There’s nothing better than a tender, juicy brisket cooked low ’n slow in a smoker. This large cut of beef is a delicacy and is central on the barbecue plate in the southern states such as Texas. So why do people come from all around the world, then line up for hours at Franklin’s—just to taste the brisket? What’s so special about this cut of beef? For the backyard cook, brisket takes many years to master on the smoker, which is why it’s known as the ‘king of the smoking meats’. So what does brisket taste like?
Brisket is a cut of beef that contains a lot of connective tissue, which gives it a different flavor and texture when compared to leaner, more tender prime cuts of beef. Since brisket is a tough cut, it needs to be slow cooked—otherwise it will be tough and chewy. When cooked slow, the fat and connective tissue melts and transforms into a gelatin-like texture with unbelievable flavor. Another feature of the smoked brisket is the bark-the crispy outer layer of the meat. The taste of brisket largely depends on how it was prepared and cooked. There are several ways to cook brisket such as smoking, roasting or slow cooked brisket.
“Brisket is a tough cut of meat that requires a little bit of extra love and attention, but the end result is always worth it. The slow cooking process breaks down the connective tissue, creating a tender, flavorful cut of meat that’s full of smoky, savory goodness.”– Aaron Franklin
“Brisket is one of my favorite cuts of meat to barbecue. The slow cooking process breaks down the connective tissue, creating a tender, flavorful cut of meat that just melts in your mouth.”– Myron Mixon
“Brisket has a rich, beefy flavor that’s perfect for soaking up all the delicious smoke and spices from the grill or smoker.”– Bobby Flay
“Brisket is the king of barbecue. It’s a tough cut of meat that requires patience and a lot of love to turn it into something special, but the end result is worth it. The deep, smoky flavor and tender, succulent meat is what barbecue dreams are made of.”– Tuffy Stone
What is Brisket?
Brisket is a popular cut of beef that is often used for slow cooking methods, such as smoking or braising. It is a tough cut of meat because it comes from the chest of the animal and is used for support, so it contains a lot of connective tissue. This gives it a unique flavor when it is cooked slowly, as the connective tissue breaks down and adds flavor to the meat.
Low n Slow Brisket
The perfect brisket is slow smoked over many hours. This allows the meat to absorb smoke flavor and become tender and flavorful. A good pitmaster will use various techniques, such as seasoning, wrapping, spritzing, and injecting, to build layers of flavor onto the brisket as it cooks. While a standard brisket roast cooked in the oven or slow cooker may still be delicious, it will not have the same depth of flavor as a slow smoked brisket cooked in a smoker over several hours.
“Brisket has a deep, smoky flavor that’s hard to beat. It’s the ultimate barbecue comfort food.”– Tom Colicchio
“Brisket is like a big hug on a plate. It’s rich, hearty, and full of flavor.”– Anne Burrell
Why Brisket is Popular
When cooked correctly, smoked brisket has many qualities that make it delicious. The smoke flavor from the wood and charcoal adds depth and complexity to the meat. The bark, or crispy outer layer, is a combination of dehydrated meat, fat, rub, and smoke, and adds texture and flavor to the brisket. And if everything else is done right, the tender, juicy meat itself is incredibly flavorful, with the melted connective tissue adding to the overall taste and texture.
“Brisket is like a flavor bomb in your mouth. It’s rich, beefy, and has a deep, smoky taste that’s hard to beat.”– Michael Symon
More Fat Equals More Flavor
As you would probably know—fat equals flavor. Brisket contains a lot of fat and connective tissue, which is why it tastes so amazing! Leaner cuts may be more tender than brisket, but unless it’s well marbled, it has less flavor and will dry out. Since brisket is a fatty cut of meat and contains a lot of connective tissue, therefore there’s an enormous amount of flavor in this part of the meat.
“Brisket is one of my all-time favorite cuts of meat. It’s so flavorful and juicy, and the slow cooking process really brings out the rich, beefy taste. It’s the perfect choice for any barbecue or cookout.”– Guy Fieri
Marbled Briskets Taste Better
Marbling is the fatty striations between the muscle fibers on the meat. The more marbling, the more tasty and juicy the brisket. The extra fat in the muscle fibers will help keep the brisket moist, plus enhance the flavor enormously. A well-marbled brisket will taste much better than a USDA Select brisket with no marbling. wagyu brisket is famous for its marbling, which is why it’s so delicious and expensive.
The taste of a brisket can be influenced by the quality of the meat used. In general, briskets that are higher in marbling, or fat content, will be more flavorful than leaner cuts.
Wagyu and Angus beef are known for their high levels of marbling and are often considered to be among the most flavorful briskets. In the United States, USDA Prime and USDA Choice grades of beef are also known for their high levels of marbling and can be used to produce flavorful briskets.
