How to Smoke Brisket Without a Smoker

How to Smoke Brisket Without a Smoker
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If you love to eat brisket but do not have a smoker at home, you may find yourself in this situation. Don’t worry though, knowing how to smoke brisket without a smoker is easier than you would think.

There are two different ways we recommend to smoke a brisket without a smoker. If you have a grill, you can turn it into a smoker with just a few additional items that will allow you to smoke brisket and an array of different meats and veggies.

You can also smoke a brisket in the oven a lot easier than you think, and you may find yourself liking it better than the traditionally smoked brisket. You could also try to smoke the brisket using an indoor smoker, but indoor smokers are for short use and too small for a traditional whole brisket.

This article will show you our two different ways to prepare a brisket without a smoker or if the weather is terrible. We will also go over some tips and tricks to help you get the best result possible and answer any additional questions you may have.

Note: most links in this article are Amazon.com Affiliate links, see Affiliate Disclosure, thank you.

Smoking a Brisket on the Grill

A smoker is essentially a grill with a second chamber attached to it or a smoke box from which smoke and heat come. But if you have a grill without the second chamber, you won’t be able to smoke food like you usually would in a smoker.

But don’t worry because it can still be done in a couple of different ways. One method is to buy a small tool called a smoke tube and place it in the grill. The other way is to use charcoal or wood in the grill itself.

Smoke Tubes

These are small metal tubes with holes in them that allow you to produce smoke in a grill without the smoker attachment. They work reasonably well to create a fair amount of smoke, but the drawback is that they don’t produce much heat.

You can put as many smoker tubes as you want inside the grill at one time to fill the grill with smoke, but we recommend two, one on each side. All you need to do is fill the smoker tubes with wood pellets and light them. They will slowly burn in the tube and create smoke.

You can always turn your grill on low to produce some heat in the grill, and this will also create good airflow for the smoke tube. But it can be a little challenging to control the temperature, so keep an eye on your thermometer.

Making the grill the smoker

Making the grill the smoker

The other route you can take is by using your grill to generate smoke. If you want to produce smoke in the grill, natural gas or propane might not work so well for this method.

You will need to use charcoal, wood, or better yet, a combination to create the smoke. Just set the fuel, which is charcoal or wood, at one side of the grill and the meat at the other side. This will help you to get that indirect heat procedure.

Just make sure to control the coals or wood’s heat and make sure it doesn’t get too hot. This method will also be harder to execute, but it can still be done.

The charcoal snake method is an excellent way of slowly cooking your food while adding that smoke flavor. Check out our video.

Tip: when using a grill to smoke food, always place the food on the upper rack and not directly over the heat source. If you don’t have an upper, you can buy one on Amazon for a very reasonable price.

Click here to read our article How to Smoke a Brisket in a Masterbuilt Smoker

Smoking a Brisket in the Oven

If you don’t have a smoker or a grill, your last resort will be to cook the brisket inside. For this, you can use any conventional home oven, and it’s a lot easier than you would think.

It also comes out pretty good and almost like the real deal. Just try and keep the oven low the whole time to get the low and slow effect. Also, try to wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or butcher paper at some point, just like you would in a smoker.

You won’t be able to get any smoke from your oven, and you should not try to either for safety reasons. So, in place of real smoke, try using smoked ingredients, like smoked paprika, smoked salt, liquid smoke, or a very smokey rub to mimic that smokey flavor that comes from a smoker.

Here is a recipe to help you get started smoking a brisket in your oven at home. Good luck!

Click here to read our article about Smoked Flavored Ingredients

Oven Smoked Beef Brisket

Oven Smoked Beef Brisket

Ingredients:

  • 4–8-pound whole brisket
  • 2 tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. Coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. Onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. Ground mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. Chili powder
  • 2 cups water or 1 can of beer
  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh rosemary

Directions:

  1. Remove the beef brisket from the packaging and trim off any excess fat or unwanted sinew. Then make sure to pat it dry with some paper towels to get all the moisture off the meat.
  2. Mix all the wet ingredients plus the rosemary.
  3. Add the wet ingredients and brisket to a roasting pan without the wire rack. Refrigerate or keep in a cooler overnight. Try to flip it a few times.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  5. Remove the brisket for the pan and pat dry with a paper towel or a kitchen cloth.
  6. Mix all the dry seasonings and spices (except the rosemary) thoroughly in a bowl.
  7. Using the dry seasoning mix, rub it all over the beef brisket vigorously. Make sure to rub the seasonings into the meat’s cracks and crevasses and try to get the brisket entirely covered in the dry rub.
  8. Add the wire rack to the roasting pan, place the rubbed beef brisket on the wire rack. If the brisket is still cold to the touch, allow it to rest at room temperature for at least thirty minutes before cooking.
  9. Place the roasting pan in the oven. Baste the brisket every hour after the second hour. Cook the brisket for at least 5 hours, then check the brisket’s internal temperature at the thickest or largest part of the point. You want the temperature to be at least 160 degrees. Once the brisket reaches that temperature, remove the juice and wrap it with foil or butcher paper. Continue to cook at 275 degrees for at least 3 hours or more, or until the brisket’s internal temperature has reached 195 degrees. Place the juice in a small pan and keep warm.
  10. Once the brisket at temperature, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes so it will distribute all of its juices and finish cooking. After resting, slice the brisket with a sharp knife against the grain in ¼ inch slices. Keep in mind the brisket gran runs differently in the two separate sections. Serve and enjoy!

Check out our video, How to Cook a Brisket On a Materbuilt Gravity Series Smoker/Grill

Conclusion

If you are planning to smoke some brisket for the big game or for a family dinner, then it is always recommended to use a proper smoker. But not all of us have that luxury, so try one of these methods next time instead.

It will take a few times of doing it to get it done just right. Everyone’s oven and grill are also different, so make changes accordingly and, most importantly, keep a close eye on the temperatures.

Check out our How to use a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker: A Beginners Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is liquid smoke bad for you?

Liquid smoke is only bad for you in large quantities. It’s ok to have liquid smoke in small doses and is about as harmless as coffee or tea is for you. It is recommended only to use a little bit when cooking. Plus, a little liquid smoke goes a long way in a recipe.

What are burnt ends?

After the brisket has finished smoking and is being cut up, some places will take the brisket point, cut it into small cubes or pieces and smoke them again for a short time. The end product that it produces is called burnt end, and they are very delicious and very flavorful. You will see them on the menu in most barbeque restaurants that serve smoked beef brisket.

Should you always wrap a brisket when cooking it?

You don’t have to wrap a brisket when cooking, but you always can if you want to. Wrapping the brisket in foil or butchers’ paper will help keep smoke from the meat after the initial smoke and keep it moist, juicy, and tender throughout the rest of the smoking and cooking process. It will produce quality flavored brisket with a nice bark and juicy center. This is called the Texas crutch method.

Can you overcook brisket?

You can overcook a brisket or anything for that matter. It will turn out very dry and a little tough if you overcook brisket, which is not recommended. Try to keep an eye on the brisket as it cooks or smokes to avoid this from happening and remove your brisket when it reaches 195 degrees. Brisket does take a long time in the smoker to breakdown the connective tissue, but there is a fine line between perfect and overdone.

Can I start a smoked brisket in the oven?

Yes, you can absolutely start a smoked brisket in the oven. It is actually a great way of cooking your brisket if you are looking to serve it up fairly quickly. 

When it comes to cooking brisket in a smoker, while it tastes incredible, it is also quite time-consuming. Not only this, but you will need to take into account the change in the temperatures, and also how long the brisket will take to cook too. 

Smoking a brisket is no easy task, but cooking it in your oven is a fantastic alternative to consider. The best option to consider is partially cooking it in the oven and then placing it on the grill for the last portion of the cooking. This will ensure that the brisket has been cooked correctly, and the grill will help it to have that quintessential smoky flavor. 

By starting the brisket in the oven, you are cooking it at an even temperature, and it is easier to monitor in comparison to using a smoker. It is a great alternative for those who do not have access to a smoker. 

Some people will assume that a brisket needs to be smoked for the entire time, from when it is raw, but this is not necessarily the case. It can begin in the oven with no issues, and can then be placed on the smoker after a small while. This does not negatively impact the taste of the brisket in any way. 

How do you keep a brisket moist in the oven?

If you are cooking a brisket in the oven, it is important that the brisket remains moist. If the meat is not well cared for while it is cooking, this will lead to it drying out. It is surprisingly easy for the brisket to dry out, especially if you are not keeping a close eye on it. However, there is something you can do to help ensure that it remains moist.

The easiest way to keep the brisket moist is to cover it with aluminum foil before placing it in the oven. This will help all of the juices to remain in the brisket, and it stops all of the juices from seeping out. While it is normal for there to be some juices, you do not want all of the moisture to escape. 

While aluminum foil is the most accessible option to use, alternatively you can use a water drip pan too. This is the best option when it comes to locking the moisture into the meat. 

When preparing the brisket, you will also want to sprinkle some salt, pepper, and garlic powder over the meat. This will form a crust over the meat which seals in the moisture. It also helps to enhance the taste of the meat too. 

Can you smoke brisket indoors?

Yes, you can certainly smoke brisket indoors, without using a smoker. While a smoker is one of the best options to use, they are not cheap to purchase, and they can be difficult to use for someone that is not experienced with them.

Instead, you can use your oven to create mouth wateringly good brisket instead. This is a great option to consider in the winter months, and the steps are fairly easy to follow. 

You will want to prepare the brisket in the same way that you would prepare the brisket for smoking. But, instead of placing the brisket in the smoker, it will be placed in your oven. The results are similar, especially if you choose to use a plastic sous vide bag, or a water drip pan. 

While it will not have the same smoky aftertaste as when it was cooked on the smoker, the meat will still taste juicy and tender. In some respects, cooking the brisket indoors is easier than using a smoker. It is a great alternative to consider, and the cooking times are fairly similar. 

Why did my brisket turn out tough?

There are a number of reasons why your brisket may have turned out tough. When it comes to brisket, it can be a fairly tough meat to eat in general. This is because of the collagen within the cut of meat. The collagen is the connective tissues, and if there are a lot of these connective tissues, this can impact how the meat tastes.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can really be done about this, and it is something you should be aware of when you are eating or cooking brisket. However, it does not typically impact how the meat  itself tastes. The vast majority of the brisket will be soft and juicy.

If the brisket is tough after cooking, the main reason why this happens is because the meat has dried out while cooking. If all, or the majority of the juices have escaped the meat, this will cause the meat to taste dry. When meat is dry it can quickly become tough when it has cooled down. 

This is why the meat needs to be cooked slowly at a steady temperature. You do not want to rush the cooking process of brisket because the meat will become tough quickly. In addition to this, you will want to ensure that the meat is covered correctly to help prevent the juices from escaping.