Learn how to smoke a hot and fast brisket using a pellet grill, and why it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to prepare a delicious smoked beef brisket at home in no time!
Whether you've got a Traeger, Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Yoder, or other model pellet grill, we've got you covered.
What is a Beef Brisket?
A beef brisket comes from the pectoral (chest) muscle of the steer.
Like the chuck roast and the pork butt, which come from the shoulders of the steer and hog respectively, this muscle on the front of the animal gets quite a workout during the life of the steer, helping to hold the animal upright for its entire life.
Have you ever seen a cow sitting down?
Hence why it is usually cheaper per pound than say a ribeye steak or filet mignon, which are cut from the loin muscles of the steer on its back which don't get put to work nearly as much.
But have no fear, with a little love and care, we can turn this workhorse cut of meat into a delicious, fall apart tender beef brisket that you and your whole family will enjoy!
And even better, we have a method to do it "Hot and Fast" meaning you can cook that brisket in record time without having to babysit it overnight and you'll STILL have a great piece of BBQ when you are finished.
How a Pellet Grill Works
In order to cook ANYTHING well on a pellet grill, you need to first have a basic understanding of how it works.
***Completely New to Using a Pellet Grill? No Worries!****
Hop over and check out this Complete Guide to Understanding How a Pellet Grill Works first if you are interested in learning more. We'll be here when you get back!***
First, you add hardwood pellets into a side hopper. The pellet grill automatically feeds these small wood pellets via an auger mechanism to a fire pot where they are burned up, providing both heat and smokey flavor.
The pellet grill automatically controls the flow of pellets depending on your temperature setting so that you maintain an even temperature throughout the entire cook.
A MUST for making great BBQ, no matter the temperature.
We are big fans of Bear Mountain Hardwood Pellets because they are compatible with most pellet grills and provide a nice clean, even burn and smoke flavor.
Instead of being in and out of the house constantly trying to figure out when or whether to add more wood or to adjust the air flow, you just program the unit and give it time to do its thing.
It's really just a matter of choosing and preparing the right ingredients, picking the right temperature, and smoking your hot and fast brisket for the right amount of time!
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Why Would You Smoke a Beef Brisket Hot and Fast?
There are a number of great reasons why cooking a brisket hot and fast works great, especially on a pellet grill:
- It will finish cooking faster (duh).
- It will still be tender and delicious.
- You can make brisket without having to babysit it overnight (cook in 4-6 hours vs 12-18)
Now "Hot" and "Fast" are RELATIVE terms here in the BBQ world.
Many traditionalists smoke their briskets at 200-225°F for 12-18 hours depending on the size of the meat monster they are taming.
That's Low and Slow.
We are going to raise the temperature to 300°F and hopefully have it done in 4-6 hours.
Now this depends on the size of your brisket of course and whether you are cooking a WHOLE brisket or just the FLAT section.
We strongly recommend cooking a WHOLE brisket if you are going hot and fast and here's why.
A whole brisket contains two parts:
- The Point
- The Flat
The point is a smaller, well, pointier section that is also fatty and delicious, but rarely if ever eaten or sold just by itself.
The flat, on the other hand, is the classic looking rectangular section of brisket you see sliced in all the pictures.
Unfortunately, ithe flat is also much leaner and more likely to dry out when cooked by itself without the point attached to balance it out.
You will see many major retail chains and grocery stores selling 4-6 lb brisket flats by themselves in the regular meat case alongside chuck roasts and cubed stew meat.
This is not what you want.
Go to one of the big warehouse club stores like Sam's or Costco, or better yet, your local independent butcher, and get yourself a full-size brisket, sometimes called a Full Packer Brisket.
It will be big.
You know you are getting a good full size brisket if it is anywhere in the 10-16 lb range.
The extra fat from the point will help the brisket hold up MUCH better cooked hot and fast.
How to Prepare a Hot and Fast Brisket for a Pellet Grill
Trim the Brisket
Depending how it was butchered and packaged, you'll notice one side may have a thicker "Fat Cap" on it. It's OK to leave some of this in place but ideally trim it down to no more than about ¼ inch of thickness.
Leaving a little exterior fat from the fat cap is ok.
