Sous-Vide-Que Brisket

I’ve waited over a year to do this. I picked up my first Traeger in the summer of 2017 and instantly fell in love with smoking meat. Having a pellet smoker opened up my eyes to a whole new world of meat cuts and flavors. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Shortly after getting in to smoking I was directed to to learn the science behind what I was doing. I was even more hooked now! I *love* learning the how behind the why. One day while on the site I was introduced to Sous Vide cooking. Instantly I was intrigued and wanted to give it a try. I received a Joule for Christmas that year. Ever since then I’ve been experimenting with the process Meathead calls Sous-Vide-Que — a combination of smoking meat and using sous-vide cooking. It’s so fun!

For me, getting brisket right is the ultimate goal of smoking. It took me a year to get the courage to smoke a brisket the traditional way. I read a lot on the internet and watched a lot of videos before dropping $50 on a full prime packer. For me it was a pretty stressful process. Trimming correctly, applying a rub, wrapping at the stall, pulling off at 203ºF, resting, slicing… when you’re smoking your first brisket for 30 people you really want to make sure it turns out okay. Thankfully it turned out pretty good. The point was perfect, but the flat was kinda dry. Nothing a little extra BBQ sauce couldn’t fix.

Slices on brisket rest on a white cutting board.
My first brisket, cooked low and slow over 12 hours on my Traeger Pro 22. Turned out fantastic.

My second brisket also turned out good, but it shredded more like a braise on the point. It was also just as stressful. I was ready to try a more controlled cooking environment and give Sous-Vide-Que a try.

First week of January I was at Costco and found a great, 14lb USDA Prime brisket. I snagged it, took it home, and dropped it in my little office fridge to do some wet aging until mid-February. At least that was the original idea. In the end it went 72 days wet aging until the middle of March. Finally, on a quiet Saturday, it was time to go!

A cryovac'd USDA Prime Brisket sitting on a cutting board

After trimming the fat off, I coated the full packer brisket in 50/50 Kosher Salt & Coarse Black Pepper and put it on the Traeger, which was set to Smoke (160ºF) burning Lumberjack Char-Hickory pellets. This went for a few hours until I hit about 115ºF in the point.

A brisket coated in a Salt & Pepper rub sits in front of a Traeger Pro 22 Smoker warming up
A brisket coated in a Salt & Pepper rub is set into a Traeger Pro 22 Smoker
A close up of a brisket point after being on a smoker for 2 hours.
Even after only 2 hours of smoke the meat started to get a nice dry bark underway.
A full packer brisket rests on a metal tray outside a smoker after cooking for a few hours.

I then pulled the brisket off the smoker and wiggled it into an 11″ vacuum sealer bag. I gotta say it was quite a process! Even though it had only been smoking for 2 hours the brisket was quite jiggly and wiggly. Thankfully it was also rather squishy and I was able to get in the bag and sealed up.

Next step – a long bath in the water. I set my Joule to 155ºF and plopped in the brisket for a long nap – about 30 hours to be exact.

A full brisket sealed in a vacuum sealed bag before being cooked Sous Vide.
A full brisket sits inside a 155º Sous Vide bath cooking.

Thirty hours later it was done! Unfortunately, it was dinnertime for me yet. I would have to wait another week before digging in. So, I quickly flash chilled it and put it back in the fridge for a week.

The next Saturday, a few hours before dinner time it was finally time to reheat for the final time. Once again I put my Traeger on smoke to warm it up, and then went and grabbed the brisket. It was pretty darn solid and quite cold, so it was really simple to handle. I slid it out of the bag and dropped it back on the Traeger.

A full brisket that's been fully cooked via Sous Vide sits on a smoker warming up.

Now, here’s where I feel like I could have done things a little better. First off, 2 hours wasn’t enough to reheat this thing. The flat was hovering around 80º, and the point was barely breaking 50º deep inside. However, it was dinnertime and I needed to speed things up. I cranked the Traeger up to 325º and about 20 minutes later the flat was right on 135º. However… the point was only about 90º. The dinner party was small though so we were able to get by just slicing up the flat.


A close up on a brisket flat cut into slices.
A close up on a brisket flat cut into slices.
A close up on a brisket flat cut into slices.

It was juicy, had a good bark on it, showed an incredible smoke ring… it was fantastic. Definitely a better flat that I got my first 2 times.

The point was wonderfully juicy, but it was still kinda cold so I didn’t really dive it at all. I chopped it into some thick slices, sealed those up and we’ll reheat them later via the Joule.

A close up on a brisket point cut into slices.

What I’d Change

So, really the only thing I’d do different is how I’d reheat it. Maybe 3-4 hours on Smoke would heat it up all throughout without taking the point over 155º. But, what I think I’ll do is put it back in the Sous Vide around 100ºF or so for a few hours to get it warm throughout, and then I’d smoke it for a few hours until I get around 145º. That should still give me time to further develop the bark, as well as get it all warm so I can eat the whole thing!

What method do I prefer? The Sous-Vide-Que way. It might have a few extra steps (maybe), but much less stress – a lot less stress! And less babysitting. I’ll come on back and update this post when I figure out a better way to reheat. If you’ve got a good idea, let me know in the comments!