Smoked Mini-Brisket

Slices of smoked brisket with a deep-brown bark on a wooden cutting board

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 12 hrs
Cook: 5 hrs
Total: 17 hrs
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
901 Calories
56g Fat
4g Carbs
88g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 901
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 56g 72%
Saturated Fat 22g 111%
Cholesterol 321mg 107%
Sodium 573mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 88g
Vitamin C 3mg 15%
Calcium 83mg 6%
Iron 8mg 46%
Potassium 789mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Brisket is one of the most flavorful cuts of meat, but it is also one of the most challenging cuts to cook. Our marinade recipe and method really help to keep the brisket tender and moist. This recipe is for a smaller brisket (about 4 pounds), but it's enough that you'll get the benefit of your hard work with leftovers.

Although in the past, briskets were usually smoked without trimming them beforehand, and you certainly can approach it that way, it's a common practice nowadays to trim the cut before cooking or smoking. Doing so helps the flavor penetrate the meat more evenly, and it provides more consistency in the cooking process and time.

This is a great and easy recipe: Marinate the cut overnight (up to a whole day), toss it in the smoker, assemble some sides, and enjoy. Brisket is great with coleslaw, grilled potato skins, baked beans, and green beans. It also happens to be really good with any kind of pickled veggie.


  • 4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed

  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, to taste

For the Marinade:

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 onion, sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 8 whole garlic cloves

  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for smoked mini-brisket recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Season the brisket with the salt and pepper (use the greater amount of pepper if you prefer a more peppery tasting brisket).

    In a large, flat, and shallow pan, combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well.

    Marinade ingredients in a casserole dish

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Place the seasoned brisket in the pan.

    Brisket in the casserole dish covered with onion slices

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Marinate the brisket in the fridge covered for 12 hours (up to 24 hours), turning it over 2 or 3 times during the process so all parts are well marinated.

    Brisket with marinade in casserole covered with plastic wrap

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Remove from the refrigerator and allow the meat to reach room temperature.

    Slightlyl discolored marinated brisket in the casserole dish

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Prepare the smoker. You will want to smoke the cut for about 4 to 5 hours at 220 F to 240 F. If using a water smoker, put the remaining marinade in the water pan to add flavor.

    Brisket on the smoker rack

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Place brisket on the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 180 F/80 C. Check the temperature at the 4-hour mark.

    Dark brown brisket on the smoker rack

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Remove and rest the meat for at least 1 hour.

    Smoked brisket with a deep-from bark on a wooden cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  9. Slice the meat against the grain. Serve and enjoy.

    Sliced smoked brisket with sauce and pickles on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi


If your brisket is smaller than the 4-pound one we tested this recipe with, the timing will be a little bit shorter. Cook as directed to the temperature specified in the recipe, keeping in mind that pinkness can be present in cured or smoked meats, and it isn't necessarily a reflection of doneness.

How to Store and Freeze Brisket

Leftover brisket will keep for three to four days, well wrapped in the refrigerator. You can eat it cold or reheat it to your liking in a low oven, wrapped in foil, until it's warm. It happens to make great sandwiches, too, with pickled veggies, mustard, avocado, ketchup, and other sandwich fixings.

For longer storage, wrap the brisket in foil or plastic and then transfer to a zip-close freezer bag and press out as much air as possible. Freeze the brisket for up to two months.

Why is my brisket tough?

If brisket is cooked too quickly, it will be tough. Brisket has a lot of connective tissue in it, and when it's cooked slowly over a longer period of time, that connective tissue breaks down and helps the meat become tender and juicy.