Culinary Arts

Bonus Chapter: How Brisket Became King: The History of Central Texas Barbecue

Aaron Franklin

Lesson time 07:46 min

In this bonus chapter, Aaron traces the roots of barbecue culture in Texas from European immigrants to World War II vets, highlighting how brisket—a tough, difficult-to-cook cut of beef—became the region’s signature smoked meat.

Aaron Franklin
Teaches Texas-Style BBQ
Aaron Franklin teaches you how to fire up flavor-packed Central Texas barbecue, including his famous brisket and more mouth-watering smoked meat.
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- There's so many different regions of barbecue. There's so many different styles and if you work through the South and you know it might be whole hogs, it might be pulled pork, it might be chicken. And as you work through you can kind of see where places have been as far as their agriculture. And in Texas it's for the most part always been beef. The barbecue culture is so expansive throughout Texas. We've got down by Mexico where it's more barbacoa, it's cooked on mesquite. We've got East Texas, where it's more of a , and maybe it's thicker, sweeter sauces. They've got up in the panhandle where they've got the mesquite trees also. Then they've got Central Texas, and I think much like where anyone grows up, if you grew up in Texas you've got kind of a real natural inclination to a certain type of barbecue. And in Texas it's almost always beef, and it's almost always brisket. I think there's a sense of pride that being from central Texas, like oh, this is barbecue. And it's kind of-- barbecue has always been kind of a special meal, but I feel like at least for me growing up, that was like-- that was the big night. That was-- if you got to barbecue, you were living like a king. That was a big deal, because it is so labor intensive. And I think that's been passed down through so many generations over the years that, you know, as a Texan, there's definitely something very special about brisket. But one big difference is in specifically Central Texas is that we don't really use a lot of sauce. Around here we jokingly say that if you have to put sauce on it, it must be pretty bad. You must have really messed it up. And that can kind be sort of true and sort of not true. I like sauce, and I think that's kind of where the evolution of barbecue is going. All these styles just kind of get-- they keep getting mixed together. But really traditionally Texas barbecue is just meat, bread, maybe a slice of tomato, maybe a pickle, maybe a slice of onion. Flavor wise it starts off with a post stoke, the trees that we have here. And the beef industry, and the fact that we used to have a lot of cows in Texas. But where that came from-- where Central Texas barbecue really comes from is in the early 1900s, a lot of German and Czech immigrants coming to Central Texas, and they brought butcher shops. And they brought these little grocery stores, and they would butcher cows in the back, and they would break down things. And then of course that's before the days of refrigeration. So at the end of the week in these little markets, they would have to either cook the meat, or it would spoil. So that's where barbecue comes in. And it certainly wasn't brisket at that point. It could be hindquarters, fore quarters. It could be tender loins, it could be rib eyes. It could be anything. It was whatever didn't sell in that market needed to get barbecued, and it needed to get smoked. And smoke is a form of preservation, so that would hence get this...

The art of smoke and fire

Once a backyard hobbyist, Aaron Franklin is now the James Beard Award-winning owner of Franklin Barbecue, where the line for his famous smoked brisket is hours long. Now the Central Texas barbecue specialist teaches you his meticulous low and slow process for mouth-watering ribs, pork butt, and brisket. With perfectly seasoned cuts and optimal temperatures, you'll learn to handle an offset smoker like a true pitmaster.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I really enjoyed arrons class it showed me alot of great things

I have been looking to set up my own BBQ restaurant for about 10 years. We have been in the hospitality business for over 30 and finally have the right venue to add a BBQ food outlet on the back of the restaurant/pub we now have. This Masterclass from Aaron was quite simply the best information and education I needed to give me the confidence to open it to the public. many thanks, Peter

Awesome! Learned so much from Aaron Franklin. Cant wait to apply the lessons i learned. Well worth the investment

I loved the "game plan" approach to cooking that Aaron uses. I really appreciate how detailed and methodical everything is in his technique. I have lots to improve on, but now I know that there are pitfalls I was never even aware of when I was cooking.


A fellow student

The way Aaron teaches this class makes you feel like you're just a couple of pals hanging around the smoker, but in reality you're learning from one of the best in the world at this craft. The attention to detail, the flow of the chapters, the overall accessibility of how he presents everything. It's all exactly what you'd be looking for if you're looking to take your cooks to the next level. Obviously that comes with a ton of expertise on his end, but you can tell the passion for barbecue is what makes him such a great teacher on the subject.

A fellow student

It was a beautiful experience to learn from him. He loves the art and the art has loved him back. Philosopher Esther Lightcap Meek would be proud of him.

Aubrey H.

Love his passion! Lessons taught as his basic information. Hearing him describe the techniques of even holding the briskets, feeling the fat as he picks each one up. It’s all amazing what you pickup from him. Been through it twice and will continue to go back to it each time I’m about to attempt another brisket. This is one my treasured gift of my life.

Christin H.

Great course. Can anyone tell me what music is used in the intro to lesson 16?

Casey B.

Fun lesson. Also quite inspiring for a BBQ amateur like myself. I have no interest at all in going pro, but now I do want to step up my game!

Timothy A.

Fabulous class now I know why my briskets were terrible... time for a new try.

Angela K.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. Wonderful class. You should sell your grills, bbq sauce and marinated uncooked meats to the public. What about the Brisket sauce and the instructions on how long to cook each meat. You can even sell different sizes of wood depending on the type of grill.

A fellow student

Loved the whole course... I lived in Bryan while at A&M for my Master's, and I've eaten at Martin's. As recently as 6 years ago the pulled pork sandwiches were still something like $2.50 and were delicious. So heartwarming to see their photo in this course. I live in London now and miss Texas barbecue...I think I'll have to settle for pecan wood, but I feel like you've given me what I need to recreate those amazing flavors over here! Thank you :)

Scotty T.

I enjoyed the Information and helpful hints that will take my smoker experience to the next level. Thanks for the class. Your passion for the meat and BBQ is infectious.

Taylor I.

Per my last class I have similar complaints. Sure the chefs are top notch - with tons of experience and sage advise. What I got out of this class was three Recipes a lot of word vomit, and a guy who really likes to fondle his meat