Skip to main content

Hello all,
I've owned an SM025 for a few years now, with some very good successes (apple-smoked kingfish for fish dip), but my briskets have been mediocre at best, and all but inedible at worst. I have been trying to improve by reading a lot, and trial-and-error, but I think my family is growing weary of being guinea pigs ! Any advice welcome !

What I do now:
Usually a choice whole packer cut from Sam's, 15lb
Lightly trimmed of only really excess fat
225deg, roughly 12 hr smoke, hickory or black cherry
Usually start at 6-7am so ready for dinner
Rub applied night before (heavy on brown sugar, light on salt)(recently tried one heavy on pepper...did not turn out well)

Stuff I used to do, but stopped:
Injection (made a hell of a mess and seepage seemed to wipe out whatever minimal bark I was getting)
Wrapping/Texas Crutch (seemed to negate getting any bark)

What's working:
Smoke flavor - strong, easy to overdo it !
Moist point
Sam's Club choice briskets usually good
Anything I stick under the brisket (pork butts, etc.) is awesome from the drippings, even if the brisket sucks

What's not working:
Minimal to no bark. I like my barks think and flavor packed. All three good BBQ restaurant chains in Jacksonville (MoJos, 4Rivers, Bonos on good days) serve with a thick flavorful bark I've grown to love. Stumped how to do it.
Flats often dry. Oddly, the flats seems to cook faster than the rest, reaching 195+ even as the rest of the meat reaches 185.
Just...not...THERE. Don't know how to describe it, but mine just lack the flavor or punch that I get when I eat out. Mine often taste like smoke-flavored roast beef.

Thoughts and suggestions welcome ! Is it harder to get bark in an electric ? Should I cook the flat separately ?
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I cook Briskets on both Electric smoker and Pellet smoker. The electric smokers are a much moister environment, and won't deliver the same bark as a pellet or log smoker. On the other hand, Brisket is easier to keep moist on electric smoker.

Like Pags noted, go heavy on the rub, and if you are going heavy - might want to lighten up on the pepper or other spices that might be too much. Typically the more sugars in a rub, the darker it tens to get.

The electric smoker is a moist environment, so if you want to help the bark along, open the door for a minute to dump some moisture at the halfway mark. Add another hunk of wood if you like. After 12 hours or so, or when close to temp, open door again to dump moisture, then continue on a while.

Unless care is taken trimming, your flat typically finishes ahead of the thicker point end. When preparing your Packer, you can go in like a surgeon and remove the thick layer of fat between the point and flat. Do carefully with a good knife, from both sides of the packer. This will thin down the point side of the brisket greatly. Then, feel free to pound it a little flatter with your fist. Also, on the flat side of the Brisket, you'll notice one corner is thinner than the other. Fold the thin side under the brisket can help. The closer you can get to a uniform thickness, the more even the meat will cook. Also, you can try putting a piece of heavy duty foil under the thinner part of the flat.

Here's our typical morning briskets at the restaurant, and by dumping moisture and adding more rub you can get even barkier.

Pags and Rick,
Huge thanks for the advice...gonna try those ASAP. Yep, I have firsthand knowledge of going too heavy on pepper. My most recent one, I put a TON of extra rub on, but it was a pepper-heavy rub. Not good. Did get a bit more barky...dumping moisture hopefully will amplify that !

Rick is that photo of one from an electric smoker ?
If you have a Costco close, you might check their packers. My Costco has Prime cheaper than Sam's has Select in my area. Also cheaper than Choice at Albertsons. I also just tried what I saw in another thread and used the 50/50 mixture of Course Kosher Salt and Ground pepper, on heavy. I liked it better than the Tatonka Dust I nominally use and also cooked it at 275 as mentioned. My bride liked the Tatoka Dust better. I also because of its size had to separate the point and flat and cooked with point on top. The biggest thing I think that helped me get to the satisfied level however, was the cut. Go prime if you can at least once and see what you think.
I saw your comment about applying the rub the night before. This hasn't ever worked for me although I use quite a bit of salt and hardly any sugar which is different than what you mentioned. My thought is the salt draws out a lot of moisture if it sits on the meat to long before you start the smoking process.

