Learn how simple it is to make smoky and tender Oven Baked BBQ Beef Brisket with this never-fake brisket recipe—just two ingredients and 5 minutes of prep time—everybody deserves great BBQ.
- Beef brisket—any size
- Liquid smoke—optional but recommended
- BBQ sauce—for serving
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Featured Comment from Dave:
"Thank you for this recipe. I have done 3 so far, and thanks to your simple thorough instructions, they have all been perfect. And it’s so easy!"
Most beef brisket recipes call for many spices, grills, smokers, or pits. And the results some sometimes great but are frequently dry, tough, and tasteless—plus a LOT of work. All you need is two ingredients, 5 minutes, and bake until done.
Cooking brisket in the oven makes it super easy to do low and slow cooking, which is perfect for brisket. Add barbecue sauce after you bake in the oven with liquid smoke. You can cook small or large briskets—perfect for any needs. They can be points, flat, or full briskets. You can cook fresh or frozen briskets.
Special thanks to Peggy, our secretary in Kansas City 45 years ago, who taught us the true KC brisket cooking method which I have used for 45 years.
👨🍳How to Cook BBQ Brisket in the Oven
Turn on the oven to 300°—no need to preheat.
Pat dry the brisket. Place in pan fat side up. Cover the top of the meat with a generous amount of liquid smoke—about 3-4 tablespoons.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil sealed on all edges.
Bake in the oven until "fork-tender" and at least 195+° (200° to 205° preferred.) Usually about 1 hour per pound. If you don't "get" fork-tender, just use the internal temperature. It may take over 6-8 hours if frozen or large. NEVER UNDER COOK, and do not cook by time alone. Always check the internal temperature.
Scrap off the "fat cap" before removing it from the pan. If you cooked a whole or flat half, it is a good time to separate the two layers. Place on a platter, cover with foil, and refrigerate for a least 3 hours before cutting. Discard the liquid.
Cut CROSS GRAIN into ⅛ to ¼ inch slices.
Transfer back to a pan. Cover the top with BBQ sauce. Seal with aluminum foil again and reheat in oven preheated to 375°—about 25 minutes.
Make sandwiches with sauce and bread. Ahhh, KC heaven.
For more details, keep reading. See the Recipe Card below for complete instructions and to print.
⏰How Long to Cook a Brisket in the Oven
A good rule of thumb is about one hour per pound in a 300° oven. But thinner flats will cook a little quicker than thicker points.
I generally cook 4-pound flats for about 4 hours or a bit more. There can be a lot of variation in that. Points take a bit longer (thicker). Frozen adds an hour or two. A whole brisket takes longer and can easily run into the 8 to 10-hour plus range.
🌡️When is a Brisket Done?
It needs to be "fork tender," and the internal temp should be a minimum of 190° to 195°, but 200° to 205° is better.
"Fork tender" is when you insert a large fork, and it goes in easily and slides out easily. The meat will hardly move. It is "old school," and I always use internal temperature. My wife still uses fork tender, so we do both.
NEVER UNDER COOK BRISKET. Cooking a little too long is better than a little short.
Other classic BBQ recipes
Beef brisket is one of the three classic barbecue meats, along with pulled pork and baby back ribs. All can be cooked either on the grill or oven-baked. See Oven Pulled Pork and Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs. For grilled versions, see Grilled Smoked Beef Brisket, Smoked Pulled Pork, and Grilled Baby Back Ribs.
🔪How to Cut a Brisket
- While you can cut warm brisket, it will tend to fall apart and not slice well. So, refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting.
- If you cooked a whole or flat of brisket, separate the flat and the point portions. Trim the fat between the layers.
- Cut both flat and point across the grain, which means 90° from the direction the meat fibers run.
- You can chop the brisket instead of slicing, but If I do that, I still slice first to prevent strands of muscle fibers.
Serving BBQ brisket
Reheat in the oven. Coat the top with a generous amount of sauce and seal with aluminum foil. Serve with sandwich bread or buns. It can also be used to top Mac and Cheese or many other uses.
