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Drip Pan Under Brisket | Should You Use It?

Drip Pan Under Brisket

Using a drip pan underneath a brisket can allow you to collect all of the amazing juices that are rendered out of the meat during a long smoking process.

You can repurpose a lot of these juices and even soak the brisket with them after you are finished cooking.

Besides having a pan to collect all of these amazing juices, the drip pan also serves a number of other functionalities. 

The drip pan one places underneath a brisket helps to shield the undercarriage from any direct heat from the firebox.

This can be a great way to ensure your brisket is overall a well rounded piece of meat. Basically, you don’t want to have an overly crispy or burnt bark on your barbecue.

Having burnt bark on a brisket can be very frustrating. All of this considered, let’s take a look at what exactly is so special about using a drip pan.


What’s so special about a drip pan?

As mentioned above, a drip pan has many uses.

The first of which, is to serve as a mechanism to trap and collect all of the incredible moisture and juices that are rendered out throughout your cooking process.

These juices can be then reapplied back into the brisket at a later time, perhaps when you are ready to rest or reheat the brisket, but can also be used as cooking oil or dipping sauce for other food you may have.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Another such use case for a drip pan is basically to have a way to deflect a lot of the direct heat that you may encounter when smoking a piece of barbecue such as brisket. It also depends on what kind of smoker you have.

I generally cook either with a Weber Smokey Mountain or an offset smoker. These two types of smokers are entirely different, and have different methods of administering heat to a piece of barbecue.

When using a Weber Smokey Mountain, it is more of a vertical shaped smoker, so you will most like we have a lot of heat traveling in a vertical fashion.

Placing a drip pan underneath your brisket when using a Weber Smokey Mountain will first and foremost deflect a lot of the dripping grease fires that you may encounter if you don’t have anything else placed on the grates.

This basically just helps not only as a heat deflector, but also a heat sink. More about that later in the article when we talk about water pans.

With an offset smoker, using a drip pan for your brisket is pretty much the same.

All you have to do is place the drip pan underneath your brisket, and he will be rest assured that the brisket will have a place to run her out all the juices that you can then use at a later time. One of the only differences however, compared to a weber smoky mountain that is a vertical shaped smoker, is that you still will not get the benefits of direct heat deflection.

An offset smoker has a heat source more to the side of the brisket and not directly underneath. That way, the brisket drip pan does not always serve is a great way to deflect the heat that may impact your brisket. Despite that, using a drip pan in both scenarios can be a great choice to perhaps have a way to collect all of the amazing juices that you expect to have rendered out throughout your cook.


Why you would want to put a drip pan under a brisket

You would want to use a drip pan underneath of brisket to collect juices, any moisture, have a heat sink, and have something that can directly deflect any direct heat from the firebox.


Where to place drip pan in your smoker

You will generally want to place a drip pan directly underneath your meat, regardless of what kind of smoker you have. That means if you have a vertical shaped smoker, or even an offset smoker, you will still be placing the drip pan directly underneath your barbecue. This is because the main purpose of a drip pan is to capture your beautiful drippings.

If you find that you do not have enough room to place a drip pan underneath your barbecue, try readjusting the placement of your meat, and if it is more of an issue with the smoker itself, try getting a smaller drip pan to at least capture something.


Where to place drip pan in an offset smoker

Placing a drip pan in an offset smoker is super simple. You generally will have a firebox to the right of your meat, and the cooking chamber with your BBQ to the left.

You will notice that underneath the grates of the cooking chamber, there is enough clearance to begin placing not only one but maybe even multiple drip pans underneath all of your barbecue. This is where you should be placing it.


Where to place drip pan in a vertical smoker

Usually, in a vertical smoker, there is not a lot of room. Especially when considering you have a full load of barbecue you were cooking. Not only this, but it is also common to have a water pan placed on the little notches directly underneath both cooking grates.

If you still are bent on using a drip pan in addition to using a water pan in a vertical smoker, you can certainly place it on the lowest grate.

