How to Smoke a Brisket on a Pellet Grill? A Pitmaster’s Guide

November 3, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

If you’re looking to step up your BBQ game, smoking a brisket on a pellet grill is where it’s at. Although the whole process could take a day, surprisingly, it’s super easy. Just slather on some BBQ rub on the beef brisket, crank up the grill to 225°F, and toss that bad boy on there, fat-side up! Let it smoke for about 10-12 hours, then wrap it up in foil when it hits 160°F. Keep cooking until it reaches 200°F, then let it rest for 30 minutes before carving into that juicy goodness.

As a cooking school grad, pitmaster, and chef who eats, sleeps, and breathes cooking, I’ve got you covered with all the tips and tricks you need to perfect your beef brisket smoking skills. But first, I’ll show you a recipe that works for me. Then we’ll cover everything like picking the right wood pellets to trim, how to nail your BBQ rub, and a lot more. So, let’s fire up that grill and get something smokin’. 

how to smoke a brisket on a pellet grill

Texas Style Smoked Brisket Recipe 

Now, this is a quick one for folks who like southern BBQ and Texas brisket. It’s specifically a Texan-style smoked brisket recipe and we’ll start with what you’ll need. 


  • A whole packer brisket, around 12-18 pounds
  • 1/2 cup of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup of onion powder
  • 1/4 cup of paprika
  • 1/4 cup of chili powder
  • 2 cups of beef broth


  1. Trim off any extra fat from the whole packer brisket, but leave about 1/4 inch on top.
  2. Mix together all the spices in a bowl.
  3. Rub the spice mix all over the brisket, making sure to cover every nook and cranny.
  4. Cover the beef brisket with plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
  5. Preheat your smoker to 225°F.
  6. Put the brisket on the smoker fat side up and cook it for 10 to 12 hours, or until it hits an internal temperature of 195-205°F.
  7. Baste the brisket with beef broth every hour or so to keep it nice and juicy.
  8. Once it’s done, take the smoked beef brisket off the pellet smoker and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Finally, slice the smoked beef brisket against the grain and get ready to taste it. Now that’s what I call a good ol’ Texas-style smoked brisket!
Texas Style Juicy Smoked Brisket on the Wooden Board

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How to Pick a Pellet Grill Brisket?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of smoking a brisket, let’s talk about the most important part of smoking a brisket: choosing the right one. 

Don’t just grab any old hunk of meat from the grocery store – take some time to find the perfect cut or grade and size. And below is a quick guide:

Making Sense of the Grades of Brisket Available

Let’s talk about brisket grades.

In a nutshell, you’ve got three options: Select, Choice, and Prime

Just so you know, the grading primarily depends on how mature and how much marbling is in the meat. By the way, the marbling is the white lines of fat running throughout the meat. The more marbling there is, the more flavor and tenderness cooked brisket can get. 

Select-grade Briskets 

Now, Select-grade briskets are the leanest. They have the least amount of marbling. They’re usually cheaper, but you’ll need to put in a bit more effort to make them delicious. 

One tip is to add some extra fat like bacon or butter during smoking to keep it moist.

Choice-grade Briskets

Choice-grade briskets are the middle-ground. They have more marbling than Select but not as much as Prime. They’re a good option for those who want to balance taste and cost.

Prime-grade Briskets

Prime-grade briskets are the king of the brisket world. They have the most marbling and are the most flavorful and tender. 

They’re also the most expensive, so if you’re willing to splurge, go for it! It’s definitely worth it. But do you shop from a meat shop where all this grading isn’t done and you can’t make sense of it? Then I’ll say, don’t worry too much about the grade, as long as you’re selecting a brisket with good marbling. 

Size Selection

When it comes to choosing the size of your pellet grill brisket, it all depends on how many people you’re feeding and how much time you have. While a smaller brisket will cook faster, it might not be enough to feed a big crowd.

If you’re planning to make a brisket for your buddies, aim for about 1 pound of meat per person. But if it’s just a few of you, then a 5-7 pound brisket will do the trick. However, if it’s a party, then go big with a 10-12 pounder! Just remember that the bigger it is, the longer you’ll need to smoke the brisket on a pellet grill.

