Culinary Arts

Smoke: Brisket Part I

Aaron Franklin

Lesson time 20:13 min

Phase one of our brisket smoke involves building a fire, applying slather and rub, and cooking the meat undisturbed. Learn Aaron’s technique for seasoning evenly and developing clean flavors in the critical first hours of your cook.

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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[MUSIC PLAYING] - So now that the brisket's trimmed up, I think it's a really great time to start talking about rubs and seasonings and all that stuff. I do have some feelings on this stuff. A lot of times, people talk about these, you know, all these seasonings and rubs or whatever they're putting on brisket. And they're like, oh, it's got garlic and onion and paprika and all kinds of stuff and just a dash of this and one granule of that. For me, I really like to keep it super duper simple-- kosher salt and 16 mesh black pepper. You spent a lot of time working with a fire. You want those flavors to come through. You spent a lot of time and money trimming down this piece of meat, buying a nice brisket. And I want to taste the beef. I don't want to have anything that gets in between, you know, the wood, the smoke, the beefiness of the brisket. So just salt, plain pepper. I usually just start off with kosher salt that has a good granule size, nothing too heavy, something kind of come about like that, and then what they call 16 mesh black pepper, could also be called cafe grind if you go to a big restaurant supply store and maybe if you're at the grocery store. And what 16 mesh really means is that it will fit through 1/16 of an inch mesh screen. And that could be like a window screen even. 16 mesh grain size matches up really well with kosher salt. So when they're in a shaker, and you're moving stuff around, you're keeping it moving, you're shaking it all over the place, it helps with the pepper to not rise to the top quite so much. It also helps it spread a little bit more evenly. So this shape is really, really good because it's got these dimples. So I can let it pivot like this. So as I'm actually shaking the seasoning on the brisket, I can kind of keep it loose in my hand. It's kind of like if you were a jazz drummer. You've got like a good wrist feel. You got some sticks, you know, kind of doing that number. So the shaker really does help a lot. So I'm going to make a rub. First thing I'm going to do is half and half by volume. So right there is looking pretty good. And that leaves just enough room at the top of the shaker to actually shake this up a little bit. And this is way more seasoning than I need for one brisket. Under normal circumstances, this would be enough for about six briskets. So right about there. Put the lid on, and then kind of a cool technique is that I'm going to start to swirl this, but I'm going to let it pivot in my fingers like this a little bit. And I'm going to watch it swirl. So I want to have this motion. You want it to be super duper even. And I've tried putting salt on briskets separate of pepper. And it's never worked out right. This is-- really, this is what we do at the restaurant every day. This is how I season everything. If I travel somewhere to cook barbecue, I take a shaker. Sounds really silly, but I do. Let it settle. Flip it around a little bit. And that's a pretty darn even...

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.

Went to Franklin's 2 years ago and got hooked on BBQ. Will use what I learn in this class and try to improve my skills,

Incredible. Learned a lot and it’s been extremely helpful being able to review at any time

I've learned a lot about fire management. I never really put a lot of thought into the fire and the different weights of fire wood. Controlling the temp with the way you place the wood in the fire box. It makes me want to learn as much as I can for fire management. Thanks for putting this type of information out there. Great class Franklin

The most enjoyable lessons on BBQ. Enjoyed the smart way the lessons were put together. I could almost smell the wood burning, and the taste of BBQ


A fellow student

I know this is probably a silly question but I don’t have a smoker and just want to cook a brisket in the oven. Does it still need that long to cook?


Silly question, I feel kosher salt granules are pretty course. In fact, I have not been able to find anything other Han “course” kosher salt. If I use course salt, will the granules break down throughout the cook?

A fellow student

Aaron recommends placing the brisket point end closer to the fire box in his offset smoker. Would you recommend the same orientation for a reverse offset smoker? Thanks

Red B.

It’s silly, but I love the attention to detail of the stacked wood under lil Bertha ...

Red B.

I love the modified/creation of a firebox without a hinged top! Only having one access point means less heat loss and maintain proper temps

A fellow student

I have to cook six or seven briskets up a day ahead of time what is the best way to rewarm them

A fellow student

What is the general rule for smoking more than one brisket I wanna do two briskets and the general rule is an hour and a half a pound so two 15 pound briskets will take 30+ hours!? Arron cooks this brisket for roughly 12 hours would two take him 24!?

Michael O.

has anyone done a kosher brisket? I'm just wondering if it will be to salty with this salt/pepper combo ??

Jesse P.

For an upright smoker, should you do fat side down since the heat is coming from below?

Mike M.

Great information. I've cooked a number of briskets, maybe one really good and the rest pretty good; but I've never seen information this detailed and helpful on trimming and prep. Outstanding in my view. Maybe a little anal in the streamlining of the smoke flow - but it's hard to disagree with success. I've really enjoyed each of the lessons and, even though it won't help me cook better, I especially enjoyed Aaron's story. I would really, really like to know where I might find the adjustable spice shaker he is using. I've looked everywhere, found some smaller and sort of adjustable - but nothing even close to the one he is using. Infor on that would be appreciated. Maybe when the "Franklin smokers" are available, those could be included as an auxiliary product. Thanks!