Brisket Cooking Too Fast (What to Do)

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Cooking a brisket can feel like a daunting task, with this huge cut of meat taking many hours to cook to perfection!

And while we all try to follow instructions to the letter, sometimes we may find that our brisket is cooking slower or faster than expected.

If your brisket is cooking too fast, what can you do? If your brisket is at the early stages of cooking, lower the temperature and consider wrapping the meat in foil to seal in moisture. A long rest period of at least 2 hours can also save the day.

Luckily, there are some really clever tweaks to help turn your beef brisket into a tender and succulent cut of meat.

So, if you think you’ll be brisket is cooking too fast, don’t panic! We’ve got all the answers to your brisket problems right here for you.

What Is Brisket?

Beef brisket is the ultimate low and slow roasting cut. You will hear many people telling you that they cook their brisket in the smoker or a slow cooker for up to 12 hours or more.


The briskets are the chest muscles of the cow. Each animal has two briskets, one on each side. These are enormous cuts of meat with a very distinctive shape.

Within each brisket are two separate muscles. The larger one is called the deep pectoral muscle, and is often referred to as the flat. The smaller section is the superficial pectoral muscle, or the point.

What Happens if Brisket Cooks Too Fast?

Brisket is a large and hard-working muscle, which gets a lot of use during the cow’s life.

Any muscle which works hard will contain a lot of connective tissue. You will often notice this as white strands that run through the muscle, which are incredibly tough to cut through.

If we try to flash fry a piece of brisket in the same way as we would a sirloin steak, this connective tissue would not break down, and the steak would have long chewy strands running through it.

As well as this connective tissue, the muscle itself inside the brisket also works very hard. A piece of brisket that is cooked rapidly on high heat will be tough and chewy. Very different from the tender, buttery texture of a quality sirloin steak!

Why Do We Slow Cook Brisket?

When a beef brisket is cooked slowly over low heat, something very magical happens. The connective tissue breaks down into collagen.

This softens and melts into the long muscle fibers, turning this dense tissue into succulent soft meat.

Getting this process right is an art form in itself! Meat that is cooked too quickly or on the wrong heat will become dry and tough, rather than moist and juicy.

A perfectly cooked beef brisket will be succulent and tender, with the meat firm enough to be carved into deliciously thin slices. 

The worry with beef brisket is that this cut of meat can be very expensive due to its large size. And not only do you have to lay out a large amount of cash, but then you also have to spend an entire day cooking it to perfection!

This can seem like a bit of a gamble, and if your brisket cooks too quickly, it may turn out to be a very expensive mistake.

Luckily, it is easier than you think to pull off a mouth-wateringly tender brisket cut. And while low and slow is the mantra for cooking this piece of meat perfection, sometimes things don’t go quite to plan!

So if you think your beef brisket is cooking too fast, we’ve got everything you need to know about how to rescue this situation!

We will make sure that your money and efforts are not wasted, as just a few tweaks can mean the difference between tough and chewy beef and a tender and succulent slice of brisket!

How to Tell if Brisket Is Cooking Too Fast

It’s not always easy to tell if brisket is cooking too fast as getting the timings right on this large cut of beef is somewhat of an art form. The signs to look out for will depend very much on the method of cooking you are using.

There are two main techniques used to cook a beef brisket cut – in a smoker, or slowly in the oven.

When using a smoker, you will normally use an internal temperature probe that monitors the heat the meat has reached.

Your recipe will tell you what temperature you should expect to reach during each stage of the process – if your brisket is reaching these temperatures sooner than expected, then it is cooking too fast.

brisket in a smoker

Oven cooking methods also sometimes advise using a temperature probe, or alternatively, you will check the meat to see how quickly it is cooking.

The two key factors to look out for are how quickly the outside of the meat becomes dark, and at what point the juices inside the meat start to run clear.

If your brisket is cooking too quickly, both of these things will occur before the end of the cooking process.

So, if you check your brisket halfway through the cooking time and it has a dark outer layer and the juices are running clear, you need to take action to slow it down!

Why Might Brisket Cook Too Fast?

The most obvious reason why brisket might cook too fast is that the temperature of the oven or smoker is set too high. But if you are following a specific recipe, why might this go wrong?

