Ultimate Guide: Best Smokers for Brisket Get Perfect Flavor

by Matt

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Only barbeque enthusiasts can understand the deliciousness of a home smoked Texas-style brisket. If you can relate, then you know the key to a melt-in-your-mouth brisket is not just the meat itself. The smoker and the smoking techniques that you use also play a big role.

I have written about what it takes to cook a smoky, tender brisket, along with my Top 4 Smokers that can help you in the process. So, let's get into it!

a Range of Modern Smoking Equipment, Including a Vertical Water Smoker, a Pellet Smoker, and an Offset Smoker, All Designed for Versatile Barbecue Cooking.

The Right Smoker For Brisket: Electric vs Charcoal Smokers

If you want your brisket to turn out tasty and tender, it is crucial to make the right choice between electrical and charcoal smokers. Each type has distinct considerations that you should understand before making a final decision. It includes:

1. Flavor Profile

Charcoal smokers impart a strong, smoky flavor to the meat through the combustion of charcoal and any wood added. The smoke penetrates deeply, giving the food a traditional barbeque taste.

Electric smokers, on the other hand, use a heating element and a pan for wood chips to enhance the smoke flavor. However, the result is usually milder.

2. Temperature Control

As a beginner, it may be difficult to manage the temperature in a charcoal smoker. You must monitor it carefully and make adjustments to ensure consistent heat, crucial for proper smoking.

Contrarily, electric smokers have thermostats that allow precise regulation of temperature, and you can ‘set it and forget it’ when cooking.

3. Ease of Use

When it comes to using charcoal smokers, there is a greater requirement for hands-on management. The basic tasks include lighting the charcoal, maintaining temperature, and cleaning the ash after cooking.

However, electric smokers are generally easier to use, thanks to their electric control and lack of direct flames. There’s no such mess to clean.

4. Cost

The price of charcoal smoker's is generally much cheaper than other options. However, with the frequent need for charcoal and wood, the overall expenses can add up and cost even more.

Electric smokers, although costly upfront, are more economical in the long term with no additional elements required to operate them.

5. Portability

With no power source requirements, vertical charcoal smokers are more portable, you can take them camping or when performing other outdoor activities.

Since electric smokers need access to an electric outlet, their portability is quite limited. You can only use them in a fixed location, like a home or any commercial setting.

Black Royal Gourmet Offset Smoker with a Chimney and Lower Shelf on a Sunny Patio, Ready for Outdoor Cooking.

5 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Smoker

When choosing the best brisket smoker, following factors matter a lot:

  1. Capacity: Consider how much food you want to cook at a time. Larger models can easily smoke up to 50 pounds of food. Meanwhile, their smaller counterparts are more suitable for meals up to 15 to 25 pounds.
  2. Ease of Maintenance: The smoker must be easy to maintain with its core design elements, promoting less residue buildup. Moreover, it should also offer cleaning ease with detachable components and a proper grease management system.
  3. Temperature Gauge Accuracy: This feature helps with monitoring the smoker’s temperature so you can ensure the brisket is cooked evenly and is juicy enough before serving.
  4. Ventilation Control: Good smokers have vents or dampers that can easily be adjusted to promote better smoke and heat control. This also helps maintain moisture levels.
  5. Temperature Control: For cooking brisket at low and slow heat, make sure the smoker’s temperature range is between 250 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whole Brisket with a Spice Rub on Smoker Grill, Prepped for Barbecuing.

3 Major Types of Smokers For Brisket

There are three common types of smokers: pellet, vertical, and offset. Each has a unique set of features, which may lead you to get confused about which is the best for smoking briskets.

Since the type of smoker that you choose can greatly influence the quality of your smoky meat, it’s important to make an informed decision. To help you through it, we have explained all the types in detail.

1. Pellet Smokers

Pellet smokers basically use compressed wood pellets as their fuel source. With these smokers, it’s quite easier to maintain the required heat levels as they come with inbuilt thermostats.

Moreover, their beginner-friendly controls make them more popular amongst brisket enthusiasts. What’s more special is that you can conveniently switch between different types of wood pellets like apple, mesquite, and hickory to enjoy diverse flavors.

A few higher-end models of this smoker type even come with exceptional features like automatic pellet feeding and WiFi connectivity for remote monitoring. This allows you to make adjustments through your smartphone.

Key Features:
●Supports a wide range of temperatures (low and slow smoking and high-temperature grilling)
●Energy- efficient
●Easy to store
●Offer a real wood-fired taste
●Well-built with durable materials

When to Use:
Use a pellet smoker when you want to try different wood-infused flavors and prioritize a consistent flow of heat. However, like any type, there are some considerations that you must be aware of. For instance, this smoker requires electricity to run and may compromise on the original smoky flavor associated with traditional smokers.

2. Vertical Smokers

In vertical smokers, the smoke chamber is vertically aligned with the heat source located at the bottom. The smoke rises through the chamber to penetrate into the food. Since this type takes up less horizontal space, it’s more suitable when cooking in a smaller patio or yard.

