Smoked Brisket

While smoked brisket is a wildly popular tradition in Texas, as everyone in New Mexico knows, anything a Texan can do, a New Mexican can do better. With that in mind, here’s my recipe for smoked brisket. To start, you have to buy a very expensive piece of beef, the brisket. It can easily cost more $100 and looks impressively large. However, by the time you trim off the fat, the cost per pound almost doubles. Is it worth it? Yes. Is there a substitute piece of meat you can use? No, not unless you seriously compromise on final taste and texture.

My local grocery store recently had an insane sale on brisket, selling them for $2.99 a pound, which more than 70% off. I went a little crazy and bought five briskets, which was over 60 pounds of beef. I made hamburger from one, a huge pot of brisket and cabbage stew with another, jerky from the lean half of two others, pulled beef in the slow cooker, and the rest I am smoking.

The first step in smoking a brisket is to trim the fat, and there is a lot. It is best to use a long thin boning knife for this as it will conform to the shape of the beef. You want to leave some of the fat on, while making sure to open up the beef to accept the smoke. If you leave on too much fat the drippings in your smoker will become hard to manage as the fat melts. Once trimmed, you are ready for rub and this is where we separate the men from the boys, or should I say the New Mexican’s from the Texans. Make sure you give your brisket a good coating of rub all the way around. Next place the brisket on the smoker, fat side down, are partially cook. Then wrap in foil and finish. I like to smoke a pot a beans during the final step to give them a special twist. I would recommend starting the beans from scratch, processed beans in cans have a weird texture. Okay, lets get into it.


  • 12-14 lbs whole brisket – trimmed and thoroughly thawed
  • 2 TBL garlic powder
  • 2 TBL onion powder
  • 2 TBL smoked paprika
  • 1 TBL chili powder – red is best but green can be interesting
  • 1 tsp sage – ground
  • 1 tsp thyme – chopped
  • 1 tsp rosemary – chopped
  • 1/3 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper – divided
  • 14 oz. beef broth
  • 6 roasted green chili’s – optional, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 cups wood chips – soaked, your choice but mesquite is best


  1. Mise en Place – prepare your ingredients before starting. This means trim your brisket, and measure out your rub.
  2. Set the temperature of your smoker to 225℉ and soak your wood chips.
  3. Mix the Rub: Mix the garlic, onion, paprika, chili, salt and pepper in a small bowl. While you might be tempted to add fresh green chili and garlic, don’t; you want the rub to be dry. We can add those later if we’re still being tempted.
  4. Pat the brisket on all sides with the rub. If you wear contacts, use disposable gloves. Make sure to coat the entire exterior. I usually cut the brisket in half so it fits better in my smoker and cooks faster.
  5. Place brisket, fat side down on your smoker grates. Smoke until brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160℉, ~6 hours. Add wood chips in intervals to keep the smoke going.
  6. Remove brisket from smoker. At this point it could be served, but I suggest completing the process to further enhance both taste and texture.
  7. Double wrap each brisket piece in aluminum foil and add the beef broth to each foil packet (evenly distributed). If you choose to add green chili, place strips on top of brisket.
  8. Return brisket to smoker and continue smoking about 3 hours, until internal temperature reaches 200℉. If you are going to smoke beans, this is the time to start them. You can also smoke corn on the cob (remove silk but leave leaves on.
  9. Remove beef from grill, open foil and let meat rest for 15 minutes to allow the meat to re-absorb juices.
  10. Slice against the grain and serve.