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Smoked Brisket No Wrap: Here’s How It’s Done

Smoked Brisket No Wrap: Here’s How It’s Done

Wrapping brisket is a traditional method pitmasters have employed for generations. While some folks may argue its efficiency, it has shown to be an effective approach for helping smoked meat to cook more quickly.

But today’s question is, does it have to be wrapped? The truth is that you can smoke a brisket without wrapping. However, they do have a significant impact on the finished product’s quality in terms of texture and flavors.

Why Is Brisket Wrapped in The First Place?

The primary reason for wrapping meat for smoking is to hasten the cooking process and move through the stall at a faster pace. It may take up to 15 hours or even more to smoke pork shoulders and briskets, depending on how forgiving the stall decides to be.

Temperature stalls tend to occur when you smoke meats at low temperatures for long periods of time. At some point during the smoking process, the juices in the brisket begin to rise to the surface and evaporate over the meat. As a result, the meat cools at the same pace which the smoker can cook it, causing its internal temperature to “stall.” 

This is also referred to as “evaporative cooling.”

Only until all of the extra juices and rendered fats have evaporated will the internal temperature of the brisket continue to climb. Depending on the cut, this may lengthen the cooking process by several hours.

These juices are intended to be trapped by the wrap and sealed inside with the brisket, keeping them warmer which significantly reduces the effects of evaporative cooling

This strategy is often referred to as the Texas Crutch.

Wrapping Can Help Brisket Rest

The bulk of grilled and smoked meats need to rest after being pulled. It enables the redistribution of all those lovely fats into the meat. 

Although most meats only need to rest for 30 to 45 minutes, other meats, such pork shoulder or brisket, benefit from extended resting durations because of the increased fat.

The bigger the fat cap, the more pooling from rendered liquids you will need to deal with. 

Longer resting times for meat are possible with the use of wraps. It lessens the meat’s exposure to air and maintains a consistent internal temperature when away from a heat source.

In essence, it keeps it warm while it’s resting or holding. Resting a brisket won’t result in the meat cooling off too much and may be used for up to two hours. 

Are There Benefits to Not Using Wraps?

Creating A Thicker and Crispier Bark

A pork shoulder can be wrapped or not, depending on your preferences. Most people who skip the wrap prefer a thick, crunchy bark. The meat will be well spiced and have a satisfyingly crispy texture when the brisket is left unwrapped.

Unwrapped meats can still be smoked; it just takes more care and attention throughout the smoking process. Many smokers actually never wrap their meats, opting to forgo the traditional “Texas Crutch”“.

Wraps can occasionally cause briskets to become over-rendered, which means that the liquids from the meat cause the bark become a touch sloppy and mushy.

Boosted Smokey Flavors

There is nothing wrong with some individuals preferring their brisket with a little extra smokiness. Skipping the wrap allows the meat to absorb far more smoke. 

Just be careful to not over smoke  your brisket

Finish the brisket in the oven or slow cooker if you prefer an additional Smokey essence but are worried about the flavor turning bitter.

How To Smoke Brisket Without Wrapping

Smoking a bare brisket takes a lot more time and attention, which requires a little more patience.

Brisket normally smokes at temperatures ranging from 225 to 250 degrees(F), but for unwrapped brisket, drop the temperature to around 220.

This will still properly smoke the meat, but with a decreased risk of drying it out.

You will need to baste or a spritz to the brisket while it smokes. The liquid not only adds flavor, but it also cools the meat and keeps it from overcooking and drying out.

Every hour or so, spritz or baste the brisket. Do it quickly so that the smoker does not lose too much heat while it is opened.

Make sure your brisket has lots of fat on it as well. The marbling will keep the meat moist, resulting in a wonderfully soft and succulent end product.

A little salt on the surface of the brisket will also help. As the liquids begin to render out, the salt helps the meat retain moisture. It’s known as “dry brining.”

If you have the necessary equipment, you can also inject your brisket with talon, beef stock, butter, or saltwater brine.

This ensures that any moisture lost is compensated for by the liquids injected.

Final Thoughts

Brisket can absolutely be smoked without being wrapped.

It should be noted, however, that smoking bare briskets might take far longer than smoking wrapped briskets.

The most important thing to remember is to keep it hydrated. Brisket with no wrap can easily dry out or over smoke, so make a conscious effort to baste and spritz it every hour to keep it moist and tender.

It all comes down to trial and error. Experiment with different heats and wraps to see what works best for YOU.

Happy smoking!