However, you don't want to leave any big hardened thick chunks on the exterior. They will not render away and nobody wants to eat that.
After trimming, score through the fat cap with a good knife in 2 perpendicular directions to help more of the fat underneath render out during the smoking process and allow some more of the rub to penetrate the meat.
Unlike pork, which pairs well with sugary BBQ rubs, beef is usually better suited for more straightforward salt and pepper style seasoning.
You can add a little cayenne for extra heat or garlic and onion powder for additional flavor, but go easy on the rubs that are heavy in sugar content.
We are big fans of Bad Byron's Butt Rub Seasoning on smoked beef, especially brisket and chuck roast because it is heavy on flavor, and has no sugar.
It also works great anytime you are cooking something "Hot and Fast," and you don't want a sugary rub to burn at those higher smoking temperatures.
After trimming the fat, cover the brisket in a thin layer of cooking oil or yellow mustard.
Yes, you read that right. Yellow mustard.
Many professional barbecue chefs use yellow mustard to help their rub emulsify and stick to the meat.
After the long cook you won't taste any mustard flavor, trust us.
Be generous with the amount of rub you put on. Then you can wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and put it back in the refrigerator until you are ready to smoke it.
This can even be done the night before to save some time the next day and to let the salt in the rub fully penetrate the meat.
A great way to keep our hot and fast brisket moist while it is cooking on the pellet grill is to inject it before we cook it.
Always use a good quality meat injector like this one from JY COOKMENT.
For brisket we recommend a blend of beef broth, a little worcestershire sauce, a little brown sugar, and maybe a little bit of Bad Byron's Butt Rub mixed in as well.
Make sure to mix the injection thoroughly.
Inject about every inch or so, against the grain of the brisket. Put the brisket into an aluminum pan to catch the runoff so you don't make a mess.
To save some time and still get some great results, you can also try using a store bought injection mix such as Kosmos Brisket Injection. Simply mix it with water and you are good to go!
Choosing the Best Wood Pellets for Cooking a Hot and Fast Brisket on a Pellet Grill
You have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing the right wood pellets to cook a hot and fast brisket on a pellet grill.
Mesquite and hickory will give a very aggressive smoke flavor.
Alternatively, you can also go for a milder smoke flavor by choosing oak or fruitwood pellets. Pecan, apple, beech, alder, and cherry all give great results on beef brisket.
For Hot and Fast Brisket, we are big fans of Bear Mountain Red and White Smoky Oak Pellets
How to Cook a Hot and Fast Brisket on a Pellet Grill
Now that the brisket is trimmed and seasoned, all that's left to do is cook it!
With a pellet grill, this is the easy part!
Just add your chosen pellets to the hopper, plug in and start the pellet grill.
What Temperature do you Cook a Hot and Fast Brisket on a Pellet Grill?
Set the temperature to 300°F, and let the grill come up to temperature.
While you traditional beef brisket is typically slow smoked for hours and hours at 200-225°F, we are going to speed up the process at a higher temperature.
How Long do you Cook a Hot and Fast Brisket on a Pellet Grill?
Put your brisket in the cooking chamber and let the pellet grill do its thing!
Place a temperature probe, if you have one, into the center of the brisket. Otherwise, you can spot check later with an instant read thermometer.
Always use insulated bbq gloves when rotating or moving the brisket around.
There really is no need to flip the brisket over as the pellet grill provides indirect heat like an oven and will coo it evenly at 300°F.
You are welcome to experiment and try flipping, or cooking it "fat cap side down". Just keep in mind you may lose some of your BBQ rub against the grill grates the more you move it around during the cook.
A hot and fast brisket will take about 6 hours on a pellet grill at 300°F, depending on its size and weight
Keep the lid closed as much as possible, and use the temperature probes to tell you how far along the brisket is coming.
How do you Know When a Brisket is Done on a Pellet Grill?
You are going to leave your brisket on the pellet grill until it hits somewhere between 197-203°F when measured with a good temperature probe or instant thermometer.
Don't rush it!
Beef brisket is not a cut of meat you want to serve medium rare like a nice ribeye roast.
There is too much intramuscular fat and connective tissue that needs to break down and render at higher temperatures.
