How to Smoke a Brisket on a Gas Grill: Now You're Cooking with Gas!

November 18, 2022

To smoke a brisket on this type of smoker, you need to first set up two cooking zones. You will then need to create a packet of wood chips to produce smoke.

When working in restaurants in metropolitan areas, I had to make do with gas grills. At the same time, I had to figure out to recreate the same flavor that you get with pellet grills. Needless to say, I learned a thing or two.

In this post, I will show you how to smoke a brisket on a gas grill and give you the tips and tricks for the perfect flavor, bark, and more!

How to Smoke a Brisket on a Gas Grill

What You Should Know About Smoking on a Gas Grill?

I'm going, to be honest - there aren't a lot of pitmasters out there who rely on gas grills. The lack of smoke and flavor means that there is often something missing when grilling with this machine.

However, I also know how easy it is to use a backyard gas grill. It is simple to work and it is a breeze to set and control the temperature. So, if you have invested in one of these bad boys and want to know how to smoke a brisket, I am here to help!

Before I get down to business, though, I do want to outline some of the ways in how the cooking process can differ when you are dealing with this particular type of grill:

Steak barbecue grilling

Be Aware of the Quick Startup

In general, gas grills heat up far more quickly than other types. Now, this isn't a bad thing - it just means that you don't need to follow the same instructions for preheating your grill.

Instead, watch the internal temperature of the cooking chamber and add the brisket in when the desired grill temperature is reached.

Does Your Grill Have a Smoker Box?

If you are going to smoke brisket then you need, well, smoke. As you are aware, a gas grill doesn't produce this on its own. As such, you need to add an implement that will do this for the grill.

Now, a smoker box is the most common tool for this. In case you are wondering what it is, it is a metal box. You place the wood chips in here and then shut it. The box is then placed on top of a lit burner. The burner causes the chips to ignite resulting in smoke which will eventually engulf the cooking chamber.

Some of the newer models are already equipped with this implement so check for one. If there isn't one, then it is a good idea to buy a box.

You can make one if you want but I find that the commercially available ones tend to offer the best smoking performance. What's more, these can be used in multiple instances. Thus, if you are planning on smoking with your gas grill on a regular basis, then this will come in handy.

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You May Want to Use a Smaller Cut

When using charcoal or pellet grills, it is a lot easier to smoke a full packer brisket - one that weighs 8 to 12lbs. This is because it is a lot easier to calculate how much fuel you are going to be using during the cooking process and adjust accordingly.

It isn't as easy to calculate with a grill that runs on natural gas or propane. As such, I would suggest opting for a smaller cut - either the flat or the point when grilling on such a machine.

These are great choices if you want to cook brisket for a smaller crowd and don't want as many leftovers.

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Should You Brine Your Brisket?

There are some people that swear by brining while others feel like that it is fine to skip. I am firmly in the brining camp.

The thing about brining is that it helps to trap the moisture in the brisket and is also great for creating a crustier bark.

You should make sure to only ever use a dry brine - this is made up of just kosher salt. Sprinkle it on and then press into the meat. Allow it to sit in the meat for between 24 to 48 hours or for however long you can manage.

Beef Brisket

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Should You Inject the Brisket?

There is actually a lot more prep work that goes into smoked brisket than people realize. Hey, this is a tough piece of meat and most pitmasters are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that the meat is juicy and tasty after a long cook.

The great thing about injecting meat is that it is introduces moisture into the deeper levels of the cut. What's more, you dont have to wait for hours after injecting the meat. Instead, it can be placed in the grill shortly after the process.

Now, for this method, you will require a good quality injector. This will ensure that the meat will penetrate deeper into the cut.

A good marinade for briskets is:

  • 2 tbs. of kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. of sugar
  • 2 tsp. of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups of low sodium beef stock
  • 2 cups of water

An ounce of liquid per pound of meat should do the trick. Make sure to inject the meat in a regular pattern, at similar intervals.

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How to Set Up Your Grill for Smoking?

The whole point of smoking is to ensure a low and slow form of cooking. Not only do you have to smoke the brisket at a lower temperature, you also need to make sure that the meat is away from direct heat.

Thus, you have to create two zones on your grill - one with direct heat and the other with indirect heat. How you manage this is determined by how many burners you have on your grill.

For a three burner grill, turn on the burner that is on the far right or the far left. Place the brisket, on the area with the turned off burners.

For a four burner grill, turn the burner on either end of the grill on. Keep the two in the middle turned off - this is where the brisket will go.

Place a drip pan underneath where the brisket will be placed.

Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4lb brisket
  • Yellow mustard

BBQ Rub

  • 1.5 tbs. of cracked black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp. of brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp. of onion powder
  • 1 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tsp. of mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper

Method

Step 1

Take the brisket out of the refrigerator about an hour before smoking.

Trim the fat cap down until it is just 1/4th of an inch thick.

Check for any gristle or excess fat and trim this down too.

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Step 2

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Apply a thin layer of mustard to the entire cut.

Sprinkle on the rub and press into the meat.

Step 3

Set the temperature to 225 - 250 degrees F.

Create two cooking zones. Let the grill preheat.

Step 4

Place the brisket in the smoker fat side down, on the unlit side of the grill.

Set up the wood chips on the lit burner.

Smoke brisket until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees F.

Remove the brisket from the smoker and transfer brisket to a cutting board.

Let it rest for up to an hour.

Grilling of Meat

What Type of Wood Chips Should You Use?

For that classic smokey flavor, you need to choose the right wood chips for the job - so what should you go with?

My personal favorite for brisket is hickory and mesquite. Yes, these woods have a stronger flavor but they work incredibly well with that natural beefy flavor.

If you are using a smaller cut, though, I would warn you to use less of these woods. It is a good idea to mix in plenty of oak or apple or cherry. This will help to balance out the stronger hardwoods and reduce the risk of your meat tasting bitter.

At the same time, I would urge you to experiment. Some people prefer oak as it offers a middle ground - good amount of smoke, but not overly pungent. Or, if you prefer something milder and sweeter, apple and cherry will work just fine.

Should You Soak the Chips?

Some people like to soak their chips in a little water before and during the smoke. Is this something that you should do as well?

Well, contrary to popular belief, soaked wood chips don't help to produce more smoke. In fact, what you are seeing is steam. This steam can cause the bark of the brisket to soften, compromising that crunchy exterior.

The other reason that I don't like to soak the wood is because it causes temperature fluctuations inside the grill. In turn, this can mess with the rate at which the meat is cooking.

Basically what I am saying is skip the hassle and use the wood as is.

Creating Your Own Smoke Box

If your grill doesn't come with this implement and you don't want to waste money on a commercial grade one, then here is a trick to make your own:

Place chips in a foil pan and tightly wrap the top with foil. Poke holes in the top for the smoke to escape.

Your other option is to simply wrap the chips up in a foil packet, poke holes in the top and place on the lit burner.

Choosing the Smoking Temperature

When it comes to smoked brisket, there is a lot of debate about the right cooking temperature. However, I have been smoking brisket for long enough to tell you that 225 degrees F is the sweet spot.

This gives the connective tissue in the brisket time to break down, resulting in a softer, juicer texture. What's more, this gives more time for that smoke flavor to really take hold.

Now, I have found that 250 degrees F is perfectly adequate as well. If you do choose this temp I would suggest keeping a closer eye on the internal temperature.

Tracking the Internal Temp

If this is your first time making brisket, then here is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to you: get yourself a meat thermometer.

Despite what you may have heard, you can't tell when a brisket is done simply by looking at it. You have to track the internal temp of the meat.

When it hits 195 degrees F, it is time to take it out - not a minute sooner and not a second after. This is how to get the best tasting brisket.

Once you take the brisket off the smoker, it will continue to cook for up to 10 degrees. Therefore, by the time that you have rested the meat, it will have reached the perfect temperature.

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Should You Wrap the Meat?

Usually when smoking brisket, a phenomenon known as the stall sets in. This is where the meat stops cooking for several hours once it hits an internal temperature of around 165 degrees F.

To overcome this, I wrap the brisket tightly in either aluminum foil or butcher paper. This causes the temperature around the meat to rise, resulting in it cooking again.

Since this is such a small cut, though, the stall will not last for as long. If you are in a rush, you are free to wrap the meat.

Grilled Meat

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can You Smoke a Brisket on a Propane Grill?

Yes, you can smoke brisket on this type of grill.

2. How Do You Cook a Beef Brisket on a Gas Grill?

You have to first set up two zones - one with direct heat and the other with indirect heat. The brisket will be placed on indirect heat. You also have to use a fill a box or foil pan with wood and place it on the lit grill.

3. How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Brisket on a Gas Grill?

The exact time will depend on the weight of the cut as well as the grill temperature. However, a 4lb brisket smoked at around 225 degrees F may take up to 5 hours to cook.

4. What Temperature Do You Smoke a Brisket on a Gas Grill?

The best temperature range is 225 - 250 degrees F for brisket.

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Wrapping It Up

Well, now you know how to make the most perfect brisket even when using a gas powered grill. All that is left for you to do is to impress friends and family with all that you have learned!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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