Aaron Franklin's Signature Brisket Recipe - EXPLAINED (2024)

The Aaron Franklin method for smoking brisket has become one of the world’s most beloved barbecue techniques. Learn how to make one of the world’s best smoked brisket recipes today!

Aaron Franklin's Signature Brisket Recipe - EXPLAINED (1)

Table Of Contents

  1. How to Choose a Brisket
  2. How to Trim Brisket
  3. Use a Simple BBQ Brisket Rub
  4. How to Position Your Brisket
  5. Aaron Franklin Texas Brisket

For newcomers to BBQ, top of their list of beef cuts to conquer sits brisket.

It’s long remained one of the world’s most iconic BBQ meats, and once you have some it’s no wonder why. It’s beautifully tender, packed full of flavor, and if you can develop that beautiful bark on top… Oh boy!

It’s not an easy meat to get right though. It takes time, patience, and craft. So it’s not unusual for it to take a few attempts to nail down.

Thankfully this approach from Aaron Franklin might have come up trumps with this Texas Brisket Recipe.

The key to the approach is simplicity. Don’t get in the weeds too much with specific rubs, types of woodchip, or brines.

Rather than layer in a complex BBQ rub, Aaron makes use of a simple rub of salt and pepper in a 1:1 ratio. This helps dry brine the meat so that it locks in its natural flavors, while giving it a smokey edge with the pepper.

It’s then cooked over a simple blend of oak for a simple BBQ taste that allows the juices in the brisket to do their work. If you want to experiment a bit, try adding a touch of hickory. But only a touch.

Here are the main things to keep in mind when smoking BBQ brisket with the Aaron Franklin method.

How to Choose a Brisket

The recipe recommends keeping the fat cap on. In most cases, I’ve always recommended removing it, but Aaron argues that this will help keep the brisket warm. Because the cooking time on this is so much longer than other barbecue brisket recipes, I’m happy to go along with him here.

Aaron Franklin's Signature Brisket Recipe - EXPLAINED (2)

It doesn’t stop there though. Aaron recommends cooking the entire thing, which also means leaving the point and flat intact and connected.

So when you choose your whole brisket, you want both flat and point together. This is often referred to as a packer brisket. Doing this will also give you much more control over exactly what you trim later.

Keep an eye out for marbling. This is the streams of fat and connective tissues that we see running through the flesh of red meat. It’s an indicator of good meat for smoking because as it’s cooked low and slow it will begin to melt away, leaving us with beautifully moist and rich flavors.

Also keep an eye out for a thick flat. This will allow the leaner parts of the beef underneath it to cook at the same rate as the rest of the beef.

How to Trim Brisket

Trimming brisket is a fine balancing act. Leaving too much fat on will make it rubbery. Trimming too much off will make it dry.

As a rule, try to remove about one-inch of fat across the flat cap.

Brisket often contains a thick membrane called the deckle. For meat geeks, this sits between the rib cage and the pectoralis profundus muscle. The deckle will not render when you cook it, so it’s important that this is removed. Your butcher may have already done this, but if not then it’s crucial that you do this.

Like with any meat, brisket is firmer when cold. This makes it the best time to trim it, so try to do it when you’ve just removed it from the refrigerator.

Aim to remove any stray parts of thin meat. These will cook much faster, and be more prone to drying out or even burning.

Cutting brisket isn’t an exact science. As long as you have a one-quarter-inch layer of fat left intact then you’ll be good to go.

Use a Simple BBQ Brisket Rub

The key here is to forget complicated spices or herbs, and simply go with a simple salt and pepper blend.

Aaron Franklin’s recipe is all about simplicity. Our BBQ rub here is the perfect example of that.

Using just this simple seasoning will do enough to dry brine the beef a little, and impart just a touch of flavor. We don’t need to do anything more than that.

Use equal parts Kosher salt to black pepper (usually half a cup of each is enough) and mix together. Apply all over the brisket, but don’t be too generous.

Once you have applied the rub, leave the brisket for an hour at room temperature. This will allow the brisket temperature to come up slightly, while also allowing the salt to do its work and stimulate the moisture in the meat.

Note: If you do want to try adding a touch more flavor to your barbecue brisket, try experimenting with other rubs. There are some great store-bought brisket rubs out there for you to start with.

How to Position Your Brisket

There’s a bit of debate about what the best way to position brisket on your smoker is, and much of this is around whether you should place it fat side up or down.

Despite what you might hear, the truth is that meat can’t absorb fat (source). On the other hand, leaving it facing down can create a lot of run-off, with the rendered fat from the cap dripping directly onto the foot of your chamber.

Understandably, this has led to a lot of debate around whether you should place your brisket fat side up or down.

Aaron recommends placing it fat side up, with the point of the brisket placed closest to your heat source. The extra fat on the point will help protect the meat from direct exposure to heat.

Ensure that you place a water pan in the smoker chamber to help provide moisture, and reducing the risk of burning or your meat drying out.

