How Long to Rest a Brisket? Ideal Brisket Rest Time Explained.

Disclaimer: Whether it’s about smoking or resting a brisket, it’s never about time, but only TEMPERATURE. You’ll only be striving for temperature all way round until the brisket comes on the serving table.

Despite knowing this, several questions keep worrying you, like:

  • Resting a brisket for 1 hour is a must, and longer is better, but how much longer? 
  • Are 4-8 hours OK; or should I hold it as long as 24 hours? 
  • When resting a brisket, what are the best practices, and what to expect from your brisket?

Likewise, you come across so many opinions from friends or comment sections of the video tutorials. Finally, the period becomes so critical, and you’re worried that you should get a perfect brisket on your dinner table. 

Don’t worry, this article will guide you during your entire journey of resting your brisket. We’ll explain the science of resting cooked meat as well. So, stick to this article for the next 20 minutes. Soon you’ll be cutting a perfect brisket.

What is a Brisket, and How does Resting a Brisket Work? Know First!

You might already know that brisket is tough meat cut from a cow’s chest. It comprises muscle fibers that bear a lot of stress during movement, and it’s why it has a buildup of collagen in connective tissues. This collagen makes this tough meat extremely juicy when cooked slowly.

While cooking the meat, the proteins become firmer at the first stage of nearing 120 degrees and release water as you observe with your steak.

Then, when it hits the temperature of 145-150, the proteins are more firm, the connective tissues are more compressed, and again the proteins release juices. Furthermore, the meat fats start to melt and render.

And, after 150 degrees, between 160-180 degrees, magic happens. It’s when the collagen in connective tissues melts to form gelatine.

SOOO

After attaining 195-203 degrees of internal temperature, your cooked brisket is loaded with all these released juices.

And, when you cut it immediately after cooking it, all these flavorful juices will be drained. And, what you’ll be left with is only proteins with less tasty bites.

WOULD YOU WANT THIS TO HAPPEN?

Never!

At this point, you have to wait so that the protein fibers reabsorb the juices.

Then the question arises, how long would it take the brisket to reabsorb these juices?

The answer is 1-20 hours, depending on

  • First, your brisket type primarily;
  • Second, the time that brisket took to cook in relation to the temperature;
  • Lastly, your time frame: how long you can wait!

Yes, to determine a brisket’s rest time, you have to consider several factors. So in this article, we’ll discuss them.

Why Should you Rest your Brisket?

Smoking a brisket isn’t an hour’s job. You smoke it slowly to get the best out of it. Yet, It isn’t possible without resting it.

Why?

We explain it…

You don’t brine it, right?

When cooked, all the fat, proteins, and collagen convert into juices and gelatine. So, they need to be reabsorbed and evenly distributed in the brisket fibers. It’s like marinating your cooked brisket in its juices. 

Otherwise, when you slice it immediately, all the juices will be drained, resultantly. And, you’ll be serving dried brisket pieces to your dear ones. Hence, resting a brisket is like “reverse marinating” (I invented this term for resting meats) it into its own juices. This resting makes the brisket:

  • Juicy and moist
  • Chewy and soft
  • Most delicious with far complex flavor everywhere in the meaty bites — you won’t taste it salt here, spicy there, and blank elsewhere.

In a nutshell, resting a brisket for an optimum time ensures the most satisfying dinner.

What is Brisket Rest Time for Different Briskets?

Not all briskets are the same. They come in different varieties. For example, when you’re buying brisket at Costco, you find options like Choice, Select, and Prime Briskets; likewise, you also find Wagyu brisket. 

These brisket types are different depending on the marbling. The more marbling a brisket has, the more creamy juices it’ll release, which need to be reabsorbed into the brisket. Contrarily, the leaner a brisket is, the fewer juices it’ll release to reabsorb.

SO, IN SUCH A CASE…

Giving a second thought to resting the leanest “Select Grade” brisket for prolonged hours is useless. Similarly, not giving enough time to a Wagyu, Angus, Prime, or Choice grade beef brisket will also ruin your brisket…..

Let me clarify a confusion; you often come to know that several Brands like Franklin rest their brisket for a significant time; come on, it’s not about the brand. It’s about the brisket grade that they smoke and the time that this brisket needs to settle ist juices.

