Smoked Brisket on a Pit Boss is a long slow smoke with delicious results
Brisket, when done correctly, is one of the most tasty, tender, and rewarding meats you can put in your smoker. My Smoked Brisket on a Pit Boss will have your family salivating, and depending on the size of your brisket, fed for multiple days.
The most daunting part about smoking a good brisket is how long it takes. At about 1 hour per pound of brisket, you can expect a 13lb brisket to take around 13 hours, which is quite a long time to manage a smoker. With some tips below we can cut that down to around 12 hours and make the process as hands off as possible.
How should I season my Texas style Smoked Brisket on a Pit Boss?
Texas style brisket can be a contentious topic, with debates existing over the spice rub, type of wood used, and method of smoking. The classic rub agreed on for texas style Brisket is a mix of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Many restaurants and competition smokers will add other spices to their mix to give the bark of the brisket a more unique flavor. My secret ingredient for smoker rubs is the use of hot mustard powder. Hot mustard is used in Japan and other Asian countries as a spicy condiment for offal or yakitori. In the US, you can buy jars of powdered hot mustard in the international aisle. This stuff has quite a kick to it, and I love what it does to the bark of my smoked brisket.
Other recipes will rub their brisket in oil or mustard first, and might include garlic powder or paprika in the rub. You should feel free to try these methods, especially if this isn’t your first brisket.
What if I don’t want Texas style seasoning?
If you want to try a complete deviation from the Texas style of seasoning, I’d recommend trying a coffee rub. Its exotic sounding and sure to make for a fun discussion with your smoking buddies, and tastes great to boot. The core of the spice rub is coffee, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, pepper, chili powder, etc. “Hey Grill, Hey” has a good write up on it here.
The Texas Crutch: how to cook brisket faster (and retain moisture)
The Texas Crutch is a clever term for wrapping your brisket in foil or butcher paper during the cook. It’s called a crutch because it helps you cook the brisket faster than a straight smoke without a wrap. The Texas Crutch also helps retain moisture by preventing escaping steam from leaving the meat. On a long smoke like this, managing moisture becomes an important consideration as you don’t want the brisket to dry out over the course of the day.
Why does the Texas Crutch work?
The Texas Crutch works so well because it reduces the effect of the stall. The stall is a process in smoking where moisture evaporating off the meat while cooking cools the meat (not unlike an evaporative swamp cooler.) The stall starts at about 145F and going up through 165-175F depending on the cut of meat, and is characterized by how slow the meat rises in temperature during this time.
The Texas Crutch makes it hard for that evaporating moisture to escape the meat and cool it down. By locking in the moisture there is less evaporation, and by extension less cooling. This allows the meat to get hotter faster, and takes time off the overall smoke.
Are there downsides to the Texas Crutch?
If you’ve read my recipe on St Louis ribs, I discuss wraps and why I sometimes avoid them. Steven Raichlen , author of “Project Smoke” writes that wraps tend to just boil the meat in its own juices.
The Texas Crutch also keeps further smoke from permeating the meat. This isn’t precisely a negative, more just a consideration. By the time you do the wrap though, the meat will have probably picked up all the smoke it’s going to, so this tends not to be a real concern.
Tips on the Texas Crutch
Since this is a 13-14 hour smoke, I said to heck with that and tried the Texas Crutch. It brought my smoked brisket on a pit boss down from a projected 13.5 hours to around 11.5-12 hours.
I chose to apply the Texas Wrap when the meat hit 165F, which is near the end of the stall. This allowed me to maximize exposure to smoke and keep the brisket from stewing in its juices for too long. I probably could have shaved another half hour off the smoke by applying the wrap earlier.
As a final tip, if you do the Texas crutch with foil, try not to let your meat probe come in contact with the foil, as it will skew your readings.
Should I cut the fat cap off my brisket?
How to handle the fat cap is another debate topic in the Texas brisket world. The traditional method is to not trim the fat cap at all before smoking. Others say they will trim the fat down to around ¼ inch before smoking.
Those who trim their fat caps maintain that the meat doesn’t really soak up any moisture from the fat, and by removing it you can get a nice dark bark on the top side of the meat.