One of its special features is the heat source variability, as you can use charcoal, wood, propane, or even electricity, depending on the model. The smoker’s design is versatile as well, comprising multiple racks stacked vertically, thereby allowing you to cook a variety of dishes simultaneously.

One or more access doors are present, too, in vertical smokers. Lower ones facilitate adding fuel and water without touching the food. Meanwhile, the upper doors allow you to check on the progress of the smoke without any heat loss.

Key Features:
●The water pan adds humidity to keep the meat moist
●Vents and thermostatics promote accurate temperature management
●Made with heavy-duty material like steel
●Easy to clean
●Handles and wheels for improved portability

When to Use:
If you are cooking meats that benefit from long, slow cooking at low temperatures, vertical smokers might be the right choice. This typically includes ribs and pulled pork, besides brisket. However, there’s an increased requirement for frequent monitoring, considering the high temperature and multiple racks of this smoker.

3. Offset Smokers

Also known as stick burners, offset smokers feature a main cooking chamber where the food is placed and a small firebox slightly lower to it where the fire is built. The firebox is usually positioned lower to the chamber so heat and smoke can directly reach the cooking area.

This arrangement makes it ideal for tenderizing tough meat cuts while infusing a deep flavor. Moreover, the smoker offers the flexibility to use diverse types of wood to achieve different flavors. Besides smoking, it can also be used for grilling with a few adjustments in heat source and food placement.

Key Features:
●Exceptional heat management capabilities
●Built from heavy gauge steel (durable)
●Offers traditional smoking experience
●Enhanced control over smoke flavor

When to Use:
The large cooking space of offset smokers caters to large gatherings or commercial events. Thus, they’re mostly preferred when you need to cook in bulk. However, beginners may find it difficult to operate this smoker initially. Moreover, the fire needs constant attention to maintain the right heat level, which may be a challenging task for some.

Drum Smoker on Patio with Serene Lake View, Equipped with Hooks and Thermometer for Outdoor Barbecuing.

Matt’s Top Picks For Brisket Smokers

Being an expert pitmaster, I have prepared brisket in a diverse range of smokers. And after this long testing spree, I finalized my top 3 picks that always deliver up to expectations. Here’s a brief review of each so you can make an informed decision:

1.Traeger Ironwood 885

The Traeger Ironwood 885 Smoker comes first for a number of reasons. This classic pellet smoker is well-received for its capabilities to impart a distinct, pleasant flavor to the brisket.

I have conveniently cooked large brisket cuts in this smoker, thanks to its 855 square inches cooking area. This massive space is ideal for carrying out the low and slow brisket smoking process without any mess.

Here are some of its key features:
●Consistent temperature control
●Innovate WiFi technology that facilitates remote monitoring of temperature
●Convenient pellet sensor to track the level of wood pellets
●Super Smoke Mode for enhancing the depth of smoke flavor

2. Royal Gourmet CC1830SC

One of my favorite robust brisket smoking options, the Royal Gourmet CC1830SC is a very reliable choice. This model is especially favorable for those who appreciate both grilling and smoking functionalities in one unit. With its significant cooking area totaling 811 square inches, it provides ample space to handle larger cuts of brisket, essential for achieving the perfect low and slow smoke.

Here are some of its standout features:
● Offset smoker attached, enabling the infusion of rich, smoky flavors into the brisket.
● Adjustable charcoal pan for precise heat control, ensuring the brisket cooks evenly without overheating.
● Durable porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates that retain heat excellently, contributing to a consistent cooking environment.
● Convenient built-in thermometer for real-time temperature monitoring, crucial for maintaining the ideal smoking conditions.

The Royal Gourmet CC1830SC is not just about size; its design and functionality make it a commendable contender for both novice and experienced pitmasters looking to enhance their brisket smoking game

3.Grilla Grills Chimp

On the second number, I have the Grilla Grills Chimp Smoker, which stands out for its insulated cooking chamber with a dual-wall thermal metal jacket. This arrangement guarantees a flawless performance regardless of temperature fluctuations.

The size of this smoker is around 460 square inches, making it ideal for smoking smaller briskets up to 6 to 8 pounds. It comes with an Automatic Fire Tending option that regulates temperature and fuel supply automatically via electric controls.

A few notable features of this smoker include:
●PID controller ensuring precise temperature control
●Two smoking modes infused with Alpha Smoke Technology
●Compact frame, portable
●Full stainless steel gates

4.Pit Boss 850 Wood Pellet Grill Smoker

Last but not least, the Pit Boss 850 Wood Pellet Grill is worth investing in for a number of reasons. To begin with, it comprises adjustable iron cooking grids spread over an area of 850 square inches, which offers ample cooking space.

In addition, the snooker is also equipped with a fully programmable digital PID control board that can easily facilitate temperatures between 180 degrees to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Ultimately, it offers you the convenience of choosing hardwood pellets between oak and hickory.

