This Smoked Brisket Tacos post is sponsored by the Certified Angus Beef ® brand in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.
Smoked Brisket Tacos are one of the best things about summer! Learn some brisket-smoking tricks, and grab the recipe for these tasty tacos!
There’s nothing I’d rather be doing at 7am on a Saturday morning in the summer than prepping my smoker. Ok, that might be a small lie as 7am on the weekend is still rather early to be awake. But Robbie often gets up early on weekends, so if I’m going to be awake then I might as well be prepping the smoker! Today’s post is about one of my all-time favorite smoker recipes: Smoked Brisket.
Laura got me a smoker for my birthday the year we moved up here to upstate New York, and I immediately set about learning how to smoke all sorts of different foods. Over the years, I’ve made smoked salmon, smoked sweet potatoes, pulled pork and a pizza that only tasted like smoke (oops). But one of the recipes that I go back to again and again is smoked brisket. In fact, when the weather starts to turn chilly every Fall, I’ll typically smoke a couple of briskets and then store them in the freezer for easy winter meals. Looking out at snow that never seems to melt gets old in the winter, but having smoked brisket sandwiches for dinner provides some mental warmth at least!
But it’s summer now. None of that snow and winter talk! Let’s turn our attention to how to properly smoke a darned good brisket. Smoking a delicious brisket starts with purchasing good quality meat. That’s no surprise, right? We rely on Certified Angus Beef ® brand for all of our beef, and we’ve got a great local butcher store here in town that I’ll swing by whenever we need premium cuts of beef. I stopped by Fred the Butcher a couple of weeks ago and picked up this brisket.
Certified Angus Beef® brand doesn’t actually raise cattle. Instead, the company was established by leading researchers and academics, and they rely on 10 quality standards when selecting the best of the best beef from farmers across the country. In fact, only 1 in 4 Angus cattle meet the Certified Angus Beef® brand’s quality standards. Whenever you see the Certified Angus Beef® brand logo, you know you can count on excellent quality beef. I actually keep an eye on sales at our local stores, and I stock up whenever we start running low. In the summer, our freezer is packed with steaks and ground beef. In the winter, you’ll find roasts and tenderloins. But it’s always Certified Angus Beef® brand. Quality beef – check! Next step: a good rub.
I was down in Philadelphia a couple of months ago for my last curling tournament of the season, and I got to talking with a guy from an opposing team about smoking brisket. Turns out he loves his smoker about as much as I do, and we started talking about what sort of rub I put on my brisket. I rattled off the usual suspects of paprika, onion powder, chili powder, salt, etc. But then I mentioned brown sugar. His eyes lit up, and he said “Brown sugar? Interesting!” I’ve always included a bit of brown sugar in the rub for brisket. Perhaps that’s just the southern boy in me coming out? Either way, the hint of sweetness in the rub (it’s not too much at all) combines quite well with the smokey flavors. A good rub – check! Next up: Lump charcoal and wood chunks.
How to Smoke a Brisket
The first thing I learned about smoking when Laura gave me the smoker was to use lump charcoal. Now I know the lump charcoal vs. briquettes debate is hotly contested (no pun intended!) in the world of grilling, but I prefer lump charcoal when it comes to smoking. Lump charcoal is charcoal in its purest form, and I’ve found that it allows me to control the smoker temperature quite easily. I also don’t need to refill it. One smoker full will last the entire day…and probably longer if I needed it! Similarly, I also use wood chunks on the smoker. Wood chunks are just that. Larger chunks of wood, and they end up smoldering rather than burning up quickly like wood chips. For smoking, you want that long smolder to keep a consistent amount of smoke going throughout the process. You can find wood chunks in a variety of different flavors, but my favorites are mesquite, hickory and apple wood. The different flavors do impart a slightly different taste, so it’s fun to mix it up a bit. Lump charcoal and wood chunks – check! Next up: nothing.
