We’ve collaborated some of our favorite brisket smoking tips, tricks and hacks from Harry Soo and Doug Scheiding who have evolved the art of smoking brisket.
Harry Soo aka Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ
This championship BBQ pitmaster is a real winner and has won more grand champion awards over the years. He’s also an instructor and teaches others all about what makes BBQ better through real science. He also has a very successful Youtube channel where he helps others learn about BBQ techniques. Here you can find out what Harry considers the best tips for preparing any brisket.
Trim your brisket first
Using a nice sharp knife, you’ll want to remove excess fat that is on the fat cap side of your brisket. This is usually found on the leading edge of the cap and needs to have inch removed beforehand. Flipping it over, you also need to remove the tiny strips and layers of silverskin and fat on the meaty side. If you don’t, the seasoning rub doesn’t get into the meat.
Have a great basic rub
Now it seems that Harry recommends using very simple ingredients to make your own rub. This includes whole black pepper, kosher salt, and celery seed. The salt and pepper are very basic seasoning additives that are a 75/50 cup mixture, leaning heavier on the black pepper. Add a one-quarter cup of celery seed to this mixture so it helps create a better smoke ring when you smoke your brisket. Then you mix it together and add it to your brisket.
Where to place your smoking wood
According to Harry, your smoking wood needs to go at the bottom of your BBQ. This is better for getting the flavor into your meat. Place your chunks of hickory and applewood right at the bottom before adding your lump wood charcoal. You’ll want to cook the brisket for 3 hours and spray it every half hour with simple water to get the rub to crust over and get hard.
Wrapping your brisket
This next step involves aluminum foil but one tip that Harry adds is pure genius. He lays butcher paper onto the foil and then wraps the foil around the brisket like a postal package. Use a bamboo skewer to test the tenderness of the meat which should feel like poking it into peanut butter. This lets you know it’s done when your skewer goes into the meat with the same amount of ease as the peanut butter.
Doug Scheiding from Rogue BBQ Cookers
Doug and his wife represent a BBQ pitmaster team out in Texas and is a seasoned pro when it comes to Texas-style brisket. Doug shares his top tips on how to make brisket a pleasure to make. Here is what he recommends when preparing your brisket to go on the BBQ. When it comes to tender, we think that Doug is a real stickler for moist and tasty brisket like no other.
Prepare your brisket
Trim off excess fat and get your rub together. Using a beef broth, the brisket is then injected all throughout the meat and in the fat cap. For this Doug likes to use a smear that is made from Head Country Marinade mixed with a bit of chili powder. Rub this onto both sides of the brisket and finish this off with ground pepper. You’ll want to let the meat sit for at least 15 minutes before putting it on the grill.
Slow cooking all night long
Your brisket is going into the BBQ with the fat cap side down so it’s protected from the heat. It’s going to be cooked at 200F for the next 10-12 hours. It will also need to be spritzed with a mixture of apple juice every half hour during the entire cook time. You’ll also need to tend to the fire to keep the heat consistent all through the cooking time.
Wrap it up for a few hours more
After the internal temperature of your brisket reaches 155-165 degrees Fahrenheit it needs to be wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil. You can add leftover beef broth that was used for the injecting process at the beginning. It needs an additional 2-3 hours to finish the cooking process. When your brisket finally reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s done.
Let it steam a bit
Now you want to transfer the brisket that’s wrapped in the foil to a container that’s insulated. Keep it in a cooler for 2-6 hours before slicing it into strips and served. There is also another option to add Apple Habanero BBQ basting sauce before it’s sliced and served.
Do you like a great BBQ sauce to go on your ribs and BBQ meats? We’ve taken the time to collect 5 tasty recipes and Pitmasters who proudly stand behind them. These recipes can be made at your next BBQ party too. So if you have any questions if they’re any good, we’ve collected helpful background info on them. Here are the best BBQ sauce recipes your taste buds are screaming for!
1. Myron Mixon’s Basic Hickory BBQ Sauce
Myron Mixon is a celebrity in the BBQ world and a 4-time BBQ champion in his own right. He’s also a real showman when it come s to ruling the airwaves with top-rated series such as BBQ Rules and BBQ Pitmasters on the Discovery channel. He recently shared his winning BBQ sauce that is reportedly excellent for pork, beef, and lamb. It’s a woodsy hickory flavor BBQ sauce that has hints of sweet and strong residual flavors.
But does his recipe really measure up? Even the top champions all borrow from each other from time to time. Here’s what goes into his award-winning recipe.
2 cups ketchup (or tomato paste)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Two-thirds cup of cider vinegar
One-quarter cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons maple sugar
2 tablespoons fresh-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Place everything into a blender and then give the mix these ingredients by pulsing a few times. After that, you transfer this mixture to a medium pot and simmer on medium heat is mixed well. It doesn’t need to boil but simmering is just fine. After a couple of minutes, allow the sauce to cool and then transfer to a clean jar. It can store up to 6 months in the fridge.