Let’s have a look at its key features:
●Set it and forget it feature (consistent temperature)
●Provides an authentic Texas barbeque flavor
●20 lb hopper stores enough fuel for low and slow-cooking
●High-temperature powder coat finish

Key Considerations For Smoking a Brisket

It doesn't matter if you’re a seasoned pitmaster or smoking brisket for the first time; knowing some key considerations of the process is a must. Let’s have a look:

Preparing the Meat

The quality of the brisket meat undoubtedly decides its taste. There are various grades of meat that can significantly influence your cooking outcome. The key is to choose a whole brisket cut weighing 10 to 12 pounds and process it through the following steps:

1.Use a paper towel to dry it thoroughly. Make sure there’s no excess moisture before proceeding.

2.When trimming the fat, aim for a 1⁄4-inch cap. Having too much fat can prevent smoke and seasonings from penetrating while removing it extra could dry out the brisket.

3.Apply the rub seasonings on all the sides of the meat. It’s recommended to marinate it with a thin layer of yellow mustard so the seasonings adhere better to the meat.

4.Let the brisket cure in the refrigerator for some hours.

Pro Tip: Injecting your brisket with a marinade (beef broth, salt, garlic or onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce) or using a brine can significantly enhance the moisture and flavor of the meat.

Using Wood Flavor

Incorporating the perfect wood flavor into the brisket can significantly elevate its taste. For this purpose, you can use wood chips or more specific types like Bradley Bisquettes.

The goal is to choose a wood that provides a clean, taste-enhancing smoke, well-complementing the fat and protein of the brisket without overpowering it.

Here are some commonly used woods:
●Oak: Ideal for a medium smoky flavor
●Hickory: Known for its strong bacon-like flavor
●Mesquite: Has an intense, earthy flavor profile
●Pecan: Provides a milder, sweeter smoke
●Cherry: Fruitier and sweeter, can be mixed with other woods

Pro Tip: To achieve a balanced flavor profile, many pitmasters mix different types of wood. For example, you can start with a base of oak for consistent heat and then add hickory or pecan to layer the flavors.

Monitoring the Smoking Process

For brisket smoking, you need to follow a low and slow approach. Considering this, the ideal temperature range is between 250 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides that, you must take care of external factors that may cause temperature fluctuations.

For instance, opening and closing the lid again and again leads to heat loss, so minimize this practice. Similarly, invest in a smoker with insulation to prevent direct exposure to sun - another cause of disturbing the brisket smoking process.
Also, look at the smoke’s characteristics. Ideally, it must be thin and blue. If heavy and visible, then you may need to adjust the quantity of wood chips as it might overpower the meat with a smoky flavor.

Pro Tip: Invest in a smoker with a digital thermostat that displays temperature accurately, so you can easily make adjustments when there’s any fluctuation.

Resting and Slicing the Brisket

Just like the cooking process, resting and slicing brisket also has a role in determining the meat’s final taste.
While resting might seem like an unnecessary step, you can not skip it. During the process, wrap it in a foil and place it in a pre-warmed oven (150 degrees Fahrenheit). It basically helps redistribute the hot, bubbling juices within the meat, ensuring an even texture and taste. The ideal resting time is 30 minutes.

Simultaneously, the brisket will cool down a bit, being perfectly ready to savor. Now, for slicing, use the brisket’s grain. Do so against it for maximum tenderness. Use a sharp knife and aim for ¼ to ½ thick slices for clean, even cuts.
Pro Tip: For an even juicier and more flavorful brisket, consider separating the point and flat sections of the meat before slicing.

The Wrap Up

To wrap it all up, the key to cooking a perfect brisket involves a mixture of requirements, including opting for the right smoker and mastering the art of smoking. Starting from selecting the fine meat cut to controlling the temperature adequately and adding wood flavor, every step plays a crucial role.

Faq.

What is the perfect smoker for preparing juicy and tender brisket?

When it comes to deciding the perfect brisket smoker, your personal preference has a key role. For instance, my favorite is the CampChef SmokePro for its exceptional features like digital temperature control, automated pellet feeding system, large cooking capacity, and built-in meat probe.

Which smoker size is more suitable for brisket?

For smoking briskets, the ideal size ranges between those that have 300 to 500 square inches of grills. Although such smokers appear compact, they still have the capability to smoke large meat cuts like an entire brisket piece or pork shoulder.

Should I smoke brisket fat upside down or right side up?

To prepare juicy and scrumptious brisket, smoke its fat upside down. This approach ensures the smoke penetrates on both sides, offering a flavorful outcome.

Which smoker is used by pitmasters?

Professional BBQ makers prefer using wood (available in logs or chips) or charcoal smokers as they impart authentic smoky depth to the meat. A few other alternatives, although less commonly used in professional settings, include natural gas, electric, and propane smokers.

Which smoker amongst electric and charcoal offers the best flavor?

Charcoal and wood smokers provide a superior flavor to the meat, thanks to their conventional working ways. However, people still prefer their electric counterparts for their convenience.

About the Author

Matt Barrell

Hi, Matt Barrell here. A BBQ and Smoked meat enthusiast. I love grilling and smoking meat, it is not just my hobby its my passion. My goal is to share my passion with as many other like-minded people as possible.