buy one of those cheap offset smokers that you see in hardware stores. They may look similar to an Aaron Franklin offset, but they’re not. A proper offset will be well insulated with thick metal. Cheap imitation offset smokers have thin metal, so the temperatures will fluctuate.

26. Does Aaron Franklin Brine Brisket?

Aaron Franklin doesn’t brine brisket. He prefers to keep things simple, and let the natural beef flavor be the star of the show. Franklin uses a simple salt and pepper rub, and just lets the natural beef flavors shine. The only meat Franklin brines is turkey. Keep in mind, Franklin uses high quality beef with good marbling. If you’re cooking with Prime, Choice or Wagyu brisket, then brining isn’t as important. If you’ve got a Select grade brisket, I would suggest dry brining prior to cooking. If you want to know more, check out this article I wrote a while back: Should I Brine Brisket?

27. Does Aaron Franklin Mop Brisket?

Aaron Franklin spritzes brisket rather than mopping. Aaron believes mopping is too messy, so he prefers to spritz brisket with a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar. Mopping can also damage the bark, and wash all the seasoning off the brisket. Spritzing is gentle, quick and leaves no mess. Franklin always takes care to protect his brisket bark. When spritzing ribs, Franklin sometimes uses hot sauce mixed with water.

28. What Does Aaron Franklin Spray On Brisket?

Aaron Franklin uses apple cider vinegar to spritz his brisket. Franklin also suggests apple juice, or hot sauce mixed with water. Although, he doesn’t have any hard-and-fast rules. Spritz is a personal preference. To make a spritz, just get your hands on a regular spray bottle and fill it with water, beer, wine, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, broth or stock. I find acidic, sticky spritzes work better. For more on this, check out this article: How To Spritz Brisket.

29. What Knife Does Aaron Franklin Use To Trim Brisket?

Aaron Franklin uses a boning knife to trim his briskets. The knife he uses was given to him by his father, and he’s used the same knife for years. Boning knives like Victorinox are high quality German blades that last a long time, and stay sharp. They are curved, which is good because you need to get into some of the crevices and cavities to scoop out the brisket fat. This is especially important when scooping out fat between the point and the flat. Also, the silver skin on the underside of the brisket needs to be removed with a pointy sharp knife.

30. How Does Aaron Franklin Slice Brisket?

Franklin uses a 12-inch serrated knife and slices the brisket to the size of a thick pencil (which is about 1/4 of an inch). Aaron uses pencils as a guide because he is constantly using them in his restaurants. There are several good 12-inch serrated brisket knives on Amazon.

31. How Long Does Aaron Franklin Rest Brisket?

Aaron Franklin rests brisket for about 1 hour after smoking. This allows the muscles to relax and reabsorb moisture. Franklin often reminds his viewers not to slice brisket too soon. If you slice a brisket straight out of the smoker, all the muscles will be tense and pushing out moisture. Resting for 1 hour will give the muscles time to relax and stop pushing out moisture. If you were to slice too soon, the meat will still look good on the plate, but it will be dry within a few minutes.

32. How Does Aaron Franklin Season Brisket?

Franklin seasons his brisket with a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and a course of black pepper. Franklin likes to highlight the natural beef flavors, rather than overpower the meat with too many spices. With other meat, sometimes Aaron will mix in a little paprika for color, or some granulated onion for texture, and garlic powder for a savory taste. Franklin uses a 16-mesh black pepper. To find out where to get this black pepper, check out Aaron Franklin Rub Recipe.

33. What Does Aaron Franklin Put On Brisket?

Aaron Franklin puts salt and pepper on his brisket, which is a traditional Texas-style rub. Franklin is a believer in letting the natural meat flavor shine through. Heavy seasonings and marinades will dominate the flavor. For a more in-depth look at the Franklin-style barbecue rub, check out this article. In this post, I’ll show you how to make the Texas-style rub Franklin uses on his barbecue.

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.


Author and founder at Meat Smoking HQ

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