How good is this sauce?
What makes this sauce a bit of a mystery is that it mentions hickory, but the recipe doesn’t have hickory added. It lends its flavor more to a very fine pasta sauce. Some Pitmasters have mentioned that it’s missing 2 tablespoons of Apple Jelly. Perhaps if you add liquid hickory flavor, it will give this BBQ sauce more definition.
2. John Reese’s Pitmaster Bourbon BBQ Sauce (from BBQPitBoys)
If you’ve ever heard of the BBQ Pit Boys, they’re quite a rough and tumble bunch. They’ve got a great Youtube channel and have quite a following. If they’re not practicing Bushcraft BBQ, they know how to handle high-power firearms. It seems they have a recipe that is similar but with a refreshing outdoor twist. This reportedly makes a tangy zesty BBQ sauce that is good for chicken, beef, and pork.
2 cups Ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dry mustard
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons honey
One-half cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup bourbon
Add ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan on an outdoor grill. Using hickory wood for added smoke, stir the ingredients at a slow simmer. As this sauce starts to thicken, continue to stir to lock in smoke flavor. Afterward, the finished sauce can cool and then be transferred to empty jelly jars. Makes up to three and one-half cups of BBQ sauce.
How good is this sauce?
What makes this sauce awesome is that it’s meant for mopping your BBQ but equally tasty for dipping likewise. It has the right amount of zest but could ultimately use fresh onions and garlic for added depth. The combination of brown sugar and vinegar turns out a fine sauce that is what BBQ is all about. The bourbon is the real kicker since this adds a whole new layer that tells you this BBQ sauce isn’t fooling around.
3. Steven Raichlen’s Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce
This BBQ Pitmaster didn’t just learn to grill, and it appears he wrote the bible on it. He’s the author of several books and is known nationally for being a master grill specialist. He’s got a recipe that is the defining flavor of what makes Kansas City BBQ flavor. This recipe actually comes from Kansas City Barbeque Society but is hailed from Steven’s BBQ Bible. This recipe makes 5 whole cups of authentic Kansas City sweet red rib BBQ sauce.
One-quarter cup honey
One-quarter cup molasses
One-quarter cup Worcestershire sauce
One-half cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons dark rum
6 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
4 cups ketchup
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon pure chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons fresh ground black powder
1 teaspoons ground allspice
One-quarter teaspoon ground cloves
Coarse Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Combine together all of the ingredients (minus the ketchup) in a large saucepan and bring to a medium simmer. After about 5 minutes when everything is mixed thoroughly, you can add the ketchup and bring it to a boil. The last item to add is salt and pepper to taste. After it reaches a boil, reduces the heat back to a simmer until it reaches a nice thick consistency. Turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes.
Then you can transfer the sauce to large glass jars that can be stored. It will last several months in your fridge when capped.
How good is this sauce?
If you’ve ever enjoyed authentic Kansas City BBQ sauce, this should be on your favorite list. This flavor is one of the major legends of BBQ cuisine with a flavor signature unlike any other BBQ sauce out there. It is also rated 4-stars by the Food Shmooze review website.
4. Rodney Scott’s BBQ Sauce
Now maybe you haven’t heard of Rodney before but for this Birmingham, Alabama resident, he’s gained a bit of traction. He was recently awarded the Best Chef Southeast at the James Beard Awards. His unique approach to BBQ sauce has earned him high praise among Pitmasters alike with his spicy-sweet blend of BBQ sauce. This closely guarded secret has finally emerged and is unlike most sauces you’ll find.
It’s especially good on pork, chicken, and turkey, but not limited to beef and spare ribs. Let’s take a closer look at what makes his recipe so different.
Two cups white (distilled) vinegar
One-half lemon (thinly sliced)
One-quarter cup sugar
One and one-half teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
One teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika powder
One teaspoon dark chili powder
One-half teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Two teaspoons accent seasoning
Into a small saucepan, pour the white vinegar, and then warm it to medium-high heat. As soon as your vinegar reaches 150F, then you add the lemon slices and cook them until they get a bit translucent. This will take about 10 minutes in all. In a separate bowl, you’ll whisk in the black pepper, red pepper, sugar, paprika, dark chili powder, and accent seasoning together. Mix this until the sugar is completely clear or when the temperature reaches 190F.
After this, allow the mixture to cool, and then place the sauce into a glass jar to keep it fresh. It will last for up to at least one month.
How good is this sauce?
Apparently, the real secret to this sauce is how the vinegar and lemon slices are cooked first. It also helps add natural enzymes that tenderize meat better than other kinds of vinegar-based mixtures. The real trick is to take the lemon slices out before you add the rest of the spices. It makes an excellent mop BBQ sauce that extra tasty as a dipping sauce too.
