If you’re having a big party, there’s a good chance all the brisket will be gone before you need to worry about leftovers. Still, it’s a good idea to plan ahead, just in case. How long does smoked brisket last once it’s been cooked, and what should you do with the leftovers? Let’s find out.
How Long Does Smoked Brisket Last?
When it’s properly stored, smoked beef brisket will keep for up to four days in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It can also be frozen indefinitely, but it’s a good idea to thaw and consume frozen brisket within two months to ensure maximum quality.
How To Store Smoked Brisket
How long your beef brisket lasts depends on your storage technique. If the meat hasn’t been stored properly, it can go downhill in a hurry.
First of all, make sure to refrigerate any leftovers within two hours. When brisket and other smoked meats are allowed to sit at room temperature for too long, they’ll invite dangerous food-borne bacteria. The meat will start to cool off after a couple of hours anyway, so you’re better off putting the leftovers away and saving them for another use.
Leftovers should be refrigerated in shallow airtight containers whenever possible. The brisket will deteriorate more quickly if it’s exposed to too much air. If you don’t have any appropriate containers on hand, wrap the brisket tightly in plastic wrap, then add a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Make sure the refrigerator is set to the proper temperature. 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal range for keeping meat fresh. You should also try to store the brisket in the coldest part of the fridge.
How Long Does Smoked Brisket Last in the Refrigerator?
If you’ve followed all the guidelines listed above, your leftover smoked brisket should keep for up to four days.
Since you’ve prepared the brisket in the smoker, you probably aren’t serving it with a gravy or sauce made from the drippings. Bear in mind, however, that brisket stored in a gravy will only keep in the fridge for about two days instead of four.
Can You Freeze Leftover Brisket?
Let’s say you prepared way too much brisket and can’t use it up within three to four days. Don’t panic—you can also freeze the leftovers for another time.
We would recommend dividing the leftovers into portions. That way, you can thaw just as much as you need. Store the beef in heavy-duty freezer bags or airtight containers, forcing as much air as possible out of the packages. Make sure to label the packages with the date and the contents so you’ll know what’s inside.
If you were able to retain any cooking juices after resting and slicing the brisket, be sure to save them. Store and freeze the liquid, using airtight containers, ice cube trays, or muffin tins. This will come in handy when it’s time to thaw and reheat the meat.
Frozen smoked beef brisket can be kept in the freezer indefinitely. That said, the sooner you use it, the better it will taste. We would suggest using the leftovers within two months if possible. See below for tips on reheating and serving frozen brisket.
When it comes to thawing frozen brisket, you have a couple of different options.
The first—and recommended—method is to thaw the leftovers in the refrigerator. Place the frozen package on a plate, then set the plate on the lowest shelf of the fridge. It should be ready to use within 24 hours. Once it’s been thawed, it should keep for another three days.
Another option is to place the container in a cold-water bath for 30 minutes. If the meat hasn’t fully thawed, change out the water and wait another 30 minutes. When you use this method, you should reheat and consume the meat right away.
We would advise against using the microwave to thaw leftover brisket. The microwave will change the water molecules into steam, which will dry out the slices and leave them rubbery.
How To Reheat Thawed Brisket
If you’re in a hurry, just thaw the brisket by heating up a little beef broth on the stove top and adding a few slices. This is also a nice way to use up any leftover cooking liquid you might have from the initial smoke.
To reheat the brisket in the oven, use a low temperature—300 degrees at the most. Wrap the slices in foil, adding a small amount of beef broth or cooking liquid before sealing the packet. Set in the oven and heat through until the slices are steaming, about 20 minutes.
How To Tell If Brisket Has Gone Bad
Before reheating the leftovers, take a good look at the meat to make sure it’s still fresh. Signs of spoilage include a slimy texture, a sour smell, and discoloration. If you’re unsure, toss the leftovers without tasting them. When it comes to food-borne bacteria, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Ideas for Leftovers
What can you do to use up all that brisket within the recommended time frame? There are more possibilities than there are days in the week. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most out of your leftover beef brisket.
Barbecued Beef Sandwiches
This works well with chopped or shredded brisket. Mix the meat with your favorite barbecue sauce and add the mixture to a large skillet. Gently cook over medium-low heat until the brisket is warmed through and the sauce is bubbling. Serve on toasted bulky rolls, topped with crispy onions and baby arugula.
Another excellent use for shredded brisket, this one with a Southwestern vibe.
Gently heat a cup or two of leftover brisket with a small amount of cooking liquid or beef broth. Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm corn tortillas until brown spots appear, about 30 seconds per side. Set them aside in a tortilla warmer or wrap them tightly in aluminum foil until you’re ready to assemble the tacos.
When all the tortillas are warm and the brisket has heated through, place a few tablespoons of meat on the center of each tortilla. Top with pickled onions, cilantro, and crumbled feta or queso fresco. Serve with pico de gallo and hot sauce.
Brisket Grilled Cheese
This is an unusual recipe, but one that’s sure to please. Spread a generous amount of butter on two slices of hearty Italian bread. Place one of the slices butter-side down and spread the other side with shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese. Top with a layer of brisket, then add another layer of cheese.
Place the other slice of bread on top of the sandwich, butter-side up. Cook in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Slice in half and serve hot.
To turn leftover shredded brisket into a breakfast or brunch dish, boil a couple of russet potatoes and allow them to cool. Cut the potatoes into cubes. You’ll need about 2 cups for this recipe.
In a small bowl, scramble 3 large eggs with a fork. Season with salt and set aside.
Next, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Saute diced onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper until softened, then add a minced garlic clove and cook for one minute more.
Add the potatoes, eggs, and 2 cups of shredded brisket. Cook, stirring constantly, until the eggs have set and the brisket is heated through. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve piping hot.
This can be put together in as little as 30 minutes for a quick weeknight meal.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add diced onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add 1 cup of red wine (such as Chianti) and 1/2 cup of beef stock or broth, stirring and scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
Add about 2 cups of chopped brisket and 1/2 cup of sour cream, then stir well to combine. Cook gently for about 5 minutes more and season with salt and pepper. Serve the stroganoff over buttered egg noodles and garnish with chopped parsley.
Because we love to get creative with our leftovers, we don’t have a problem using up that excess brisket within a reasonable time frame. If you need more than just a few days, however, you can always freeze it. That way, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the leftovers at a later date.