I’ve previously produced my article on what I think is the best method to smoke a brisket on a pellet grill/smoker. This article is going to be more specific about smoking a beef brisket on a Pit Boss and their recommended methods. Pit Boss produce both horizontal & vertical pellet smokers, and the advice below is applicable to both types. The approach below from Pit Boss chef Shaun O’Neale is not true ‘Texas-style’ as we’ll discuss below, but its an approach you may want to take, and we’ll discuss why. Right then, let’s get into this!
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Table of Contents
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- Cooking Time: Generally 8 to 12 hours
- Pit Boss Recommended Temp: 225 to 250 F
- Brisket Internal Temp When Done: Around 200 F
- Best Pellets For Brisket: Classic Blend, Competition Blend, more details below
I’m no BBQ expert, my expertise is how pellet grills/smokers work and the range of makes/models on the market. When it comes to how to cook on a pellet grill/smoker, I’ll be referring to the professionals.
Pit Boss, several years ago, got chef Shaun O’Neale (who appeared on MasterChef) to help with the launch of the Pit Boss Platinum Series and Shaun’s video which is the foundation of this article.
Pit Boss Recommended Approach For Smoked Brisket
Anyway, to start things off, I’ve embedded the Pit Boss brisket video below with Shaun and its pretty extensive. This is a 30-minute video, so its long, but it’s worth a watch.
So, when it comes to cooking brisket, you’ve probably come across the term ‘Texas-style’. What that refers to is the simple/classic method of cooking brisket with a simple salt and pepper rub.
What you can see Shaun doing in the video above is injecting beef broth into the brisket during the preparation stage, something which Shaun notes may make some people from Texas pretty mad.
However, there are certain instances where you may want to try the marinade approach for your brisket, especially if you’re cooking a cheaper grade of brisket, so let’s discuss this…
1: If You Can Get/Afford Higher Quality Brisket, Go For It
If you’re reading this article after you have already purchased your brisket from the shop/butcher, no problem. Just consider the points below for your next purchase.
Its likely the type of brisket you wish to cook on your Pit Boss is what’s called a ‘full packer brisket’, which is made up of two muscles, the ‘flat’ and the ‘point’.
When you purchase a brisket, they are graded and priced according to the USDA grading system. Select is the cheapest/lowest grade, and Prime is the most expensive/highest grade.
There are actually grades of meat about Prime grade, you’ve probably heard of Wagyu beef, well, that’s a Japanese breed of cattle known for its quality of meat.
Snake River Farms are a US supplier of Wagyu-grade beef brisket, but what’s the fuss about it anyway? Well, it all comes down to the fat marbling within the brisket.
I’m sure you know ‘fat provides flavour’, and it does, but its not surface fat you should be most concerned with, its the extent of fat between the muscle fibres, which is the ‘good stuff’.
USDA Select brisket has the lowest extent of fat marbling, Choice grade has more, Prime grade has even more, and Wagyu grade has even more still.
Though, as I’m sure you have guessed before even visiting the Snake River Farm’s website, higher grades of brisket are expensive.
Personally, I choose to buy as high of a quality of meat as I can afford, but I also probably eat less meat than most people, so it end’s up balancing out the amount I spend.
Anyway, the quality/extent of fat marbling within the brisket you have purchased could influence how you choose to prepare it, right then, onto preparation.
2: How To Prepare Beef Brisket For Your Pit Boss
The first part of the brisket preparation process is to trim the brisket. You’ll be trimming off connective tissue off the surface of the brisket as well as lumps of hard fat.
Yes, we all know ‘fat is flavour’, and as discussed above, more fat marbling within the brisket will give a better end result in terms of taste and texture, but we’re not talking about that type of fat.
It’s the large lumps of hard fat on the surface of the brisket you’ll want to trim off, and Shaun’s video above is excellent in this regard. He spends a good ten minutes going through the trimming process.
On the fat side of the brisket, you definitely don’t want to remove too much fat. You’ll want to leave a consistent layer of fat across the fat side of the brisket.
The important word is ‘consistent’. The same thickness of fat will cook/render down the same way, hence giving you a consistent result at the end across the brisket, which is what we all want.
