New WSM owner doing my first brisket.


Aaron Meier

New member
Hi all! I'm brand new to the group, though I have popped by to read an article or two now and again over the years. I'm also a brand new WSM 22.5" owner. My previous smoker was a side box model with more holes than cheese grater, so needless to say, smoking on it was a hassle. So much so that I almost never did it. I got tired of having to run outside every 15 minutes because my temps were fluctuating by 50 degrees or more at a time. I'm in the middle of my second cook on the WSM, and all I can do is add yet another affirmation of how amazing this thing is. Rock solid temperatures, and dead simple to use. This is my first brisket...picked up an 11 lb packer, trimmed it down to about 10 1/2 lbs. and rubbed it with Big Bad Beef Rub. It sat in the fridge for about 10 hours like that, and I threw it on the smoker fat side up at around 2am...hoping for a 4:30 or 5:30 finish to have it ready for supper at 6:30, but if it finishes earlier, I've got a cooler and some towels ready to go. Fired the smoker using the minion method, and I tossed in a small hickory log (probably 6-7 chunks' worth of wood). I know a lot of people like to use oak for brisket, but hickory is all I had available, and it's never failed me before, so here's hoping for the best. I'm logging all of my temps as the cook settled in at 235-240 (measured at the grate) after a couple hours of cooking, though the dome thermo is reading high. It started out about 30 degrees higher, but as many others have mentioned, those temps seem to be coming closer together as the cook's about a 20 degree difference now. Outside temps are in the mid- to upper-30s, but there's very little wind, so I'm hoping for a pretty stable cook. Any thoughts on things I should look out for? Suggestions, tips etc? Any and all would be much appreciated.

Very glad to be here, and I look forward to contributing more as I get better acquainted with my new best friend.

Update: My Maverick woke me up at about the 6 hour mark with a low temp alarm. The smoker had dropped to about 212. I opened the vents up to 100% and tapped the legs to knock off some of the loose ash, but the temp wouldn't budge. I finally opened the side door and stoked the coals a bit...still a decent amount of unfired fuel, so no need to add more yet. I also topped off the water bowl with a gallon of hot water. Temp came back up to the low forties and eventually settled into the mid-thirties. Checked the brisket and it's looking good...starting to form a nice bark, but still a good ways from the dark mahogany color I see in most pics.
It sounds like you're well on your way. Bear in mind that pictures tend to be darker sometimes and color varies by the type of rub you use. Judge doneness by the internal temperature. ~195°F to slice and ~200°F to pull.

I wrap my briskets tightly in foil after they reach ~155°F and put them in a pan so I don't lose any drippings.

When a brisket is at the internal temp desired take it out, wrap it tightly in foil (if you haven't already) and then wrap it in an old towel for at least an hour to rest. If you can put it in a dry warm cooler wrapped in a towel that's even better.
Thanks for the tips, Mike! I most certainly will go by internal temp. At about the 8 1/2 hour mark, I had to add more fuel...about half a chimney of lit coals. I also topped off the water bowl again, this time with cool water since the outside temp has already shot up to about 60. Took my first meat temp, and it's sitting at 184. I'll check it again in half an hour or so to see if it's progressing, or if it's standing firm at the plateau. If it's already passed the plateau, I may be finished quite a bit earlier than I thought. I know the cooler method is good for 3 to 4 there a way to keep it warm for a longer period? We won't be ready to eat until 6:30 this evening. I was thinking about using the oven...maybe setting it at it's lowest temp (170), or heating it up then turning it off. Any thoughts?

By the way, the bark is looking much darker now...made my mouth water as soon as I took the lid off.
Well now here's a pickle...I just checked the meat temp again, but this time I checked in a few different places. On one side of the flat, the probe met a little resistance and read 188. On the other side, it went in like butter and read 194. At the thickest part of the point, it again went in easy but only read 181. I turned the whole brisket 180 degrees, but in not sure what I should do. My gut says cook it until the coldest part is at the target temp. What do you guys do in this scenario?
Well, it's done! Came in a few hours ahead of schedule, but I packed it up in 3 layers of foil, wrapped it in a towel, and put it in a warmed cooler with 4 other towels packed in around it. Hopefully it stays warm until this evening. I haven't had brisket in many years, so I'm not a great source for whether it's good or not, but I gave my father-in-law a slice...he loves brisket, and he was having fits about how good it was, so I guess I did it right. I've attached some pics here if anybody's interested.

This is the raw, untrimmed cut, fresh out of the Cryovac.

This is after trimming and applying the rub.

This is about 6 hours into the cook.

And here it is a few minutes before I foiled it up.
The brisket ended up staying more than warm enough in the cooler for a little over 6 hours. It was still too hot to touch when I pulled it out. It turned out really great...tender enough to cut easily with a fork, but still firm enough to hold together without turning into mush. It had a nice smoke ring, and the bark was a dark, deep mahogany. Everybody at the table was raving about it. They were already wanting to know when I was going to make another one. lol I'll take that as a pretty big compliment.

Here's a pic I snapped after cutting the first few pieces.
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It looks great. I have smoked lots of shoulders, ribs, chickens , Turkeys and even Ribeye roasts but have yet to tackle a brisket. I think its going to be my New yrs day smoke....
Thanks Mike! I'll be doing some ribs this weekend, and I'll probably do a turkey for Christmas and maybe a shoulder for New Years. I tried a chicken on it, but I think I prefer the way it comes out on my kettle better...the skin was a little leathery on the WSM. I could probably just do it at a higher temp, but I've gotten so used to doing it on the kettle that I'll probably stick with that unless I need to do several birds at once.
You have all the meals planned for the holidays and I have them planned for in-between them..LOL.. I`m doing a couple shoulders myself the day after Christmas on request of visiting family members who wants to take some home.. I`m used to smoking on a Weber Kettle with insert in the past and its been great . Did a few chickens and ribs on the WSM so far and love it even more. Just couldn't fit the same amount of food on the kettle that I`m able to on the WSM now.