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How to Smoke Brisket on a Pellet Grill: The PECOS Way

 

How to Smoke Brisket on a Pellet Grill: The PECOS Way

If you love good barbecue like we do, your mouth probably waters at the thought of a properly smoked brisket. This slow-smoked cut of beef is the crown jewel of grilling achievement, and you would be hard-pressed to find a World Champion that doesn’t have a pellet grill in their arsenal. So today, we’re going to show you how to smoke brisket on a pellet grill – the PECOS way.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process from choosing and preparing your beef, to getting that perfect low and slow coal, right through to presenting your final masterpiece. Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a barbecue beginner, we’re confident these tips will help you serve up a smokey success at your next cookout.

By following the advice in this blog post, you will have all the knowledge and tools needed to prepare a perfectly smoked brisket on a pellet grill. So light up your pellet smoker, grab an ice-cold Lonestar, and let’s get to this show on the road.

Preparing The Brisket

The journey to the perfect pellet grill brisket begins with choosing high-quality beef. Your local grocery store should provide a good selection of briskets, but if you want a truly premium cut, consider a Wagyu brisket or a whole packer brisket. Either of these will yield tender, flavorful meat after a slow smoke. When preparing your beef brisket, PECOS Outdoor’s badass table can provide the sturdy, functional workspace you need to handle and prepare your brisket with confidence.

Trimming Your Beef

Before you firinge up the pellet smoker, make sure you trim the brisket properly. Using a sharp knife, you’ll want to trim the fat cap down to about a quarter of an inch. While it might seem counterintuitive to cut away fat, it is important to trim the brisket to allow for even cooking and the best texture. Some silver skin will also need to be trimmed off, which will prevent the outside of your brisket from turning tough and chewy while it cooks.

However, you don’t want to trim off all of the fat or connective tissues – this is what gives your smoky brisket its distinctive, juicy flavor. Approach it as sculpting your brisket. You’re not trying to remove as much fat as possible, you’re trying to shape an ideal piece of meat. For the fat side, leave about a quarter-inch of fat cap. This will add richness and also help preserve the beef’s moisture during the long process of smoking.

Binder & Seasoning

Once you’ve trimmed it down, it’s time to apply your brisket binder. In Texas, we like mustard or Worcestershire sauce—to help the seasonings adhere to the meat. It is a commonly held myth that Texans like to season purely with salt and pepper, and maybe a dash of garlic powder. However, the potential dry rub variations are truly unlimited – just make sure that your rubs will complement the rich flavors of the meat and are applied in abundance. We recommend starting with a heavy coating of black pepper, it is important to add the pepper first so it doesn’t bounce off the other seasonings. Then follow with your favorite rub.

Let the Glorious Beast Sit

Finally, let your brisket rest until it reaches room temperature before placing it in the smoker. This might take an hour or two, so be patient. When it comes to brisket, the process can’t be rushed. During the wait, grab a beer and get your pellet smoker ready to go.

Smoking Brisket on a Pellet Grill: Setup & Maintenance

The moment has arrived – it’s time to smoke your brisket on your pellet grill. By cooking it low-and-slow, the grill cooks your meat evenly and infuses it with a wonderfully smoky flavor. 

Begin by preheating your pellet smoker, aiming for a consistent temperature of around 200-225 degrees F. Consistency is key here, as major temperature fluctuations can result in an unevenly cooked brisket. This is where the reliability of a quality pellet smoker and the convenience of a digital temperature probe play an invaluable role in smoking the perfect brisket.

Fat-Side Up or Fat-Side Down?

Once the grill has reached the desired temperature, it’s time to get the brisket on the grate. Now this is a step of the process where pitmasters argue constantly. Some people swear that you must place the fat side down to safeguard your meat from the heat source which comes from the bottom of your pellet grill. However, we have found that if you cook the brisket on the top rack where the heat is allowed to circumvent around the meat you can choose to cook with the fat side facing up or down depending on whichever produces the best results for you.

Monitoring the Temperature

It’s important to monitor the internal temperature of the meat throughout the smoking process. Puncturing the thickest part of the brisket with a meat thermometer or temperature probe will help you get the most accurate reading. Remember, our target for this step is to gradually bring the brisket up to an internal temperature of about 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit before wrapping it.

Smoking Brisket on a Pellet Grill: The Process

Start by positioning your brisket on the grill, either fat side up or down depending on your preference. Your brisket will spend the first portion of the smoking process unwrapped.

Wrapping the Brisket

Then, usually after it reaches an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit (a thermometer probe is useful here), it’s time for the wrapping phase—a key part of the cooking process. You can wrap your brisket in aluminum foil, butcher paper, or even a combination of both. This wrapping is often referred to as the “Texas Crutch” and it serves several functions: it keeps your brisket from drying out, it helps push through a plateau in temperature known as “the stall” that occurs around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and it even speeds up the cooking process. 

The Smoke Ring

Remember that all-important smoke ring? This is the seal of approval for any proper barbecue champ, a pink layer just beneath the brisket’s bark. This smoke ring happens because of a chemical reaction between the smoke and the meat, and to develop a good one, you need a steady stream of smoke. Try various wood chips and chunks in your pellet grill – each will lend a distinct flavor to your smoked brisket.

Let the Brisket Cook

Maintain the smoker at a constant temperature of 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and let that brisket cook. It might be tempting to peek inside the grill and check on your progress, but remember the saying: “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.” Each time you open the grill, you let out heat and smoke—both essential elements in the cooking process.

There are many ways to enhance the flavor profile of your smoked brisket. For instance, every hour or so, some choose to spritz their brisket with apple cider vinegar, apple juice, or beef broth — this not only imparts flavor but also helps keep the cut moist.

Remember, patience is key at this stage. Don’t rush the process. The timing will vary depending on your specific grill and the size of your brisket, but generally, you’re looking at about 10-126-8 hours. Your goal? A juicy brisket that’s melt in your mouth tender with a beautiful, crimson smoke ring. 

Post-Cooking Process & How PECOS Can Help

 

Checking if the brisket is ready is an art of its own and typically takes practice to master the feel. Usually, briskets are done when they reach an internal temperature between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. However, relying solely on temperature can sometimes be misleading. That’s why many brisket veterans check the tenderness of the brisket using the ‘probe test’. This involves sliding a probe or a skewer into the meat. If it goes in and out with little resistance, like through butter – your brisket is done. 

Let it Sit… Again

Once your brisket has passed the ‘probe test’, remove it from the grill. But. don’t slice it just yet. Give it another spritz, and let it rest for about an hour so that the juices can redistribute throughout the meat. Cover it with a layer of aluminum foil to retain heat during the resting phase.

Slicing the Brisket

After resting, now comes the all-important final step — the slicing. How you slice a brisket can make or break your hours of patience and hard work. With your trusty knife in hand, slice the brisket against the grain into thin slices. If you slice with the grain, the brisket will come off as tough and chewy—definitely not the yield we want from a day’s worth of grilling. 

At this moment, your PECOS Outdoor table comes in handy again, offering you a perfect slicing station. Simply pop on your RichLite or Walnut cutting board and alleviate any worries of sliding or heat-related troubles.

How PECOS Can Help

The end result is a tender, juicy brisket with a blend of flavors that stand as a testament to your hard work and patience. At PECOS, we believe it’s not just about the result but the journey to get there that counts. We aim to make your smoking process easier, more dependable, and a whole lot more enjoyable. So come grab your PECOS table today, and learn how we can help elevate your past times from barbequing to hunting to wherever your next adventure takes you.