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.

Aaron's class was a great addition to my skills as well as his insights to help with my processes with smoking bbq

That was certainly the most informative instructional video I have ever seen. The depth at which he delves into each and every detail of his craft and his explanations of why he does things a certain way is just incredible to me, so easy to understand. My BBQ game is gonna go over the top now!! Thanks Aaron!!

Hi this is JK Song from Seoul Korea. I loved Aaron Franklin class because I hope to do business Texas BBQ in Korea. Thank you for your passion.

I haven't done all 16 yet, but this is an amazing course! 5 Stars, easily!!


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

Ryan T.

So, first off great class. Does anyone have any info on how best to “keep” a Brisket? Have cooked a couple now where they cooked a lot sooner than planned and have tried to figure out how to keep them before they need to be served. I feel like I’ve ruined a couple of good briskets by not keeping them the right way. I’ve done a cooler with towels etc but am curious how they do it at Franklin BBQ or any other restaurant. It’s a shame to put in all that hard work, only to have it ruined because I didn’t know what to do with it after it was done.

Jim D.

Great class. I wish you had gone into cooking chicken, turkey, and sausage, but it was still a great learning experience. Many thanks!!


I want to do Texas BBQ business in Korea. So I took this class. It was very help me to know Texas BBQ. If I have a chance I want to work Aaron’s restaurants

Imad S.

Hi you good people, I need to apologize in advance for what I am about to say. I know no everyone came here with peaceful intentions of becoming better at the grill and I truly assume that Aaron is good at heart. Having said that I need to speak my mind. I am deeply disappointed at the makers of for offering such a course. Everything about this page is about personal growth, whether it is about a craft or the mind and spirit in general. Everything about it is progressive and positive. The advocation and celebration of meat consumption is not. I am absolutely aware of the fact that meat consumption will remain the norm for years to come but to use this massively recognized and respected platform to spread a culture that is scientifically known to be an absolute catastrophe for our health, our environment and especially for animals is just shy of barbaric and disrespectful. I know it's a long shot and I am quite sure to be causing condescending smiles and even laughter with this request but: I kindly ask you to withdraw this course from your site as it contradicts any form of progressive direction and vision it so clearly tries to portray. In 5 to 10 years you will either be one of the pages and companies that went with where the money was or one of the few big - players who put values before the dollar long (or not so long) before the masses followed and started asking questions about who played which role in this topic. If anything, you have the chance to find the best of all vegan chefs and help spread sensible information combined with progressive thinking and empathy. Please be on the side of sense and compassion, just as you are with every other course you so wonderfully offer. (I don't know whether there is another course regarding this topic) Sincerely yours, Imad

Stephen H.

Posting for the contest! Just before I pulled it and wrapped it for another 2 hours. Followed the directions on this pork butt and it came out perfect. This was my first attempt at smoking ever!