W ater smoking combines smoke and steam to continually baste the beef, while indirect heat slowly cooks it.

By adding a water pan to your smoker, you can combine aromatic smoke with juice-inducing steam to slow-cook the brisket for that oh-so-tasty flavor. Ideal for brisket—because in Texas, if you’re not smokin’ brisket, you’re not really living.

You'll Need


  • Wood chunks of 1-2-inch thickness work best.
  • Experiment by using chunks or chips of flavor-producing wood like mesquite, hickory, pecan, apple or cherry.
  • Stay away from resinous wood, such as pine, as it will produce an unpleasant taste.

A Step-by-Step Guide

Water Smoking Beef

Fear not the smoker—we've got your back. Check out this video for a quick tutorial on how to smoke your brisket like a Texas pit master.


Oil up your grate

Lightly coat grate with vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray. Close cooking chamber lids.
Always start the smoking process with clean grates.

Prepare your firebox

Place 3-5 lbs. of charcoal in the center of the firebox.

Light charcoal & let it burn

Open the firebox air vent approximately 1-2", and smokestack damper halfway. With firebox lid open, stand back, carefully light charcoal and allow to burn until covered with a light ash (approx. 20 mins).
Charcoal lighter fluid must completely burn off prior to closing firebox lid.

Add your wood chunks

Once coals have ashed over, add wood chunks. Do not shut firebox lid until the smoke is Clean Smoke, often called Blue Smoke by Texas pit masters.

Adjust cooking temperature

Close firebox lid. Adjust the firebox air vent and smokestack damper to regulate cooking temperature. The ideal smoking temperature is between 200°F-250°F.
Do not fully close air vent, damper and lids or flame will suffocate.

Add the water pan

Place water pan under brisket grate. One gallon of water will last 2-3 hours.
Check water level every hour and a half. Keep in mind that opening lid during cooking allows heat and smoke to escape, making additional cooking time necessary.

Next, add your brisket

Place well-seasoned brisket on cooking grate, fat side up, in the cooking chamber.
Put the point of the brisket (thickest side) on the firebox side to help with even cooking. Consider a heat-proof meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature without opening the cooking chamber lid.

Monitor cooking & brisket temperature

Maintain a consistent cooking temperature by adding wood chunks as needed. Monitor internal temperature of the brisket throughout the cooking process. The ideal finished internal temperature is 195°F-205°F.
Allow approximately one hour cooking time per pound of brisket.

Allow the brisket to rest

Remove brisket from smoker and allow to rest (min. of 30 mins).
Wrap brisket in peach paper/butcher paper while resting to maintain juiciness.

Shut down your smoker completely

Suffocate the flame and cool your smoker down by fully closing the air vent, damper and lids.

Cooking Time Guide

Allow at least one hour of cooking time per pound. A properly-cooked brisket should be well done and fork tender.

Although this formula serves a guideline, keep in mind many variables will affect actual cooking times (i.e., outside cooking temperature, amount of charcoal and/or wood chunks, the number of times the lid is opened and proximity of food to the heat source).