And, by now, after reading the facts discussed above, it’s pretty clear why they do it.

SHOULD you also do that?

YES, resting your brisket for several hours properly, will surely result in a fantastic brisket.

By now several confusions are gone, and now you can move further by learning more about how many hours you should rest your brisket, how it’ll affect the tenderness, and much more.

Does Smoking Method, Temperature, and Smoker Type Impact Brisket Rest Time?

YES, though mostly overlooked, the smoker or grill type has got a lot to do with your brisket rest time.

 Actually, it’s not the smoker type but the temperature you used to cook the brisket. The smaller a smoker is more heta it’ll retain, and the faster it’ll cook; the larger a smoker is, the more heat loss will be there, and the more slowly it’ll cook.

  • More slowly a brisket is cooked it’ll require less time to rest because already much rendering has been done. Hence, when you’ve smoked your brisket in a large offset smoker, you’ll need a minimum of 2 hours to let it rest.

In such a case, your medium-large brisket takes less than 8 hours. Send the brisket directly to the cooler for slow resting and cooking It will be dried comparatively.

  • And a medium-large brisket smoked in a small smoker will get more heat and cook faster. Therefore, the brisket will take less time for rendering inside the smoker. Ultimately, this fast cook brisket needs more resting time to reabsorb the juices, which can be 4 hours minimum.

If you have cooked the medium-large brisket in a large smoker, here are two options: 

  • First, if it takes 8-12 hours, bring it to 180 degrees first then send it in the cooler to come down to the serving temperature of 145 degrees slowly.
  • Second, if it takes more than 12 hours to cook, bring it to 170-715 degrees by resting at room temperature, and then send it in a cooler and let it come to 145 degrees.

How can you Rest the Brisket: Towel, Cooler & Oven Methods Explained?

Here is a step-by-step process of how you can put your smoked brisket on rest once the doneness has been confirmed.

First let the brisket come down by 10-15 degrees after you get it from the smoker, by resting at room temperature; otherwise, it’ll carry over cooking process. What is the ideal temperature to put the brisket on rest, it has been explained in the previous section. So, keeping your brisket cooking time in view, follow the internal temperature accordingly.

Wrap the brisket in butcher paper with the fat cap down. Put it in aluminum foil and wrap it in a towel again if you put it in a cooler or couch. 

To Rest Brisket in a cooler – DIY Faux Cambro Method

Cambro Manufacturing’s Cambro is essential equipment for caterers. It is an insulated box that lets them transport food while keeping it hot or cold and within a safe temperature range for extended periods of time.

However, as a backyard chef, you can skip getting a commercial-grade food holder as a Cambro to keep your BBQ heated.

You can construct a fake Cambro: a homemade insulated, hot-holding box – with a product you probably already have about the house.

  • Wrap the brisket in butcher paper with the fat cap down. And then in an aluminum foil boat and finally in towels.
  • Add 3 gallons of hot water of about 130 degrees Fahrenheit to preheat the cooler for your meat.
  • Let it preheat for 30 minutes in the cooler and after 30 minutes drain the water and dry it with a towel.
  • Put the wrapped brisket in the cooler by setting the probe thermometer into it.
  • Let brisket rest and keep observing the temperature until it reaches 145 degrees — safe to eat. You can also remove the brisket before it reaches 145 degrees, after a minimum of 2 hours’ rest. 

To Rest Brisket in a Couch

Well, it’s not a “method” you can choose any safe and cozy place to rest your brisket that can help your brisket to maintain the temperature and decrease it slowly. To do so:

  • Wrap the brisket in butcher paper and in the aluminum foil boat.
  • Warm it in the towels and put it on the couch or some warm place like a blanket after probing the meat thermometer.
  • You can unwrap and cut it when it’s at 145 degrees. You can also serve it after a 2 hours rest, as advised earlier.

To Rest Brisket in a Butcher Paper or Aluminum Foil only

Yes, It’s easy and possible.

You can rest your brisket in the butcher paper directly when removed from the smoker or oven.