5. Aaron Franklin’s BBQ Rib Sauce
This well-known MasterClass BBQ chef is right up there for getting the spotlight for his cooking and grilling style. Aaron is a rocket scientist when it comes to Texas-style BBQ. This recipe is one of his thick and sweet BBQ rib sauces that might just speak for itself. This time around, you can be the judge and make this recipe at home. But for a rib sauce that is pretty involved, here is what you’ll find for ingredients.
One cup apple cider vinegar
One cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons (Beef tallow/vegetable oil, lard, or bacon fat)
One-third large onion (yellow or white- chopped roughly)
4 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
2 cups organic or all-natural ketchup
One teaspoon smoked paprika
One teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
One teaspoon fine sea salt
One teaspoon mustard powder
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
The first thing you’ll do is heat a medium saucepan and add your fat (beef tallow, etc.) until it starts to simmer, and then add your onion until it gets translucent. This will take 6-8 minutes. After this, you add your garlic and continue to cook until the onions start to turn brown and the garlic is getting crisp for another three minutes. This is when you add the brown sugar and will totally melt, forming a glaze after simmering for 2-3 minutes.
This is when you add the apple cider vinegar, ketchup, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bring this mixture up to a simmer and cook it for an additional 3-5 minutes. Or at least until this mixture has become thicker. This is when you can add the Worcestershire sauce and allow this to simmer away for an additional minute. Now, this is where it starts to get fun. You put the entire mixture into a glass blender and mix at the highest speed.
When you get a sauce that’s completely smooth and has an orange color, it’s done. Since this sauce will naturally be hot, you’ll need to transfer this hot mix directly into waiting jars and put on their tops. Then let them cool to room temperature. After this, put them in the fridge. This BBQ sauce can be stored for up to 1 month in your fridge after that.
How good is this sauce?
Apparently, over 700 people who subscribe to MasterClass rate this BBQ rib sauce with 4-stars. It’s clearly a hit from the overall reviews and does have a bit of appeal for Texas-style BBQ rib fans. With a generous amount of onion and garlic added here, this makes for some excellent taste on any ribs you add it to. When it comes to Beef or Pork, these flavors explode on impact with a sweet yet slightly zesty appeal.
When it comes to BBQ you’re looking for a thermometer that can monitor multiple probes simultaneously, including the ambient pit temperature of your grill or smoker. Most of these types of devices offer Wi-Fi, cloud connectivity to store data from your cooking sessions, and fan pit control capabilities.
From times gone by, with a flat disk on wobbly legs, a tray that held charcoal and a grate that sat inches above it, until today with all our great tools, grilling, barbecuing and smoking are part of a great food tradition. As we get more sophisticated about ‘flame meet food’ the market place has not disappointed in delivering exceptional products.
In a classic high-tech meets low-tech, we now have wireless systems that not only monitor the flames, but lets you know how the food is doing form virtually anywhere. Thermometers monitoring the cooking temperatures and allow you to adjust it, combined with tracking the exact temperature of the food for perfect cook times. This is a look at some of the products in the market that can help you take your BBQ experience to the next level.
For hardware, the Firebird 2 is capable of handling up to 6 probes and tracking their results. With food like turkey, with distinctly different sections of meat, or a brisket with varying thickness, being able to monitor those areas is a huge plus. Plus you can use one to monitor the ambient temperature, which we will come back to in a moment.
The box itself is pretty rugged. You wouldn’t throw it in the lake, but it can certainly handle a light dowsing, and tolerates heat up to 160 degrees. Since its working life is likely outdoors, around flame and juices, it is important that it can take a lick or two. The bbq guys at Smoking Meat Geeks put it through a rain simulation test and proved it can stand up to its weather resistant claim.
This package also offers a great visual display with a variety of view options; multiple channels of real time temps, graphing, hybrid views showing some channels, and such. The only real negative is that this unit doesn’t have any kind of alert, you have to rely on your phone and the app for that.
Covering all the bases, the Firebird 2 does work with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Either method allows for alerts for high or low temps and monitoring in real time. It can also be integrated with your virtual assistant of choice, Alexa or Google. Via Wi-Fi you can save cooking data in the cloud, and download it, so that you can have a record of what works best for you.
Monitoring your ambient cooking temperature is one thing, but the Fireboard 2 allows you to do something about it. With a couple choices for drive connectivity, you can use a fan drive controller to boost the airflow, thereby increasing the temperature of your burn. You can program steps into your process. For example cook at 225 until the internal temp of your pork butt is 150, this triggers a temp increase to 300 through the stall, then when the internal is 170, drop back to 225. It is very versatile at cooking and controlling your process.
