How to Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker

Learning How to Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker combines tradition with modern convenience, offering a straightforward path to delicious, tender barbecue. This guide, featuring the Masterbuilt 140b Electric Smoker, will give you my tried-and-tested advice on how to achieve the perfect smoked brisket.

Over the years, I have smoked countless numbers of brisket, refining my technique to what I now consider my foolproof method. The entire process, from preparation to serving, takes slightly more than 10 hours, ensuring your brisket is perfectly smoked.

I’m sharing this method to showcase my journey and empower you with the knowledge and confidence to enjoy perfectly smoked brisket with ease every time. Now, you’re ready to begin creating your fantastic brisket.

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Choosing Your Brisket

Choosing the right brisket is crucial for mastering How to Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker. Look for a cut with good fat marbling, as this fat will melt during the smoking process, keeping the meat moist and flavorful. While the grade of meat for brisket is not the primary concern—since even a Prime cut requires a long, slow cook to break down the connective tissue—it’s essential to consider the fat marbling.

A brisket weighing between 10 and 11 pounds is ideal for the limited space in an electric smoker. For traditional offset smokers, I purchase a 13-pound brisket that trims out to 12 pounds, so I get consistent cook times.

Preparing Your Electric Smoker

Electric smokers offer a clean and convenient way to smoke meat. Before using your smoker for the first time, season it by coating the interior surfaces with cooking oil, running it at 275°F for three hours, and adding wood chips in the final hour.

This process burns off any manufacturing residues and primes the smoker. When selecting an oil, use a budget-friendly spray oil with a medium to high smoke point; canola oil is acceptable for the inside of your smoker.

The Masterbuilt 140b Electric Smoker is an excellent choice for this process, offering straightforward instructions and consistent performance.

Tip: After seasoning, let your smoker cool. Then, run it for three hours at 275°F, adding half a cup of wood chips every 30 minutes for optimal seasoning.

Selecting Wood Chips

Wood chips are essential for adding smoky flavor. Hickory, oak, fruit woods, and pecan are excellent choices, but I recommend mesquite for brisket’s strong flavor. While most electric smokers perform better with wood chips rather than chunks, the optimal size may vary between brands.

During the first half of the smoking process, you will need to replenish the wood chips every 30-40 minutes. Depending on your smoker model, you should load ½ cup of wood chips every 30 minutes.

The Masterbuilt 140b Electric Smoker features a convenient wood chip loading system, allowing you to easily add chips without opening the smoking chamber.

Tip: Loading less wood chips more often during the first few hours of the smoke will generate more consistent smoke.

Trimming and Seasoning

Trim most of the fat and silver skin off the top side of the brisket, leaving about a quarter inch of fat on the bottom. Also, look for a hard chunk of fat where the flat of the brisket meets the point. Trim this as much as possible without creating a cavity.

Do not discard the meat or the fat trimmings. Meat trimming can be cubed and saved for stew, chili, or sausage. Fat trimmings are best rendered into tallow for spreading on your brisket before wrapping, and they also make a great filler in all-beef sausage.

Season your brisket with a simple rub of pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt. An all-purpose dry rub can be made ahead with a ratio of 3211, or you can use your favorite store-bought dry rub. For deeper flavor, apply the rub the day before smoking and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to allow the dry brine process to complete.

Smoking Process in an Electric Smoker

Preheat your smoker to 215°F. Place the brisket fat side down on the smoker grates. Insert a probe thermometer as deep as possible horizontally from the point end of the brisket. Close the door and add the first pan of wood chips to the smoker.

Adjust the smoker temperature up to 225°F to 235°F. Aim to maintain a minimum temperature of 225°F. Since smokers vary in performance, opt for 235°F if you’re unsure. The Masterbuilt 140b Electric Smoker offers digital temperature control and a built-in meat probe thermometer, ensuring your brisket is smoked to perfection without constant supervision.

For the first three hours, add ½ cup wood chips every 30 minutes. If you prefer strong smoked food, continue adding woodchips for a few more hours to match your taste.

Avoid opening the smoker too often, as this can cause temperature fluctuations. Monitor the internal temperature with the probe thermometer. When it reaches 160-170°F, it’s time to wrap the brisket.

