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How to Smoke a Beef Brisket on a Traeger Pellet Grill

earn how to make a smoked beef brisket on a Traeger pellet grill following our detailed instructions and recipe below!

Traeger Smoked Beef Brisket is a great way to feed a large crowd, and is the ultimate way to master your Traeger pellet grill.

Let’s Go!

a beef brisket smoking on a traeger pellet grill

 

What is a Beef Brisket?

A beef brisket comes from the pectoral (chest) muscle of the steer.

a raw beef brisket on a cutting board

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 tenderloin 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, when you smoke your beef brisket on a Traeger pellet grill, you’ve got an easy “Set It and Forget It” machine at your disposal to do most of the heavy lifting…or should we say…cooking.

 

What Kind of Beef Brisket Should I Smoke on my Traeger Pellet Grill?

We strongly recommend smoking a WHOLE PACKER brisket on your Traeger and here’s why.

the price tag on a raw beef brisket in the packaging

A whole packer brisket contains two parts:

  1. The Point
  2. 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 except for when its made into burnt ends.

The flat, on the other hand, is the classic looking rectangular section of brisket you see sliced in all the pictures.

Unfortunately, the 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 during the long smoke on the Traeger.

That fatty point meat will also nicely balance out the leaner flat meat, and if you slice it just right like we show you at the end of this article, every slice gets a bit of both and you’ll have moist, competition worthy smoked brisket to serve your guests.

 

How to Prepare a Beef Brisket for the Traeger 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 1/4 inch of thickness.

trimming fat from a beef brisket before smoking

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.

We are big fans of this carving knife from Marico for trimming our briskets and other large roasts.

 

Rubs

Unlike our Traeger Pulled Pork, which pairs well with sugary BBQ rubs, beef is usually better suited for more straightforward salt and pepper style seasoning.

rubbing oil on a brisket to hold rub

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.

We use it exclusively on our Hot and Fast Version of our Brisket, because we don’t want any sugar to burn.

But today, since we are smoking slower and at a lower temperature, its OK to pick a rub with some sugar in it if you wish..

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.

seasoning a raw beef brisket

 

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.

 

Marinade Injections

A great way to keep your Traeger smoked beef brisket moist while it is cooking  is to inject it before you cook it.

injecting a beef brisket

Always use a good quality meat injector like this one from JY COOKMENT.

For brisket we recommend a blend of beef broth, 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 runout so you don’t make a mess.

To save some time and still get 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!

 

The Best Wood Pellets for Smoking a Beef Brisket on a Traeger Pellet Grill

You have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing the right wood pellets to smoke your Traeger beef brisket.

traeger hopper filled with pellets

Mesquite and hickory will give a very aggressive smoke flavor, so should mixed with milder wood pellets so as not to overdo it.

Alternatively, you can also go for an overall milder smoke flavor by choosing oak or fruitwood pellets.

Pecan, apple, beech, alder, and cherry all give great results on beef brisket.

For a straightforward smoke right out of the bag, we are big fans of Bear Mountain Red and White Smoky Oak Pellets

For the best results, store your unused pellets in a sealed room temperature container like this 20 lb pellet container rather than in the Traeger hopper outside.

Traeger pellets do not last forever, but will definitely last a LOT longer if stored indoors in a quality airtight container.

 

How a Traeger Pellet Grill Works

In order to cook ANYTHING well on a Traeger pellet grill, you need to first have a basic understanding of how a pellet grill 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!***

 

Add your Hardwood Pellets

First, you add hardwood pellets into a side hopper.

The Traeger 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.

wood pellets in a traeger grill

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.

 

How to Start up the Traeger

There is a specific start up process for the Traeger brand pellet grills you can read all about in depth here if you aren’t sure how to fire it up the first time.

Otherwise, here is the basic process for how to start a Traeger before throwing on your beef tenderloin:

  • Plug in the grill.
  • Flip the power switch to ON and turn the dial to “Smoke”.
  • You will hear the fan kick on and the auger start to move and begin to kick pellets into the fire pot.  Your fire rod will begin to heat up as well.the fire rod heating up when starting a traeger pellet grill
  • Leave the lid open for about 5-7 minutes until you start to see white billowing smoke come out of the grill.  This happens when the pellets are first igniting.a traeger grill starting to make smoke
  • Once a smoke is being produced, close the lid and change the temperature dial to your desired temperature setting.
  • Allow about 10-15 minutes to preheat the grill.
  • While you are waiting, make sure you’ve got the drip pan in place and the grease bucket hanging to catch any grease that comes out during the cook.
  • Put your grates on if they aren’t already in place.
  • Using a good bristle free grill brush, clean off the grill grates if there is any leftover stuck on food from the last cook.
  • When the pellet grill comes up to temperature go ahead and put on your food!

 

 

How to Smoke a Beef Brisket on a Traeger Pellet Grill

Now for the “meat” of the recipe…get it?

Let’s talk about how to smoke this beef brisket on your Traeger.

a beef brisket smoking on a traeger pellet grill

 

What Temperature do you Smoke a Brisket on a Traeger Pellet Grill?

Set the temperature to 250°F, and let the Traeger come up to temperature.