The brisket will be tough and unappetizing if you cook and serve it like a tenderloin or prime rib.
Smoked beef brisket is best served when cooked to 200°F internally, then allowed to rest, and then sliced.
It will not be fall apart tender even if you take it off at 180°F.
You'll want to monitor the internal temperature of the brisket as it progresses through the cook.
If you don't yet own an instant read thermometer, it's going to be hard to really know exactly when that brisket is done cooking on the pellet grill.
One of our go-to and very affordable favorites is this waterproof model made by Kuluner.
Let the brisket rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving so that the juice stays in the meat where you want it!
Optional Method: The Texas Crutch
Another way to speed up your cooking time and increase your smoked brisket tenderness is by using a tried and tested barbecue technique known as the "Texas Crutch".
Don't worry, it's not complicated.
You see, when big pieces of meat like brisket or pork shoulder are being cooked low and slow, and hit about 150°F internally, they tend to "stall out" and stop rising in temperature.
Sometimes for hours depending on the size of the meat.
This can be maddening if your guests are arriving soon and the internal temperature needs to rise another 50 degrees and hasn't budged for over an hour.
Without getting too much into the science behind why this happens, just understand it has to do with a lot of trapped moisture evaporating at this temperature and continually cooling your meat as it evaporates.
One way to "power through the stall" is to take your brisket out of the smoker when it hits 150-160°F, and double or triple wrap it tightly in aluminum foil.
You can add some beef broth to the inside of the foil with the brisket to help braise it a little while it continues to cook.
Then replace your thermometer, place the meat back on the smoker, and let it continue to cook.
The aluminum foil will keep the moisture from evaporating, possibly keeping your meat from drying out as much while to cooks, and most importantly, let it continue to steadily rise in temperature.
Leave it wrapped until it gets to your target temperature range of 197°-203°F and then remove it from the smoker.
Unwrap the brisket and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes before slicing it.
Pro Tip: If you want to firm the bark back up before slicing, take it out of the aluminum foil at 192°F and place it back in the smoker UNWRAPPED for the last 15-20 minutes until it hits 197°-203°F.
Now, when cooking a brisket hot and fast in a pellet grill, you likely won't need to rely on the texas crutch.
The temperatures in the pellet grill are likely high enough to help that brisket "power through the stall" without holding up your cooking time too much.
But, if you are cooking a monster brisket, and your guests are arriving soon, it's nice to have this little trick in your back pocket nonetheless.
Slicing and Serving Smoked Brisket
Let your brisket rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing to help it retain more of its juices.
Now you have two options:
- Slice as is with the flat and point connected
- Separate the flat and the point then slice.
Make sure when you begin slicing you are slicing AGAINST the grain.
Option 1: Keep the Flat and Point Connected
Until you really know your way around a brisket and have some experience, this is probably the way to go.
As you slice, you will see a line running diagonally through the meat speartung the top flat from the bottom point.
As you make your way through the brisket from one end to the other the slices will change in ration of how much flat or point they have in them.
Guests can choose if they want the fattier point heavy pieces, or the leaner flat heavy pieces.
But either way, ALL slices will have some fatty pieces of pointo to help keep the slices moist and delicious.
Make sure to use a good meat slicing knife so that your slices are even and easy to make.
We are big fans of the Mercer Granton Edge Slicer. It works great for slicing meats like brisket and ham.
Option 2: Separate the Flat and the Point Before Slicing
Your second option is separate these two sections out and then just slice the flat by itself to serve.
Find the fat line where the two sections meet running diagonally through the brisket and cut along it.
At this point is should be very easy to find just by pulling up on the flat a little bit you may see the meat begin to separate here with justa. little tension.
Once you find it slice evenly along it and separate the two pieces. Then slice your flat portion against the grain and serve.
The point will be a smaller pointy piece on the bottom of one end of the brisket.
The point in the near pan and the flat taken off the top and placed in the far pan.
The point can be cut into cubes to make burnt ends if you wish which are delicious.
How to HOLD a Smoked Beef Brisket in an Oven
What do you do if you finish your hot and fast brisket well before your guests arrive?