On the other hand, briskets with lower grades of beef, such as USDA Select or lesser grades, may contain little to no marbling and will be less flavorful as a result. These leaner cuts of meat can also be more difficult to cook, as they are more prone to drying out. If you want to ensure that your brisket is flavorful and juicy, it is best to choose a high-quality, well-marbled cut of meat.
“Brisket is the ultimate barbecue comfort food. It’s rich, beefy, and has a deep, smoky flavor that’s hard to beat. The slow cooking process really brings out the best in this cut of meat, creating a tender, succulent masterpiece that’s perfect for any occasion.”– Matt Pittman
How Different Brisket Techniques Change the Flavor
The flavor of the brisket also depends on how it was prepared. A slow smoked brisket is going to have way more flavor than a brisket cooked in an oven or a slow cooker. There are so many types of smokers, and smoking techniques -and all will change the flavor and texture of the meat.
“Brisket is a labor of love, but the end result is always worth it. It’s a rich, flavorful cut of meat that’s full of smoky, savory goodness. The slow cooking process helps to break down the connective tissue, creating a tender, succulent masterpiece that’s perfect for any barbecue or cookout.”– Melissa Cookston
Slow Cooker vs. Oven Brisket
While it is possible to slow cook a brisket in the oven, it will not have the same flavor as a smoked brisket. An oven-cooked brisket may be tender and juicy if cooked slowly, but it will not have the smoky flavor or crispy bark of a smoked brisket. If you want to achieve a smoky flavor in an oven-cooked brisket, you could try using wood chips or a liquid smoke flavor to add some smokiness to the meat.
“Smoked brisket is a thing of beauty. The long, slow cooking process infuses the meat with a deep, smoky flavor that’s hard to beat. The fat in the brisket keeps it moist and tender, and the result is a rich, savory masterpiece that’s perfect for any barbecue or cookout.”– Food & Wine Magazine
|Factor||Effect on Taste|
|Type of wood used for smoking||Can add specific flavors to the meat, such as a fruity or sweet flavor from fruitwoods or a bold, smoky flavor from mesquite or hickory|
|Rub or marinade used||Can add flavor to the exterior of the meat and help to create a flavorful “bark”|
|Temperature and length of cooking time||Affects the tenderness and texture of the meat; longer cooking times at lower temperatures can help to break down the connective tissue and fat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful brisket|
|Quality and source of the meat||Can affect the flavor and overall quality of the brisket; choosing high-quality, well-marbled meat from a reputable source can improve the taste of the finished product|
|Method of serving||Can affect how the flavors of the brisket are perceived; serving the brisket with complementary sides or sauces can enhance the overall taste experience|
Wrapping Brisket Changes the Taste
Wrapping the brisket in foil or paper is a common technique used by pitmasters to help cook the meat faster and create steam. Wrapping the brisket in foil can create a “pot roasty” flavor, while wrapping it in paper can result in a crunchy bark and a more beefy flavor. Unwrapped briskets will be smokier and have a crispier bark, but may dry out if not cooked correctly.
“Smoked brisket is the ultimate comfort food. It’s rich, hearty, and full of smoky, savory flavor. The slow cooking process breaks down the tough connective tissue, creating a tender, succulent cut of meat that’s hard to resist.”– Bon Appétit Magazine
Develop Flavor on the Bark
The bark, or crispy outer layer, of a smoked brisket is an important part of the overall flavor and texture of the meat. It is created through a combination of smoke, dehydrated meat, and the rub used to season the brisket. Pitmasters often spend a lot of time developing and nurturing the flavor of the bark, building up layers of flavor through the smoking process.
“Smoked brisket is a barbecue masterpiece. The slow cooking process infuses the meat with a deep, smoky flavor that’s hard to beat. The fat in the brisket keeps it moist and tender, and the result is a rich, savory cut of meat that’s perfect for any occasion.”– Eater
Brisket Rub and Seasonings
The type of dry rub or seasoning used on a brisket can have a significant impact on the overall taste of the finished product. The crispy outer layer of the brisket, known as the bark, will take on the flavors of the rub used by the pitmaster.
There are many different rub recipes and pre-made rubs available, ranging from simple blends of salt and pepper to more complex blends containing a variety of ingredients. Some common ingredients in barbecue rubs include chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and brown sugar. These ingredients can help to add flavor, heat, and sweetness to the bark of the brisket.
Aaron Franklin, the owner of Franklin’s BBQ in Texas, is known for his simple Texas style salt and pepper rub, which consists of only salt and pepper. Other pitmasters may use more complex rubs containing several ingredients, such as the ones mentioned above, to create a more nuanced flavor profile.
“Slow-cooked brisket is a delicious, hassle-free option for dinner. The long cooking time helps to break down the tough connective tissue, resulting in a tender, flavorful cut of meat that’s perfect for any occasion.”– Jamie Oliver
World Brisket Champion Harry Soo is now sharing his secrets with his Competition Meat Rubs.
