How to Smoke a Brisket With an Offset Firebox

by Meg Winkler ; Updated September 28, 2017

Smoke brisket in your backyard with an offset firebox cooker.

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Items you will need

  • Baking sheet
  • 1 Brisket
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup cracked black pepper
  • Foil roasting pan
  • Water
  • 10 to 12 Chunks of oak about 12-inches long by 3-inches wide
  • Matches
  • Fork

At the heart of Texas barbecue is brisket. Its smoky, beefy flavor is distinctive, while its tender to the fork texture makes it a crowd favorite. Ask the experts, and they'll say that an offset firebox smoker is the best way to prepare brisket. Built with two chambers -- a large one for grilling meat and a smaller chamber attached to the side for the fire and smoking wood -- the smoker separates the flame from the meat for optimum slow cooking. To turn your brisket into a culinary masterpiece, you only need a few ingredients, but you’ll need a lot of patience. When it comes to brisket, good things come to those who wait.

Step 1

Season the brisket. Place the brisket on the baking sheet and cover on all sides with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Let the brisket sit at room temperature for about an hour.

Step 2

Prepare the fire. Using oak chunks and matches, build a fire in the offset firebox. Carefully blow on the flames to encourage the fire to spread across the oak. Allow the fire to build to 250 degrees Fahrenheit as registered on the grill’s external thermometer.

Step 3

Add moisture to the large chamber. Fill the foil roasting pan with water. Carefully remove the grilling grate in the large grill chamber and place the roasting pan on the bottom of the grill box, close to the heat source. Replace the grate.

Step 4

Place seasoned brisket on the grate in the large chamber with the thicker end pointed toward the fire. Position the meat as far from the firebox as possible for best results. Close the lid on the large chamber.

Step 5

Close the firebox lid to force smoke into the large chamber. Manage the smoke by adding a chunk of oak to the firebox every hour.

Step 6

Check the temperature every 30 minutes. Adjust the vent on the firebox to keep the heat even.

Step 7

Refill the roasting pan with water as needed. Check this every hour and refill as needed.

Step 8

After seven to eight hours, test the meat with a fork. If a chunk of meat pulls away easily, the brisket is ready to serve. If not, close lid and continue to cook, checking the meat every hour or so.


  • Slow cook the brisket for about 1 1/2 hours for every pound of meat.

    Do not turn, poke or cut the meat while it smokes.


  • Raw meat contains bacteria that may lead to foodborne illnesses. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat.

    Long hours of slow cooking will heat the smoker to harmful temperatures. Keep children and pets away from the smoker to avoid burns.

    Children may not be aware of the dangers of smokers and grills. When in use, place smoker far from swing sets, pools and other yard toys to minimize the risk of accidents and burns. If a burn occurs, seek medical attention.

    Unattended flames may be stirred up by wind, causing nearby objects to catch fire. Never leave a fire unattended.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

About the Author

Meg Winkler began professionally writing in 2008. She has covered a variety of topics including fine wine, interiors, the arts, lifestyle and history. Winkler has been a luxury publications editor and music critic. She is an independent author and holds a Master of Arts from American Military University.