How To Smoke a Brisket On a Pellet Grill

Suppose you’re looking for a delicious way to cook your brisket; look no further than the pellet grill. With this handy guide, we’ll walk you through the actions of smoking a brisket on a pellet grill.

We’ll also provide tips for ensuring your brisket turns out succulent and delicious. So, if you are want to know how to smoke a brisket on a pellet grill, keep reading!

Ingredient To Smoke a Brisket On a Pellet Grill

  • A 10-12 pound beef brisket
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 cup apple juice, divided in half

How to smoke a brisket on a pellet grill

How to smoke a brisket on a pellet grill

Trim the Brisket

For those of you that have purchased a packer brisket and want to know how to smoke it, I’m going to assume that this is your first brisket. For that reason, I’ll walk you through the entire process step by step, which will result in some great-tasting meat, even if it’s your first attempt.

Since this brisket will spend a lot of time on the smoker, we need to make sure that there are no significant impediments to airflow. If you look at the brisket, you’ll notice that one side is flat, and the other side has a thick part of fat known as “the deckle.”

The decal is seen stuck to the right of this image. It’s not required to remove any fat or anything like that, but it does allow more airflow into the meat, which is suitable for smoke penetration.

Removing the deckle is extremely easy. All you have to do is use a sharp knife and slice it off the top of the brisket. I like to cut it off in one solid piece, as seen above but if you’re feeling frisky, feel free to cut it into smaller pieces.

Once the deckle is removed, it’s time to season the brisket. I went with a simple mixture of Jeff’s original rub (purchase recipes here) and Worcester sauce. Any Worcestershire sauce will do, but you want one that has high-quality ingredients such as Lea & Perrins or something similar.

With the brisket trimmed up and the seasonings applied, we can move on to the next step.

Dry Brine the Brisket

I hate soggy brisket, so I like to give it a little extra help by “drying bringing” it first. To do this, sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the entire brisket and let it sit for about 1 hour.

I don’t bother with any extra seasonings at this time because they’ll be applied in the next step. It’s also unnecessary, but feel free to sprinkle Jeff’s original rub (purchase recipes here) onto the salt if you’d like.

Now it’s time for the natural seasoning. We’re going to mix up a dry rub with some of Jeff’s original rub (purchase recipes here), which will form a nice crust on the bark of the brisket.

I would say that this is optional, but you’ll notice that there are friendly and dark edges in all my “after” photos. That is the result of this dry rub with added little Worcester sauce.

You would consider this a pretty spicy mixture for most people, but I like it with a nice kick, so feel free to experiment. This dry brine process will only take about 20-30 minutes, so you can do it while waiting on the grill to heat up.

Fire Up the Grill

There are many different flavors that you can get out of a pellet grill depending on the type of pellets used for brisket, how hot it gets, and for how long. I have found that cherry pellets work perfectly with wood for smoking brisket, but you might want to try something else if that’s not your thing.

I recommend a temperature of 275-300 degrees for these longer cooks, so you want to make sure that you have plenty of pellets in the hopper before going forward.

I also suggest setting up two probes so you can monitor both the grill and meat at the same time. This will allow accurate readings even when space is limited on your grill.

Smoke the Brisket

Once the grill reaches 275-300 degrees, it’s time to go full throttle. The meat needs to go onto the smoker before the temp drops, so get ready if you haven’t already done so.

Smoke the Brisket

At this point, I place the brisket on a sheet of butcher paper (plain brown paper bags will work too) and sprinkle it heavily with Jeff’s original rub (purchase recipes here). The meat is placed fat side up. There are many ways to go about this process, but I use an effortless technique that works great for me.

I place the brisket on the grill, close the lid, set my probes to beep, so I know the temperature is stable, and walk away for 30 minutes. This gives me time to get everything else ready.

After 30 minutes or so, check on the smoker’s temperature and make sure it holds steady at 275-300 degrees, as discussed above. You can use a probe thermometer inserted through the top vent if you like, but if you decide to go the route of a wireless setup, that is probably more accurate.

Once you’ve confirmed that your smoker’s temperature is stable and on target, then open up the grill and add some smoke.

I don’t need to add more wood pellets at this point because I like my brisket with a deep smoky flavor. However, if your brisket is not smoked enough for your taste, you can add more pellets at this point or even some chips soaked in water (soaked overnight).

If the wood is very dry and there are no visible moisture beads on it after striking a match, I suggest adding 2-3 cups of water to the pellets or chips to add some more moisture.

I recommend adding a few chunks of cherry wood at this point, but I always keep a bag of pecan, hickory, and apple mixed in my pantry for varies depending on what’s available at the store.

