Texas – Known For Its World Famous Brisket

by Karen Ekstrom

This is it!

David Ekstrom’s Brisket.

The Greatest Texas Ranch Recipe Ever!

This recipe looks long and complicated, but I’ve included every detail I can think of.  (It’s really pretty simple.)

Buying The Brisket
Get a whole beef brisket, don’t buy the market trimmed. The trimmed are leaner but less fat means a less flavorful finished product.
Take the brisket and try to fold it in half. It should bend to a ninety degree angle or less. That tells you the meat has the right fat content.
Unlike most things in Texas, the size doesn’t really matter. I usually smoke a 10-15 lb brisket.


The Smoker
I use a smoker with the fire chamber separate from the cooking chamber. I build the fire with charcoal to get things started. I measure the temperature with a digital thermometer placed near the chimney of the smoker, furthest from the fire. When that temperature gets to 275 – 300, I add two or three small mesquite logs (or big chunks) on top of the coals and put the brisket on. The mesquite will smoke a lot at first, and get that flavor into the meat.



Preparing The Brisket
I’m a purist. I season with garlic salt, lemon pepper, and fresh pepper. I don’t use a rub. Go light on the garlic salt, that can dry the meat out. Season both sides. Cook with the fat side up.



When the temperature gets to 275-300, put the brisket on, thicker end angled slightly towards the fire. You can shift the position a time or two while it’s cooking.

Once you put the brisket on, leave it alone. Check the temperature every half hour to hour, but do not open the cooking chamber.

Open the fire chamber only to add mesquite. Use the fire vent and the chimney damper to maintain the temperature between 250 and 300. Don’t worry if the temperature gets out of that range, it’s no big deal. Just try and bring it back into range.


Cook for about 4 hours on the smoker, longer if you can keep the temperature right.


Put the brisket into a pan about 3 inches deep, and pour a beer over it. I like corona or shiner bock. The beer choice will give a slightly different flavor, pick a beer you like. Add 12 oz of beer, and another half bottle (6 oz) of water.


Cover the pan with foil, and crimp the foil to the top. Put the brisket in the oven, at 225-250. If your smoker temperature stayed above 275, use 225 in the oven. Cook about 4 hours, for eight hours total cooking time. Again, leave the brisket alone. Check it once or twice, maybe slice a piece off the end to test the flavor and tenderness. When it tastes tender and perfect ~ dig in!



Want the perfect biscuit recipe? Perfect for BBQ? Here it is!


The perfect dessert?  Quick and Easy Lemon Cream Pie




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Steven Blumrosen July 3, 2016 - 8:57 pm

Your pictures show a passion and practice with brisket. I am sure the taste is perfected as well.

Karen Ekstrom July 3, 2016 - 9:34 pm

Thanks Steven! (I hate to brag… but it is!)

Wallie July 5, 2016 - 1:56 pm

Good information. Thank you for sharing! I will definitely be smoking a brisket soon. I have a master built propane smoker. The fire is inside with the brisket. I hope I can get it right.

Karen Ekstrom July 5, 2016 - 6:26 pm

Good luck Wallie!

Reddskullz February 8, 2018 - 7:10 pm

If you use a chimney starter, go light on the coals… no more than 15…. get them lit put them in the bbq, and let the temp settle with it closed, and see what temp is…. add or take out 1 coal at a time to raise our lower your temp…

Reg July 26, 2016 - 8:59 pm

I just started smoking brisket. I love it. I marinate with Worcester sauce, mustard and Montreal steak spice for 24 hours and the rest is like yours but 17 hours at 225

It’s amazing and fun. I use digital thermometers and monitor meat and smoker temps separately using Bluetooth technology. I get to do other stuff while smoking

I’m finished when the internal temp hits 190 to 200. Let it rest in insulated coolers for 3 hours while I bake potatoes. The last time I did it I smoked 90 lbs for 170 guests at my nieces wedding

Karen Ekstrom July 26, 2016 - 10:36 pm

1Sounds like you have got smoking a brisket down. It must be yummy
And what a compliment, your niece asked you to cater her wedding!
Congrats all the way around.

Ed July 12, 2017 - 8:24 pm

Reg how much of each ingredient do you use in your maranate? Do you wrap it in tin foil when you put it in the cooler?
Thanks Ed

Joe January 2, 2018 - 5:31 pm

Reg, do you ever wrap or cover brisket up in that smoker? Also when you marinate it..does it cover the whole brisket or just sits in the marinate?

