How long to let brisket rest?

How long to let brisket rest?

After spending anywhere from 12 to 18 hours smoking a brisket, it’s understandable to want to dive in and savor the fruits of your labor. However, if you’re aiming for the perfect texture and taste, there is one more crucial step: letting the brisket rest. This final step is critical to ensure the meat is tender and juicy, rather than tough and chewy. But How long to let brisket rest? This is a question many barbecue enthusiasts ponder and for good reason. Waiting too little or too long can affect the overall quality of your brisket. Rest assured, with the right resting time, you will create a slice of succulent beef that will impress any guest and make your next gathering a hit.

In this post, we’ll look at what effect resting has on finished cooked foods and provide guidelines so that you can determine precisely when it’s time to tuck into your delicious home-cooked meal.

What’s the reason for allowing your brisket to rest?

When brisket is first removed from the smoker, it’s easy to assume that it’s cooked through and ready to be devoured. But while the internal temperature may be up to 145°F, the internal juices haven’t had time to redistribute throughout the meat. Resting your brisket allows for this crucial step which results in the juiciest, most tender brisket possible.

Allowing brisket to rest after cooking is important for several reasons:

-Moisture redistribution:

Resting allows the juices within the meat to redistribute and reabsorb. During the cooking process, the heat causes the moisture in the meat to move toward the surface. By letting the brisket rest, the juices have a chance to evenly distribute back through the meat, resulting in a juicier and more tender final product.

-Relaxation of muscle fibers:

During the cooking process, the muscles and fibers of your brisket tense up. Letting it rest gives the muscle fibers a chance to relax which can result in a more tender finished product.

-Temperature leveling:

After cooking, brisket will continue to cook and rise in temperature until it reaches an equilibrium with its environment. This extra time allows the heat to distribute evenly throughout the entire cut of beef rather than just on its surface.


Since the cooking process results in muscle fibers and connective tissues tightening, allowing the brisket to rest before cutting gives these fibers time to relax. This helps ensure that each bite is tender and juicy.

-Better slicing:

Resting also makes the brisket easier to slice into thin, even pieces. If you attempt to cut too soon, the meat will be much harder to work with and you won’t achieve that perfect presentation.

By allowing the brisket to rest for a certain period before slicing, you’ll reap extra-juicy results.

***Related Articles:

How long to rest brisket?

The recommended resting time for brisket depends on the size of the cut, but as a general rule, you should plan to let it rest for at least one hour. Smaller cuts can be rested for up to an hour and larger cuts for up to two hours. Resting too long can cause the meat to become dry and tough, so make sure to not overextend the resting period.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the brisket will continue to cook and rise in temperature while it rests, so you should remove it from heat before it reaches the desired finished temperature of 145°F. The longer you let it rest, the closer it will get to this temp.

How to rest brisket?

Here’s a guide on how to rest brisket:

Resting a brisket is a crucial step to achieving the best flavor and tenderness. Properly resting the brisket allows the juices to redistribute and the meat to relax before slicing and serving. Follow these steps to rest your brisket:

1)Cook the brisket: Smoke or grill the brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of around 200°F to 205°F for optimal tenderness.

2)Choose a resting method:

a. Resting in a cooler (faux Cambro method):

  • Wrap the brisket in foil and then in several layers of towels.
  • Place the wrapped brisket in a dry cooler, such as a heavily insulated cooler like a Yeti or RTIC.
  • Close the cooler lid tightly to create an insulated environment.

b. Resting in a Cambro:

  • Wrap the brisket in foil to retain heat.
  • Place the wrapped brisket in a Cambro-insulated food carrier.
  • Ensure the Cambro is appropriately sized for the brisket.
  • Close the Cambro to maintain the heat.

c. Cambro-insulated

  • Wrap the brisket in foil to keep it moist.
  • Place the wrapped brisket in a steam cabinet.
  • Set the steam cabinet to a low heat setting to maintain warmth and moisture.

d. Room temperature rest:

  • If time is limited, you can let the brisket rest at room temperature.
  • Open the foil wrapping to allow the bark to firm up if desired.
  • Ensure the room temperature rest doesn’t exceed one hour to avoid bacteria growth.

3)Monitor the internal temperature: Regardless of the resting method, keep an eye on the brisket’s internal temperature to ensure it remains above 140°F to prevent foodborne illness.

4)Rest for the desired duration: Let the brisket rest undisturbed for the recommended time, typically 20 to 30 minutes. If you prefer a longer rest, it can be extended up to 1 hour.

5)Unwrap and slice: After the resting period, remove the brisket from the resting environment and unwrap it. Transfer it to a cutting board and slice it against the grain to your desired thickness.

Resting Brisket vs Holding Brisket

Here’s a comparison between Resting Brisket and Holding Brisket:

Resting BrisketHolding Brisket
TechniqueAllows the cooked brisket to rest before serving.Keeps the cooked brisket at a consistent temperature until it is ready to be served.
DurationTypically ranges from 30 minutes to a few hours.Can be maintained for an extended period, often in commercial kitchens or catering settings.
Benefits1. Enhanced tenderness due to meat fiber relaxation.1. Convenience in serving with flexibility in timing.
2. Improved flavor development and distribution.2. Increased flavor melding over time.
3. Easier slicing without losing moisture.3. Maintains the meat’s temperature and freshness until it’s time to serve.
TechniqueInvolves placing the brisket in a warm environment orInvolves using a Cambro (insulated box) or a faux Cambro (using a cooler with hot water) to
wrapping it in foil to retain heat.hold the temperature of the cooked brisket.
Potential DrawbackNone.May affect the crispiness of the brisket’s bark, especially with the faux Cambro technique.
Best UseImmediate serving after resting for optimal tendernessWhen the cooked brisket needs to be held warm for a longer period, such as in commercial settings.