While you CAN cook a traditional beef brisket at 200-225°F, we are going to speed up the process just slightly, we’ve found without losing any moisture at this slightly higher temperature.

 

How Long do you Smoke a Brisket on a Traeger Pellet Grill?

Put your brisket in the cooking chamber and let the Traeger do its thing!

To start, place the thicker end to the right, which is normally the hotter side of a pellet grill.

 

a brisket cooking on a pellet grill

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 Traeger provides indirect heat like an oven and will cook it pretty evenly at 250°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 full packer brisket will take about 60-75 minutes per pound on a Traeger pellet grill at 250°F, depending on its size and weight.

So a 10 lb brisket may take 10-13 hours, and a 14 lb brisket may take 14-20 hours!

We are going to wrap our brisket at a certain point to help it along a little faster, but you should still plan on a 12 hour cook

Yep, you’re in the big leagues now.

This is why many people start their brisket OVERNIGHT.  And with a Traeger, this is pretty easy to do once you load the hopper and set your temperature.

No more babying charcoals and wood chunks all night like your BBQ ancestors did!

 

It’s Better to Finish Early

When it comes to smoking beef brisket, even on a Traeger, it’s better to be finished early.

Trust us.

There is nothing worse than a crowd of hungry guests looking over your shoulder asking if the meat is done while you watch that temperature probe stall out 20°F shy of your target.

By starting the night before, cooking overnight, and finishing in the late morning or early afternoon the day you are serving, you are now in complete control of your brisket and your timeline.

And smoked brisket is EVEN BETTER when its had time to rest for a couple hours in a warm oven or right on the Traeger.

So don’t worry about your Traeger smoked brisket finishing a few hours before your guests arrive.

This is a good thing!

We’ll discuss more on how to HOLD your brisket before serving below.

 

How Do You Know When a Smoked Brisket is Done on the Traeger Pellet Grill?

You are going to leave your brisket on the Traeger until it hits somewhere between 197-203°F when measured with a good temperature probe or instant thermometer.

Don’t rush it!

a beef brisket smoking on a traeger pellet grill

Beef brisket is not a cut of meat you want to serve medium rare like a nice Traeger smoked prime rib.

There is too much intramuscular fat and connective tissue that needs to break down and render at higher internal temperatures.

The brisket will be tough and unappetizing if you cook and serve it like a beef tenderloin or ribeye roast.

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.

Don’t tell us you spent all that money on a fancy Traeger but don’t have a thermometer…right?

You’ll want a good leave in probe thermometer like the Thermopro as well as a second instant read thermometer to spot check as you get close to pulling the brisket off the Traeger.

If you don’t yet own an instant read thermometer, ThermoPro makes a good one of these too.

While we have used and recommended ThermoPro for years, lately we have also become big fans of the MEATER leave in thermometer.

It is extremely accurate and has an incredible 165 foot bluetooth range and works right with your smartphone so you don’t need to carry a separate controller around with you like many other remote thermometers require.

It’s got a great free app that is constantly being updated and even has an algorithm to predict how much longer your type of meat will take to cook based on cooking temperature, target temperature, current internal temperature.

It’s like a GPS for your meat!

 

The Texas Crutch

One way to speed up your cooking time and increase your Traeger smoked brisket tenderness is by using a tried and tested barbecue technique known as the “Texas Crutch”.

wrapping a traeger smoked beef brisket in foil

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 cut of meat.

This can be maddening if your guests are arriving soon and the internal temperature needs to rise another 50°F 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 off of the Traeger 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.

a wrapped traeger smoked beef brisket

 

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, also keeping your meat from drying out as much while to cooks, and most importantly, help it continue to steadily rise in temperature.

Leave the brisket wrapped until it gets to your target temperature range of 197°-203°F and then remove it from the foil.

Pro Tip: If you want to firm the bark back up before slicing, take it out of the aluminum foil at 195°F and place it back on the Traeger UNWRAPPED for the last 30 minutes or so until it hits 197°-203°F.

 

Resting and Holding the Brisket

Just like we let our steaks rest before slicing them, we need to let this massive piece of meat rest for a long time before slicing into it.

resting a traeger smoked beef brisket on a cutting board

Smoked beef brisket also benefits from a nice long rest as the muscle fibers relax even more, the juices redistribute, the whole thing just becomes more tender and delicious.

Let your brisket rest for at least an hour, preferably two hours, before slicing to help it retain more of its juices.

You can leave it right in the aluminum foil or wrapped in butcher paper to help keep it moist while it rests.

You have several options for where to keep it while it’s resting:

  1. Right on the grill with the Traeger cooking temperature brought down to 180°F.
  2. An indoor oven set to WARM or 170-180°F.
  3. A large cooler. Wrap the brisket in aluminum foil then pack towels around it to help it keep its temperature and keep it from moving around. This option works great if you are transporting it to a party!

 

How to HOLD a Smoked Beef Brisket in an Oven

Set your oven to 170°F, usually the lowest setting on the temperature dial.

an oven
Use an oven to easily hold a brisket before serving.

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.