Wrapping the Brisket

When mastering How to Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker, wrapping the brisket in butcher paper (or foil) is a key step to lock in moisture and heat. Spritz the brisket with water or beef broth before wrapping to add moisture. For an extra punch of beef flavor, use beef tallow.

Lightly brush the tallow on the brisket and in the center of your wrap, then seal it in with the brisket. Use care not to disturb the seasoning bark that has built up on the brisket. Return the brisket to the smoker as fast as possible, and don’t forget to reinsert the thermometer.

Finishing the Cook

Increase the temperature by 25°F using your smoker’s control panel. No more wood chips will be needed for the remainder of the cook. Continue cooking the wrapped brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of 195-205°F.

The cooking process could take an additional 4-6 hours. The key to a perfect brisket is patience; the low and slow cooking process allows the collagen in the meat to break down, resulting in tender, flavorful meat.

Resting and Serving

Once done, let the brisket rest for at least an hour before slicing. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring it is moist and tender. Consider wrapping the finished brisket in a heavy towel and placing it in a cooler or unused oven for this one-hour rest.

As for the one hour, more time is better. If you use the cooler and towel method, consider resting the brisket for 3 hours. If the temperature stays above 145°F, you’re good.

Slice against the grain for the best texture; the grain runs in two directions. When the brisket is placed on the cutting board, the grain in the flat runs from left to right, and the point runs from front to back. For best results when slicing, rest the slicing knife on the brisket and move it towards the point.

Then cut straight down to separate the point from the majority of the flat. Continue slicing the flat in the same direction, rotate the point 90°, and slice. Only cut what you plan on eating; leftover brisket holds more moisture when left whole.

Tips for Success

  • Temperature and Time: Maintain a consistent temperature of 225-250°F and plan for about 70 minutes of cooking time per pound of brisket.
  • Monitoring: Use a digital thermometer to keep track of the internal temperature without frequently opening the smoker.
  • Experiment: Do not be afraid to experiment with different wood chip blends and seasoning mixes to find your perfect flavor profile.

Final Thoughts

Smoking a brisket in an electric smoker is an accessible way to enjoy this barbecue staple. By following these steps and principles, you can achieve a tender, flavorful brisket that rivals those smoked in more traditional setups. Remember, mastering How to Smoke a Brisket in an Electric Smoker requires patience and attention to detail. Happy smoking!

Learn everything there is to know about Masterbuilt Electric Smokers with our Beginner’s Guide.


Can I smoke a frozen brisket?

It’s best to thaw your brisket before smoking. Smoking a frozen brisket can lead to uneven cooking and significantly longer cooking times. Thawing ensures that the heat penetrates the meat evenly, resulting in a uniformly cooked brisket with optimal texture and flavor.

How much wood chips do I need for smoking a brisket?

Start with 4-6 cups of wood chips for an entire smoke session. The amount of wood chips needed can vary based on the smoker’s efficiency and the brisket’s size. It is advisable to have extra on hand to replenish as needed, ensuring a consistent smoke throughout the cooking process. The Masterbuilt 140b Electric Smoker is designed to efficiently utilize wood chips for optimal smoke flavor.

Can I smoke other meats at the same time as brisket?

Yes, but be mindful of cooking times and flavors. Smoking different meats together is efficient, but it is important to consider their respective cooking times and how their flavors may interact. Ensure all meats reach their safe internal temperatures without compromising the overall taste.

How do I store leftover smoked brisket?

Wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Properly storing your brisket helps maintain its moisture and flavor. For longer storage, vacuum sealing before freezing can help preserve the brisket’s quality.

Is it necessary to marinate brisket before smoking?

Marinating is optional but can enhance flavor and tenderness. While not strictly necessary, marinating the brisket can introduce additional flavors and help tenderize the meat. Choose a marinade that complements your rub and wood chip flavors for the best results. Note: Brisket purists apply salt, double pepper, and straight into the smoker.

Can I use an electric smoker in the rain?

Use caution and avoid direct exposure to water. While many electric smokers are designed for outdoor use, exposing electrical components to water can be dangerous. If you must smoke in rainy conditions, ensure the smoker is under a covered area and keep electrical connections dry. The Masterbuilt 140b Electric Smoker is an ideal choice for those new to smoking meats, offering a user-friendly interface and robust construction suitable for various weather conditions.