To be a "correct" brisket sandwich in our family, it must be a triple-decker on white Wonder Bread and have Gates BBQ sauce from Kansas City. (Link in The Cooking for Two Shop.) Or try Memphis-Style Homemade BBQ Sauce.
Serve with side dishes like baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, French fries, or other potato dishes. Our favorite is Cheesy Potatoes with Real Potatoes.
Storage of leftovers
Seal in an airtight container, store in the refrigerator for 4 days, or freeze for 4 months.
Several times, I have done this for parties, serving 25 to 50 people. You can cook several days ahead and reheat at the time.
A sandwich holds about ¼ pound for most people. So, I assume four servings per pound. This is always very popular, and even small eaters come close to two servings. If you cook about ½ lb per person, you should be about right. Add a little more to be safe and have leftovers.
But do ¾ lb if they are piggies—1 lb per teenage boy.
Liquid smoke is made from condensing the smoke from burning wood. The flounder of Wrights Liquid smoke invented the process. It is an all-natural product that should only contain two ingredients, smoke concentrate and water.
Many BBQ snobs do not like it but consume it in BBQ sauces, marinades, and BBQ-flavored foods. Most of the manufactured liquid smoke is used in these ways and not directly to consumers.
I only use Wrights, which is usually in small bottles around the Warchershire sauce in the stores. After opening, it can be kept at room temperature for 1-2 years.
If the brisket is being cooked in a smoker or grill, it is a good idea to get the bark from the rub directly on the meat by trimming the fat before cooking.
In this closed-baked method, it is not needed. It is very easy to scrape the fat off immediately after cooking when still hot. It is also the ideal time to separate the muscles of your cooked whole or flat brisket.
What is beef brisket?
The brisket is made up of the pectoral muscles. The cow does not have collar bones, so these muscles support about 60% of the standing/moving cattle's body weight. All that work produces a lot of connective tissue, so cooking a brisket is all about melting the connective tissue with low and slow cooking.
Buy only choice or prime-grade brisket. Whole briskets are vacuum-packed for the producers and are usually 8 to 12 pounds.
Most of us buy half briskets. There is the "point" and "flat." Generally, the flat half is two layers (the flat muscle and part of the point). The point with only one layer of muscle.
Easiest Oven Baked BBQ Beef Brisket
- 4 pounds Beef Brisket - any size will do
- 3-4 tablespoons liquid smoke
- Turn on the oven to 300°—no need to preheat.
- Pat dry the brisket. Place in pan fat side up. Cover the top of the meat with a generous amount of liquid smoke—about 3-4 tablespoons.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil sealed on all edges.
- Bake in the oven until "fork-tender" and at least 195+° (200° to 205° preferred.) Usually about 1 hour per pound. If you don't "get" fork-tender, just use the internal temperature. It may take over 6-8 hours if frozen or large. NEVER UNDER COOK, and do not cook by time alone. Always check the internal temperature.
- Scrap off the "fat cap" before removing it from the pan. If you cooked a whole or flat half, it is a good time to separate the two layers. Place on a platter, cover with foil and refrigerate for a least 3 hours before cutting. Discard the liquid.
- Cut CROSS GRAIN into ⅛ to ¼ inch slices.
- Transfer back to a pan. Cover top with BBQ sauce. Seal with aluminum foil again and reheat in oven preheated to 375°—about 25 minutes.
Your Own Private Notes
- NEVER UNDER COOK THIS. A little too long is better than a little short.
- You MUST use a good quality liquid smoke. I only buy Wrights. If you do not want to use liquid smoke, find a different recipe.
- Cooking time is highly variable due to the size and thickness of the brisket. But it will usually be about one hour per pound. Longer if a thick point or whole brisket.
- You can start with a frozen brisket, but it will take an hour or two longer.
- Cook to "fork tender" and an internal temperature of 200°-205°. But the minimum is 195°.
- NEVER COOK BY TIME ALONE, you must check the temperature.
- Scrap off the fat after cooking before cooling.
- You can cut it while still hot, but it tends to fall apart.
- We cool the brisket completely and then thinly across the grain (about ¼ inch). Chopped is a good alternative. But never shred.
- Reheat with the sauce of your choice in the oven covered with foil.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days and frozen for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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