Resting Brisket allows the brisket to rest, enhancing tenderness, and flavor, and making slicing easier. It is suitable for immediate serving after resting. On the other hand, Holding Brisket involves using a Cambro or a faux Cambro to keep the brisket warm for a longer duration. It offers convenience in timing and increased flavor melding but may affect the crispiness of the brisket’s bark.

Overall, the choice between Resting Brisket and Holding Brisket depends on the specific needs and preferences of the cook, the desired tenderness, and the serving timeline.

Best Internal Temperature for Brisket?

The best internal temperature for brisket is 195°F to 205°F. The higher the temperature, the more tender the meat will be. You should also aim for a finished product with a deep mahogany color and an internal temperature of at least 145°F before slicing and serving. When checking the internal temperature, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.

Tips for Brisket Resting

Here are some tips to keep in mind when resting a brisket:

– Rest the brisket in an environment that is just warm enough to maintain an internal temperature of 145°F but not so hot that it continues to cook.

– Use towels or a Cambro food carrier for the best insulation and heat retention.

– Monitor the internal temperature of the brisket to ensure it remains above 140°F during the resting time.

– Allow the brisket to rest for at least one hour, but no more than two hours.

– Unwrap and slice against the grain for maximum tenderness.

By following these steps, you can take your brisket to the next level and enjoy a tender, juicy slice of smoky perfection.

Pro tip: Serve with fresh-baked cornbread for an unbeatable meal.

Now that you have all the information you need about letting your brisket rest before serving, it’s time to get smoking!

Do you rest brisket wrapped or unwrapped?

For best results, it’s recommended that you rest the brisket unwrapped, as it needs circulating air during this step. On the other hand, keeping a brisket wrapped will trap heat in with the meat, causing it to become overcooked and dry. Ultimately, the choice between wrapping and not wrapping your brisket comes down to personal preference.

If you prefer a smoky, charred outside, cooking the brisket unwrapped is the way to go. However, if you want to trap moisture inside the meat and create a moister brisket, wrapping it in butcher paper is the better option.

Should I rest my brisket in a cooler?

To ensure your brisket remains hot when cooking it well in advance, you have the option of utilizing a cooler. By employing a cooler, you can impede the cooling process and sustain the brisket’s heat for an extended period. This allows the brisket to stay at a safe temperature until you’re ready to carve into it.

Alternatively, if your plan involves consuming the brisket within 1-2 hours after cooking, you can opt for a room temperature resting method, such as placing it on a cutting board.

What temperature should a brisket be after resting?

Achieving the perfect brisket requires precision and patience. The key is to ensure the internal temperature reaches 203°F during the initial resting period.

But, it’s important to note that the temperature will typically rise a few degrees during this time, known as carry-over cooking. To avoid overcooking and drying out the meat, it’s best to remove it from the heat at around 190°F. This allows for the final few degrees of cooking to happen during the resting phase.

The amount of time to let brisket rest can vary depending on the size of the cut, but a good rule of thumb is to let it rest for at least 30 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a succulent and flavorful brisket that will be the highlight of any meal.

What to serve with brisket?

Brisket pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides, such as roasted vegetables, creamy mashed potatoes, and baked beans. Adding a side dish or two to any meal helps make it more substantial and interesting.

For an optimal pairing experience, try serving your brisket with something sweet to contrast the savory flavor – consider adding a light, fruity dessert or a side of roasted sweet potatoes.

You can also serve your brisket with traditional southern sides like macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, cornbread, potato salad, or even a lighter option like quinoa with steamed vegetables. Regardless of what you choose to serve alongside it, the combination will be an unforgettable meal that all your friends and family will enjoy.

***Related Articles:

What happens if I don’t rest my brisket?

If you don’t let your brisket rest, it will be dry and tough. This is because when the meat is removed from heat, the muscles and tissues have yet to relax and the juices haven’t had a chance to redistribute throughout the meat. During this resting time, the temperature of your brisket will also continue to rise, allowing for more even cooking. Without this extra step, the brisket will be overcooked on the outside and still raw in the center.

Letting your brisket rest is also important to ensure maximum tenderness and juiciness. When you try a bite of rested brisket that hasn’t been allowed to relax after cooking, it won’t be as tender or flavorful.

The bottom line: the resting step is an integral part of the process for achieving a delicious and tender brisket. Investing this extra time will result in scrumptious, juicy slices that you can be proud to serve to family and friends.

So there you have it – the importance of resting a brisket and tips for doing so. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to craft mouth-watering, succulent brisket dishes that will impress any crowd.

Bottom Line: How long to let brisket rest?

For the juiciest, most tender brisket possible, you’ll want to let it rest for at least one hour for before slicing. Depending on the size of your cut, this resting period can be extended up to two hours. For optimal results, make sure you remove it from heat before it reaches its final temperature of 145°F. This will ensure that your final product is succulent and tender. Now, all you need to do is enjoy the fruits of your labor! Bon appetit!


Leave a Comment