  • Test your brisket for the doneness.
  • Then wrap it in butcher paper, aluminum foil, and a towel, respectively.
  • Place it in a slightly warmer place in your kitchen for 2 hours minimum. You can let it rest until it reaches 145 degrees internal temperature. 

To Rest Brisket in an Oven

The most convenient way to rest a brisket is, to rest it in an oven. You can rest your brisket in the oven for up to 8 hours. It’ll not require you to use a probe thermometer during the resting period. Here is how to do it:

  • Set the oven’s temperature to 150 degrees.
  • After testing the brisket’s doneness, wrap it in butcher paper.
  • Place this brisket in a disposable aluminum tray or aluminum foil-lined baking tray and put it in the oven.
  • You can remove the brisket from the oven after a minimum of 2 hours and serve it.

How should you Wrap a Brisket – in Butcher Paper or Aluminum Foil?

So many times you have read that you’re supposed to wrap your brisket in butcher paper and in aluminum foil to avoid spills. BUT HOW?

Warp in butcher paper and then form an aluminum foil boat underneath; rest your prime or Choice grade brisket for up to 10 hours if you can do it in a temperature-controlled environment.

What you’ll get is

  • Juicy, rendered meat
  • Extremely flavorful bites that are equally moist and tender.

Would you hate it? 

No, I’m sure!

How Does Resting Brisket Work?

Can I wrap my brisket without resting it at room temperature for a while?

NO, you can’t wrap your brisket directly from a smoker without resting it at room temperature. It’ll keep on cooking at the near-about temperature you’ve removed it from the smoker, and will be overcooked. Besides this, it’ll only have a steamy flavor — annoying man! 

So, to stop carry over cooking, rest your brisket at room temperature until it reaches between 180-188 degrees. 

Here is one exception!

What?

You should rest your brisket immediately after removing it from the smoker if it has been cooked at a higher temperature like in a small smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain kettle or Traeger Ranger grill.

What Should Be the Brisket Rest Time?

Basically, the brisket rest time depends on cooking temperature (fast or slow), fat content in the brisket, what we call brisket grade and its weight. So, below is the table that elaborates the minimum and maximum brisket rest time limits for different grade briskets.

Select BrisketChoice BrisketPrime or Wagyu Brisket
6-9 lb30  minutes- 1 ½ hour1-4 hours1-4 hours
10-11 lb30 minutes to 2 hours2-6 hours2-6 hours
12-1545 minutes to 4 hours2-8 hours2-8 hours
16-201 hour to 4 hours2-10 hours2-10 hours
21-25 lb1 ½ hour to 6 hours2-14 hours3-14 hours,

In short, be careful about the minimum time and extend it till it’s practical. Yet remember, for a lean, flat or Select brisket, keep the time minimum. 

For a lean brisket, 8 hours is too much time. Likewise, for a brisket with marbling like Prime or Choice, the time over 14 hours is too long. Many pit masters advise you to rest your Texas-style brisket for as long as 10 hours in a temperature-controlled environment like an oven or smoker — many brands do it and keep it a secret.

When Is Brisket Considered Done and Ready for Resting?

Brisket doneness is a debate. Every pro will tell you a few tips that they personally use to ensure that brisket has been cooked and the resting phase should begin next.

Here is 1 master tip.

Apart from aiming to reach the 195-203 degrees Fahrenheit temperature, brisket readiness is about how it feels when cooked. 

Many brisket kings use probes to see if it’s done. They insert it in the meat, if it goes smoothly as if going into butter rested at room temperature, it’s ready.

YET,

Competition brisket master Harry Soo advises using a bamboo stick.

According to him, when your brisket has reached the temperature of 195 degrees, insert the bamboo stick into it and it should feel like it is going into the cold peanut butter. If it’s so, you’re done. However, if not, cook it more.

And, this tip is the most workable.

Does Resting Brisket Soften the Bark?

It depends….How you wrap the brisket, can affect the bark: foil wrapping slightly rests in soft bark while the butcher paper wrapping keeps the brisket bark firm. Still, none of these ruin the brisket bark. 

Why Should you Use a Thermometer when Resting a Brisket?

Can you walk without eyes?

Naaa!