Karen Ekstrom January 2, 2018 - 8:21 pm

I do not ever cover the brisket in the smoker. When I put the brisket in the oven, I put it in a deep pan, pour the beer over it, and then cover the pan with foil. The brisket just sits in the beer/water marinate, but it is not covered in it. I hope this answers your question. Happy Smoking.

pierre May 29, 2021 - 2:17 pm

can you give us the exact way you doit for 17 hours

Karen Ekstrom May 29, 2021 - 2:42 pm

It takes 8 hours, not 17.

Smokingbil July 31, 2016 - 5:37 pm

Great brisket loved it. I also smoke all kinds of cheese.

Karen Ekstrom July 31, 2016 - 9:14 pm

Wow! Now I’m impressed!

Jim Davidson May 22, 2017 - 8:59 pm

I’d like some cheese smoking recipes, sounds good

Rick August 1, 2016 - 7:01 pm

Did you not put the brisket in the pan until you put it in the oven? If I have a green mountain smoker that will maintain at 225° could I do the entire cooking on the Green Mountain? Your brisket looks great! Thank you!

Karen Ekstrom August 1, 2016 - 9:24 pm

Hi Rick! David doesn’t put the brisket in a pan until he puts it in the oven. If you can maintain a level temperature all that time, I’d keep it in the smoker! Good luck! Write back and let me know how it comes out!

Mike September 23, 2016 - 9:45 am

I’ll be using a natural gas smoker can I just leave the brisket in the whole time ? Instead of switching to the oven . The smoker maintains temp really well and by thimerosal I take it out and put it in a pan with foil the temp will be down to 225-250

Karen Ekstrom September 23, 2016 - 10:23 pm

Hi Mike, David says that should work but be sure to cook it in beer or you will miss that flavor!

Rich December 2, 2016 - 6:18 am

I have an old Hickory smoker 300 does it need to start out at 275 or can i start at 225 and maintain that start to finish

Karen Ekstrom December 2, 2016 - 2:57 pm

Hi Rich, here’s what the boss has to say… “The temp isn’t really what matters. Just cook them at a low temperature until the meat is tender.” Good luck and enjoy!

Steve January 22, 2017 - 10:59 am

By covering it in the oven sitting in beer, you are really steaming it no? That’s very similar to the 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 methods used for ribs. Saw an edition of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” where the chef put his briskets in a steamer for at least 2 hours (maybe 4?) and the combo of smoking and steaming seems to assure a moist piece of meat at the end! Also, you didn’t seem to worry much about the internal temperature … amazing!

Karen Ekstrom January 28, 2017 - 1:24 pm

Hi Steve, the brisket essentially steams in beer assuring it will be moist and tasty… it marries the smoky, spicy flavor ~ making it delicious! (I really don’t know what the 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 method is) As for worrying about the internal temperature of the beef… after it’s cooked for that many hours… it’s cooked!

Steve January 28, 2017 - 8:22 pm

The 3-2-1 method for ribs is 3 hours in the smoker, then 2 hours wrapped in foil with apple juice, then 1 hour unwrapped to create the ‘bark’ on the outside. In a hurry? Sometimes the 2-2-1 works just as well!

Karen Ekstrom January 28, 2017 - 9:55 pm

Oh! Thanks Steve!

Ronald Beach February 5, 2017 - 8:09 am

Good job on telling people how to on brisket but a purist from Texas only uses salt and pepper to season a brisket with I usely wrap mine in foil in a pan and keep it on my pit but you have to control your temperature like you said but with my pit like yours it not hard great job

Karen Ekstrom February 5, 2017 - 10:15 am

Thanks Ronald! That’s high praise coming from another brisket lover!

Rick Harris February 26, 2017 - 7:24 am

I’m going to try this today. Will let you know how it turns out.

Karen Ekstrom February 26, 2017 - 8:44 am

It will turn out FABULOUS! ~ I promise!

Rick Harris February 28, 2017 - 3:03 pm


Karen Ekstrom February 28, 2017 - 6:16 pm

Glad to hear it Rick! I hope you had lots of people over and served ice cold beer!

tom March 3, 2017 - 12:37 pm

Anyone tried this with Cider instead of beer? not a big beer fan. Going to attempt this on a lp grill and a smoke box.