How to Make Brisket Juicy
Cooking brisket low and slow is the key to achieving a tender, juicy, and flavorful cut of meat. If the brisket is cooked too fast, it is more likely to be dry and tough, which is not very appealing.
To increase the chances of having a tender, juicy brisket, it is important to choose a high-quality cut of meat with a good amount of marbling, and to cook it at low temperatures for a long period of time. This will allow the meat to slowly break down and become tender and flavorful.
Also, when cooking brisket low and slow, it’s important to create a crispy, flavorful “bark” on the exterior of the meat. This can be achieved by using a rub or marinade, and by cooking the brisket at high temperatures for a short period of time to create a crust.
“Smoked brisket is a true barbecue delicacy. The long, slow cooking process creates a tender, succulent cut of meat with a rich, smoky flavor that’s hard to resist. Whether you’re serving it at a cookout or enjoying it at a restaurant, smoked brisket is always a hit.”– Thrillist
Can You Taste the Smoke Ring?
Another thing you’ll notice on the smoked brisket is what we know as the smoke ring. If you look at a slice of brisket and see a pink ring around the outer layer of the meat, then that’s a sign that it was smoked low and slow. The smoke ring will give the brisket no flavor cover All it is a chemical reaction that takes place on the surface of the meat. Smoke reacts with the fat and the meat, causing chemical reactions that preserve the pink pigment within the meat. When you first encounter the smoke ring, you might think the meat is raw—but this isn’t the case.
“Smoked brisket is the ultimate barbecue treat. The slow cooking process infuses the meat with a deep, smoky flavor that’s hard to beat. The fat in the brisket keeps it moist and tender, and the result is a rich, savory masterpiece that’s perfect for any occasion.”– Food Network Magazine
Cook It Low and Slow for Optimal Flavor
Brisket is a cut of meat that requires slow cooking to become tender and flavorful. It is a large, tough cut of meat that is best cooked using low, indirect heat to break down the connective tissue and fat in the meat.
Cooking brisket low and slow allows the meat to absorb smoke flavor over several hours, which can help to add depth and complexity to the overall flavor of the finished product. Grilling or frying brisket, on the other hand, may result in a tough, dry, and inedible cut of meat.
Because of its size and toughness, brisket is best suited for long, slow cooking methods such as smoking, barbecuing, or roasting. By cooking the meat at low temperatures for a long period of time, you can achieve a tender, flavorful, and delicious brisket.
Why Does Brisket Take So Long To Cook?
Brisket needs a long time to cook, because of the connective tissue needs time at low temperatures to break down. The USDA recommends that beef be served at an internal temperature of 145° F. However, if you were to serve brisket at this temperature, it will be safe to eat but it will be chewy and tough. The ideal internal temperature to cook brisket is 203° F. Once you take the brisket to this temperature, all that fat and connective tissue will have broken down and will be nice and tender.
A Texas brisket may taste different to a brisket cooked in other regions. Texans use mesquite, a very strong smoking wood that is an acquired taste. Mesquite can make the meat taste bitter if you aren’t used to the taste. The other noticeable difference with a Texas brisket is the heavy layer of pepper. This is known as a Texas rub and contains a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Brisket is famous in barbecue restaurants across Texas and the USA. Many of these barbecue joints have their own version of brisket and their so many variations. No different styles, different techniques.
Aaron Franklin-Style Brisket
Aaron Franklin, the owner of Franklin’s BBQ in Texas, is known for his expertly cooked briskets. He cooks his briskets in an offset smoker, using a simple rub of salt and pepper to season the meat. The briskets at Franklin’s BBQ are known for their bold, peppery flavor, which is achieved through the use of this simple rub.
While Aaron Franklin does not use techniques such as injecting marinades to flavor his briskets, it is common for other barbecue joints to use beef tallow, or rendered beef fat, on their briskets. Using beef tallow on brisket can help to add flavor and moisture to the meat as it cooks, and can contribute to the overall richness and savoriness of the finished product.
If you’re interested in learning more about the use of beef tallow on brisket, you can check out this article for more information.
Hot-and-Fast vs. Low-n-Slow Brisket
Cooking a brisket “hot and fast” refers to a method of cooking where the brisket is cooked at higher temperatures, typically around 350°F, for a shorter period of time. This method is in contrast to traditional methods of cooking brisket, which involve cooking the meat at lower temperatures (225°F to 250°F) for a longer period of time.
While cooking a brisket hot and fast may result in a tender, juicy cut of meat, it may not have the same depth of flavor as a slow-smoked brisket. This is because the shorter cooking time means that the meat has less time to absorb smoke and other flavors from the cooking process.
Traditional methods of cooking brisket, which involve cooking the meat at lower temperatures for a longer period of time, allow the meat to absorb more smoke and other flavors, resulting in a richer, more flavorful finished product.
