How to Keep Brisket Warm and Moist: Ultimate Guide

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Sliced Smoked Brisket on Chopping Board

When grilling or smoking a brisket, timing is everything. In order to serve brisket that is still warm and moist, you will want to time it to be ready soon after your company arrives. This article will tell you how to keep brisket warm and moist while waiting for your guests to arrive.

How to Keep Brisket Warm and Moist

There are a number of ways you can keep a brisket warm without drying it out. The best way to do this is by insulating it in a cooler with foil, towels, and boiling water. If you don’t have a cooler, you can use an oven or holding oven instead.

Why you might need to keep your brisket warm

It takes a long time to smoke a brisket to perfection. The rule of thumb is one and a half to two hours per pound of meat, but you can never be sure exactly how long the process will take. If it is ready too early, you will want to keep it warm and moist until it is time to eat.

Smoking a brisket not only takes time but also requires your full attention. This is especially true if you are a novice. For this reason, you might want to have the smoking done in advance so you can relax with your guests when they arrive.

Another reason why you might want to keep your brisket warm is if you are bringing it to a party, a potluck, a family holiday gathering, or a picnic. Finally, if something unexpected happens to interrupt or delay your meal or if your guests arrive late, you will want to know how to keep brisket moist until you can serve it.

Thermometer in a beef brisket

3 methods on how to keep brisket warm and moist

Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to keep your brisket warm without drying it out. The key is to keep it insulated and prevent the steam from escaping. If you insulate it well, it can retain its heat for up to ten hours. The best way to do this is in a cooler. You will also need boiling water, towels, and heavy foil.

Using a cooler

We usually think of using coolers to keep food cold, but some can tolerate and maintain heat. If you are planning to use a cooler, make sure that it is designed for hot temperatures. Storing a brisket in a cooler keeps it warm for several hours after it is done.

Simply wrap it in foil or plastic wrap, cover it in towels or blankets to insulate it, and pour some hot water into the cooler. You might want to dampen the towel with warm water to help keep the brisket moist. Monitor the temperature in the cooler with a remote thermometer, and make sure it stays at 140 degrees or higher.

You can keep brisket in a cooler for several hours as long as the temperature stays at a minimum of 140 degrees. A good way to keep the temperature from dipping too low is to fill the entire cooler with towels and blankets. Once the brisket is in the cooler, close the lid, and don’t open it again until you are ready to serve it.

If you need to keep your brisket warm for a longer time or you are going out in the cool air with it, you can add some hot bricks to the bottom. To heat the bricks, wrap them in heavy-duty foil, and put them in the oven at 275 to 325 F. Be sure to insulate it with plenty of towels.

Another option is to use a heating pad at the bottom of the cooler. If the temperature goes below 140 for a short time, that is okay. In order to be safe, you should not let it drop below 140 for more than two hours.

Using an oven

If you don’t have a cooler, you can also use an oven to keep your brisket warm. You should set your oven at a very low temperature, between 150 and 170 F, and let your brisket rest for two to four hours. Wrapping it in pink butcher paper and placing it on a pan will help to keep it from drying out.

In order to keep the heat from escaping, be careful not to open the oven door during the process. You might want to check the temperature of your oven with a thermometer because oven temperatures are not always accurate.

Using a holding oven

Restaurants and caterers use holding ovens to keep food warm. They are similar to ovens but are made to hold a steady, low temperature to keep food warm. If you do a lot of smoking and entertaining, it might be worth investing in a holding oven.

Keeping brisket moist

To keep your brisket moist and juicy, put a water pan in your smoker and spray it with water, apple cider vinegar, or apple juice every 30 to 60 minutes. Using the Texas crutch is another way to lock in moisture. This technique involves wrapping the brisket with butcher paper or foil when it reaches about 160 F.

After wrapping it, you can finish it in the oven at 210 to 225 F. Once the meat reaches the desired final temperature, you can leave it in the oven for several hours, as long as you keep it warm enough.

Foil versus butcher paper

Most pitmasters prefer pink butcher paper over foil. Also known as peach paper, pink butcher paper is not as air-tight and lets moisture escape. This allows the formation of a good and crispy bark.

Reheating brisket

sliced brisket

Just like keeping brisket warm, reheating a brisket comes with the challenge of keeping it moist. The most convenient way to reheat brisket is in the oven. First, bring the meat to room temperature, and preheat the oven to 325 F.

Wrap the brisket in butcher paper or foil. Place it in the oven for about one hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165 F. If you slice the brisket before you reheat it, it won’t take as long. Remember to slice it against the grain.

If you saved the juice from when you smoked it, add that into the pan. If you don’t have the juice, add some apple cider or apple juice and mix in some barbecue sauce. Cover it with foil, and heat for 20 minutes if it is sliced or an hour if it is whole.

The sous vide method is another way to reheat brisket. It involves using a warm water bath set at a temperature between 110 and 175 F in order to warm the meat. This is one of the best ways to reheat meat without overcooking it or drying it out.

If you don’t have a smoker, you can use the sous vide method for the entire cooking process. At 155 F, it will take between 24 and 36 hours for the brisket to be done.

What to do if your brisket dries out

Despite your best efforts, there are times when a brisket dries out. In these cases, there are a few things you can do to salvage it. First, you can add warm beef broth into a foil-wrapped brisket. Another option is to make a sauce and pour it over sliced brisket. You can also use the tough brisket to make chili, beef stew, or Shepherd’s pie.

Brisket stew with radish
When hosting a barbecue party, timing your smoked brisket just right ensures it stays warm and juicy for your guests. Wondering how to keep smoked brisket warm and moist? We have practical tips to help you serve the perfect beef brisket. Ready to keep your brisket at its best? Check out our tips now!

Final thoughts

Smoking a brisket is a time-consuming project, and a full packer is quite a significant investment. The last thing you want is to end up with a dry, inedible piece of meat. Once you know how to keep brisket moist, you will be able to serve up a tasty barbecue meal every time.

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2 thoughts on “How to Keep Brisket Warm and Moist: Ultimate Guide”

    • @Michele, Don’t trim too much fat, cook at 275F or lower, wrap in either foil or peach paper once the bark is set and fat is soft and rendering out. Cook to 203 and pull it for resting.


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