How to smoke a brisket on a kettle grill

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How to smoke a brisket on a kettle grill

Brisket is the holy grail of bbq. If you can smoke a brisket, you may call yourself a pitmaster or at least king of the backyard. Do you know you can smoke a brisket on your kettle grill?

I will show exactly how to cook a brisket on a kettle grill with a perfect result. And If I can do it, you can do it.

Set up your kettle grill

The first thing you do is to set up your kettle grill to smoke low and slow. I explained this a couple of days ago. Just follow those steps, and I see you back in a couple of minutes.

Now light up the charcoal and place the grill grates. Close the lid and close the bottom vent to almost fully closed and the top vent fully open. After 15 to 20 minutes, you can start fine-tuning the temperature with the top vent by closing it more.

Prepping the brisket

Of course, you need the right brisket to get the best result. A good brisket has a lot of intramuscular fat. That fat sits in between the meat as thin white lines. That fat will melt and keep the meat juicy as it cooks to a core temperature of 98°C (208F).


These kinds of brisket are going to cost a bit more but give you a much better result. Just make sure you buy the best brisket you can afford.

We want to keep a thin layer of fat on the brisket. This fat protects the meat that’s underneath. Nobody likes to chew on big chunks of fat, so we shave off a bit until there’s a few millimetres left on.

Don’t throw away these fat shavings. This fat is perfect for mixing with lean ground beef for burgers or for roasting some potatoes in.

I season this brisket with only salt and pepper. For that, I use fleur de sell, or coarse sea salt and ground black pepper. The thicker the meat, the more salt you can use.

When the kettle grill is running at a stable temperature of around 100 to 140°C (212 to 284F), you can place the brisket on the grates as far away from the direct heat as possible. Now close the lid, so the temperature doesn’t rise.

Smoking the brisket for 2 hours

While the brisket is smoking, you keep an eye on the thermometer. Keep adjusting the top vent, so the temperature stays between 100 and 140°C. Pour in extra charcoal when it’s needed.

After 2 hours of smoking, you build up a beautiful colour and some crust on the edges. You see lighter meat where the fat is. That means the fat protected the meat from overcooking.

Wrapping the brisket

This is the moment to wrap the brisket. I wrap my brisket in butchers paper. You can use aluminium foil if you like, but I tested the effects of butchers paper, and I stick to that. Remember which side of the brisket was closest to the direct heat. After you wrapped it you want to lay it back the other way around.

When you wrapped the brisket you stick a thermometer through the paper into the thickest part of the brisket. Plce it back in the kettle grill and close the lid. All you have to do know is to keep a stable temperature in the kettle. That’s your job the next few hours.

When the brisket is done

After a couple of hours of hard work the thermometer tells you that the core temperature of the brisket reached the 98°C (208F). This is the temperature that you need but it doesn’t tell you anything about the tenderness of the brisket. to test this you stick the probe of a thermometer through the paper and the brisket. If it goes in and out without much resistance the brisket is done.

Take the package out of the kettle and put it in a cooler to rest. In the cooler you can keep it for four to five hours and it will still be warm enough to eat. That’s a good trick if you are ready to early for dinner.

In writing smoking a brisket might seam an easy task but the last few hours I had to refill the charcoal when the temperature in the kettle dropped to much. I had to replace the hardwood barrier as it burned down and I rotated the brisket 2 more times for an even cook. I never said cooking a brisket was easy. Smoking the perfect brisket is hard work. Only real pitmasters are up to this task.

Eating the brisket after resting

When the brisket, and you, had a rest it’s time to unwrap the brisket. Now you can cut the brisket against the grain into thick slices. Do the bend test because it looks so good on Instagram. Or better, just take a bite and enjoy the result of your work.

Big thanks to Napoleon Grills for sponsoring this post.
Please return the favor by visiting their website.

BBQ gear used

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. I link these articles because of their quality.

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