Brisket Wrapping: When, How, and What To Use

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There are several recipes and how-to articles on the internet regarding how to correctly cook a brisket. Most people will advise you to wrap your brisket in the cook.

Have you ever wondered why? Like most things in BBQ, there’s a lot of myth and history surrounding it.

We’ll try our best to explain when and why to wrap brisket, as well as the differences between wrapping in aluminum foil, butcher paper, and going naked.

Why do you wrap brisket?

Guide to Wrapping Brisket: When, How and What With

At some point during a cook, most pitmasters reflexively wrap their briskets (as well as pork butts and ribs) in aluminum foil or butcher paper.

Typically, the wrap happens when the brisket’s internal temperature reaches 165F. Some pitmasters wrap solely on the sight of the bark.

However, not everyone will be able to tell you why brisket is wrapped. Perhaps they realize why this is a good idea. They may have seen Tuffy Stone do it on an episode of BBQ Pitmasters.

Either way, lets break it down:


  • Reduces cooking time Wrapping the brisket allows you to speed through the stall and enjoy your wonderful smoked brisket even quicker.
  • It keeps the meat moist and tender. Brisket is a temperamental beast; it has to be smoked for a long time for the fat and collagen within to break down, yet cooking it for too long can cause it to dry up. Wrapping it keeps it wet and delicate.
  • It prevents meat from absorbing smoke. Too much smoke may provide a lighter, more fluid taste to your meat. More smoke won’t contribute much taste if the interior temperature reaches about 155F.
  • You can hot-hold for a long time. When you take the meat from the cooker, it will begin to cool quickly. To avoid this, store your brisket in a dry cooler loaded with towels (more on this later). Wrapping your brisket allows you to simply move it from the cooker to the cooler with little to no mess.


  • Can damage the bark If you wrap your meat too soon, or if you cook it for too long while wrapped, your bark will become nothing more than a soggy and mushy mess.

There are some inventive solutions, such as sailing or utilizing butcher paper, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.

What is the Texas Crutch?

You’ve undoubtedly heard the term Texas Crutch and wondered what it has to do with brisket wrapping.

For a long time, the phrase “Texas Crutch” has been bandied around. It simply refers to the act of wrapping your meat in tinfoil or butcher paper throughout the cooking process, and it is a popular method on the competitive barbecue circuit.

The word most likely originated on the barbecue circuit as a tongue-in-cheek jab at competitors who needed to give their meal a leg up, or a crutch, over the competition.

Steven Raichlen, Beef Brisket Made Easy

I used to wrap my beef with aluminum foil (a so-called Texas crutch popularized by Snows BBQ).

When the inside temperature hits 175 to 180 degrees, I wrap.

Then I met Aaron Franklin, who smokes the world’s greatest brisket. Franklin uses pink unlined butcher paper to wrap his beef.

Butcher paper has a benefit over foil in that it breathes, retaining moisture in the meat without making the bark (crust) soggy. There’s no need to keep adding wood to the charcoal after you’ve wrapped the brisket.

The Texas Crutch does not always relate to brisket. You may use this method on any kind of meat. The Texas crutch is used in the classic 3-2-1 technique of cooking ribs. The numbers simply relate to 3 hours unwrapped in the smoker, 2 hours covered in foil, and 1 hour unwrapped at a little higher temperature.

How does wrapping barbecue work?

According to Meathead Goldwyn of, New York Times bestselling author and all-around barbeque expert Meathead Goldwyn, we wrap our meat in BBQ for two simple reasons:

  1. To create a tenderer and more juicy end product
  2. To hasten the cooking process and break through the stall

When you cook a big piece of meat at low temps, such a brisket, the internal temperature increases fast at first. As the meat cooks, the moisture within the flesh starts to escape from the core and evaporates on the surface.

The meat will eventually cease increasing in temperature as the moisture tries to evaporate. This is known as the stall.

When the dreaded stall happens, you have two choices: wrap your meat or ride it out.

Wrapping it allows you to power through the stall since the moisture is trapped within the foil or butcher paper.

In other words, you’re braising your beef, which allows the internal temperature to increase quicker for the final result to be juicy and tender.

When to wrap brisket

There’s a lot of disagreement among barbecue professionals about when to wrap beef.

I believe in wrapping your brisket when two things occur:

  1. After a dark bark has formed
  2. When the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit or when the stall occurs (whichever comes first).

When cooking brisket, a leave-in probe thermometer comes in handy. If you don’t already have one, we have a guide you may look at.

Depending on the temperature you’re cooking at and a few other variables, this might take up to 4 hours, give or take.

Options for wrapping your brisket

When it comes to wrapping your brisket, you have many options. Let’s have a look at the three most frequent approaches.


Because most people wrap their brisket, you don’t have to! Unwrapped, bare briskets take longer to cook and are more likely to dry out before they are done, but with enough skill, you can still get a fantastic brisket with a wonderful bark.