Karen Ekstrom March 3, 2017 - 4:04 pm

Hi Tom, I’ve never tried it with Cider. Let me know how it turns out!

David valenzuela March 3, 2017 - 6:23 pm

Can you just leave it on the smoker instead of going to the oven?

Karen Ekstrom March 3, 2017 - 7:33 pm

Yes, if you can hold the temperature of the smoker steady and, of course, you won’t get any of the beer flavor. (Let me know how it turns out!)

Cynthia March 8, 2017 - 7:53 pm

Hi,I would love to make a brisket for my family, I read your recipe and the comments but i do not own a smoker . I only have a gas grill and oven.Will I still be able to do it? Thanks

Karen Ekstrom March 8, 2017 - 8:08 pm

Hi Cynthia. You could cook a brisket in the oven. (Don’t do it in a gas grill.) But, you won’t get the smokey flavor. And, unfortunately it won’t be as good. I’m sorry…

Cynthia March 8, 2017 - 8:12 pm

Thanks for getting back to me . Maybe one day I can try your recipe.

Karen Ekstrom March 8, 2017 - 8:57 pm

Well… A Smoker might make for a great Father’s Day/Mother’s Day present! Smile!

Ric April 13, 2017 - 10:50 pm

Sounds like a winner specially with that prime hunk of meat. Where did you get that. Only place around here that carries Packers is Walmart. Not prime just select. Hit and miss so have quit trying. Maybe try a chunk roast. Heard thay can be good.
Never quite smoking
Bad for your health

Karen Ekstrom April 14, 2017 - 1:09 pm

Hi Ric, I don’t remember where we got the meat. Either Sam’s Wholesale (owned by Walmart) or Costco… But we are picky about our meat. (Being ranchers, that makes sense.) Don’t give up! This brisket is too good!

Armando Teran May 18, 2017 - 9:10 pm

I do have a Master Built Electrical Smoker and had used several times to smoke some babyback ribs and beef finger ribs and some eibeyes, etc. My question is it will be the same to smoke the brisket as it shows here ?

Karen Ekstrom May 19, 2017 - 10:08 am

My husband says he’s never used a electric smoker but he would assume, if you keep the temperatures the same, you should be good. Write back and tell us how it goes! Good luck!

Jeff Kern May 26, 2017 - 7:32 am

Trying this weekend up in MN. Wish me luck! I’m a rookie!

Karen Ekstrom May 27, 2017 - 3:12 pm

Good Luck Jeff! Let me know how they turn out!

Diane Swanberg June 12, 2017 - 11:04 pm

Bought my hubby a smoker a few years ago. He uses it for ribs, but I never have. We’re hosting a graduation/father’s day party this weekend, so I’m taking over the smoker. Planning on this brisket recipe (I really like that it’s not covered with a rub) and smoked pork butt. This recipe looks great. I’m ready to compete with hubbies baby back ribs.

Karen Ekstrom June 13, 2017 - 3:28 pm

Be confident ~ This is a great recipe! I promise, you will ‘Wow” your crowd! Have fun at your party!

Steve S July 5, 2017 - 8:12 pm

Not to completely change the subject but for anyone wanting to experiment with pork butt have no fear! I smoked a pork butt side by side with my brisket following these steps and they both came out phenomenal!!! Same rub, same beer, same cook time and same success as my brisket! Give it a try!! It was melt in your mouth, fall apart goodness. Thank y’all!

Karen Ekstrom July 5, 2017 - 10:58 pm

You are a brave man Steve! Glad it turned out!

Carl P September 2, 2017 - 8:34 am

I like your method of making a brisket. I have learned over the years that with some types of wood, like oak in smaller pits, are easy to over smoke the meat giving it a bitter taste in the bark. By smoking in for a certain period of time, like four hours, you get the smoking part of the process correct. Then you can concentrate on finishing the brisket at the correct temperature while cooking the smoke flavor into the meat during the final hours. Sealing it in a pan or wrapping it in foil for the last few hours tenderizes the meat and will allow you to finish it on the pit without over smoking if you don’t want to use an oven for the last part. Thought I would clarify the reasons for wrapping the meat after a certain period of time based on my experience in the past. I have over smoked one or two while learning.