Now, once you’ve got your perfect brisket, it’s time to get it prepped and ready for the pellet grill.

Sliced Smoked Brisket on the Grill

How to Trim and Season the Brisket? 

Smoking a brisket ain’t just about tossing it on the grill and hoping for the best. Nope, if you want to take your BBQ game to the next level, first, you’ve got to get your brisket properly trimmed and seasoned. Here’s what you need to know to make it happen.

Trimming the Brisket

The key to trimming a brisket is to remove any excess fat and connective tissue so that the meat cooks evenly and doesn’t end up too greasy.

I always start by getting rid of any big chunks of fat and leave about a quarter inch of fat on the meat to keep it moist. Then, I cut out any hard or tough connective tissue. 

But how much of the fat cap you remove depends on what you want. 

I have close folks who leave the fat cap on. That’s pretty fine. It’ll help to keep the meat juicy during the long smoking process. 

On the other hand, those who don’t want fatty cuts like to completely remove the fat cap on top of the brisket. 

But I think removing it completely is a bad idea as far as cooking the perfect brisket is concerned. I don’t do this because it could cause the brisket to dry out. The only case you want to remove all of the fat cap is when the brisket grade is high; that is if it has a lot of intramuscular fat. 

Dryness is something you want to avoid in any long cooking process like smoking. Otherwise, you have to be set for a tough chewy brisket. This won’t be nice for your molars!

Seasoning the Brisket

Now that your brisket is trimmed and lookin’ good, it’s time to add some flavor. There are tons of rubs and seasonings out there, but my favorite for making brisket is the Killer Hogs BBQ TX Brisket Rub. Another one that tastes nice on briskets is Slap Yo Daddy. You’d like its earthy flavor.  

But if you need something right away, a simple blend of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder will do the trick just fine. 

Make sure to coat all sides of the brisket with the seasoning, and press it in so it sticks. You can also inject the meat with a marinade or baste it with a sauce while it’s smokin’ for even more flavor.

Just remember, you don’t want to go overboard with the seasoning and drown out the natural flavor of the meat. The key is to taste as you go and adjust as needed. After your brisket is trimmed and seasoned, let it rest at room temperature for about an hour before putting it on the smoker. This will help the seasoning soak in and ensure that your brisket cooks evenly.

Seasoning Beef Brisket with Salt and Pepper before Smoking

How to Prepare Your Pellet Smoker for a Brisket Barbecue?

With your brisket prepped and ready to go, it’s time to prepare the pellet grill and start smoking. Here’s what you need to know to prepare your grill for the perfect brisket.

Selecting Pellets  

A pellet grill, as the name suggests, is a BBQ that works with pellets. But… you may be wondering if you can put another type of fuel in the grill to make it work. 

Well no. BUT! 

There are pellets for almost every type of wood, so there’s plenty to choose from! Apple, maple, hickory, oak wood pellets… It’s so nice to have so many options! 

I know you’re asking right now, “So which pellets are the best for smoking brisket?” Well, there are a lot of options out there, but my top picks for smoking brisket are hickory and mesquite.

These guys provide a bold and smoky flavor that perfectly complements the rich flavor of the brisket. However, if you’re looking for something a little more mild and sweet to make your taste buds sing, apple and cherry pellets are also great choices.

If you’re a “little wise”, you can even mix several kinds of pellets to create something unique. Smoked brisket with a hint of applewood and hickory, for example, sure tastes heavenly. 

Once you have found a good flavor or combination and supplier, the advantage of pellets is that they are often of the same size. Always have the same weight and will always burn at the same temperature. You can’t go wrong with it.

Preparing the Pellet Grill

Alrighty, now that your smoker’s at the right temp and you’ve picked out your wood pellets, it’s time to get the grill ready for action. 

Make sure the grill grate is clean and lubed up so your brisket won’t stick. By that, I mean dipping and applying wadded paper towel in some oil and wiping the oil over the grate evenly using tongs. 

And don’t forget to fill up the pellet hopper with those wood pellets and make sure the auger’s working its magic.

