Barbecue Brisket From the Kitchen

No Smoker? Try These Barbecue Brisket Alternatives

Sliced barbecued brisket

James Baigrie/Getty Images

Do you love barbecued beef brisket, but don't have a smoker or even a backyard? Don't despair. There are alternatives. The secret to delicious barbecue brisket is in the low temperatures and slow cooking. You don't need a smoker to do this. With a dutch oven, slow cooker, or a kitchen oven, you too can make a great brisket meal.

Barbecue traditionalists may disagree, but an important thing to remember is that brisket has been cooked low and slow for centuries without smoke. Walter Jetton, famed pitmaster and personal cook to President Johnson, prepared his brisket in a dutch oven. So don't let the diehards push you around.

illustration featuring tips for barbecuing brisket in the kitchen
Illustration: Miguel Co. © The Spruce, 2019

The Meat

The problem with brisket is that it's tough. For generations, this cut of beef was considered poor quality and usually turned into ground meat. But if you take the time to prepare it right, it can be one of the most delicious meals you've prepared.

The right way to cook a brisket is low and slow. This allows the meat to literally melt into tender and delicious morsels. Expect to cook a brisket anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours per pound depending on the temperature. Typically, when oven roasting a brisket, the temperature is set to 300 F, for 30 to 45 minutes per pound. When smoking a brisket, it is cooked at 225 F, for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours per pound. Keep it low and slow and it will be great.


So what's missing? The smoke. This occurs when a beef brisket is placed in a smoker and cooked for hours in a smoke-filled chamber. Preparing a brisket in a different environment causes a loss of smoke flavor. Of course, this can be replaced with products such as liquid smoke and other ingredients. There is quite a bit of versatility with a brisket, so don't be afraid to experiment.


One of the advantages of cooking a brisket in a dutch oven or crock-pot is that the juices are locked in. No need to worry about it drying out. When you cook a brisket in the oven, make sure to either wrap it in foil or baste it frequently to keep the top from drying out. If cooked (unwrapped) in the oven, turn the brisket over during the cooking time. Also, select a fully trimmed brisket if your method of cooking is indoor. If smoking, you need the untrimmed brisket with all it's fat to keep it moist. In the oven or crockpot, the added fat content is not needed.

Don't Boil

The problem is that in a pot the meat is going to sit in its own juices. While this will keep the moisture on the meat, it tends to cause the meat to boil. Boiling doesn't produce the desired meat or result in good barbecue. If you can, it is best to keep the brisket off the bottom of the pot. A wire rack or roasting rack will work perfectly. Keep an eye on the liquid inside and drain it off if it comes into contact with the meat.