Smoked brisket tacos offer the ultimate way to enjoy succulent pulled barbecue beef. Slowly cooked over wood until tender, then wrapped in warm grilled tortillas, this BBQ-braised brisket is a compelling reason to ignite your smoker!
In this recipe, we will explore making the filling from scratch, although you can also utilize leftover beef brisket. As long as the brisket hasn’t surpassed two or three days since it was cooked, it will still taste delightful in the tacos.
If you choose to smoke the beef starting from fresh, here’s the good news: you don’t have to employ an entire beef brisket. Skip the hassle of separating the flat and point cuts and opt for just the flat. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the point cut, the flat cut is generally more readily available and easier to find. It’s commonly found in stores, butcher shops, and online meat suppliers.
To begin, if your brisket appears to have some rough patches, lay it on a clean cutting board with the fat side facing upwards. Utilize a knife to remove any sections that seem to have more than a quarter-inch of fat.
Flip the brisket over, placing it fat-side-down. This side should mostly display the meat with minimal fat. Trim off any excessive fatty spots you come across. You don’t have to remove every bit of fat, so there’s no need to spend hours meticulously doing so. A brief touch-up with the knife will suffice.
To maximize the flavor in our tacos, we’ll incorporate a beef brisket injection to enhance its taste. When smoking a whole brisket on its own, injections are not always utilized, and some barbecue pitmasters even discourage it. However, for juicy and flavorful tacos, let’s infuse some extra flavor.
Begin by placing the brisket in a shallow baking tray to capture any marinade runoff during the injection process.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine two cups of water, one teaspoon of beef base, one tablespoon of soy sauce, and one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Stir the ingredients until fully dissolved to achieve the best results.
Once the marinade is prepared, load it into a meat injector. Identify the direction of the brisket’s grain and inject the marinade at a 90-degree angle to it. Inject the marinade in a grid-like pattern, leaving approximately one inch between each injection hole. Reserve a small amount of marinade for later—it will be important for subsequent steps.
For the hassle-free rub that I prefer on my brisket, the taco meat filling is no exception. While there are excellent pre-made seasonings available in stores, I personally combine the following ingredients in a small bowl to create my homemade rub:
- 2 tablespoons of coarse kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons of coarse black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of cumin
- 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
If you prefer a milder flavor, you can reduce the spiciness by omitting the cumin and paprika. However, it is crucial to retain the salt and black pepper, as they play a role in seasoning and tenderizing the meat, similar to dry brining.
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients using a fork to eliminate any lumps. Apply the rub generously to the flat side of the brisket, ensuring all sides are covered and aiming for an even coating. Don’t hesitate to use a generous amount of seasoning, as beef can handle robust flavors.
How to make smoked brisket tacos
Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 225°F (107°C). Add pecan wood chips to your charcoal. While oak or hickory are commonly used for smoking brisket, we want to avoid overpowering the flavors we’ll be incorporating into these tacos. For more information on different types of woods for smoking brisket, refer to our brisket smoking woods guide.
Carefully transfer the brisket to the smoker, placing it on the grates with the fat side facing downwards. There is ongoing debate within the barbecue community regarding whether the fat side should be up or down. However, positioning the fat side down acts as a shield, protecting the meat from direct heat. This helps the beef retain its moisture, resulting in juicy and tender meat—ideal for taco fillings.
After approximately six hours, the brisket should have developed a rich, deep brown color. Our goal is not to create a thick bark, so we will wrap the flat portion of the brisket in aluminum foil. This will help retain moisture and overcome the BBQ Stall phenomenon.
Carefully remove the brisket from the smoker and place it on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the remaining injection marinade (remember how important it was?) over the brisket.
Wrap the brisket tightly by folding each side of the foil, ensuring there are no air pockets or leaks. It is crucial to double wrap it. By wrapping the brisket with the remaining injection marinade, it will effectively braise the meat.
Increase the temperature of your smoker to a range of 275°F-300°F (135°C-149°C) and place the wrapped beef back on the smoker grates. Allow it to smoke for an additional one to two hours, checking on it after one hour.
After one hour, insert a meat probe into the thickest part of the brisket. We are looking for a tender texture with minimal resistance and an internal temperature of around 210°F (99°C). This is higher than the usual 195°F (90°C) target for slicing, but we need the meat to be easily pulled for the taco filling. If it’s not ready yet, rewrap the beef and cook it for a bit longer.
Once the brisket is cooked, remove it from the smoker and place it on a cutting board. Keep the meat loosely wrapped and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes.
Using a brisket knife, slice the meat at a 90-degree angle to its muscle fibers. Cut thin strips and then chop each strip into small chunks. Return the chunks to the foil, allowing them to absorb the remaining juices.
Nutritions of smoked brisket tacos
- Calories: 573 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 52 g
- Protein: 41 g
- Fat: 21 g
- Saturated Fat: 6 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 4 g
- Monounsaturated Fat: 9 g
- Trans Fat: 1 g
- Cholesterol: 120 mg
- Sodium: 1804 mg
- Potassium: 995 mg
- Fiber: 2 g
- Sugar: 42 g
- Vitamin A: 579 IU
- Vitamin C: 18 mg
- Calcium: 69 mg,
- Iron: 5 mg
How to store Smoked brisket tacos
To store smoked brisket tacos, follow these steps:
Allow the smoked brisket and taco components to cool down to room temperature.
Separate the taco components, such as tortillas, toppings, and sauces, from the smoked brisket.
Store the smoked brisket separately in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Ensure that it is completely sealed to prevent air exposure.
Place the taco components, such as tortillas and toppings, in separate airtight containers or resealable bags.
Label and date all the containers or bags for easy identification.
Store the smoked brisket and taco components in the refrigerator. The smoked brisket can typically be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
When ready to eat, reheat the smoked brisket either in a microwave, oven, or on a stovetop until heated through.
Assemble the tacos with the reheated brisket and fresh taco components.
Enjoy the delicious smoked brisket tacos.
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