Aaron Franklin's Signature Brisket Recipe - EXPLAINED (3)

Aaron Franklin Texas Brisket

4.75 from 83 votes

The Aaron Franklin method for smoking brisket has become one of the world’s most beloved barbecue techniques. Learn how to make one of the world’s best smoked brisket recipes today!

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time30 minutes mins

Cook Time10 hours hrs

Total Time10 hours hrs 30 minutes mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American, BBQ

Servings: 8 people

Author: Ben Isham-Smith


  • Pink Butcher paper for the wrap

  • Hickory wood


  • 10 lb whole brisket
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup coarsely ground pepper
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup water


  • Prepare the brisket by trimming the fat off it. Leave the flat and point attached.

  • Liberally apply salt and pepper across the brisket on both sides.

  • Prepare your smoker for indirect smoking, and set to cook at 225°F. Add oak or hickory wood to the firebox.

  • Transfer the brisket to the smoker grates. Smoke for 6 hours, or until internal temperature has reached 165°F.

  • Remove brisket from smoker and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

  • Combine Worcestershire sauce and water in a mister. Spray brisket with mister solution.

  • Tightly wrap brisket in pink butcher paper. Transfer back to smoker. Close lid and leave to cook wrapped in paper for a further 2-3 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 185°F.

  • Do not remove fat cap. Slice as needed for serving. Wrap remainder and keep in refrigerator.

Aaron Franklin's Signature Brisket Recipe - EXPLAINED (2024)


How does Franklin make brisket? ›

Heat the Ceramic Cooker or Smoker to 275 degrees. As a rule of thumb, you will need to cook the brisket 45 minutes per pound at this temperature (example: a 12 pound brisket should take 9 hours). Keep in mind, the thickness of the brisket has a lot to do with the duration of the smoke process.

What brand of brisket does Aaron Franklin use? ›

As was revealed in his book “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto,” Franklin buys his Prime briskets from Kansas' Creekstone Farms. Depending on which size you choose, a USDA Prime whole brisket from Creekstone will run you upwards of $120.

How many briskets does Aaron Franklin cook a day? ›

We cook 106 briskets a day. That's enough. There aren't even enough cows to be had.

What seasoning does Aaron Franklin use? ›

The foundation of any great beef brisket rub starts with high-quality coarse kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. The granules of Morton's Kosher Salt, as used by Aaron Franklin, are of consistent size, ensuring even coverage and the perfect crust on your brisket.

How long does Aaron Franklin let his brisket rest? ›

The brisket is done when it's tender around 205 degrees, pulled it off the smoker and wrap it in towels and let it rest for one to two hours. It will carryover cooking, getting more tender and reabsorb juices. Don't skip this very important step!

What is the magic number for brisket? ›

Your slow cooks, which require a lot of rendering & breaking down of collagen, such as brisket and pork shoulder, need to hit 195-210 -- with the magic number being 203. It is extremely difficult to get an accurate meat temp on pork ribs, since there are a lot of bones and not much meat in between.

What is the rule for brisket? ›

5 Rules For Smoking A Brisket
  1. All about the timing. ...
  2. Select the right cut. ...
  3. Use the right smoker. ...
  4. Avoid seasoning too far in advance. ...
  5. Go “slow and low.” The best way to turn a tough cut of brisket into a tender delight is to cook it slowly at a low temperature.
May 26, 2022

Does Franklin inject his brisket? ›

“As many barbecue pros know, injecting is the most efficient way to add flavor and moisture to smoked, barbecued, or grilled food.” However, not everyone uses the injection method. Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue uses an offset smoker with the addition of a water pan and spritzes the brisket with a liquid.

Why is beef brisket so cheap? ›

Quality and Grade: The quality and grade of the brisket play a significant role in its price. Higher-quality or graded meats, such as USDA Prime, are often more expensive than lower-quality cuts like choice or select. Cut and Trim Level: The way the brisket is cut and trimmed can affect its price.

How do you slice Aaron Franklin's brisket? ›

Over the years, I've come to adopt the Aaron Franklin method (Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas) in which you cut the brisket in half widthwise (roughly where the bulge of the point starts), then slice the flat section on the diagonal across the grain, and the point section perpendicular to the edge— ...

Why 203 for brisket? ›

And because the brisket can't “sweat” itself cool, the higher temperature will be able to break down that collagen faster than a lower temp would. You still need to cook your brisket to about 203°F (95°C), but there is a good chance it won't be completely tender by the time you get there.

How does Franklin trim a brisket? ›

​A brisket is ​a lot easier and safer to trim when it's cold. ​Trim down the fat cap, remove the deckle and the small membrane next to the deckle. Square up the thinnest part of the flat to shape it nicely. ​Cut off some of the thick vein of fat between the point and the flat muscles.

How is brisket made? ›

Brisket is a cut of beef that comes from the lower breast or pectoral muscles of a cow. Because this area is so well-exercised, it makes for quite a tough piece of meat that's full of connective tissue. This is why it's best suited towards a low and slow cooking process.


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