The only thing you will have to worry about at this point, as where to place any meat you may have previously had on the lower tier grate.


Putting anything in the drip pan

Sometimes people will ask whether or not you should leave the drip pan empty and let the barbecue just fill it up with its rendered juices. This is something that you can absolutely do, but if you also want to have a multi-purpose type of drip pan, you can even put water in it at the start of the cook.

This will help the drip pan initially act as a heat sink, which can then begin to regulate temperature. Not only that, if you do happen to put water inside your drip pan to mimic the effects of a water pan, then that means you don’t have to go out of your way to place another bowl filled with water to solely act as a water pan.

In other words, this will save a lot of room and quite frankly be a lot more efficient. As the heat starts to crank up throughout the course of the cook, the water will evaporate, and the meat will then begin to have a lot of drippings fall back into the pan.


Overall benefits of a drip pan placed beneath a brisket

The overall benefit of a drip pan placed beneath a brisket can be that it will help your brisket from drying out, the temperatures will become a lot more steady because the drip pan can act as a heat sink, and you will have a mechanism to collect all of the awesome rendered out juices from the barbecue.


Do you have to put a drip pan under brisket?

It may sound like I’ve been trying to push a drip pan on you, but all I’m doing is providing a clear explanation as to why you would want to. All those considered, you certainly do not have to put anything underneath your brisket, whether it be a water pan or a drip pan.

You can still have a well smoked brisket that comes out nice and juicy, have regulate the temperature, but maybe not have a way to collect the juices.


Where do you put the water pan when smoking a brisket?

You can put the water pan either directly underneath the brisket, or to the side of the brisket. This is more of a what type of smoker do you have type of question more so than it is a water pan question.

As I mentioned previously, placing a water pan around the smoker, will frankly depend on the type of smoker you have. A vertical smoker will generally have an option for you to place a water pan directly underneath both of the grates located towards the top of the vertical smoker.

When using an offset smoker, you have the option of doing the same thing as you did with a vertical smoker, placing it directly underneath. You also have the added option of placing it on top of the grates themselves, right next to the brisket

The main benefit of placing it next to a brisket would basically be to have a way to shield off the brisket from any direct heat you may have in an offset smoker while also serving to regulate temperatures by acting as a heat sink.


How do I stop the bottom of my brisket from burning?

Using a water pan or a drip pan can certainly have the added effect of thwarting any heat from burning the bottom of your brisket. 

This can be extremely useful, especially when you are used to having the bottom of your brisket become somewhat dry and the bark becoming way too crispy.

In essence, using a type of heat sink and heat deflector can be a great way to preserve the bark and overall moisture content of your brisket.


Difference between using a drip pan and a water pan

Difference between using a drip pan and a water pan is very simple. Both have the added effect of serving as a heat sink.

The drip pan however, not only serves as a heat sink, but can also begin to collect the juices run it out from the brisket. If it were me, I would always use a drip pan compared to a water pan.


The main purpose of a water pan

Again, the main purpose of a water pan will be to act as a heat sink only. You can place it directly underneath a brisket to protect the undercarriage of the barbecue, or you can certainly place it besides the brisket to just serve as a heat sink for the overall smoker itself.

This will have the effect of regulating the ambient temperature more so than the direct heat hitting the brisket itself.


Using both at the same time

As noted above, it may be difficult to do this because there is a limited space inside the cooking chamber. You really have to decide whether or not this is an optimal choice.

Take a quick look at how much barbecue you actually have on the smoker. If there is enough room beneath the brisket, go ahead and place the drip pan there. If there is enough room besides the brisket, place the water pan there.


Final thoughts

Placing a drip pan underneath of brisket is a great option to have a heat sink that regulates temperatures, while also collecting the amazing juices that are rendered out of the barbecue itself.

These juices can then be repurposed for other applications such as read moisturizing the brisket when you reheat it, and also serving as a form of dipping sauce for the brisket itself when you actually are eating it.