Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
You don't need to be a pit master to make this fantastic smoked brisket. Enjoy it with our Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce!
Serves: 15
For Smoking:
  • 1 4-6 pound brisket (or bigger, if you are feeling adventurous), dry rubbed (recipe below)
  • about 8-10 cups hickory smoked wood chips, soaked overnight
  • 1 drip pan, a bit bigger than your piece of brisket
  • charcoal
For the Dry Rub:
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 12-ounce can Dr. Pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
  1. About 24 hours before you begin grilling, submerge your wood chips underwater - this will make sure that they don't (surprise!) burn to dust. We submerged ours by putting the chips in a large bowl and placed a smaller, weighted bowl on top. Rub your brisket with the dry rub and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place that in the fridge for 24 hours, too.
  2. The day of smoking, prepare your grill by creating two zones on either side of your grill; one for direct heat and the other for indirect heat. Arrange your charcoal on one side of the grill, creating the direct heat zone, and place your drip pan opposite of the charcoal to create the indirect heat zone. Fill your drip pan with about an inch of water and ignite your charcoal.
  3. Fire your charcoal, giving yourself approximately 30 minutes ahead of your cooking time, to preheat and regulate the temperature of the grill; this may take a bit longer, as all grills are different and, more often than not, wind and air temperature will play a huge factor. It definitely took us about 25-30 minutes to get it right. The grill must reach a stable 225-250 degrees F before you can begin smoking. Once you have your charcoal burning white hot, you can begin to adjust your temperature. Adjust the vents on the bottom of the grill about ⅛th to ¼th of the way open; you will want to leave your top vents approximately half way open. In order to regulate your grill's temperature, you will need to close the lid and adjust the vents accordingly. The more open the vents are, the hotter the fire will burn, so keep that in the back of your mind. You may also have to reduce the number of coals you are using. We found that 8-10 briquettes was an appropriate amount for the right level of heat.
  4. Once you have stabilized the temperature of the grill at around 225-250 degrees F, dry the wood chips with some paper towels, then add two handfuls on top of the burning coals. Place the brisket, fat side up, over the drip pan in the indirect heat zone and close the lid, ensuring that the vents are over the brisket to draw the smoke up over the meat. Once the lid is closed, you want to keep it sealed to maintain the temperature, opening only to add more chips and charcoal.
  5. Maintain the temperature of the smoker by keeping a fresh supply of charcoal coming in. If you are using briquettes, you may need to light them prior to adding them to the smoker since they may not light on their own. Add more wood chips when you are adding your new charcoal. We found that we had to add 4 or 5 fresh briquettes every 60 to 90 minutes.
  6. The amount of time it will take to smoke your brisket depends entirely on your ability to maintain the temperature of the smoker and the size of the cut of meat. Our brisket was relatively small at about 3.5 pounds, so we began to check the internal temperature of the meat at about 4 hours using a meat thermometer every 30 minutes. You want the meat to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in this initial phase; it took about 5 hours and 30 minutes for our brisket to reach this temperature.
  7. Once you have hit 165 degrees, wrap your brisket in foil to ensure that the juices will not escape the enclosure. Place the wrapped brisket over the direct heat and closely monitor the temperature of the meat until it reaches 185 degrees, or about 30 minutes total for our smaller brisket.
  8. Once the temperature of the brisket reaches 185 degrees F, pull it off of the smoker and let it rest in the foil for at least 30 minutes, or if you can wait that long, up to an hour. Once it is done resting, slice against the grain and serve on buns with your barbecue sauce.
  9. Heat your oil in a medium sized pan, then add in your minced onion and cook over medium-high heat until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the Dr. Pepper, tomato paste, orange juice, cider vinegar, and marmalade, and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat at a simmer, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes or so, until thickened. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. If you like your sauce on the tangier side, you can probably leave it as is, but if you like it a bit sweeter, add about a teaspoon of sugar, taste, and adjust again. Allow the sauce to cool before storing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Recipe by The Crepes of Wrath at