Because there is nothing to get in the way of the smoke and bark, you’ll receive a highly crispy bark with an extra smoky taste.

Aluminum Foil

This is the approach popularized by the folks at BBQ Pitmasters. Wrapping your brisket with tinfoil can speed up the cooking process and result in a tender final product, but you risk destroying the bark that has started to form on the exterior of your brisket.

The aluminum foil wrap produces the softest bark, but some people say that it might result in overdone or mushy brisket.

A popular variation on this approach is the aluminum foil boat, in which you place your brisket on a tray or boat of foil at some point during the cooking process. You may also add additional liquid for extra moisture.

To witness the complete procedure, check out our hot and quick beef brisket dish, which uses the boat technique.

Butcher paper

Pink butcher paper, made famous by Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas, has been intimately linked with a specific kind of Texas barbecue.

Fans of this approach argue that wrapping brisket in butcher paper provides the same advantages as covering it in aluminum foil while also allowing some more smoke to enter.

Because butcher paper is a bit more forgiving on the bark, you should get a little more crunch on your bark.

In our recipe for smoked pellet grill brisket, we employed the butcher paper technique.

Butcher paper may be difficult to come by. You may easily purchase a roll from Amazon, or you may be able to find it in Costco or Office Depot.

Aluminium vs butcher paper vs unwrapped

T-Roy Cooks does a test cook with three briskets in the video below. He cooks one nude, one with tinfoil, and one with butcher paper. He cooks all three on a Yoder Wichita offset smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brisket Wrap Test | Which has Best Flavor?

Watch this video on YouTube

The prep

T-Roy utilizes briskets that have been expertly cut directly from the butcher. You may need to clip part of the thick fat cap off your briskets or conduct some further trimming.

He also rubs them with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. You may make your own brisket rub or use any of your favorite store-bought seasonings.

The cook

T-Roy, as previously stated, utilizes a Yoder Wichita offset smoker and cooks his briskets at 225F. He covered two of the briskets in butcher paper and the other in tinfoil after many hours. He then returned them to the burner with the third unwrapped brisket and cooked them until done.

  • Howevercher Paper The butcher paper-wrapped beef took 10 hours to cook. It was still really juicy and soft, but it lacked a black or notably crusty bark.
  • Tinfoil With a total cooking time of 9 hours, the brisket covered in tinfoil was the quickest to cook. It possessed the darkest bark and was said to be the most sensitive and wet. It also had a significantly larger smoke ring.
  • Naked You can quickly see that the bare brisket has a considerably darker bark than the other two. The total cook time for this brisket was 11 hours. Everyone in attendance agreed that this brisket had the most prominent smoke taste and the nicest bark. Not unexpected given that this brisket was grilled for 11 hours by smoke and heat.

We also offer a comparison of aluminum foil vs butcher paper that explains when and why to use each product.

What the experts do

You don’t have to take my word for it that wrapping briskets before grilling them is a good idea! Texas Monthly Magazine’s Daniel Vaughn talked with several of the state’s leading specialists on the issue. Here’s what they had to say about wrapping and why they think it’s a good idea.


Tim Byres is the pitmaster at this restaurant, and he handles things a bit differently. Smoke employs a big smoker capable of holding briskets at 175°F till serve. The briskets served at lunch are unwrapped, however the briskets sold later in the afternoon are wrapped in butcher paper until serving.

Tim adds that this is done to prevent the briskets from drying out. He uses butcher paper not just because it is readily available at the restaurant, but also because he believes it will enable moisture to escape and prevent the bark from becoming mushy.

Snow’s BBQ

It comes as little surprise that the pitmasters at this institution were named the best cue in the state of Texas in 2008 and again in 2017. Surprisingly, they wrap their briskets with foil. According to owner Kerry Bexley, the significant distinction is that the briskets are not wrapped until much later in the cooking process.

Pecan Lodge

Briskets are covered in tinfoil at this legendary Dallas restaurant, but only after they have done cooking. Essentially, the briskets are wrapped as they are removed hours before serving. They are then kept warm with an electric warmer while the smokers prepare even more wonderful que.

Franklin Barbecue

Franklin Barbecue would not be complete without mentioning it. For many years, this restaurant was rated the finest barbecue in Texas (until it was recently dethroned by Snows).

Aaron Franklin is the proprietor.Aaron Franklin Barbecue MasterClass Review covers his briskets in butcher paper halfway through the cooking process. The brisket will remain wrapped in butcher paper until it is taken from the barbecue and put in an electric warmer several hours before serving.

Aaron confesses that he began using butcher paper because it was less expensive than tinfoil, but he believes, like Tim Byres, that the butcher paper will enable the meat to breathe and not dry up.