Probe thermometers serve as eyes when you smoke and rest your meat. It’s because BBQ all depends on temperature. Every month thousands of internet users question how long they should grill, smoke, or rest their meats.

The truth is, any form of cooking is not about “time,” but attaining doneness. Any advised time is only for giving you an idea. 

The reason is not every meat is similar. For example, every piece of meat you cook comes from a unique animal and its cooking time also varies depending on the animal’s feed, age, and environment. Hence, it’s only the internal temperature of your meat that can hint at the doneness and other doneness tests that can guarantee that your brisket has been cooked.

In the same way, when you’re resting your brisket, it must reach or maintain the temperature at 145 degrees to avoid pathogens to develop into this meat. Here, you need a meat probe thermometer. 

FAQs about How Long to Rest a Brisket

Can you rest a brisket at room temperature?

Yes, you can rest a brisket at room temperature. Resting brisket at room temperature is advisable when you aim at resting a large brisket after 1-2 hours or a small brisket after 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Can I skip resting my brisket?

No, it’s only practical if you’re running out of time, guests are hungry and you must serve it. Still, we’ll advise you to rest your brisket for 30 minutes before carving it.

Can a brisket rest overnight?

Yes, you can rest a brisket overnight that has been cooked in the evening. Remember:

  • The brisket should be of premium quality like Choice, Prime, Wagyu, or Angus so that it may withstand up to 14 hours of rest if you’ll be checking it early in the morning.
  •  Keep in a temperature-controlled environment.

Beware not to put a thin, low weight, or a Select grade of brisket on rest, the period will make lean, or thin brisket dry, instead.

Can you rest brisket for 2 hours?

Yes, you can rest any grade of brisket for 2 hours. Though the time is sufficient for a Select grade brisket, it is a minimum for a brisket with more fats and marbling.

Can you let the brisket rest for 5 hours?

Yes, you can rest your brisket of any size or grade for 5 hours until its internal temperature is at 145 degrees. This period is pretty appreciable for any type of brisket no matter how lean or small it is.

Can you rest brisket for 6 hours?

Yes, you can rest your brisket for 6 hours if it is:

  • Select grade or flat brisket above 10 pounds.
  • A good quality e.g. Prime or Choice grade brisket weighing less than 12 pounds.
  • A Prime or Choice grade above 14 pounds that you want to serve earlier. The reason is, that 6 hours is an OK time for a large-size brisket that has a lot of juices to expel.

How long should I let a 6 or 7-lb brisket rest after smoking?

A small brisket of 6 lb is indeed a small brisket. So, resting it for a longer period might not be a good idea. So follow the guidelines mentioned below:

  • For a Select grade or low-quality leaner or flat brisket, rest it for 30 minutes to 3 hours only.
  • For a premium grade brisket with incredible marbling, rest it for 1-4 hours.

How should you rest brisket for 10-14 hours?

Resting a brisket for 10-14 hours is a brave decision that you can look forward to taking when you’ve got ample time and you want to serve it to make a memory —  of course, you decide such extended time for an excellent quality brisket.

To rest your brisket for 10, 12, 0r 14 hours, we’ll advise you to chalk out a complete plan: So here is how to do it:

  • Gather essential tools like a probe thermometer and cooler/oven.
  • Thoroughly wrap your brisket in butcher paper.
  • Before wrapping the brisket, add 2 tablespoons of beef tallow under the brisket, right in the middle (wagyu beef tallow can be wonderful).
  • Place it in a disposable aluminum foil box or boat and wrap it in the towel
  • Set meat probe thermometers, preferably Bluetooth thermometers.
  •  Rest your brisket in the oven or cooler by following the method we’ve already described in the article, previously.

How can I rest brisket for 8 hours?

Resting a brisket for 8 hours is still considered a fair amount of time. So, to rest your brisket for 8 hours, you should either rest it in the cooler or oven. To do so, please get details for the previous sections of this article.

How long should you Rest a Brisket- Final Thoughts?

You can rest your low-grade brisket for 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on your time frame and brisket size. While, you can rest your premium quality briskets for 2-10 hours or even 14 depending on your available tools, brisket size, and your feasibility.

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