The manufacturer of this is Thermoworks. That says it all, because in every aspect of the food industry, health inspection, commercial processing and kitchens, even the beverage industry, these folks are the gold standard of all things temperature measurement related. Yes, that sounds a bit geeky, but when health and safety are on the line it is good to know who knows best. Even if it is just you putting great food on a plate, the right tool is invaluable.
The probe hardware is the best in the business with quick responses and exceptional durability. The base unit accommodates 4 probes, which is fine for most cooking. Probes are color coded so that you can more easily keep track of which is which. The display is easy to read, giving you all the pertinent information, and is programmable at the base unit. That feature is what sets this above many offerings in the field. Signals has great connectivity, but it can do all necessary functions as a standalone unit, including alert you when your temperature goal has been reached. All that, and it is rated IP66 for complete dust resistance and water resistance.
We mentioned connectivity. The app is very intuitive, both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are easy to connect. Cloud storage is available, although you cannot add notes in the app.
The Billows device has some definite trade-offs. As an add-on item it is very reasonably priced, one of the lowest prices in the market. Of course that is based on already owning the Fireboard. It works pretty well in that it accomplishes the tasks, but it is somewhat sporadic in how it gets there. Most fan systems will create a spike in temperature when they kick in, this unit slightly more than most. It does stay within the stated parameters of 10 degrees variation. And they could use some better directions about how to install the unit. It works, perhaps not the best part of the Signals equipment, but certainly functional.
Too often we see devices that just throw a continuous stream of information, some of which is not particularly valuable to your process. These folks do a great job of distilling down the information output to the things that are important. A display you can read from across the yard, it also has an LED ring on the outside showing blue when temps are low, red in cooking range, pulsing when the fan runs and flashing if temps get too high. Information you can use.
This is a purpose built product specifically for controlling the temperature of your cooking process, while additionally monitoring temperatures in the food itself. They execute all of this very well. At purchase you specify the smoking device you are going to use this with and the BBQ Guru Pit fans will give you the best equipment for an easy installation.
UltraQ offers both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, thankfully, because the base unit controls are not very good at all. Unfortunately none of this is their strength. It is much easier to control the device through the app, however that is not saying too awfully much. It is not an intuitive process, and seems unnecessarily cumbersome. It works, you will get to the end result, but it just may not be the smoothest of journeys.
This is the most purpose built device for controlling the heat inside your cooking device. It does the job well, with one of the best ratings for holding temperature within your chosen parameters. The mechanical units are strong, the digital aspects are not quite up to the same level.
For starters the base unit does not have a built in battery so you do need a power source. It also has a relatively small display, but it offers all the relevant information. It manages the blower device and has some nice options like ‘Keep Warm’ which will drop your temp to hold the food at serving temperature. In theory you can program all of this at the base unit, but it is not especially user friendly.
The app for your phone is comprehensive and works very effectively. It will allow you to easily control the device and establish your preferred settings for your cooking. The biggest issue is getting there. This is a Wi-Fi only device, no Bluetooth. It can even work on the road with its own Wi-Fi connectivity for your phone. It is limited to just 2.4 GHz, no connectivity on a 5 GHz system. Once you get past the quirks, up and running, the system as whole works quite well.
This is a straightforward temperature monitoring system, it does not interface with a blower unit. Inkbird has done a great job at fulfilling their purpose with this. It has a built in lithium ion battery that is rated at 26 hours of use, and charges with a simple USB connection. The base unit is virtually waterproof, each probe port has a cover, and the probes have a noticeable locked in feeling when you have properly plugged them in. The system can handle four probes, which are color coded. It also has an easy to read display, even in bright sun. The base unit alarm is very quiet however, so you will come to rely on the app for this aspect.
Inkbird makes other home automation devices that can be linked through this app as well. Once in the BBQ section, this app works quite efficiently. You can set both high and low alerts for each probe, along with a message box to remind you of what the alarm was for, such as turn down the temp or prep another meal item. This is another device that operates only in a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi environment, which may limit it to home or in town use only. Set up is fairly easy though, so once you are up and running it works well. It could give you better results for visualizing data, their graphing is somewhat primitive, and information has to be exported for each probe, as opposed to the entire cook project.
If you ever wondered if ‘less is more’ this product answers that question with a solid yes. In this case, no blower or ambient temperature control features are part of Meater. But the name says it all. Measure the internal temperature of meat as it cooks. And the ambient temperature of the cooking environment. How, though, is the amazing thing. This device has a diameter smaller than a ball point pen, and is about as long. That’s it. No wires, just the probe and a sculpted wooden box with the charging tray. The batteries are in the probe itself, and offer 24 hours of use, with an available range of 165 feet.
All your output and controls are through Bluetooth and the phone app. The app even contains an estimator algorithm that can give you an idea of how long you need to cook at the ambient temperature to reach your desired internal temperature. This is an excellent case for form with function, a sleek stainless steel cylinder that will give you the essential information for your cooking endeavor.