How Long to Let Brisket Rest: A Chef’s Guide
how long to let brisket rest

Every barbecue lover out there knows that if a beef brisket doesn’t rest, then it just won’t do. To get the smokiest and juiciest brisket with soft and tender meat, you need to consider a lot of factors when preparing it.

These include the recipe itself and the perfect seasoning. For best results, make sure you follow the first step for all recipes. However, despite making all the right moves, you could still end up with dry brisket if you don’t let it rest for long.

So the question is: How long to let brisket rest? And more importantly, what if you don’t? Fret not. In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions.

How Long to Let Brisket Rest?

After you take out the meat from the smoker, let it rest for approximately an hour. Depending on the time you have, you can let it rest for longer. The longer you wait, the better it will be. Likewise, if you’re in a hurry, then you can cut corners and let it rest for 30 minutes.

The taste may not be as amazing as it would be if you let it sit for longer. However, it will be enough for the brisket to absorb the juices and reabsorb moisture that was lost during cooking.

What If the Brisket Does Not Get Rest?

sliced brisket

A brisket can take up to several hours to cook, depending on the taste you’re going for.

Since briskets aren’t brined, all the contents of the meat — including the fat and protein — turn into juices and gelatin once you have the cooked meat.

If you don’t let it rest, these juices will not be reabsorbed by the meat fibers. As a result, you will not only get a dry smoked brisket, but it will also have a bland taste with some parts too soft and others too hard.

If you give the brisket enough time to rest, it will have a moist, juicy flavor.

Does Resting Time Vary for Different Briskets?

Not all briskets are created equal. The quality and time can vary for briskets depending on their grade. If you’re buying a higher-grade brisket such as Costco’s Wagyu, then it will have more marbling.

More marbling means more juices. The longer you smoke it, the more juices will be released, and the better it will be.

On the contrary, brisket on the leaner side will have fewer juices, so you would not need to rest it for as long.

It is worth mentioning that focusing on the brand is not as important here as it is considering the brisket grade. A high-grade cut from an unpopular brand is much better than a low-grade brisket from a popular one such as Franklin.

Other Factors that Impact Brisket’s Rest Time

Although the time it takes for a brisket to rest is important, a handful of other variables can affect the rest time itself.

If you’re going for super tender meat, you’ll need a holistic approach. This includes the method you use for smoking, the internal temperature, and the type of smoker you use.

Smoking Method

smoked brisket

The smoking method is of key importance in how much time the brisket must rest. If you smoke the brisket slowly, then you need to let it rest for less time. This is because it absorbs the juices while cooking.

On the contrary, if you cook it quickly, the juices won’t return on their own. To reverse the effect, you’ll have to let it sit for much longer.

Temperature

The temperature at which you cook the meat determines how well done it will be. Cooking at a lower temperature means you’ll likely have to let it rest for a lower duration.

Brisket Size

It is also worth mentioning that the size of the brisket makes a big difference in rest time. The bigger the cut, the more time it will require to rest.

When it’s time to serve, be sure you have a sharp knife on hand. Click here to learn exactly how to sharpen your knife correctly without using a stone.

Type of Smoker or Grill

Cooking brisket in a smaller grill or smoker means that more heat will be retained inside the chamber.

If you have a large smoker, you will need more time to pre-heat and cook the meat itself. As a result, the rest time will vary as well.

In essence, with a larger smoker, the brisket will cook slower. Thus, it would need less time.

Methods to Rest the Brisket

Cooking a brisket is by no means a walk in the park. There are several options for resting the meat.

In essence, you can use different objects and materials to rest the brisket, such as aluminum, butcher paper, a cooler, and even an oven.

Method 1: Wrap It

brisket wrapped in aluminum foil

This is one of the easiest methods and takes little to no preparation. Once the brisket has been taken out of the smoker, simply wrap it. You can use any of the following materials:

  • Aluminum Foil
  • Butcher Paper
  • Towel

After wrapping, let the brisket sit in a warm place with a reasonable temperature of around 150 degrees to 180 degrees for at least two and a half hours.

Method 2: Cooler

The cooler method is used by many professional caterers. As an insulator, it can retain the brisket’s temperature for a long time. If you have a cooler lying around, it could be of good use for resting the brisket.

After taking the meat out of the grill, let it rest in the cooler with the lid closed for around three hours. This should give ample time for the moisture to reabsorb while retaining the temperature.

Method 3: Oven

Of all the methods discussed above, using an oven is the best of them.

Once you have a cooked brisket, take it out of the smoker, wrap it in butcher paper, and put it on a baking tray. Set the oven temperature to 150 degrees and let the brisket rest in the oven for around two hours and 15 minutes.

This ensures consistent heat while allowing you to easily keep a tab on the brisket’s internal temperature.

FAQ

Can letting the brisket rest for too long soften the bark?

Given that the brisket is wrapped properly, it is unlikely that the bark will be ruined regardless of how long you let the meat rest.

However, it is better to be safe than sorry. We recommend you slice it after resting for around three to four hours maximum.

How will I know if the brisket is ready to rest?

There are several ways to go about determining when the brisket is done. However, the one that works the best is to use a probe.

Simply insert it inside the meat, and depending on how easy it goes in, you will know if it is done. You can use a bamboo stick or a knife.

After preparing a few briskets, you’ll figure out exactly when the brisket is cooked to perfection. A dry smoked brisket will be harder to insert a probe in, whereas a moist meat brisket will be much softer.

Can Brisket Be Left to Rest at Room Temperature?

The primary purpose of resting is to ensure the moisture does not leave the meat. Therefore, you can let the brisket rest at room temperature if it is wrapped well.

A medium-large brisket can be rested at room temperature for around two hours, and it should be good to go. A good way to go about it is by using a digital thermometer to make sure that the temperature does not fall too much.

Is it important to let the brisket rest?

Yes. If you skip this step, the fibers will not absorb the juices, making the brisket dry and flavorless.

Is it wise to let the brisket rest overnight?

You can let the brisket rest overnight without compromising on the flavor, given that it has high marbling. A high-grade brisket is best suited for this.

However, you’re better off not trying this with a cheaper grade brisket since it will only make it leaner and chewy, resulting in a dry brisket.

Conclusion

If you’re going for a mean barbecue brisket, then it is vital to get everything right, especially the length of the resting period. A general rule of thumb is to let the meat rest for around two to three hours for optimal results. However, if you’re short on time, you can slice it in just 30 minutes.

In this guide, we discussed how long to let brisket rest, along with the best methods to rest it. We also talked about the factors that can affect rest time, such as internal temperature, type of smoker used, and smoking method.

You can rest it for two hours at around 150 degrees for best results using most methods.

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