Beefy brisket is the king of Texas barbecue. Yes, Texas has ribs and pulled pork, but tender, peppery brisket is what most people dream of when they think Texas barbecue. Swiped with mustard and packed with a salt and pepper coating before slow smoking produces a brisket that is ingenious in simplicity and mind-blowing in flavor.
The best Texas-style brisket is tender without falling apart and has a thick layer of smoky-peppery bark that surrounds each slice. While we can't exactly replicate the terroir of a Texas smokehouse, we can slow-roast brisket in the oven and get pretty darn close. Here's how to make Texas-style brisket in the oven at home.
What Is Texas-Style Brisket?
Beef brisket is actually slow-cooked in a number of regional and ethnic cuisines, but Texas-style brisket means two things: smoke and pepper. BBQ expert Robb Walsh says this particular style of brisket is most often found in Central Texas, but for everyone else outside the region, Texas-style brisket is what we think of when we think barbecue brisket. It is slow-smoked until tender but not falling part like pulled pork, and it has a thick bark, prized for its texture and peppery bite.
Texas-style brisket from the oven is never going to have the gorgeous pink ring around each slice, but we can give the brisket smoky flavor with liquid smoke and create a thick bark (while keeping the meat juicy) with an on-and-off-again foil tent in a low oven.
The Best Brisket for Barbecue
A whole brisket can weigh nearly 20 pounds, which is more than most home cooks will ever need, but you also don't want to attempt this technique with a two-pound trimmed brisket. Look for a five- to six-pound brisket with a rich fat cap. If you've got the choice between a flat or a point cut (this basically refers to the ends of the brisket), always choose the point — it has more fat, which keeps it from drying out in the oven.
Key Steps for Brisket in the Oven
- Use a salt and pepper rub. A coating of salt and pepper left on overnight will not only season the brisket but also create a protective coating, which will all at once keep the meat juicy and create a craggy crust. Coat the brisket with mustard first and you'll have no problem packing on the salt, garlic powder, and cracked pepper.
- Rest overnight. This is a secret I learned from Austin's beloved Franklin's barbecue — every single one of their briskets are coated, seasoned, and rested overnight before smoking. This seasons the beef well and sets up the rub for its bark destiny.
- Roast low and slow. Most smokehouses have their smokers set around 250°F to smoke their briskets for anywhere from 12 to 18 hours. In the oven, that kind of time and temperature would dry the meat out, so use a slightly higher temperature of 300°F and keep the brisket covered in foil for the first six hours or until the brisket is 180°F in the thickest part.
- Cook uncovered for the best bark. The last two to three hours of cooking is about two things: bark and temperature. Uncover the brisket to get a crisp exterior bark and begin temping the brisket in the last stretch.
- Use a thermometer! Our ultimate goal for brisket that is tender but not falling apart is to get it to 200°F and keep it there for about an hour. Check the brisket every 30 minutes until it gets close.
Serving and Storing Texas-Style Brisket
Your Texas-style brisket is done when it holds 200°F for at least an hour and has a crispy bark. Pro smokers also use tongs to pick the brisket up at the middle and test for a bend. When held above the baking pan it should bend gently but not break. If it's stiff, return it to the oven.
Rest the brisket loosely covered for 30 minutes before slicing. Slice the brisket thinly across the grain. Texans almost always serve sauce on the side, but some smokehouses skip sauce completely and you can too — this brisket is so peppery, smoky, and juicy it really doesn't need it.
How To Make Texas-Style Brisket in the Oven
Serves 10 to 12
Cooking time: 6 hours to 8 hours
What You Need
beef brisket, point cut with a fat cap preferred
coarsely ground black pepper
Measuring cups and spoons
Cutting board and chef’s knife
Digital probe thermometer
Rimmed baking sheet
Prepare a baking pan. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil — this will make cleanup easier. Place a cooling rack inside the baking sheet.
Trim the brisket if needed. Chances are high that your brisket will come trimmed and ready for cooking, but before seasoning, take a look at it and trim off any tough bits of silverskin (the white film on meat). Also trim the fat cap to about 1/2-inch thick if needed.
Coat the brisket with mustard and liquid smoke. Place the mustard and liquid smoke in a small bowl and stir to combine. Brush the brisket on all sides with mustard mixture — this will help the salt and pepper mixture stay in place.
Season the brisket with the salt mixture. Place the salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle the salt mixture all over the brisket, then use you hands to rub it in, getting as much into every nook and cranny as possible.
Cover the brisket and refrigerate overnight. Place the brisket on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack inside. Cover the whole brisket and pan with aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight, 10 to 12 hours.
Heat the oven to 300°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 300°F. Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature, still covered in the foil, while the oven is heating.
Cover the brisket and cook for 6 hours or until the brisket reaches 180°F. If you covered the brisket completely the night before you can set the whole brisket, pan, cooling rack and all, right in the oven and leave it covered, cooking for 6 hours. Otherwise, place the brisket on a cooling rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and cover the brisket with foil and bake for 6 hours, or until the brisket registers 200°F in the thickest part. Don’t worry too much if the brisket reaches 180 relatively quickly and then hangs out at this temperature for several hours.
Uncover the brisket cook for 1 to 2 hours more. Your two goals for the second half of cooking are crisp exterior and an interior that stays at 200°F for at least an hour. Uncover the brisket and take its temperature before returning to the oven. Cook for another 1 to 2 hours, checking its temperature regularly. The brisket is done when it holds a temperature close to 200°F for about an hour. You can pick the brisket up in the middle with tongs to check for doneness: the ends should bend readily but not break.
Rest the brisket for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Transfer the brisket to a clean cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before slicing across the grain and serving.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.