How to smoke a brisket on a charcoal grill

Discover the secrets to grill-smoked brisket perfection. The secret to smoking a flawless brisket is to carefully monitor both the grill’s and the meat’s interior temperatures.

Smoking a brisket on a charcoal grill can be a delicious and rewarding experience. With the right tools and techniques, you can create a mouthwatering meal that will impress your friends and family. In this article, we will guide you through the process of smoking a brisket on a charcoal grill.

How to smoke a brisket on a charcoal grill (Step by step guide)

  1. Get a brisket that weighs 10 to 12 pounds to start, as this is the sweet spot for grilling. Remove the fat cap off the top of the meat, but leave a layer of fat at least 14″ thick to help retain moisture while slow cooking. Apply the rub liberally, using a couple tablespoons to cover both sides of the brisket. Prepare the meat right away if you wish, or give the rub time to soak into the pork by letting it sit in the fridge for a while.
  2. Prepare your kettle grill with an indirect method, such as the snake method. Keep the temperature consistent by placing a drip pan of water right beneath the meat. Backyard smokers, prepare for a lengthy session. This site provides useful information about tobacco use. Kingsford® Wood Chips (hickory or mesquite) or big chunks of wood should be soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes before being placed on the coals.
  3. Using the vents, get the temperature up to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, place the brisket fat side up on the top rack, and cover. Keeping tabs on the grill’s temperature is essential, so if your barbecue doesn’t come with a built-in thermometer, consider investing in a digital BBQ thermometer.
  4. The grill should be kept at a temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit or close to that at all times. Don’t lift the lid unless you absolutely have to add more charcoal or soaked wood chips to keep things smoking.
  5. Evaporation from the brisket’s surface causes the internal temperature to plateau at around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The stall is the area in which the pitmaster operates. Don’t freak out. Either wait for the stall to pass, or, for a more expedient option, wrap the brisket in two layers of thick aluminium foil with half a cup of apple juice added (also known as The Texas Crutch) and increase the grill temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. While 195 degrees Fahrenheit is the target temperature for a well smoked brisket, keep in mind that the meat’s internal temperature might rise by another 10 degrees even after removal from the grill. You don’t want dry, chewy brisket, so avoid cooking it for too long. The “feel” method is another option for determining when a brisket is cooked through: Test the doneness of the brisket by inserting a tiny fork and twisting it in the meat.

Preparing the Brisket

Before you start smoking your brisket, you need to prepare it properly. Start by trimming off any excess fat from the brisket, leaving about 1/4 inch of fat on the top. This will help keep the meat moist during the smoking process. Next, season the brisket generously with your preferred rub or seasoning. Cover the brisket with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.

Preparing the Charcoal Grill

While the brisket is marinating in the fridge, it’s time to prepare your charcoal grill. Start by cleaning the grill grates thoroughly. Then, light the charcoal using a chimney starter or a lighter fluid. Once the charcoal is hot and covered in a thin layer of ash, spread it evenly across the bottom of the grill.

Smoking the Brisket

Once the grill is ready, it’s time to start smoking the brisket. Place the brisket on the grill, fat side up, and close the lid. Maintain a temperature of 225-250°F by adjusting the vents on the grill. Add wood chips or chunks to the charcoal periodically to keep the smoke going. The smoke will add flavor to the brisket and help tenderize the meat.

Checking the Brisket for Doneness

After about 6 hours of smoking, start checking the brisket for doneness. The internal temperature of the brisket should reach 195-205°F. To check the temperature, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket without touching the bone. If the temperature is not yet at the desired range, continue smoking the brisket and checking the temperature every 30 minutes.

Resting and Slicing the Brisket

Once the brisket reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the grill and wrap it in foil or butcher paper. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour to allow the juices to redistribute. Then, slice the brisket against the grain into thin slices and serve immediately.


How long does it take to smoke a brisket on a charcoal grill?
It typically takes about 1 hour per pound of brisket to smoke on a charcoal grill. So, a 10-pound brisket would take around 10 hours to smoke.
What type of wood should I use for smoking brisket?
You can use any type of hardwood for smoking brisket, but some popular choices include oak, hickory, mesquite, and pecan.
Can I use a gas grill to smoke brisket?
Yes, you can use a gas grill to smoke brisket, but it may not produce as much smoke flavor as a charcoal grill.
Should I wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper while smoking?
Wrapping the brisket in foil or butcher paper helps keep the meat moist and tender. Foil will create a more steamed texture while paper will help the bark (outer layer) to be a bit crunchier.
Can I marinate the brisket instead of using a rub?
Yes, you can marinate the brisket instead of using a rub, but be sure to choose a marinade that will complement the flavors of the meat and not overpower it.


Smoking a brisket on a charcoal grill is a fun and delicious way to cook this popular cut of meat. With the right preparation and technique, you can create a flavorful and juicy brisket that will be the star of your next BBQ party. Remember to give yourself plenty of time, as smoking a brisket can take several hours. But with patience and a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to master this technique and impress your guests with your delicious smoked brisket.

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