Temperature Selection

To make sure your brisket turns out finger-licking good – flavorful, juicy, and moist – you’ve got to cook it low and slow. And that requires keeping a consistent temperature for hours. 

Most pellet smokers hit the sweet spot at around 225°F. So crank up your grill to this temp and let it sit for a bit until it stabilizes. 

Keep an eye on the smoker’s temperature display throughout the cooking process to make sure it stays steady.

How to Smoke a Pellet Grill Brisket? 

As I mentioned earlier, low and slow is the way to go if you’re looking to smoke brisket on a pellet grill and get it juicy and full of flavor. Here are the steps and tips to help you smoke the perfect brisket without drying it out or getting it chewy. 

Hot and Smokey Brisket on the Smoker Grill

Adding Water or Other Liquids

Want a juicy, tender, and flavorful brisket? Then consider adding some liquid to the drip tray or pan. 

Water, meat broth, or apple juice all work great. Plus, it helps keep the temperature consistent inside the smoker. Just keep an eye on the liquid level during cooking and add more if needed.

Now that your smoker’s all prepped, it’s time to add your seasoned brisket and let the good times roll. 

Place the Brisket on the Grill

After your smoker is fired up and ready to go, it’s time to add that brisket. Just plop it onto the grill with the brisket fat side facing up. This allows the fat to melt and drip down into the meat, keeping it juicy and flavorful throughout the cook. 

Monitor the Grill Temperature

Keep an eye on that temperature gauge! You want to keep it steady at 225°F for the entire process. 

If the temperature drops, add some more pellets and adjust the airflow. Remember, a fluctuating temperature can result in tough and dry meat.

Add More Pellets

Don’t let the pellet hopper run dry! Keep an eye on it and add more pellets as needed to keep the smoke and heat flowing. No pellets, no smoke, no tender or flavorful brisket!

Check the Internal Temp

Don’t be afraid to stick your grill’s meat probe in there to be sure your brisket is cooked to perfection. If your grill doesn’t have a temp probe, then you should buy a thermometer. What I like to use is an instant-read thermometer like the Alpha Grillers Model

Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and wait for the internal temperature to reach 160°F before wrapping it up

Wrap the Brisket

When your brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160°F, it’s time to wrap it up like a cozy little baby. The wrapped brisket method, known as the Texas Crutch, keeps the meat moist and tender by allowing it to cook in its juices. It also speeds up the cooking and helps prevent what we call the stall. 

Your brisket is done when the flat of the brisket reads around 200 to 205 degrees when you check with a temp probe. By the way, the flat side is the one that’s got a layer of fat on top, and it’s pretty even throughout the meat.

How to Rest and Serve the Brisket?

So you’ve put in the time and effort to smoke a delicious brisket on a pellet grill And now it’s time to dig in! But hold on – there are a few key steps to follow to ensure that your brisket stays as juicy and flavorful as possible.

Pink and Juicy Slices of Brisket

Remove the Smoked Brisket From the Grill

Using your trusty tongs or heat-resistant gloves, carefully take your smoked brisket off the pellet grill and place it on a big cutting board or platter. Don’t burn your fingers – this brisket is hot and ready to rest!

Rest the Brisket

Now comes the hardest part – waiting. But trust me, it’s worth it! Wrap your brisket up in some aluminum foil or butcher paper. Then let the wrapped brisket rest for at least 30 minutes but ideally closer to an hour. 

This gives the juices a chance to spread out evenly throughout the meat, making it extra tender and delicious. Don’t even think about cutting into it before this step – patience is key!

Slicing and Serving the Brisket

Finally, it’s time to dig in! Start by slicing the brisket against the grain into thin pieces. Against the grain means across the meat fibers. That is, if the meat fibers are going horizontal, you cut vertically, and vice versa.  

This ensures that each piece is not long-fingered and each bite is tender and easy to chew. Arrange the slices on a plate or platter, and get ready to impress your guests.

Serving Suggestions

When it comes to serving up some delicious smoked brisket, you can’t go wrong with some classic BBQ sides like coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans

But if you’re feeling like having something a bit healthier, why not try pairing your brisket with a fresh green salad or some grilled veggies

And let’s not forget about the sauce – a tangy BBQ sauce or a spicy brisket rub can really take your brisket to the next level.