The mythical reason to leave the fat cap on is that as it melts it will keep the meat moist. I can’t speak to how true that is, though my smoked brisket on a pit boss came out extremely moist.
In truth, I left the fat cap on because leaving it on is way easier than cutting it off raw. Once cooked, the fat cap more or less slides off or can be cut off with minimal effort. The downside was that it made working with the post-smoke brisket a decidedly greasy affair.
Pit Boss Brisket Tips
- Use a smoke tube
When using a pellet smoker like a Pit Boss or Traeger, I often find the smoker doesn’t produce enough smoke. The Pit Boss is very efficient at maintaining temperature without burning enough pellets to make a really smokey environment for cooking. So I recommend buying a cheap smoke tube off amazon. Once you fill it with pellets and light it, it will smolder and smoke inside your Pit Boss for 3-4 hours. The additional smoke will give your brisket a stronger smokey flavor than the Pit Boss will on its own.
- Don’t bother with the smoke tube after wrapping
After you start your Texas Crutch, you don’t need to restart the smoke tube. The wrap will keep a lot of smoke from soaking into your meat anyway.
- Keep your water tray full.
With such a long cook, make sure to keep an eye on your water tray and refill as needed. A full water tray will go a long way to avoid drying out your brisket.
What’s the point? How to tell the point and flat apart on a brisket.
Briskets come in different cuts, and can have different uses. A full brisket with all its fat and parts is called a packer’s brisket. These are usually the larger 12-14lb cuts of brisket like what was used for this recipe.
The flat refers to one side of the brisket that generally has less fat marbling. When you look at the bottom of the brisket, the name becomes a little obvious because it’s the flat looking side. The flat is what you would use to slice long thin strips like you might order at a restaurant.
The lumpy side of the brisket is the point. It will have more fat marbling and won’t be as consistently flat as the “flat”. This fattier cut is correspondingly more flavorful, and is often picked apart to make brisket burnt ends.
Great sides to serve with Smoked Brisket
Brisket is a classic smoked BBQ meal, and you should consider serving it with some classic sides. Besides Mac and Cheese and baked beans, you should try:
Other meals you can make with Smoked Brisket
My 13lb Smoked Brisket on a Pit Boss smoker makes a lot of brisket, no matter how you slice it. After the initial smoke, I sliced apart the point and flat and got to work making a myriad of brisket meals.
- Brisket Burnt Ends: I made these during the same night as the smoke. The Texas Crutch bought me a couple extra hours to finish these burn ends in the smoker.
- Texas Brisket Sandwiches: I made these for a picnic the next day. The tender tangy BBQ brisket mixed well with creamy coleslaw on a crusty bun.
- Brisket Sliders: I think making good steamy sliders is a lost art, and these brisket sliders came out great.
- Brisket quesadilla: A shameless knockoff of Applebee’s brisket quesadilla, these made a great work week lunch.
Recipe for Smoked Brisket on a Pit Boss
Smoked Brisket on a Pit Boss
- 1 Smoker Pit boss or similar
- 1 Cooler Or similar box to rest the meat
- 1 Packer Cut Brisket Mine was 13lb.
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp freshly ground pepper
- 1.5 tsp hot mustard powder (optional)
- Start the night before with your spice rub. Mix the salt, pepper, and mustard powder together in a small bowl, then rub all over the surface of your brisket. If you leave the fat cap on, be sure to get the bottom and sides of the brisket extra well, as most of your flavor won’t really penetrate the fat cap. Store the brisket in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat your smoker to 250F, and set up a smoke tube if you intend to use one. Once preheated, lay out the brisket with the fat cap facing up.
- Smoke the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F. It took my 13lb Brisket around 6 hours to reach this point, but that can vary greatly by your setup. Wrap the brisket in foil, and take care not to cover up your meat probe.
- Continue to smoke until the meat reaches between 195F and 205F. I took mine right at 195F. Store the brisket, wrapped, in a cooler or other box (like an off microwave) for 30 minutes to allow the brisket time to rest.
- Slice the brisket into thin strips, serve and enjoy 🙂