 

Slicing and Serving Traeger Smoked Brisket

Always wait to slice your Traeger smoked beef brisket until IMMEDIATELY before your guests are ready to eat.

slicing a hot and fast brisket after taking off the pellet grill

 

Brisket, especially the leaner flat, can notoriously dry out within 20-30 minutes of being sliced, no matter how good a job you did cooking it, so don’t blow it at the last minute by pre-slicing the whole thing!

Only slice as much as your guests are eating and then save the rest in its whole form for now or at least cut into smaller hunks you can slice up later.

Now you have two options:

  1. Slice “as-is” with the flat and point connected.
  2. 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

This is our favorite method and until you really know your way around a brisket and have some experience, this is probably the way to go.

It also ensures most slices contain a small amount of the fatty point to balance out the leaner flat.

As you slice, you will see a line running diagonally through the meat separating 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 ratio of how much flat or point they have in them.

traeger smoked brisket sliced
Notice the diagonal line running through the brisket in the back of this photo. The bottom is the point and the top is the flat. The sliced pieces in the front are mostly all flat because the point does not run the whole length of the brisket.

Guests can choose if they want the fattier point-heavy pieces, or the leaner flat-heavy pieces.

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 to 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.

Now the point should be very easy to find just by pulling up on the flat a little bit you may see the tow pieces of meat begin to separate here with just a little bit of tension.

Once you find it, slice evenly along it and separate the two pieces. Then slice your flat portion against the grain and serve.

separating the flat and the point on a traeger brisket

The point will be a smaller pointy piece on the bottom of one end of the brisket.

slicing apart the point and the flat on a traeger 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!

 

What Else Can I Smoke on my Traeger Pellet Grill?

Looking for some more smoky inspiration for that new Traeger?

More Beef

 

Pork

 

Seafood

 

Poultry

 

Lamb

 

Other Odds and Ends

 

a traeger smoked beef brisket

Traeger Smoked Beef Brisket

Learn exactly how to smoke beef brisket on a Traeger pellet grill following our detailed instructions and recipe below!
This is a great BBQ dish to feed a crowd, and especially easy to do on a Traeger!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 3 hrs
Cook Time 16 hrs
Resting Time 1 hr
Total Time 20 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Australian, barbecue, BBQ, Holiday, Smoked
Servings 10 people
Calories 1000 kcal

Equipment

  • Traeger Pellet Grill
  • Wood pellets for Traeger preferably hickory, apple, and/or cherry
  • Aluminum Foil Trays
  • Meat Injector
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Internal Meat Thermometer
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
  • Large Cutting Board
  • Meat Slicing Knife
  • Large Cutting Board

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Whole Packer Beef Brisket 10-14 lbs
  • Cooking Oil

Rub

  • 1 cup Kosher Salt use more or less if needed depending on brisket size
  • ½ cup smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup Black pepper
  • cup Garlic Powder
  • cup Onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cayenne powder

Marinade Injection

  • ½ Can Beef Broth
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Instructions
 

Prepare the Brisket

  • Trim any excess hard pieces of fat from the exterior of the brisket, leaving about 1/4 inch thickness on the fat cap.
    trimming fat from a beef brisket before smoking
  • 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 appears mostly dissolved.
    injecting a beef brisket
  • Place the brisket in an aluminum 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.
    rubbing oil on a brisket to hold rub
  • 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 Traeger to allow the injection and the exterior rub to penetrate the meat.

Start the Traeger Pellet Grill

  • Load the hopper of the Traeger with your chosen wood pellets.
    traeger hopper filled with pellets
  • Turn on the Traeger and move the dial to the "Smoke" setting.
  • Leave the lid open for 5-7 minutes until you start seeing white billowing smoke coming out of the grill. This means the initial pellets are igniting.
    traeger pellet grill making thick white start up smoke
  • Close the lid and turn the temperature dial to 250°F. Allow 10-15 minutes for the grill to come up to temperature.
    traeger pellet grill set to 250 degrees

Smoke the Brisket on the Traeger

  • Remove the plastic wrap and place the brisket on the Pit Boss with the thicker end pointing to the right.
    a brisket cooking on a 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 internally.

Optional Texas Crutch

  • At this point you can leave the brisket on the Traeger 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.
    wrapping a traeger smoked beef brisket in foil
  • Wrap the brisket in opposing directions with three layers of foil, tightly.
  • Replace the temperature probe and place back on the Traeger.

Remove, Rest, and Slice the Brisket

  • When the internal temperature of the brisket has reached 200°F, remove it from the Traeger and keep it wrapped.
    temperature probe inserted into a wrapped in foil beef brisket on a traeger pellet grill
  • Let the brisket rest for at least 60 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.
    slicing a traeger smoked beef brisket
  • Save extra brisket unsliced and tightly wrapped to maintain moisture.

Video

Notes

Video from Smoke Trails BBQ
Keyword barbecue, bbq, bbq beef, Beef, beef brisket, Beef Rub, brisket, Garlic, How to, Injection, pellet grill, pellet smoked, pellet smoker, rub, smoked, smoked brisket, Smoker, Texas Crutch, traeger, Traeger Beef Brisket, Traeger Brisket, Traeger Recipe, Traeger Smoked Brisket

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