Is there a trick to smoking 2 briskets at once? What allowances do you need to make when you’re planning out the barbecue? Our guide has all the answers you’re looking for—and maybe a few that you hadn’t thought of.
Smoking 2 Briskets at Once
It’s possible to smoke two briskets at once as long as you don’t crowd the smoker in the process. For best results, choose two briskets that are roughly the same size. Remember that each brisket will cook at its own pace, so one might reach the target temperature much sooner than the other.
A Word About Brisket Sizes
Before we begin, it’s important to note that beef brisket is an exceptionally large cut of meat.
Brisket is one of the eight primal cuts, meaning that it’s one of the portions that are initially separated from the carcass when a steer is butchered. This particular cut comes from the lower chest region of the animal.
A whole brisket, known in butcher’s parlance as a whole packer, usually weighs between 10 and 16 pounds. As you can imagine, a cut this size will take up a lot of room in the smoker.
The brisket can also be divided into two smaller pieces, or subprimals. These are known as the point and the flat.
The flat is commonly sold by itself at the butcher counter. It has a long, rectangular appearance and a highly visible grain, which makes it easy to slice. This portion usually weighs between 6 to 10 pounds.
It’s harder to find the point sold independently of the flat, but the meat is rich and fatty, with superb beef flavor. This is the portion of the cut that’s typically used to make burnt ends. A brisket point should weigh between 4 and 7 pounds.
If you have a two-level smoker and the cooking grates aren’t quite large enough to accommodate a whole packer, it might be a good idea to separate the point from the flat and smoke both halves at the same time.
Can You Smoke 2 Briskets At Once?
As long as your smoker is big enough to accommodate two briskets, there’s no reason why you can’t smoke them both at once.
Smoking two briskets at the same time will increase your total meat yield. This comes in handy when you’re cooking for a large crowd.
Remember that you’ll need to account for shrinkage when planning your barbecue. Each pound of raw meat will yield only about 1/2 pound of cooked brisket. That means a 16-pound whole packer will give you just 8 pounds of cooked meat.
Since we like to plan on 1/2 pound of cooked brisket per person, that 16-pounder should be enough to feed about 16 people. If you’re expecting more guests, you might have to invest in a second brisket to fill in the gaps.
How Does Smoking 2 Briskets at Once Affect The Cooking Time?
Fortunately, there’s no need to double the cooking time if you’re smoking two 16-pound whole packers at once. Since the two cuts of meat are separate from one another, each one should cook at the same rate that they would if you’d smoked them at different times.
That said, you should do your best to ensure that the two briskets don’t touch each other during the smoke. Crowding the smoker could prolong the cooking time. Remember that the meat will shrink down as it cooks, so this shouldn’t pose too much of an issue.
You should also bear in mind that every brisket is different. Even if both of them weigh roughly the same, one might be finished cooking a long time before the other. If this happens, you can follow the same advice we’ve outlined in the following section.
What If One Brisket Is Much Larger Than The Other?
Let’s say you’ve purchased two briskets and want to smoke them together, but one of them weighs 10 pounds and the other one tips the scales at a robust 15 pounds. Can you still cook them at the same time?
In these situations, you have a couple of options. You can add both cuts to the smoker at once, pulling the second one from the heat as soon as it reaches the optimum temperature. Then you can enlist the faux Cambro technique (see below) to keep the meat warm while the other brisket finishes cooking.
Another option would be to wait a few hours before adding the smaller brisket to the smoker. That will give the larger one a decent head start.
If the difference in weight is 3 pounds or less, we would suggest putting them on the smoker at the same time. As we mentioned, each cut will cook at its own pace. It’s better to have a fully cooked brisket on your hands than one that isn’t ready yet.
On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a sizable weight gap, you may be better off estimating the total cooking times for both cuts, then adding the smaller one when its larger companion is partially cooked.
By way of example, let’s assume you’re starting with the 10- and 15-pounders we mentioned earlier. The 10-pound brisket will need at least 15 hours, while the 15-pounder needs at least 22.5 hours.
When the smoker has heated to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, add the 15-pound brisket. After 7 or 8 hours, set the 10-pounder on the grate alongside it. If everything goes well, both briskets should approach the target temperature at the same time.
Using the Faux Cambro Method
When a brisket is finished cooking several hours before your planned serving time, the faux Cambro technique is the best way to keep it hot and juicy.
A Cambro is an insulated container that food-service professionals use to keep prepared foods warm. At home, you can replicate this method using nothing more than a large cooler and a few towels.
Find a cooler that’s big enough to hold the cooked brisket—or briskets, in this case. Fill it with about 3 gallons of hot water, then close the lid. After 30 minutes or so, open the cooler and dump out the water before lining the interior with clean towels.
Set the wrapped cooked brisket in the prepared cooler and close the lid. The meat should stay hot and fresh for up to 4 hours. After that, it might start to cool down more rapidly, but you can store it for an hour or two longer if necessary.
Can You Trim The Briskets Down To Make Them Fit?
As we mentioned earlier, it might be a good idea to divide the point and flat if space is an issue. This will also reduce your total cooking time.
However, there are definite advantages to smoking a whole packer. The point has more marbling than the flat, so it will contribute an added richness to the finished brisket. The longer cooking time will also improve the texture of the cooked meat.
Try trimming the excess fat from the briskets before you season them. A perfectly trimmed brisket should have just 1/4 inch of the fat cap left in place. This might shrink the cuts down enough to allow them both to fit without touching.
You can also trim off the thinner portions of the flat. Since these would cook through more quickly than the rest of the cut, there’s a good chance they would end up dry and leathery anyway.
There’s no real trick to smoking two briskets at once. As long as you keep an eye on the internal temperature of both cuts, you can increase your total meat yield without investing any extra time in the process.