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 Z Grill and their recommended methods. I’ve included a method from Z Grills which is a braising approach, but that’s not going to be for everyone. Therefore, I’ve added another video on a traditional Texas-style smoked brisket on a Z Grill. Right then, let’s get into this!
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
- Cooking Time: Generally 8 to 12 hours
- Z Grills Recommended Temp: 225 F
- Brisket Internal Temp When Done: Around 200 F
- Best Pellets For Brisket: Oak, Apple or Pecan blends
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.
Z Grills Recommended Approach For Smoked Brisket
Of the recommended approaches I’ve written about so far from Traeger, Pit Boss and Camp Chef on how to smoke a brisket, the approach below from Z Grills is definitely ‘different’.
First off, they are not working with a whole packer brisket which is what most pellet grill/smoker owners, from my experience, are interested in cooking/smoking.
However, I was then even more surprised by the approach of midway through the cook braising the brisket in beef stock and beer.
Would the above approach produce a tasty end result? I think so. However, I also don’t think its going to produce the taste/texture combination that most people are looking for from a smoked brisket.
Therefore, I’ve included the approach below from Bradley at Chuds BBQ on a Z Grill which was kindly gifted to him from the manufacturer. I know right!? If only we could all get a free pellet smoker.
Anyway, the reason I think Bradley’s video is a good reference is because, first, he does a Texas-style brisket cook, which is the method that I believe most people are interested in trying.
Second, Bradley, while a very experienced BBQ’r, has never actually used a pellet smoker before, and he was actually very happily surprised by the results he achieved on a Z Grill.
1: The Quality Of Your Brisket Plays Its Role
If you have already got your brisket in hand, no problem. No matter what grade of brisket you have bought, we’ll discuss how to approach the cook below.
However, if you still need to buy your brisket, there are some important facts you need to know to understand what you’re buying and how it will impact the end result.
So in Bradley’s video above, he’s using a Prime USDA brisket, but what does that actually mean? Well, there is a USDA grading system for meat to determine its quality which influences its price.
The lowest grade is USDA Select, there is then USDA Choice, and finally, USDA Prime. No prizes for guessing that a USDA Prime brisket is also the most expensive, but why? What’s the difference?
The higher the grade, the more fat marbling within the meat. More fat marbling creates better flavour and texture from the meat once cooked. However, there is another grade beyond USDA Prime…
Wagyu is a type of beef breed from Japan, and there are farmers in the US Northwest rearing Wagyu beef cattle, its basically the best brisket you can currently buy.
Then again, its also the most expensive brisket you can currently buy. You can only afford what you can afford, but as a treat, I can tell you from personal experience Wagyu beef is loverrlllyy.
Anyway, no matter what grade of brisket you are going to be smoking, you can produce a tasty end result. However, as we’ll discuss below, the grade of brisket may influence how you want to approach the cook.
2: How To Prepare Beef Brisket For Smoking
You’ve got your brisket. Before slapping it on the Z Grill, you need to do some preparation, and it means more than just simply putting some rub on it, but that is part of the process.
First, you are going to want to inspect the surface of the brisket for connective tissue and hard surface fat. You’re then going to be trimming the brisket of these two with a nice sharp knife.
Bradley’s video above is excellent at demonstrating the trimming approach as you see him trim both sides in detail while also trimming off thin edges of the brisket, which will cook too quickly.
He then also trims down the fat side of the brisket, so the depth of fat is around a quarter of an inch. The objective is to be left with a piece of meat that is going to cook/smoke consistently.
But don’t just chuck away those fat trimmings. You can use them to produce beef tallow as your brisket is smoking, as that tallow may come in handy. More on that below.
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.
Now It’s Time For The Rub
Following Bradley’s video above, a very popular approach to smoking a brisket is the simple Texas-style approach of a 50/50 salt and pepper rub (sea salt and black pepper).
You will want to apply this very liberally across the entire surface of the brisket, that’s top to bottom and the sides, all over it.
If your brisket is a little dry and the rub won’t stick, just spray it with a little water or use a little bit of a binder such as olive or mustard, but only a little to let the rub stick to the brisket.
You can obviously make up your own rub, but for convenience/time, there are loads, and I mean loads of brands of rubs out there you can choose from.
Some Texas-style beef rubs contain more than just salt and pepper. Some, such as that from BBQGuys in the video above, also contain browning sugar, along with some chilli pepper and onion powder.
There are lots of different options to try. However, maybe for your first brisket, you want to stick with the simple 50/50 salt and pepper rub, especially if you have a Prime/Wagyu grade brisket.
Then again, if you are working with a Select or Choice grade brisket with less fat marbling etc, then you may want to investigate marinade injections and maybe even the braised approach shown by Z Grills in their video above.
