If you are a new Traeger owner, we most often suggest your virgin brisket voyage be done with a foolproof recipe (like our Beginners Brisket). All of our Traeger recipes call for the brisket "flat" which is a leaner 6-8 pound portion of the whole brisket. This is the cut you will most likely find pre-packaged in the beef section at your local grocery store. We call for this cut in our recipes because the size and thickness is typically pretty consistent so it is easier for our lovely readers (that's you!) to get a great result every time.
If you are a more seasoned member of Traeger Nation and have mastered the brisket flat, we are here to present you with the delicious new challenge of cooking a full packer brisket (and give you the tips, tricks, and tools to dominate)! Did you know there is more to a brisket than just the flat you are used to? There is a large, fatty, delicious cross-section of brisket called the "point" or "deckle' that runs across the top of the fat cap of the brisket flat. (See the pic below to see how the two cuts come together) The point is elemental in cooking the most amazing brisket you've ever had. A brisket with both the point and the flat is reffered to as a full packer brisket in the BBQ world and typically weighs between 12-16 lbs. To get a full packer brisket, you might have to make friends with your local butcher (if you haven't already) and specifically ask for a brisket with both the flat and the point.
Even seasoned smoke veterans often shy away from cooking a full packer because it is definitely an investment (both in time and money), but with your Traeger and a few pieces of advice you can cook the best brisket you've ever had. Follow the simple steps below and you'll likely never going back to cooking just the flat again.
To start: Trim the excess fat from the corners and sides of your brisket down to about 1/4 inch thick. Coat brisket liberally with preferred rub (beef rub, prime rib rub or something as simple as salt and pepper) and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the wrapped brisket sit 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Start grill on smoke – allow plenty of time for cooking. After grill has ignited, place brisket fat side up on the grill grate, insert thermometer probe and smoke for 4-6 hours or until the internal temperature reaches around 150 degrees.
After the 4-6 hour smoking period, turn grill up to 225 degrees and cook until internal meat temperature reaches 180 degrees. This will take another 2-4 hours, approximately.
Remove brisket from grill and wrap in foil.
Place foiled brisket back on grill and cook until internal temperature is 195 to 205 degrees. Each cut of brisket is different and the length of this stage of cooking varies. It will probably take an additional 2 hours, minimum, to reach 195 degrees. Just remember, low and slow is your friend when it comes to a tender brisket.
A few additional tips:
**Placing a pan filled halfway with equal parts olive oil and water underneath the grill grate during the smoking and cooking phase (before foiling) helps keep the brisket extra moist. The water and oil tenderize and moisturize the meat while it cooks, plus it catches delicious drippings you can pour back over the meat before you cover it with foil.
**Not all briskets are “done” at the same temperature. Once you reach an internal temperature of 195, you should test the brisket using your temperature probe – you should be able to slide the probe into different parts of the brisket very easily, like butter. We have had better success at achieving a tender, juicy brisket by letting it reach 205 degrees before pulling from the grill. Many people place it in a cooler and let it rest for up to 2 hours. The longer you "hold" your brisket to temperature (between 195 and 205 degrees) the more moist your meat will be.
** If you like a darker bark on the outside of your brisket, return the meat to the hot grill after reaching the final temperature of 195-205 degrees until your desired darkness is achieved.
Slicing a full packer brisket is different than slicing just the flat alone. Since there are two connecting muscles with two different grains, you must first separate the flat from the point. There is a line of fat that separates the two muscles and it is fairly simple to find with the edge of your knife (or even your fingers). The fat will be much softer than the muscle, so simply glide a very sharp knife along the soft line of fat and the two pieces will come apart easily.
The piece that remains underneath is the flat. Simply slice against the grain into pieces approximately the width of a pencil (1/4 inch). These slices will be much leaner than the pieces you will cut from the point.
The large cap of meat you removed from the top is the point. This is the fattier piece of muscle (and much more flavorful). This piece can also be sliced against the grain into 1/4 inch wide pieces for serving, or shredded.
Now after all of your hard work and dedication, you finally get to enjoy the meats of your labor (they're better than the fruits, promise).