How Long to Smoke a Brisket
Nothing. Seriously. Once you get that smoker prepped and at a stable 225°-250°F, you get to sit back and do nothing. We spent the day doing yardwork and spraying Robbie with the garden hose (he loved that game!) while the smoker sat up there on the porch just doing it’s thing. I typically plan on about 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes per pound when smoking a brisket. That means that brisket will be on the smoker for the better part of the day. Because of that, I do not recommend trying to smoke a brisket and serve it for dinner that night. I’ve tried that before, and dinner plans had to change when the brisket took a little longer that expected. (I just leave a probe-style thermometer in the brisket, and that’s my ‘timer’ to know when it’s done.) So learn from my mistakes and just plan to eat the brisket the next night…although a little bit of snacking is totally allowed when you slice up the brisket!
Smoked Brisket Tacos
So I just spent the better part of this post talking about the smoker, and we haven’t even gotten to the Smoked Brisket Tacos yet. Well, truthfully, the smoked brisket itself is the shining star of this recipe. The smoked brisket tacos come together quite easily once the brisket is done. I just chop the brisket into small pieces (~⅓ to ½ cup of chopped brisket per taco) and then reheat it in a dry skillet. Spread a bit of homemade guacamole on some flour tortillas, and you’ve got yourself a quintessential summer meal!
My Dad still lives down in Texas, and we served him this same smoked brisket recipe last year when he came up to visit. He spent the rest of the trip trying to convince me to open a BBQ restaurant in his little town north of Austin. Tempting…but it gets really hot in Texas, and I think my blood has thickened a bit since we moved north! Plus, I don’t think Austin has a curling club yet.
Have I convinced you to get out there and smoke a brisket this coming weekend? Click here to find a store near you that carries Certified Angus Beef ® brand beef. (You might want to call ahead just to make sure they have brisket in stock.) Grab a brisket, cover it with a good spice rub and then put it on the smoker. Next thing you know, you’ll have enough Smoked Brisket Tacos for days…that is unless your neighbors come poking around to see what smells so good in your backyard! Cheers, friends, and I hope you are enjoying grilling and smoking season as much as we are!
Smoked Brisket Tacos
For the Brisket
- 2 Tbsp paprika
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 8-10 pound Certified Angus Beef® brand brisket
- apple wood chunks
- lump charcoal
- large disposable aluminum pan
- 1 cup beef stock
For the Guacamole
- 2 avocados pitted and peeled
- ½ cup red onion diced
- 1 jalapeno seeds and ribs removed, diced
- Juice of 1 lime ~2 Tbsp
- ½ tsp garlic minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp chipotle powder
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro minced
For the Tacos
- 6 medium flour tortillas
- 3 cups smoked brisket chopped
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes sliced into quarters
- ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
- fresh cilantro
- fresh limes
For the Brisket
- Using a small bowl, combine the spices for the rub. Generously apply rub to all sides of brisket; let sit at room temperature for an hour or in refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat smoker to 225°-250°F.
- Once the smoker has reached a stable temperature, add the wood chunks directly to the coals. Put the grate in place and put the brisket on the grates with the fat cap (the fattier side) up. Insert a probe thermometer into the center of the brisket, close the lid, and walk away.
- Occasionally check the temperature of the smoker to ensure it stays within 225°-250°F.
- When the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 165°F, remove the brisket and place in the disposable aluminum pan. Pour the stock into the pan and then wrap the pan (brisket and all) and place it back on the smoker.
- When the internal temperature of the brisket reaches ~190°, remove the brisket from the smoker. Leave the brisket in the aluminum pan and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
- When slicing, I typically remove and discard most of the fat cap. Then I slice the meat itself into large slices. These can either be frozen or stored in the refrigerator. Then when making the tacos (or other recipe using smoked brisket) I chop several slices into small pieces and then reheat it in a dry skillet.
For the Guacamole and Tacos
- Add all guacamole ingredients to a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash until well combined.
- Spread ~2 Tbsp of guacamole onto each of the flour tortillas.
- Spread chopped brisket evenly over tortillas and then top with chopped tomatoes and onions.
- Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro and squeeze a fresh lime over each taco before serving.
If you try out these brisket tacos, let me know…they’re one of our favorite summer meals!