It should only take a couple of minutes for these to start smoking, so you don’t have to wait long.

Once the smoke appears, it’s time to put the top back on the grill and close all vents except for the bottom vent. This is where I want my airflow to be coming from to stoke the fire. It also helps if your bottom shelf can be used as a ‘heat shield’ to keep the brisket from cooking too quickly. All of this is discussed in more detail below.

Next, it’s time to have a seat and wait for 4-6 hours while the magic of low and slow cooking takes place. You can see how juicy this brisket got after being on the smoker at 275-300 degrees for 6 hours, so don’t be tempted to open the lid and check on it too often.

Make sure you keep an eye on your smoker temp during this time and stoke the fire using the methods discussed below if needed. The last thing you want is your temps to get out of control or your excellent relaxing time with friends and family becomes an exercise in futility.

The brisket is done in the thickest part when it reaches an interior meat warmth of 195 degrees. When you poke the brisket with your probe, it should have much less resistance than when you started, so take this as a rough guide rather than an absolute answer.

I’ve found that every brisket cooks differently depending on various factors, so there is no natural ‘one size fits all solution to the perfect time and temp.

Once it’s done, remove it from the smoker and allow it to relax for an hour or two, wrapped in foil before slicing and serving. This will also help hold in some of that juiciness I mentioned above.

Benefits of smoking a Brisket on a Pellet Grill

The main benefit of cooking a brisket on a pellet grill is the ability to maintain low temperatures without having to add charcoal. This creates a system that requires essentially no attention or work until it’s time for wrapping or foiling in 2-4 hours when making barbecue.

Benefits of smoking a Brisket on a Pellet Grill

I have found that this even works well in colder weather when wrapping the brisket in a heavy-duty foil and placing it in a box with towels to keep it insulated from extreme weather.

Another benefit is that you do not have to soak wood chips or chunks before using them when smoking. This means less fuss when firing up your smoker if you don’t plan on having it for an extended amount of time before using it.

It also means that you can use more wood chunks in the average 20-30 minutes they are supposed to smoke instead of using 2 hours worth of chips or chunks at once.

I have not tried cooking a brisket on my pellet grill without adding smoke, but some folks may want to try it in the future.

Also, I’ve found that when using the best Traeger pellets for brisket or any other long cook meat, it is possible to do multiple cooks without restocking the wood chips or chunks.

I find this much more manageable than changing out the wood when cooking with charcoal, especially if you only want to cook for 3-4 hours at a time.

FAQ About Smoke a Brisket On a Pellet Grill

What kind of pellets should I use to smoke a brisket on a pellet grill?

I have used apple, cherry, and pecan with good results on different occasions. When I am cooking on my cuber/smoker, I add some mesquite along with the other 2 flavors mentioned above just because it’s one of my favorites.

I believe that hickory, cherry, apple, and mesquite are the most commonly used for smoking, but since these grills don’t produce as much smoke as traditional smokers or charcoal grills, I’ve found that you can use more than one type of wood at a time with good results.

How long should it take to cook a brisket on a pellet grill?

As I said before, cooking times will vary depending on how much charcoal you use, the weather conditions, and the brisket size. 6 hours seems to be the average amount of time it takes to cook one on my pellet grill. However, I’m sure some folks may turn out a better brisket than I do.

What is the final internal temperature of a cooked brisket on a pellet grill?

I take my briskets off at 195 degrees in the thickest part of the meat after around 6-8 hours, depending on other factors like weather and how many times I checked it during cooking. The thicker the brisket, the more time it will bring to reach 195 degrees

I’ve found that wrapping in foil and placing it in a towel-lined box will hold in more moisture than just allowing it to rest on a cutting board for an hour or so.

Can I use other meats besides brisket when smoking on a pellet grill?

I have not tried cooking anything other than brisket on my pellet grill, but I imagine it is possible. I plan to try a pork shoulder next after having success with the briskets and ribs.

Is it possible to smoke on a pellet smoker without adding smoke?

I don’t know for sure, but I will experiment more as time goes on. Would you mind explaining your process below if you have tried cooking without adding smoke?

I would imagine that it is possible to achieve the same effect as adding wood chips just by using more pellets at one time. When I use my smoker box with chunks instead of chips, I can get results not too much different than when I add pellets without the box.

Final Verdict

Smoking a brisket on a pellet grill is very easy, and the results are pretty good if you follow the instructions. I believe it’s much easier than using charcoal, at least for me, since I don’t have to restock so often during my cook time, especially if I want to do multiple short cooks instead of all at once.