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Best Brisket Advice: How Long to Let Brisket Rest?

Mehgan Zheng
brisket being sliced on a wood cutting board to show how long to let brisket rest

The ultimate way to cook a full-packer is to leave it in a smoker for 8-10 hours. If you are cooking brisket, you might wonder how long to let brisket rest. Many beginners think brisket is done and ready to serve immediately after cooking. However, pitmasters who know their job understand that resting is an important phase in cooking brisket.

The last stage of cooking the brisket is to let it rest for a while. Resting may seem unnecessary, but it is essential for developing the flavor and achieving the perfect cooking result.

In this article, we will discuss the pertinent question of how long to let the brisket rest. We will discuss how it is essential and what can happen if you don’t allow the brisket to rest after cooking.

Why Is It Important for Brisket to Rest Before Slicing?

close-up view of sliced, cooked brisket to show how long to let brisket rest

Resting is an important phase in cooking tough cuts like brisket. Smoking brisket takes a long time, and you may mistakenly consider ignoring the resting time. Resting makes for the juicy and flavorful brisket that we all love. Without resting, the meat inside can be dry and chewy.   

What is Resting?

Resting is removing the steak or meat from heat and letting it cool down to room temperature before cutting, slicing, or shredding it.

Resting allows the meat to absorb moisture and redistribute the juices. Cutting the steak or meat portion right after cooking will release all the juices onto your cutting board. After losing all its juices, brisket meat is chewy and dry. To make it tender and juicy, brisket needs proper resting time. 

Raw meat contains a lot of water. The average brisket is 70% water. While cooking, all the juices go to the center and surface of the brisket.

Brisket contains a lot of tendons, connective tissues, and collagen that breaks down with heat. Once you have given it time to rest, it toughens up again, mingles with other juices, and grows thick. Thick juices will make the interior more tender and juicy and preserves the volume of the cut. The longer you allow the brisket to rest, the thicker the juices will be. For leaner portions, you can read more about the different beef cuts.

If you cut the brisket while hot, not only will the juices spill onto your cutting board, but much of the moisture will escape as steam.

Another reason you should let the brisket rest is that when you have removed the brisket from a smoker or grill, the cooking process continues. The temperature inside the brisket rises even after its removal. The brisket’s internal temperature before removal should be 195 degrees F. However, the internal temperature will rise 5-10 degrees more before the meat properly cools down.

In conclusion, brisket meat can become chewy and dry if you don’t allow the internal temperature to drop before you cut into it. 

How Much Liquid Is Lost If Brisket Is Cut Immediately?

detailed close-up view of cooked brisket on a cutting board with juices running out

It is surprising to note that if you allow the brisket to rest, it will retain about ten tablespoons of liquid. You will lose about four tablespoons of liquid if you allow it to rest for only ten minutes. However, if you let it rest for forty minutes, it will lose only a few drops or under one tablespoon of liquid. 

Are Holding And Resting the Same?

Holding is when you have cooked the food and keep it at a controlled temperature before serving. This way, the food remains fresh and warm when you are serving it. Usually, chefs keep food in a cambro to stay warm and fresh. Those who serve brisket may be aware of the faux-cambro method of holding. A cooler is filled with hot water, and the lid is closed. Once the brisket is ready, they will wrap it in aluminum foil and keep it in a pan inside the cooler after throwing away the water. In this way, the brisket stays warm. 

Brisket can stay warm for up to 2 hours, but this is not considered resting. Keeping it in aluminum foil won’t allow the bark to get crisp. 

Resting happens when you keep food at room temperature and allow the air to flow. You can simply leave it on your cutting board. Read more to know our choice on best cutting boards for brisket. For proper resting, you should leave the brisket away from the smoker, in a place with adequate airflow, and at room temperature.

How Long Should I Let Brisket Rest?

Resting a few minutes is enough for smaller portions like steak or chops. However, brisket is a large cut with lots of connective tissues, tendons, and fat. Resting it for a few minutes won’t be sufficient. You need to leave it out for forty minutes to one hour.

As brisket is a large cut, the whole packer can be around 15-18 pounds. The large cut needs more resting time. If you have cut the brisket into subprimal portions, the cooking time reduces, and so does the resting time. If your portion is fewer than 10 pounds, then you can rest it for half an hour. Brisket weighting 10-15 pounds should rest for at least 45 minutes. We recommend that you let a brisket rest for one hour, leaving no room for error. Extra large briskets20 pounds or moreshould rest for 90 minutes.

Can I Rest Brisket for Too Long?

It is possible to let the rest brisket for too long. You can keep the meat for 1-4 hours; after that, the meat will start to get cold. Read in detail how long does smoked meat last.

Should I Cover The Brisket When Resting?

Covering the brisket is not necessary. You can leave it to rest open in the air. Covering the brisket can trap the steam inside, which will prevent the bark from getting crisp. Second to resting, the key to the perfect bark is proper seasoning. If you don’t want a crisp bark, you can cover it. If you cover it, it will need more time to rest; leaving it in open air will ensure that it cools down properly. Even so, covering the brisket is a matter of personal preference.

Final Words

Even with perfect cooking time and seasoning, your brisket can be dry and chewy if you have not performed this last cooking step. Resting is an important phase in preparing the perfect BBQ, and there is a science behind it. Leaving it out for 40 minutes or more will allow juices to distribute equally and develop the flavor of your perfect, tender brisket.

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