How Long To Rest Brisket

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Brisket is a fantastic, flavorful piece of meat, but it requires a lot of love, attention, and patience! And even then, after hours of cooking, it can all be ruined in a minute.

Resting is a crucial step in making brisket. Without it, your delicate piece can turn into a dry, bland, and tough nightmare. Now, naturally, this does affect your serving time and could leave your guests nagging with hunger!

But, how long should you ideally rest brisket? Brisket should preferably rest for an hour. But, if you are in a pinch, at least allow it to rest for 30 minutes. However, you can also keep brisket warm for up to 4 hours using special techniques!

Intrigued so far? Well, in this article we will explore the ins and outs of resting brisket, both for short and long periods of time!

And naturally, we will give you in-depth and expert content on the best methods to use in different scenarios. So, let’s get started!

What Is Brisket?

From our experience, you either grew up eating brisket or you didn’t. So, for those of you who are still pretty unfamiliar with this delicious piece of meat, let’s have a look at exactly what it is, where it comes from, and why people rave about it!

Brisket is a beef cut located from the lower breast or chest area of the cow. It is also considered to be one of 9 primal cuts, but this definition does vary depending on where you are located in the world.

This cut does tend to contain a lot of connective tissue. This makes the overall texture very tough. Ultimately, you will need to use cooking methods that will help tenderize the meat and help make it juicy.

The best cooking methods for brisket are slow ones using very low heat. It doesn’t necessarily have to use a lot of moisture, but that never hurt anybody! These methods commonly include baking, broiling, roasting, and smoking.

Brisket can also be slow-cooked in a pressure cooker, but people generally prefer the previously mentioned methods.

Brisket is also a cut that pairs well with almost any and all flavors. You can use marinades or basting sauces, spice rubs, or braising liquids. They all work well and will only enhance the naturally present flavors in the meat.

Furthermore, when it comes to smoking brisket, you can use strongly flavored woods like oak, pecan, hickory, or mesquite. These woods can also be used in combination with some others for more complex flavors.

If you’re looking for the best way to trim and season a brisket, here’s a wonderful tutorial from Smokin’ Joe’s Pit BBQ on YouTube.

That’s about everything you need to know about this meat cut. So, let’s move on to exactly what resting meat does and why it is crucial for brisket, regardless of the cooking method you use!

What Does Resting Meat Do And Why Should You Rest Brisket?

Resting meat is an extremely underrated technique. In our opinion, some cuts have to be rested before being sliced and served! It will make elevate the meat and make it extraordinarily soft, tender, and juicy!

Brisket is one of these cuts. But what exactly is the point of resting meat?

Resting is the term used to describe a period after the meat has been cooked. During this time, the meat is simply rested on a plate at room temperature. While this may seem simple, it is anything but!

When meat is cooked, the protein fibers in the muscle contract. This contraction causes the meat to push out the juices. This can potentially result in a dry piece of meat.

So, what resting does is that it allows the meat fibers to relax. While they relax, it enables them to re-absorb the juices and keep them inside. By doing this, you are creating a juicy piece of tender meat.

But, there is a right way to rest brisket and there is a wrong way to do this.

What Happens If You Don’t Rest Your Brisket?

If you don’t allow your brisket to rest after it has been cooking for hours, a couple of things will happen, and all of them are detrimental!

If you spend the time and effort to cook brisket, you may as well spend a couple more minutes finishing it off properly!

If you decide to skip this step, your meat will be relatively dry and tough. You haven’t allowed the fibers to relax and rest. The juices have also not been allowed to be re-absorbed and redistributed. 

Another thing that changes during the resting period is the internal temperature. While the meat is resting, the temperature will continue to rise due to leftover residual heat.

This is called carry-over cooking and unfortunately, is what most often causes meat to be overcooked. 

This is why it is crucial to check the internal temperature of your brisket before removing it. Once it reached 195ºF (90.5ºC) you should remove it from the heat.

During the resting time, the meat will reach about 202ºF (94.4ºC), which is optimal for serving.

How To Properly Rest Brisket

Okay, so now that you understand that this is definitely a no-skip step, let’s have a look at the best way to rest brisket. There are a few ways to rest brisket and some do work better than others.

But, whichever one you end up choosing is completely up to you and what you have available.

Tips And Tricks For Resting Brisket

Before diving into the methods, there are a few key points we first have to cover. These apply to all methods, so they are pretty important.

Minimum Resting Time

One crucial rule that will never change is that your brisket should rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to settle in the meat and not run out once you start slicing.

You can rest the brisket for longer, but 30 minutes should be the minimum.

Carry-Over Cooking

Another thing to remember is carry-over cooking. As we have mentioned, brisket is perfectly cooked once it reaches an internal temperature of 202ºF (94.4ºC). But, because of residual heat, the meat will become overcooked while it rests.

So, to prevent this, the brisket is removed from the smoker or oven once its internal temperature is 195ºF (90.5ºC). After about 30 minutes it will be where it needs to and your brisket will ultimately be cooked to perfection!

Covered Vs Uncovered

And finally, many people argue whether or not the brisket should be rested while it is covered or uncovered. Well, in our opinion, it should always be covered.

This is because, unlike other smaller cuts, the long cooking time means that you don’t know when exactly the meat will be ready. So, many people have to keep the brisket warm before serving.

If done properly, and covered, this can be done for hours!