I'm not opposed to trimming, applying rub and letting them set for up to 60 or 90 minutes to get everything a little closer to room temp but never longer than that.

I'm using a FEC 100 by the way which I'm sure is a little different.

I like to smoke to around 160-165 (about 8-10 hours at 224) then I wrap but not with foil. I use a full size pan and put one big (like 18# packer) or two average (11-14#) in a pan liner (or oven bag) and I finish them in a holding cabinet at 203 F for 8-10 hours. Think crock pot environment only bigger Smiler

I can get better bark if I use a perforated pan insert to hold the wrapped brisket up out of it's own juices but I don't usually do that since we cook like 16 - 20 each day.

Like the guys said in some other comments, cook to tender not to a certain temp. I use the Thermopen to check them but only as a probe to see how tender they are.

Good luck to ya!
JohninFL here's a few tips that will help maximize bark in an electric smoker:

- Stick with Choice Packers, do not separate the flat. Look for packers with a thick flat

- If you choose to inject, double wrap the brisket in clear plastic before injecting. It will minimize the mess. A small needle works best.

- Brush all meat surfaces with veg or olive oil (or Yellow mustard) before applying rub. It will provide more "glue" for rub retention. (You won't taste mustard once the meat's done)

- Oakridge Black Ops is a great brisket rub. It contains a small amount of finely ground coffee which help keep the rub from dissipating during the cook. Re-season with rub just before putting the meat in the smoker.

- Cook fat side down at 250

- Dump the moisture once @ hr or so for 10 seconds

- Do not foil.

- At which point it's done, wrap with butcher paper for holding. Allow to rest at least 2 hrs. Foil traps moisture; paper allows for "breathing"

Hope that helps.

Astronorick your brisket looks fabulous!
Wow, thanks for all the help !

DE - You are a lucky man. My Costco only has select Flats. I did try a prime from CreekStone Farms once...was expensive ! Very nice, a better flat, but overall flavor and bark no better than I had with Sam's. Perhaps combined with the other suggestions, these can really do it. Brother, on the rub, I will have a mutiny if I try another pepper-heavy experiment !

AndyK - yes, I actually put three probes in. On in Flat, and two through the thicker parts. I have been forcing myself to be more "zen" and go with a jiggle test instead of temp, and like mbailey has suggested, get the feel of how probing with a thermopen feels. I admit to being slightly entranced by watching the meat jiggle.

Thanks again all ! I have narrowed the number of trial-and-error experiments I need to conduct.
Originally posted by morningflyer:
Originally posted by MaxQ:
I take a couple of bricks, wrapped with foil and heat them in the smoker during the last hour, put them in the insulated chest with the paper wrapped brisket. You can use towels but they'll get very messy.

Ingenuity at work, never thought of the brick method, will have to try

I put potatoes in the smoker and then into the cooler with the briskets. They taste better than bricks! Wink
Yes. Thats right off our SM160

Originally posted by JohninFL:
Pags and Rick,
Huge thanks for the advice...gonna try those ASAP. Yep, I have firsthand knowledge of going too heavy on pepper. My most recent one, I put a TON of extra rub on, but it was a pepper-heavy rub. Not good. Did get a bit more barky...dumping moisture hopefully will amplify that !

Rick is that photo of one from an electric smoker ?
If your flat is dry, but you can still slice it, it sounds like it is undercooked. Try cooking until the temp is up over 200 in the flat. Once you get up around 195, you judge the doneness more by the resistance that you encounter when you insert your thermometer probe. It needs to go in like you are putting it into butter. The exact temp when it is done will not be the same from one cook to the next.

When you overcook a brisket, you can no longer slice the flat. It will crumble and fall apart. Don't be afraid to cook longer - an overcooked brisket is better eating than an undercooked dry one.

Flats will always cook faster than the still attached points. Always monitor the flat. We separate the point from the flat after the brisket is done (and rested), then put the point back on to make burnt ends.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.