One of the first problems may be that the temperature gauge on your oven or smoker is not accurate. Or you may be using a fan-assisted oven, that cooks food quicker than a standard oven.

Another reason why your brisket might be cooking too fast is that it is too close to the source of the heat. For this reason, it is often advisable to place the cut with the fatty surface downwards, to protect the meat from direct heat.

And finally, if your brisket is smaller or thinner, it will cook faster than a large, thick cut. It is important to take this into account when cooking beef brisket and adjust the temperature and cooking time accordingly.

What to Do if You Think That Your Brisket Is Cooking Too Fast

If you think that your brisket is cooking too fast, then the most important thing to do is not to panic! It is vital to assess the situation carefully and determine what are the best steps to take in your individual situation.

The most obvious thing to do would be to lower the temperature of the smoker or the oven, and in the vast majority of situations, this is the correct action to take.

However, there are some other aspects of the cooking process we need to take into account. One of the first things to determine is how far through the cooking process your brisket is.

Is the problem that the temperature is rising faster than expected in the early stages, or are you worried that your brisket is fully cooked much sooner than expected?

How to Slow Down Brisket That Is Cooking Too Fast

If you are following a cooking chart and monitoring the temperature of your brisket, you may be concerned to see that the internal temperature is rising far faster than expected.

If this is in the early stages of the cooking process, then it makes sense to lower the temperature of your smoker or oven. But we also need to take additional steps to prevent your brisket from drying out.

How temperature increases as brisket cooks is very unusual. This large piece of meat experiences something called the ‘stall’, where the temperature plateaus at 160°F. At this point, the meat is releasing moisture internally that prevents the temperature from increasing further.

If your brisket has reached this temperature far faster than expected, then the first thing you should do is reduce the temperature of your oven or smoker.

Next, you need to wrap the meat to prevent it from losing any more moisture. At this point, the meat has had ample opportunity to absorb flavors and develop a delicious skin, so wrapping it will not be detrimental to the end result.

Place the brisket in a large baking tray and thoroughly cover it in aluminum foil or butcher paper. If you are worried that your meat is already too dry, pour a couple of cups of stock into the bottom of the pan.

Return the brisket to the oven or smoker and continue cooking until the brisket reaches the final temperature advised by your recipe.

How to Rescue a Brisket That Has Cooked Too Fast

If you feel that your beef brisket has cooked so fast that it is already well done, then there is nothing to be gained by cooking it any longer.

You might be feeling disheartened that your beef brisket has cooked far quicker than you wanted it to, but luckily you can still rescue it!

The key here is to preserve moisture and allow your brisket to rest for a long period. The meat may already be cooked, but this technique will allow it to become tender and moist rather than dry and chewy.

Unlike smaller pieces of meat, which are rested for just 10-30 minutes or so, a large brisket will need to be rested for several hours.

smoked brisket

If your brisket is cooked too fast and is fully cooked much sooner than you expected, then an extended resting period will be your savior here.

When meat cooks, moisture moves out of the muscle fibers and towards the surface of the meat. If the meat is not covered, then most of this moisture evaporates.

For meat that has been wrapped during the second half of the cooking process (see previous hints), this moisture will have been retained.

When your meat has finished cooking, any moisture that is still within the meat will be near the surface. Given time, this moisture will redistribute throughout the meat as it cools.

The key here is to lock in moisture as the meat cools, and this is a two-step process:

  1. Firstly, you need to allow your meat to drop to an internal temperature of 165°F. During this time, the brisket should be placed in a large pan, still wrapped in its aluminum foil or butcher paper. Crack open the top of the package slightly to allow heat to escape.
  2. Once the meat has cooled to this point – normally around an hour – then the real rest period begins! Place the entire cut of meat, still in its paper or foil, inside a plastic bag. Put the entire package in a cooler, swaddled in towels, and seal the lid.

Your beef brisket will need to rest in here for anything up to 4 hours! Aim for 2 hours at a minimum, but the longer the better.

This will transform your beef brisket into a succulent and tender cut of meat that will not fail to impress your guests!

How to Cook the Perfect Texas-Style Brisket

If you’re looking for a great tutorial for perfect Texas-style brisket, look no further than this video from HowToBBQRight on YouTube.

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