Quick Tip: You’ll want to trim the brisket when its cold straight out of the refrigerator. That way, your knife will cut through the fat more easily.
Just A Rub Or Marinade Injections?
Ok, so a true ‘Texas-style’ brisket is prepared with just a basic salt and pepper rub (black pepper and sea salt), liberally applied across the entire surface which will form that classic brisket bark.
With the original Texas-style brisket, there are no marinade injections. There is also no basting during the cook, the fat within the meat is all that provides the moisture and keeps the meat juicy.
However, you’ll notice that in Shaun’s video above for Pit Boss, he also injects a beef broth marinade into the brisket during the preparation stage.
Alternative approaches Pit Boss have recommended over the years include the video below, where they recommend basting the brisket during the cook with an apple cider vinegar/beer and rub solution.
Would I personally go with the marinade/basting approach to cooking a brisket? Well, it depends. It depends on what grade/quality of brisket I’m dealing with.
If I’ve got a Wagyu brisket from somewhere like Snake River Farms, I’m going to stick with the classic Texas-style approach of a salt/pepper rub, maybe a little bit of garlic/onion powder in there for personal preference.
However, if I was trying to cook a lower quality piece of brisket, maybe a USDA Select brisket, sure, I’d probably play around with marinade injections/basting to keep the brisket moist and tasty.
If you’re having trouble getting the rub to stick to the brisket as the surface is too dry, just add a little water or an alternative binder such as mustard or olive oil, for instance, but not too much.
Right, the brisket is prepared. We now need to talk about the actual cooking/smoking part of the process. First off, let’s discuss pellets, for instance, what type of pellets and pellet consumption.
3. The Best Pit Boss Pellets For Cooking/Smoking Brisket?
So first off, as I discuss in my article on the best value smoking pellets, Pit Boss, on a cost per lb basis, offer some of the best value pellets on the market currently with regards to blended pellets.
The question then becomes, which Pit Boss pellet blend to choose? Well, there is a couple you could choose, the Classic Blend, which contains a base of oak with pecan, hickory and mesquite in there too.
If you want to focus more on a particular wood species, there is the Hickory Blend or the Mesquite Blend. There are also alternatives, such as the Cherry Blend, for a sweeter smoke profile.
If you are looking for a more intense smoke flavour for your brisket, there is now the Pit Boss Charcoal Blend. Then again, if this is your first brisket on a Pit Boss, there is nothing wrong with starting with a simple Oak Blend.
On your next brisket cook, if you want to be more adventurous with your pellet flavours, don’t be under the impression you can only use Pit Boss pellets, check out my BBQ pellet page to learn about all your options.
Pellet Usage When Cooking/Smoking A Brisket
As stated at the start of this post, depending on how large your brisket is, the total cook time could be between 8 to 12 hours. Therefore, you need to make sure you have enough pellets.
Generally, most pellet grills/smokers on a low and slow cook will consume between 1 to 2 lbs of pellets per hour. For a brisket cook, you could use between 8 to 24 lbs of pellets.
However, bear in mind the outdoor temperature, Pit Boss pellet grills/smokers do not currently widely feature twin-wall insulated construction. So in the winter, pellet consumption can be significantly more.
Finally, you’ll want to have, at the very least, a full 20 lb bag of pellets ready, ideally a couple of bags. You don’t want to run out of pellets mid-cook.
4. Starting The Cook & Smoke Infusion
The first stage of the brisket cook is when you’re going to get the most smoke flavour into the brisket. Therefore, if your Pit Boss has a Smoke Setting, this is the time to use it.
Now, as discussed in my linked article above on Smoke Settings, you do have to be careful. In the Smoke Setting, the pellet fire is more unstable (deliberately) as this creates more smoke.
However, if its a windy day, this could even result in a flameout situation which you definitely don’t want. Therefore, if you are going to use the Smoke Setting, make sure your Pit Boss is protected from gusts of wind.
I could get into a whole discussion about older Pit Boss models versus more modern Pit Boss models with PID control panels and the lack of smoke production.
You also have Smoke Setting differences between the Competition Series and Pro Series though both use a PID control panel. The point is your Pit Boss may or may not have a Smoke Setting.