Methods For Resting Brisket

Method 1: In Foil

Wrapping brisket in foil will allow you to do a couple of things. First, it will help keep the meat warm. This is especially important if you want to keep the meat warm for a while.

Then, it will also help keep the juices inside of the meat. By enclosing the meat in a tight space, none of the juices will run out as the brisket is resting.

Now, your meat can be kept like this at room temperature (or in a switched-off oven) for the desired amount of time. But, there is a technique used by professional meat smokers that may come in very handy.

Once the meat is securely wrapped in foil, you can wrap the entire cut in a towel. Then, place the meat inside of an airtight cooler until it is needed.

This will keep the meat warm for several hours. But, it will soften the bark (the crispy outside), which not everyone likes.

Method 2: In Butchers Paper

This is another wrapping option that you can try. Many people smoke their briskets in butchers’ paper. Once the meat has reaches the correct internal temperature (195ºF) you can remove it.

Again, while the brisket is cooling, leave it inside of the butcher’s paper. It may not keep it as warm or as effectively hot as foil would. But, it will keep in the juices to help prevent loss of moisture during this time.

It is recommended to leave brisket inside of its wrapping until it reaches 150ºF (65.5ºC). You can leave the probe inside of the meat to keep checking the temperature.

Method 3: In A Cooler

As we have briefly mentioned above, it is possible to rest a brisket inside of a cooler. In fact, the trick is called making a “faux Cambro”. A Cambro is a special cooler that can keep meat at 140ºF (60ºC) for hours on end.

By making a faux Cambro, you are recreating the actual cooler. To make this make-shift version, first, fill the cooled with hot water and leave it for 30 minutes with the lid closed. This will heat the inside of the cooler.

Then, once the meat has finished cooking, warp it in foil and place it inside a roasting pan.

Remove the water from the cooler and line the inside with a towel. Place the tray with the brisket inside and cover with another towel. Finally, simply rest the brisket for up to 4 hours in your faux Cambro.

It will remain juicy and tender without drying out or overcooking. Just remember, again, to remove the brisket from the smoker once it has reached 195ºF (90.5ºC).

How Long Do You Rest Brisket?

As we have mentioned, brisket should rest for at least 30 minutes. During this minimum amount of time, the juices will be allowed to have (at the very least) started to settle and redistribute throughout the meat.

But, brisket can rest for up to 4 hours if you use the proper resting techniques (like the faux Cambro for example).

There is also a claim that is circulating in the meat smoking community that once the brisket has cooled to 150ºF (65.5ºC), it is at the perfect serving temperature and has rested optimally.

So, in general, if you are just wrapping and resting the brisket, we would say that 1 hour is the best time.

What Is The Difference Between Resting And Holding Brisket?

Resting and holding are two terms that almost refer to the same concept. Resting usually (and technically) refers to shorter periods of time, for example, an hour. While holding refers to keeping the brisket warm for several hours.

The faux cambro technique we have described above technically refers more to holding meat than resting it. However, because the meat does get rested during that time, it is a type of extended resting period.

How To Store Brisket

If you are lucky enough to have leftover brisket or if you were making some shredded meat in advance, then you may find this section helpful. There is a right and wrong way to store brisket.

First, it is important to note that brisket without toppings, sauces, or garnishes will last a lot longer. Once you add other ingredients, which are usually more perishable, they could decrease the shelf life of the clean meat.

Furthermore, when storing brisket properly, you can expect it to last another 4 days inside of the fridge. And, if you freeze it, it will be able to last for up to 2 months!

So, here is how to store brisket inside of a container.

Step 1: Allow the brisket to cool.

First, you should give the meat time to cool down until it reaches room temperature. Once it has been unwrapped, it shouldn’t take too long. And, if the brisket has been sliced, it will cool down even quicker.

Step 2: Place it in a clean, airtight container.

Glass containers always work best because they can be sterilized and are completely odor-free. But, any container will do, as long as it is clean.

Place the cooked brisket inside and close the container.

Step 3: Place it inside the fridge.

Finally, store the cooked brisket inside the fridge. Keep it away from any fresh produce like vegetables, fruits, dairy, and eggs. Also try to keep it away from strongly aromatic ingredients, like curry paste.

And make sure that your fridge is working at stable temperatures. Ideally, a fridge should work between 32-40ºF (0-4.4ºC). Fluctuating temperatures can cause the meat to go obad quicker.

Related Questions

How do you prepare brisket before cooking?

Once your brisket has been seasoned, we highly recommend that you leave it at room temperature to warm up. This will allow the flavors to develop and the meat to get to a uniform temperature.

This in turn will help the meat cook more evenly and uniformly. It won’t be overcooked in one area while being completely undercooked in another.

How long does a beef brisket cook for?

It depends on the cooking method you use. But, a good rule of thumb to use is that the brisket should cook for 30 to 60 minutes per pound at roughly 275ºF (135ºC).

The temperature of the method will largely affect how long the meat will cook. And higher doesn’t always mean quicker!

What does “stall” mean?

The stall is a term used to decrease or stagnation in temperature while the brisket (or other large meat cuts) is being cooked.

After about 2 to 3 hours of cooking, or once the meat reaches 150ºF (65.5ºC), the temperature stops increasing to where it needs to.

But fear not, even if it takes up to 6 hours, the temperature will eventually rise again and the meat will continue cooking. And, this phenomenon doesn’t affect the resting time or technique!

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