Food for thought. Hope it helps.

Karen Ekstrom September 2, 2017 - 8:38 am

Thanks Carl! Great explanation!

Rachel September 4, 2017 - 2:59 am

Has anyone tried this with no beer? Or a substitution for beer? How did it turn out? Not a big beer fan, so just wondering if it turns out without using the beer!

Karen Ekstrom September 4, 2017 - 11:34 am

Hi Rachel, David says to try root beer (he thinks coke might be too strong) as a substitute for beer. He thinks that might work. Neither one of us have ever made it without using beer but, if you do, please let us know how it turns out! (Just for the record, the alcohol content burns off in the cooking so I don’t feel like I’m serving my 9 year-old grandson booze!) Good luck!

Scott O May 13, 2018 - 10:52 am

I use Dr. Pepper wit pork butt in a similar approach.

Karen Ekstrom May 13, 2018 - 12:40 pm

Sounds wonderful! I bet your’s is delicious too!

William November 24, 2017 - 2:02 pm

Brine or no brine?

Karen Ekstrom November 24, 2017 - 6:26 pm

David puts spices on it, but he doesn’t brine it.

Susan Gentile February 11, 2018 - 7:31 am

Can this gorgeous brisket be made without a smoker? I have an electric roaster, but no smoker?

Karen Ekstrom February 11, 2018 - 8:50 am

Hi Susan, David and I discussed cooking a brisket in an electric roaster and decided you wouldn’t be able to get a satisfactory result. Your brisket would be missing the smokey taste, and the crust wouldn’t form right to seal in the flavor. Sorry.

Susan Gentile February 11, 2018 - 9:02 pm

Thank you for your reply.

Karen Ekstrom February 11, 2018 - 9:18 pm

Susan, Try this recipe ~ I think it will work well in your electric roaster and it’s wonderful! Good luck!

Karen May 13, 2018 - 6:39 am

Hands down the BEST brisket ever! I’m trying a brisket tonight smoked with oak wood wish me luck everyone.

Karen Ekstrom May 13, 2018 - 8:53 am

Good Luck Karen! (I’m confident it will be wonderful!!!)

Chris Tribur June 12, 2018 - 9:57 am

I’ve found the post-cook wrap and rest in an insulated cooler for at least 2 hours adds a whole new degree of flavor and tenderness. I pull at 201 internal, then wrap in foil and towels.

Karen Ekstrom June 12, 2018 - 10:18 am

Sounds good Chris. We’ll have to try that!

Rey Gonzalez Jr June 15, 2018 - 3:01 pm

Hey folks, you all have really great ideas…. I’m from way down South Texas… I use a regular BBQ pit with mesquite wood for my BBQ’s.. My brisket is prepped with a stab here and there and then insert a clove of garlic in there; then I season with just about any seasoned salt you favor. Once prepped, a double wrap of heavy duty foil and in the pit we go. I never use a temperature gauge, it cooks at about 400 for so for 3 to 4 hours. Yes, turn it every thirty minutes and when it smelts right, your done. Take it off the grill, punch a hole in the foil, collecting all fluids; mix the fluids with your favorite BBQ Sauce, and some pineapple orange juice; slice the brisket, let it rest in the sauce and grab some napkins…. enjoy!

Karen Ekstrom June 15, 2018 - 10:04 pm

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for sending!

Chris Purse July 31, 2018 - 2:53 pm

I’m going to have to try my next one with the beer. I’m curious as to what it would taste like if I used Coca-Cola or Dr Pepper? I’m weird like that. Lol. Y’all’s brisket looks tasty and making me hungry.

Karen Ekstrom July 31, 2018 - 5:32 pm

Hi Chris, You can use coke or Dr. Pepper. It will just make your brisket sweeter.

Lee September 30, 2018 - 7:40 am

This recipe sounds great! Do you still get a crispy bark after wrapping the brisket?

Karen Ekstrom September 30, 2018 - 11:32 am

Hi Lee, This recipe is delicious. The crust is what keeps the juices in and keeps it tasty. So, yes, this recipe does form a crust. But, it sounds like you like your brisket really crunchy, so this may not be the recipe for you.

