To Wrap Or Not To Wrap Brisket? What You Need To Know About Wrapping Your Meat When Smoking

To Wrap Or Not To Wrap Brisket? What You Need To Know About Wrapping Your Meat When Smoking

By: Brisk It Culinary Team

Wrapping a brisket: it's a key step of the smoking process and can have a significant impact on the flavor and texture of your meat. Because not everyone agrees about what exactly you should do, we’ll leave the decision to you! Many pitmasters and barbecue enthusiasts might think they know best, but choosing to wrap brisket or not depends on your own tastes and preferences. So let's take a look at the two methods of smoking a brisket and why you might opt for either one.

Do You Have To Wrap A Brisket?

The simple answer is no. Plenty of smokers – professionals and hobbyists, alike – do not wrap their brisket at any point in the cooking process. Still, many do and wouldn't dream of preparing brisket any other way.

Advantages Of Wrapping

So, why do you wrap a brisket? The main reason comes down to temperature control and how it impacts the juiciness and texture of your finished product. Wrapping a brisket helps seal in the moisture and juices for the duration of the cooking process, which prevents your meat from drying out in the smoker. It also cuts down on cooking time, meaning you'll have a perfectly smoked brisket on the table faster. 

When cooking large cuts of meat, oftentimes the griller will experience a “stall” in the cooking process. This refers to the point when the meat seemingly stops increasing in temperature for a period of time (often around 160-180 degrees Farenheit). What is actually occurring is that connective tissue in the meat starts to break down, which cools the cut and prevents it from increasing in temperature. Once all the connective tissue has broken down, the internal temperature will resume rising.

When it comes to brisket, wrapping this cut of meat allows the grill master to push through the stall faster. Proponents of wrapping a brisket see this simple step as a way to ensure the meat is smoked to perfection within a more reasonable amount of time.

Drawbacks Of Wrapping

Those who avoid wrapping brisket in foil or butcher paper believe that a critical taste factor to brisket may not reach its full potential when doing so: the bark. That delicious, crunchy, flavorful exterior doesn't develop quite as profoundly when brisket or ribs are wrapped. This is for two reasons. First, wrapping the brisket in butcher paper or foil prevents additional smoke from reaching the meat, limiting the crustiness of the bark and the overall flavor of the final product. Second, the moisture from the brisket or meat could reduce the overall crunch of the bark. So while it may require some extra care to ensure it doesn't dry out, an unwrapped brisket is a perfect way to maximize the barbecue flavor and crispness of the bark.

Should I Wrap My Brisket? 

So, should you wrap a brisket? There's no right answer here. Every barbecue and smoking enthusiast has to decide what their priorities and abilities require, in addition to their preferences, when it comes to smoking a brisket. Either way can produce extremely delicious smoked meat, so it's fine to try out both and see which method works best for you. One thing is for certain: When you prepare meat on a Brisk It Smart Grill the result will be “chef’s kiss” regardless of whether the brisket is wrapped or unwrapped.

What About Smoking Ribs?

Everything mentioned above about wrapping a brisket also holds true for smoking ribs. Still, differences in the nature of the two types of meat may lead you to different conclusions. For example, ribs tend to be thinner and don't rely on a crusty bark for texture and flavor. As with brisket, a bit of trial and error can't hurt. Whether you’re smoking short ribs or baby back, the decision to wrap the meat or not depends on your taste preferences.

Smoking Meat Wrapped: Butcher Paper vs. Foil

If you've decided to wrap your brisket, your next decision is key: what do you wrap it in? The traditional debate typically involves two materials: butcher paper and foil. 

Should I Wrap My Brisket in Foil?

This is the traditional way to wrap brisket, ribs, or other smoked meat. The main benefits are twofold. First, increased heat retention and ease of use. Second, the foil traps heat in the meat exceptionally well, speeding up the cooking process. Using foil is also convenient, as just about everyone has a roll of aluminum foil stashed somewhere in their kitchen. However, the tight seal you can get with foil can also present drawbacks, as this creates a softer outer texture and less crunchy bark.

Should I Wrap My Brisket in Butcher Paper?

Alternatively, some use butcher paper to wrap their briskets. This technique is extremely popular with Texas-style barbecue. Butcher paper is more porous than foil, which allows some additional smoke to seep in creating more flavor and allowing moisture to leak out and preserve a crunchier bark. The downside is that butcher foil does not speed up your cooking time quite as much and it can be more expensive or less common to have around your home.

When It Comes to Smoking Meat, You Can't Go Wrong On A Brisk It Grill

The great thing about wrapping meat is the choice is up to you, and you really can’t go wrong with either option. The most important step to becoming a pro-smoker and barbecue expert isn’t deciding whether to wrap your meat; it comes down to your grill and smoker! 

For that perfect first bite every time, grill smarter on the Brisk It wood pellet grill. You'll never have to worry about constantly monitoring the temperature and fuel levels because the Brisk It does it for you! Looking to try something new on your smoker or pellet grill? Check out these delicious recipes guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds.