Smoked Brisket


This smoked brisket is self-taught barbecue expert Matt Horn's signature recipe — the star of the menu at his restaurant, Horn Barbecue, in Oakland, California. The 2021 Food & Wine Best New Chef spent weeks perfecting this recipe and says time is the most important ingredient in the dish. You need to be patient while the meat's internal temperature rises to 203°F (95°C), but it's worth it when your smoked masterpiece is ready.

Active Time:
30 mins
Rest Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
10 hrs 30 mins
Horn Barbecue Smoked Brisket
Andrew Thomas Lee


  • 1 (12- to 14-pound, or 5 to 6 kg) whole packer brisket

  • 5 tablespoons (30 g) coarse black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons (36 g) coarse kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons (14 g) onion powder (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard or olive oil


  1. Preheat the smoker to 265°F (129°C). I use oak, but you can use whatever hardwood you can get your hands on.

  2. Place the brisket on a work surface so the fatty side is underneath. Trim away any silver skin or excess fat from the brisket and flip the brisket over, fat side facing up. Ideally, you want to keep about 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) layer of fat all over the brisket to act as a protective barrier during the long cook.

  3. In a small bowl, stir together the pepper, salt, and onion powder (if using). Rub the brisket with mustard or olive oil and apply the seasoning evenly over all sides of the brisket.

  4. Place the brisket in the smoker with the point side (thicker side) facing the fire box. Close the lid and don't open it for 6 to 8 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

  5. Spread unwaxed butcher's paper on your work surface, remove the brisket from the smoker, and place it in the middle of the paper. Wrap the brisket until it is completely covered and fold the paper over twice, with the brisket ending right-side up (the side with the fat cap). Place the wrapped brisket back in the smoker, right-side up, and do not remove it until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 203°F (95°C). The time to achieve this temperature will vary; 3 to 4 hours. Pay attention to the feel of the wrapped brisket. As it begins to soften, begin probing the brisket to get an idea where the temperature is.

  6. Let the wrapped brisket rest, wrapped, for 1 hour before unwrapping it to slice and serve.


Reprinted with permission from Horn Barbecue: Recipes and Techniques from a Master of the Art of BBQ. Text copyright © 2022 Matt Horn. Photography copyright © 2022 Andrew Thomas Lee. Published by Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc., copyright © 2022.

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