If you hit that magic 200°F temperature internally early in the day or evening, set your oven to 170°F, usually the lowest setting on the temperature dial.
Then put your brisket in an aluminum foil pan, (or roasting pan), cover it with aluminum foil and place it in the oven.
170°F will keep the brisket at a food safe temperature (unlike leaving it sitting out on the counter will) while also keeping it hot, and if you keep the door closed and the pan covered with aluminum foil, it will stay plenty moist as well.
You can hold the meat here for several hours if you need to until your guests arrive, and you may find it falls apart and tastes EVEN BETTER after doing so.
Pro Tip: Hold the meat at this temperature in its WHOLE form rather than slicing if you can, then slice immediately before serving for maximum tenderness and moistness.
Accessories That Enhance Your Grilling Experience
Foolproof hot and fast brisket starts, of course, with a high quality pellet grill!
Choose one with the space and features you need to optimize your experience. From there, you can go as simple or fancy as you want.
A good digital thermometer is also a must. Pulling your smoked meat off the pellet grill at just the right temperature is key to a high quality meal.
While instant read thermometers are great for a quick spot check of different parts of the brisket, dual Probe Wireless models let you track your meat's overall progress without ever leaving your lawn chair!
Some good grilling tools are the next thing you need.
And, of course, a variety of wood pellets and brine mixes always helps!
Cleaning Your Pellet Grill
Pellet grills remain carefree during use as long as they are well maintained in between cooks.
After you use your grill, take the time to scrub down the grill grates. Remove any residue from inside the lid. Scrape down all the other parts, too, to remove debris.
Always use a good bristle free grill brush.
Don't forget the grease chute and your thermometer probe.
Finally, vacuum out any ashy residue left in the fire pot.
Hot and Fast Brisket on a Pellet Grill
- Pellet Grill
- Aluminum Foil
- Meat Injector
- Wood Pellets - Hickory, Oak, or Fruitwood
- Internal Meat Thermometer
- Large Cutting Board
- Meat Slicing Knife
- Meat Trimming Knife
- Large Aluminum Pan
- 1 Whole Packer Beef Brisket 10-14 lbs
- Cooking Oil
- 1 cup Kosher Salt use more or less if needed depending on brisket size
- ½ cup smoked paprika
- ¼ cup Black pepper
- ⅛ cup Garlic Powder
- ⅛ cup Onion powder
- 1 tablespoon Cayenne powder
- ½ can Beef Broth
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
Prepare the Brisket
- Trim any excess hard pieces of fat from the exterior of the brisket, leaving about ¼ inch thickness on the fat cap.
- Score the fat cap to allow more fat to render out and the rub to penetrate.
Inject the Brisket
- Mix the Marinade Injection ingredients well until the sugar dissolves.
- Place the brisket in a pan to catch excess liquid from the injections and inject in small amounts every 1 inch or so on both sides against the grain of the meat.
Apply the Rub
- Apply a thin layer of cooking oil to the entire exterior of the brisket.
- Mix the rub ingredients well and apply generously to the entire exterior.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 hours while you prepare the grill to allow the injection and the exterior rub to penetrate the meat.
Cook the Brisket Hot and Fast on the Pellet Grill
- Fill hopper with pellets, start up the pellet grill, and preheat to 300°F.
- Remove the plastic wrap and place the brisket on the pellet grill.
- Place an internal temperature probe if you have one into the center of the brisket.
- Close the lid, cook the brisket until it reaches about 150-160°F.
Optional Texas Crutch
- At this point you can leave the brisket on the grill to continue cooking or remove it and wrap it in foil to speed up the cooking time.
- Carefully remove the brisket and place on a large sheet of aluminum foil.
- Wrap the brisket in opposing directions with three layers of foil, tightly.
- Replace the temperature probe and place back on the pellet grill.
Remove, Rest, and Slice the Brisket
- When the internal temperature of the brisket has reached 200°F, remove from the pellet grill.
- Let the brisket rest for 30 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to distribute.
- After resting, place the brisket on a large cutting board. Slice against the grain on a diagonal in ¼ inch slices and serve immediately.
- Save extra brisket unsliced and tightly wrapped to maintain moisture.