Hot-and-Fast Brisket: How to Choose the Right Wood for Smoking

Published By Patrick Harvey

Last Updated Dec 31, 2023

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    If you’re a BBQ enthusiast like me, than you know that smoking meat is a true art form. And one of the most popular meats that we all love to smoke is brisket. But in order to achieve that perfectly tender and flavorful brisket, you need to choose the right wood for smoking (This is a key aspect). In this article I’ll go over how to choose the right wood for smoking brisket using the hot-and-fast method.

    What is hot-and-fast brisket?

    Hot-and-fast brisket is a method of smoking brisket that is done at a higher temperature and for a shorter amount of time than traditional low-and-slow methods. The reason people like this method and it has been gaining popularity among BBQ enthusiasts is because it takes less time and produces a slightly different texture and flavor profile.

     

    hot and fast brisket

    Why choose hot-and-fast brisket?

    Hot-and-fast brisket has several benefits over traditional low-and-slow brisket. The main benefit is that it takes less time! Therefore making it a great option for those who want to smoke brisket but don’t have all day to tend to a smoker.

    Another benefit is that it produces a slightly different texture and flavor profile which some people prefer.

    Choosing the right wood for hot-and-fast brisket

    When it comes to smoking brisket, choosing the right wood is essential. Here are some of the best woods to use for hot-and-fast brisket:

    Mesquite wood

    Mesquite wood is one of the most popular woods for smoking brisket in Texas. It has a strong, smoky flavor that pairs well with beef. However, mesquite can be overpowering, so it’s best used in moderation.

    Related reading: Brisket Spraying vs Mopping

    Oak wood

    Oak wood is another popular choice for smoking brisket. This wood has a milder flavor than mesquite but still adds a great smoky taste to the meat.

    Oak is a great all-purpose wood that works well with most meats. You can’t really go wrong with always using oak if you want to keep it simple.

    Pecan wood

    Pecan wood is a favorite of many BBQ grill masters because of its sweet and nutty flavor.

    It’s a great choice (although not the most popular) for smoking brisket because it adds a subtle yet noticeable flavor to the meat.

    (photo credit to seriouseats.com)

    Hickory wood

    Hickory wood is known for its strong and very bold flavor.

    It pairs well with most cuts of beef and adds a rich and, smoky taste to the meat. However, like mesquite, hickory can be overpowering, so it’s best used in moderation.

    Applewood

    Applewood is a popular choice for smoking poultry… but its OK if you want to also use it for brisket. It has a sweet and fruity flavor that pairs well with the beef. However, it’s important to use a mild applewood, as a stronger variety can be overpowering (especially for poultry).

    Related reading: See how long it takes to smoke brisket at 250 degrees

    Cherry wood

    Cherry wood has a mild and sweet flavor that also pairs well with beef – somewhat similar to appelwood. It adds a subtle fruity taste to the meat that is not overpowering.

    Cherry wood is a great choice for those who want to add a little extra flavor to their brisket without it being too strong.

    Maple wood

    Maple wood has a sweet, subtle flavor that is perfect for smoking brisket. It adds a nice, smoky taste to the meat without being overpowering. 

    Related Reading: Brisket Flat vs Point Cuts

    How to prepare the wood for smoking

    Before using the wood for smoking, it’s important to prepare it properly. Here’s how:

    1. Soak the wood in water for at least 30 minutes before using it. This will prevent it from burning too quickly and producing too much smoke.
    2. Drain the excess water from the wood before adding it to the smoker.
    3. Add the wood to the smoker just before adding the brisket.

    Tips for smoking hot-and-fast brisket

    Now that you’ve chosen the right wood and prepared it properly, it’s time to smoke the brisket. Here are some tips for smoking hot-and-fast brisket:

    1. Preheat the smoker to 275°F.
    2. Rub the brisket with your favorite seasoning.
    3. Place the brisket in the smoker and add the prepared wood.
    4. Smoke the brisket for about 4-6 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
    5. Wrap the brisket in foil and return it to the smoker until it reaches an internal temperature of 195°F.
    6. Remove the brisket from the smoker and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

    More reading: Brisket Taco Recipe

    How to know when the brisket is done

    To know when the brisket is done, you’ll need to use a meat thermometer. The brisket is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 195°F. Another way to tell if the brisket is done is by testing its tenderness. Insert a fork into the meat, and if it slides in and out easily, the brisket is ready.

    Resting the brisket

    After smoking the brisket, it’s important to let it rest before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful brisket. Wrap the brisket in foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

    Slicing and serving the brisket

    When slicing the brisket, it’s important to cut against the grain to ensure tenderness. Cut the brisket into thin slices and serve it with your favorite BBQ sauce.

    sliced brisket

    FAQs

    1. Can I use any type of wood for smoking brisket?

    • While you can technically use any type of wood for smoking brisket, some woods are better suited for beef than others. Stick with woods like mesquite, oak, pecan, hickory, applewood, cherry, and maple for the best results.
    1. Can I smoke brisket without a smoker?

    • While a smoker is the best tool for smoking brisket, you can also use a charcoal grill or an oven with a smoke box.
    1. How long does it take to smoke a brisket using the hot-and-fast method?

    • It takes about 4-6 hours to smoke a brisket using the hot-and-fast method.
    1. Do I need to wrap the brisket in foil?

    • Wrapping the brisket in foil during the smoking process helps to retain moisture and speed up the cooking process. It’s recommended for the best results.
    1. Can I smoke a brisket in advance?

    • Yes, you can smoke a brisket in advance and reheat it before serving. Wrap the brisket in foil and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, place the brisket in a 275°F oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. 
    1. How do I know if the wood is ready for smoking?

    • The wood is ready for smoking when it has been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes and has been drained of excess water. The wood should be added to the smoker just before adding the brisket.
    1. Can I mix different types of wood when smoking brisket?

    • Yes, you can mix different types of wood when smoking brisket to create a unique flavor profile. However, it’s important to use woods that complement each other and not overpower the meat.
    1. Can I smoke a frozen brisket?

    • No, it’s not recommended to smoke a frozen brisket. It’s best to thaw the brisket in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before smoking.
    1. Can I use wood chips instead of wood chunks for smoking brisket?

    • Yes, you can use wood chips instead of wood chunks for smoking brisket. However, they will burn faster and produce more smoke, so it’s important to monitor them closely.
    1. What’s the best way to store leftover brisket?

    • To store leftover brisket, wrap it tightly in foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, place the brisket in a 275°F oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

    So overall please simply remember that smoking a brisket using the hot-and-fast method with the right wood can result in a delicious and flavorful brisket in less time than traditional low-and-slow methods! Mesquite, oak, pecan, hickory, applewood, cherry, and maple are all great options for smoking brisket. It’s important to properly prepare the wood.  You can/should smoke the brisket at 275°F,and let it rest before slicing and serving.

     

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    Patrick Harvey
    Patrick is a life long grilling enthusiast with an eye for product development and user experience. His expertise helps us test and review all of the products you see the website.

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