Whatever sides and sauces you choose, one thing is for sure – your guests will be asking or coming back for more!

Why Use a Pellet Grill for Smoking Brisket?

Pellet grills are all the rage these days, and for good reason. If you’re thinking about smoking brisket, they’ve got some serious advantages over old-school charcoal or gas grills. Here are just a few:

Temperature Control on Lock

With a pellet grill, you get one big advantage: consistent temperature control. And that’s key when smoking a brisket. You don’t want to mess with the heat too much, you just want to let it cook low and slow for hours. 

Pellet grills use an automated system to keep the temperature steady, so you can just set it and forget it. That means no more fussing over the grill to keep the temperature just right like you would with a charcoal or gas grill.


Pellet grills are like the Swiss Army knives of grills – they can do it all! From smoking and grilling to roasting and even baking, you can make all sorts of tasty treats on the same grill. 

So instead of just smoking brisket, you can get more bang for your buck with a pellet grill by trying several other recipes. 

Wood-Fired Flavor

When it comes to flavor, nothing does it like pellet grills. They use – as I told you earlier – wood pellets as their fuel source, which gives your food that oh-so-delicious smoky taste. And the best part? You can choose from a variety of wood pellet flavors to make your brisket taste totally unique.

Easy to Use

Don’t let the idea of using a grill intimidate you! Pellet grills are actually super easy to use, even if you’re a total newbie. 

Just load the pellets into the hopper, set the temp, and voila – you’re good to go! 

Plus, some pellet grills even have fancy features like WiFi and mobile apps. So you can control the grill right from your phone or tablet. How cool is that?!

Juicy and Crispy Brisket on the Grill

Best Pellet Grill Brands and Models for Smoking Brisket

When it comes to pellet grills, there are a ton of brands and models to choose from. But some really shine when it comes to smoking brisket. 

Traeger is a big name in the game, and their Pro Series are killer choices for smoking some brisket with ease. 

Green Mountain Grills is another brand to check out, with their Davy Crockett and Ledge Prime Plus models both delivering some seriously smoky goodness. 

If you’re willing to spend a little extra dough, the Camp Chef Woodwind and the Weber Smokefire are both fancy options that can really up your brisket game. 

But hey, at the end of the day, it’s all about your wallet and your taste buds, so go with what feels right!


1. How Do You Keep a Brisket Moist in a Pellet Smoker?

Ah, the age-old question! One way to keep your brisket juicy is to make sure you don’t overcook it (cooking it too long or too hot) – nobody likes a dry hunk of meat. You can also try spritzing it with some apple juice or broth every hour or so to help it stay moist. And of course, don’t forget to let it rest for a bit after it’s done cooking to let those juices settle.

2. What is the Best Temperature to Smoke a Brisket on a Pellet Grill?

Again, this is a bit of a subjective question. Some folks like to smoke brisket at 225 degrees for a long time, while others prefer to crank up the heat to 275 or even 300 for a shorter cook time. It all depends on your smoker and your desired outcome. Just remember to keep an eye on that internal temperature to make sure your brisket is cooked through!

3. Is It Better to Smoke Brisket at 180 or 225?

It depends. At 180, you’re getting a tender and juicy brisket but for a longer smoking time. 225 is the middle ground and what I prefer. You’re still getting a well-smoked and juicy brisket but for less time. I think 180 would be too low as it takes too much time. 

4. Should I Wrap Brisket in Foil When Smoking?

Aluminum foil or butcher paper-wrapped brisket can help it cook faster and get moist. We pitmasters swear by this technique. That being said, some folks prefer to go without the foil to get that nice crispy bark on the outside. Again, it’s all about personal preference!


And there you have it, folks! Smoking a pellet grill brisket may seem intimidating due to the long process. But with a little patience and practice, anyone can achieve delicious, mouth-watering results.

Remember to properly season your brisket with a good BBQ rub, maintain a consistent temperature, and give it plenty of time to smoke low and slow. And don’t forget to let the brisket rest before slicing into it. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to become a brisket pitmaster in no time. So go ahead and fire up that pellet grill, and let me know how it ended up!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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