3. The Best Z Grills Pellets For Cooking/Smoking Brisket?
The other means to infuse flavour into your brisket is by choosing different types of pellets, which will produce a slightly different smoky flavour in the brisket.
However, what I will say is just like there is nothing wrong going with a basic salt and pepper rub, there is also nothing wrong with going with the staple of the pellet BBQ world, oak pellets.
Most blended pellets contain a high percentage of oak pellets anyway. However, you could choose to use a pellet blend instead, with a hickory blend being a popular choice for brisket.
Z Grills also offer a general fruitwood blend along with specific Apple or Cherry wood blends if you are looking for a more sweet smoky flavour in your brisket.
However, just because you own a Z Grill pellet smoker, it doesn’t mean you can only use their brand of pellets. There are now over 24 brands of smoking pellets on the market.
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 8 to 12 hours or more. 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.
In the winter months, you will definitely want to consider an insulated blanket, or your Z Grill will consume a lot more pellets.
4. Starting The Cook & Smoke Infusion
The first few hours when the brisket is first placed on a pellet smoker is when most of the smoke flavour and the smoke ring itself is going to form on the brisket.
Therefore, the initial stage of the brisket cooking/smoking on your Z Grill is very important. Most Z Grills have a Smoke Setting, and for the initial few hours at least, you should want to consider using it.
On the smoke setting of your Z Grill, the temperature will regulate around 158 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you do have to use the smoke setting with caution.
As I discuss in my linked article above on smoke settings, with a smoke setting, the fire is less stable and more prone to a flameout situation if a strong gust of wind hits the smoker at the right angle.
As you may know, pellet smokers with PID control panels can hold tighter control of their internal temperature. However, on any smoke setting, whether a PID control panel or not, there will be temperature swings.
It’s not possible to produce smoke without temperature swings, as the smoke is generated from inefficient combustion. So bear that in mind…
Now, unfortunately, you may own a Z Grill without meat probe monitoring to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the brisket, which is very important, as you want to know when it reaches around 160 degrees.
If your particular Z Grill does not feature any meat probe monitoring functionality. Then you could consider a separate remote meat probe monitor such as that sold by Z Grills below.
Alternatively, a meat probe thermometer such as a Thermopen can do the job. Either way, you want to leave the brisket on the Z Grill until an internal temp around 160, then off it comes.
This is by no means the end of the cooking/smoking process, so don’t turn off your Z Grill, but to get the best result, you will now prepare the brisket ready for the final stage of the cook.
A common approach is to wrap in butcher paper, which is well-regarded by many people. However, Bradley of Chuds BBQ, as shown in the video above, is well known for his foil boat method.
The foil boat method keeps the brisket sat in its own juices/rendering fat but at the same time leaves the top of the brisket exposed to better help bark formation and further aid smoke flavour.
Once the brisket reaches an internal temperature of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, its time to take it off your Z Grill.
However, there is another step before you get to the best part of actually eating it.
6. Let Your Brisket Rest (This Is Important)
Tempting as it may be to cut into and start munching on your freshly cooked brisket, resist the urge. If you want your hard work to really pay off, you need to let it rest.
We’re not talking a few minutes here, we’re not talking even half an hour. If you want to get the best result possible, the resting process could take several hours.
In fact, many top BBQ chefs leave their brisket wrapped in towels or in a cooler to slow down the resting process for the best results.
This way, the fat and juices are reabsorbed back into the meat fibres instead of just falling out of the brisket when its cut into like it would straight out of your Z Grill.
Ideally, you’ll let the brisket rest until its internal temperature is between 140 and 150 degrees. That’s the ideal time to cut into it and serve your brisket to your amazed friends and family.
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 Z Grill…
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 very different from the recommended Z Grills method above.
If you’ve got a large brisket, the total cook time could be very long indeed when factoring in the rest time. Therefore, doing the majority of the smoking overnight on your Z Grill can make sense.
Just make sure you top off the hopper with pellets before you go to bed, as you definitely don’t want to run out of pellets mid-cook.
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 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?
You always want to cook to internal temperatures and not time for the best result and to follow food safety guidelines. However, here’s a general guide on time.
For every lb of brisket you have, it will take around 30 to 60 minutes of cooking time. However, there are so many variables at play, even that is a very general statement.
Each brisket is different, and the ambient temperature/conditions around your Z Grill can impact how it performs and how well/stable it holds its internal temperature.
The infographic above, produced by Traeger, can be used as a general guide on cooking times. However, the resting times make no sense at all.
Surely if it takes different amounts of time to get different weights of brisket up to 200 degrees, it will take different amounts of time to cool them during the resting phase!?