To get the most out of a smoked brisket you want to layer the flavor and the first step is with a good brisket marinade. By marinating the brisket you not only add flavor but help to make the brisket more tender. A good brisket marinade should have a healthy dose of acid. This can be anything from vinegar to wine to citrus juice. The acidic element of these marinades carries flavors into meat, more than you can see. The acid also breaks down the tough fibers of brisket and help make it as tender as possible.
Plan on marinating your brisket for more than one hour per pound, but no more than two hours per pound. Since brisket is a large cut of meat a one gallon zip top bag won't do the trick. Try a large baking dish or a not reactive (not metal) pot to hold the brisket and marinade. It is important that the marinade reaches the entire surface of the brisket. I suggest periodically turning the brisket in the marinade to keep it evenly coated.
Regarding BBQ, Inc.
This flavorful brisket marinade uses red wine as an acid to tenderize the meat. This is a perfect combination since the bold flavors of a good red wine add to the beefy flavor of the brisket. If you do make the foolish decision to use red cooking wine omit the salt in the marinade since cooking wine already contains salt.
This simple brisket marinade starts with red wine for acid and then adds in some Worcestershire sauce for some extra beefy flavor and brown sugar for sweetness. This marinade is your best odds for a perfect barbecue brisket.
If you want to add a specific flavor to your smoked brisket, this is a great marinade to start with. Not only does it have the power of vinegar (both white and apple cider), but it adds cilantro, cumin, and lime juice to give it a great Latin flavor.
Try this for a quick and simple brisket marinade. Like many of the brisket marinade recipes I have, this one starts with red wine as an acid and then adds some savory elements for flavor. The red wine will sink into the meat, tenderizing and flavoring as it goes.
This brisket marinade is designed for the person who doesn't have a smoker and can't give a brisket the long smoke time necessary to give it that authentic barbecue flavor. Strong on the acid with a touch of liquid smoke, this is your best choice for a smokey barbecue brisket without doing the long barbecue smoke.
This is a rich and savory marinade that brings a classic flavor to brisket. The beer is acidic and will carry flavors into the meat. Those flavors include garlic, onion, shallot, and mustard, making the perfect flavor profile for beef. For a whole brisket you will probably want to double this recipe.
This is one of my favorite marinades for any kind of beef. Particularly good for brisket, this marinade has a strong, but not overpowering garlic flavor. Getting its acid from orange juice gives the brisket a sweet flavor. Don't worry about your brisket tasting like oranges though, during the long smoke time, the orange flavor mellows to the point where you can barely taste it.
Any type of alcohol is perfect for a marinade. Alcohol seeps deep into meat, bringing flavors with it. This marinade recipe works perfectly with brisket because it has all the flavors you want for beef. The bourbon gives a bite to the flavor while the mustard and Worcestershire sauce give it a great beefy flavor and the sugar adds the sweetness you want with barbecue brisket. This is a thick marinade so slather it over the surface and wrap up the brisket.
A good cola actually makes a great marinade, particularly for beef, and especially for brisket. The acid in the cola tenderizes the meat and the sweet adds flavor. This brisket marinade rounds that out with a little garlic, some oil to balance the acid and some Worcestershire sauce for extra flavor and you have a great smoked brisket marinade.
You should be able to find achiote paste in most grocery stores. This marinade has a great southwestern flavor and gives you a truly unique smoked brisket. What makes it perfect for barbecue brisket is that the marinade has a natural smokey flavor to it.