Injecting Brisket with Marinade
Using an injection marinade is a technique that can help to add flavor and moisture to a brisket. To inject a brisket, you will need a meat syringe and a marinade or stock to inject into the meat.
The injection marinade is typically a liquid mixture that is flavored with herbs, spices, and other ingredients. It is injected into the meat using the syringe, and helps to add flavor and moisture to the brisket as it cooks.
Injecting a brisket is a popular technique in barbecue competitions, as it can help to give the meat an extra flavor boost and make it taste moist and juicy. If you’re interested in trying this technique at home, you can check out this article for more detailed instructions and tips.
“Oven-roasted brisket is a great option for those who don’t have a smoker or grill. The high heat creates a nice crust on the outside of the meat, while the interior stays moist and tender.”– Gordon Ramsay
This brisket injection marinade is the secret used in competitions and made by a World Barbecue champion.
What Does An Oven-Baked Brisket Taste Like?
Oven-roasted brisket is a cut of meat that is cooked in the oven, typically at high temperatures. While it may not have the same depth of flavor as a smoked brisket, an oven-roasted brisket can still be a delicious, tender, and flavorful cut of meat.
To ensure that an oven-roasted brisket is as delicious as possible, it is important to cook it low and slow to an internal temperature of 203°F. This will help to break down the connective tissue and fat in the meat, resulting in a tender, juicy brisket.
You can also add flavor to an oven-roasted brisket by applying a dry rub to the exterior of the meat before cooking. Wrapping the brisket in foil at the halfway point can also help to keep it moist and flavorful.
While an oven-roasted brisket may not have the smoky flavor of a smoked brisket, it can still be a tasty and satisfying option for a meal.
“Crock pot brisket is a great option for those who want a flavorful, tender cut of meat without a lot of fuss. The slow cooking process infuses the brisket with a rich, savory flavor that’s hard to beat.”– Nigella Lawson
Amazing Smokehouse Brisket Burgers
Brisket trimmings are the small pieces of meat and fat that are trimmed off of a larger cut of brisket. These trimmings can be used to make a variety of dishes, including burgers.
To make brisket burgers, you can combine the trimmings with some brisket fat and grind them together to create a flavorful burger mixture. It is best to place the mixture in the freezer for about an hour to firm it up before shaping it into patties and grilling them.
Brisket burgers are known for their rich, beefy flavor, which is enhanced by the addition of the brisket fat. They can be cooked on the grill, in a pan, or on a flat top griddle, and are a delicious alternative to traditional beef burgers.
If you’re interested in making brisket burgers at home, you can check out this article for more detailed instructions and tips.
Shredding Brisket for Pulled Beef
Shredded brisket is a cut of meat that has been cooked until it is tender enough to be easily shredded using a fork or other utensils. It is often prepared using a slow cooking method, such as smoking or barbecuing, to break down the connective tissue and fat in the meat and create a tender, flavorful cut.
Shredded brisket can be used in a variety of dishes, including nachos, tacos, and sandwiches. It can be prepared in a similar way to pulled pork, by slow cooking the meat and shredding it once it is tender.
One popular way to serve shredded brisket is in a sandwich, often with slaw or other toppings. This combination is a classic in southern barbecue cuisine, and is a delicious way to enjoy the rich, smoky flavor of brisket. Shredded brisket can also be used in other dishes, such as pasta or soup, or as a topping for pizza or salads.
Sous-vide (meaning “under vacuum” in French) is a method of cooking where food is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag and cooked in a precisely controlled water bath at a lower temperature than typically used for cooking the particular food. Sous-vide cooking allows for a more precise control of the cooking temperature and results in a finished product that is often more tender and juicy than traditional cooking methods.
To make sous-vide brisket, the brisket is first seasoned and placed in a vacuum-sealed bag. The bag is then placed in a water bath and cooked at a precise temperature for an extended period of time, typically several hours. After cooking, the brisket can be finished off on a grill or in a broiler to add a crispy crust. The sous-vide method results in a tender, evenly cooked brisket with a consistent texture throughout.
“Sous-vide brisket is a great option for those who want a tender, evenly cooked cut of meat. The precisely controlled cooking temperature ensures that the brisket is perfectly cooked from edge to edge.”– Thomas Keller
“Sous-vide brisket has a tender, juicy texture and a consistent, evenly cooked appearance. It’s a great option for those who want a perfectly cooked cut of meat every time.” –Daniel Boulud
“Sous-vide brisket is a delicious, hassle-free option for dinner. The precisely controlled cooking temperature ensures that the brisket is perfectly cooked, resulting in a tender, flavorful cut of meat that’s hard to resist.”– Eric Ripert
Have you tried smoking a Wagyu brisket yet? You can get one delivered to your door from Snake River Farms.
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.