Louie Mueller Barbecue

Louie Mueller Barbecue, also known as the Cathedral of Smoke, has been in operation since 1949 and has been operated by three generations of pitmasters. When the briskets are 95% done, they are wrapped in transparent plastic wrap first, followed by butcher paper. They are kept heated in a Cambro warmer once they are removed from the pit.

Current owner Wayne Mueller says that wrapping is essential and that skipping the procedure would cause the flat to dry out.

Resting Brisket

Whether you wrap it or not, the brisket should always rest for at least an hour.

There is hardly nothing that can increase the tenderness and wetness of a big piece of beef like a brisket more than allowing it to rest after it has been cooked.

Allowing the brisket to rest allows the internal temperature to drop somewhat and allows the moisture within the meat to relax so that it does not pour out as soon as it is cut.

Wrapping your brisket either during or shortly after cooking can make this critical final step much simpler.

Meathead Goldwyn invented the fake Cambro, a fantastic technique of retaining meat. A Cambro is a food service gadget meant to assist caterers and restaurants in keeping food hot for hours after it has been prepared.

A Faux Cambro Can Save Your Butt, Turkey, And Face, Meathead Goldwyn

You don’t need to purchase a restaurant-grade Cambro; you probably already have one: A beer cooler made of plastic.

If you do not already have one, now is the time to obtain one. Purchase one that is large enough to handle a large turkey or packer brisket. Check that it is properly insulated, that it closes firmly, that it is easy to drain, and that it is simple to clean.

Wheels are a fantastic addition. To make cleaning simpler, get an aluminum pan that fits within, and store a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil and one or two old towels in it when not in use.

All you need to construct your own fake Cambro is a cooler and some towels. You may pre-heat your cooler by placing it in the sun.

30 minutes before adding your meat, soak it in boiling tap water.

Then drain the water, spread some dry towels inside the cooler, and set the wrapped meat inside. Meathead has had amazing success with this approach, keeping meals warm for up to 3 hours.

Brisket guides to check out

  • Should You Cook Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
  • The Best Wood for Smoking Brisket?
  • What Is Brisket? Where to Buy and How to Cook It
  • Leftover Beef Brisket Recipes
  • How to Slice Brisket
  • Wagyu Brisket Worth the Hype?

Wrapped vs unwrapped? It’s up to you

After much thought on the subject of brisket wrapping, my advice is simple: test multiple approaches and find what works best for you.

You don’t have to go full scientific and cook three briskets side by side (though that may be an interesting experiment!).

While many pros, like myself, swear by wrapping briskets in foil and butcher paper, you should not be scared to test it once unwrapped and see what you think.


What should you wrap brisket in?

To begin, covering the brisket in butcher paper or foil prevents more smoke from reaching the meat, so minimizing the crustiness of the bark and the overall taste of the finished dish. Second, the moisture from the brisket or beef may lessen the bark’s overall crunch.

What side goes down when wrapping brisket?

Always smoke brisket with the fat side up. Fat-side down keeps the spice on the brisket and improves its appearance. Cooking brisket with the fat side up adds no moisture to the meat.

What is the 3 2 1 method for brisket?

The 3 2 1 method for brisket is a common smoking method that includes cooking it at three different temperatures for around two hours each. This technique gets your brisket to the ideal amount of doneness while also adding a tasty coating of smoked bark on the exterior.

At what point do you wrap brisket in butcher paper?

At some point during a cook, most pitmasters reflexively wrap their briskets (as well as pork butts and ribs) in aluminum foil or butcher paper. Typically, the wrap happens after the brisket’s internal temperature reaches 165°F.

What happens if you wrap brisket too early?

It’s also worth noting that covering the brisket too soon might result in “bark-lock,” a condition in which the bark sticks to the foil and is peeled off when unwrapped. So, before wrapping the brisket, wait until it has attained the proper internal temperature.

Should I put butter on brisket before wrapping?

Tip #4: Wrap it in foil and butter it up.

It also adds moisture to the dish and shortens the cooking time. Wrapping should be done halfway through the cooking phase, or when the internal flesh temperature reaches 150-160 degrees. Wrap the meat in two pieces of heavy duty foil.

Should I put liquid in foil with brisket?

If you use foil throughout the stall time, you can keep all of the liquids in and your brisket will be wonderfully moist! Not only does your beef have a decent quantity of moisture inside, but any liquid left in the foil may be mixed into BBQ sauce or drizzled on the brisket after slicing.

Should you wrap brisket tight or loose?

Lay down butcher paper or two sheets of aluminum foil to wrap the brisket. Roll your brisket over the wrap diagonally, keeping it taut. Tuck each end under the brisket.

How long should brisket rest before wrapping?

Rest your brisket until it reaches internal temperatures of 150-160F. The rendered collagen has now had ample time to gelatinize. This resting period usually lasts around 2 hours.

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