Either way, set the temperature of your Pit Boss to 225 degrees for this initial stage of cooking the brisket, and you are looking to cook the brisket to an internal temperature of around 160 degrees.
Shaun also used a water pan in his video above. Again, I think whether this is really needed is going to depend on the grade of brisket you’re working with.
Monitoring The Brisket Internal Temperature
The saying ‘cook to temp and not to time‘ is very true. As such, you need to be carefully monitoring the internal temperature of the brisket.
Pretty much all Pit Boss pellet grills/smokers have a meat probe port on the control panel, but some of the latest models also have SmokeIT, so users can monitor the meat probe from their phone via the App.
Now, some Pit Boss models can actually be upgraded with a SmokeIT control panel, but the word ‘some’ is important, and my article on the Pit Boss SmokeIT upgrade panels goes into more detail.
Alternatively, you could just use a good quality meat thermometer such as a Thermopen. Once the brisket reaches 160 internally, its off the Pit Boss and time to wrap it.
5. Brisket Wrapping & Then Back On The Pit Boss
The reason you want to wrap the brisket is that towards the end of the cooking process, the fat is going to start to render down.
Well, if you don’t wrap the brisket, that fat is going to drip out of the brisket and onto the grease tray of up your Pit Boss.
Not only a waste of tasty fat which will keep the brisket moist, but its also going to make cleaning your Pit Boss more difficult. Therefore, wrapping your brisket before putting it back on the Pit Boss is important.
Some people use foil to wrap their brisket. However, it appears many Chefs like Shaun in the video above recommend using butcher paper instead.
The reason is that with butcher paper, more of the heat can get to the outer surface of the brisket to let the bark form, and it also lets the brisket breathe more while still containing the majority of the juices/fat.
Once wrapped, place the brisket back on the Pit Boss until its internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. You may want to bump the temperature on your Pit Boss up to 250 for this final stage of the cook.
6. Let Your Brisket Rest (This Is Important)
Once your brisket has reached an internal temperature of 200 degrees and its time to take it off the Pit Boss, resist the temptation to cut into it straight away, its hard to resist, I get it.
Don’t even just wait until its just cool enough to touch it. Proper resting time for brisket is measured in hours and not minutes.
Many top Chefs will slow down the resting process by placing the brisket in a cooler, wrapping it in towels etc. It will seriously improve the flavour/texture of your brisket.
When writing my article on how to cook a brisket on a Traeger, it really annoyed me that their recommended method didn’t place enough emphasis on resting the brisket.
However, you don’t want the internal temperature of the brisket to be left below 135 degrees. That’s the danger zone for bacteria growth following FDA guidelines.
Final Thoughts On Smoking A Brisket On A Pit Boss…
Ok, when it comes to slicing and serving, check out my article on the best method to smoke a brisket on a pellet grill/smoker, which is also slightly different from the Pit Boss method above.
If you are cooking a large brisket, your total cook time could be around 12 hours, maybe even longer. Therefore, many Pit Boss owners will smoke a brisket overnight.
That’s fine, but please brim the hopper with pellets before you go to bed. You don’t want to run out of pellets mid-cook. That’s not going to work out very well.
That’s it! Thanks for reading. I hope you found the above information and videos useful on how to cook a smoked brisket on a Pit Boss pellet grill/smoker.
Please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide to learn more. However, I’ve also produced an FAQ section below, which you may also find useful.
How Long Does It Take To Cook A Brisket?
Remember you want to cook following the internal temperature of the brisket and not time. However, you’ll obviously want a general guide on time, so you have enough time to complete the cook.
Ok, the ‘general rule’ is around 30 to 60 minutes of cooking time for every lb of brisket you have. That’s still obviously very ‘general’, but the time it takes can depend on so many factors.
The specific shape of the brisket, its starting internal temperature, the outside ambient temperature around your Pit Boss, do you have an insulated blanket fitted, etc, etc.
I’m aware of how many Pit Boss owners feel towards the Traeger brand, but the graphic above is pretty handy as a general guide on cooking/smoking times for a brisket, apart from rest time.
Seriously, who thought it makes sense to imply the best rest time of a 10lb brisket will be the same as a 20lb brisket!? That’s obviously pretty daft.
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