Barbara Bocchino October 26, 2018 - 3:56 pm

How long would you cook a 3.60 lb brisket, smoker and oven. What flavor did you use in the smoker? Thank you want to smoke it on Sunday.

Barbara Bocchino

Karen Ekstrom October 26, 2018 - 9:28 pm

Hi Barbara, We usually cook 12- 14 lb brisket, so a 3.60 lb brisket leaves us guessing… but, you’d still cook it 3 hours on the smoker (at the low end of the temperature range – 250 to 275 degrees) and an 1 1/2 hours in the oven. (Lower the temperature to 225 degrees in the oven.) Check it for tenderness… If it is still tough, cook it an hour longer… As for the flavor, we assume you are talking wood… David prefers mesquite wood. Good luck! Let us know how it turned out!

Smoke_it November 30, 2018 - 1:39 am

Thanks for this recipe. The oven is the key in my opinion. I’m jacked to try this now! I’m in Chicago and it’s 20 with snow on the ground, but I need a little Texas heat here!

Karen Ekstrom November 30, 2018 - 7:57 am

I love Chicago! Keep warm! Enjoy that brisket!

Art w April 26, 2019 - 3:23 am

Another way to do a brisket is injecting it with 2 cups of beef broth. A quarter cup of both soy sauce and Worcestershire. Cook it to an internal temp of 203 to 204 degrees. Then wrap it and put it in a cooler for 2 to 3 hours. The process will break down the connective tissue and you will have an awesome brisket. Texas 101

Dad Life May 10, 2019 - 10:44 am

This looks like some delicious brisket. I have tried different recipes but yours is a little different in a good way as you have fewer spices to keep it simple, so I am going to give it a try this weekend.

Kim Bradley June 14, 2019 - 6:39 am

My husband has a Bradley Smoker…how do we do this if not using a bbq smoker? Thank you! Yours looks delicious and he’s been wanting to smoke brisket….

Karen Ekstrom June 14, 2019 - 10:03 pm

Okay, You’ve got me. I have no idea what a Bradley Smoker is… Sorry.

Jade September 11, 2020 - 5:23 pm

Hi, my grocery store only had 4-5lb briskets. What cooking times would you suggest for smoking and in the oven?

Karen Ekstrom September 11, 2020 - 6:23 pm

I would cut the cooking time in half. But check your brisket every hour in the oven.Trim one end and if it is tender and easy to cut it’s ready. Enjoy!

Larry May 27, 2021 - 1:12 pm

Love your recipe, I did competition smoking for years we used a trailer mounted smokey that would hold twenty five racks of ribs and would go through a ton of Hickory wood, I have had several types of smaller smokers over the years, which takes a lot of time and effort trying to keep the temp right, I bought an electric smoker just to try it, I was amazed at the difference, you set the temp and the time then a hand full of chips put in the meat and walk away no muss no fuss, I got rid of all the wood smokers now only have the electric, I cook Brisket, Ribs, Roast, Chicken all at the same time and it comes out great, I use the beer but you can also use Wine this add a different flavor and is really good, have also used the beer can chicken in the smoker love that

Karen Ekstrom May 27, 2021 - 2:27 pm

Wow! Thanks for the great info. We’ve about burned up our smoker and are about to start shopping for a new one. We will look into an electric one and see what we think!

Marilyn Hunt June 3, 2021 - 11:04 am

My dad taught me to make brisket this way 30 years ago! I only have a Weber kettle grill. I cut the brisket into 3 parts to make it easier to get the brisket to fit on the grill making sure the thicker parts are next to the indirect fire with mesquite chunks tossed on top. I leave the meat undisturbed and cook until the briquets burn out, about 3 hours. Then I put the meat into a deep pan and pour only one beer (do not add water) over the the meat, cover with foil, and put it into the 225 oven for at least 3-4 hours. Then I remove the brisket from the oven and let it rest without ever removing the foil for at least another two hours before removing the meat to slice. I save the pan juices and remove the fat. If there’s leftover brisket, I add some of the pan juices to the packgage and freeze for later. Those juices are essential for reheating the covered thawed brisket slowly in a 225 oven. Have always received compliments on my brisket, especially when they learn I did it on a Weber kettle!

Karen Ekstrom June 3, 2021 - 3:04 pm

You Dad must have been one wonderful Dad! I bet his brisket was wonderful! And your’s is too!


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