Skip to Content

Brisket Done Too Early? Here’s What To Do

Brisket Done too Early

Having a brisket that finishes way too early can happen more than you expect. There are a variety of reasons why this would happen, including the grade, cut of the brisket, the weight of the brisket, and the average temperature at which you are cooking the brisket at.

To best prepare for having a brisket that may cook through faster than you thought, just have your storage mechanism at hand and ready. You would most likely have to let it rest anyways, so this can be a great way to have an excuse to have all of your equipment in front of you.


The temperature that you should be pulling the brisket

If you think that your brisket happens to be done early, just go ahead and probe around the thickest part of the meat and get the most accurate thermometer reading possible.

The reason I say this is because sometimes when you have a piece of meat that is as big as a brisket, there are different readings that you can actually receive when you begin probing around the entirety of the brisket.

In other words, when you think a brisket may be done in one aspect, just verify whether or not that is the case and ensure that the temperature reading is at 200°F.


Where to probe the brisket

To begin probing the brisket before you happen to pull it off the smoker, make sure the probe is inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

This ensures that not only the temperature reading of 200°F is the most accurate, but you will also test to make sure whether or not the connective tissue has completely rendered down.

Having a brisket that reaches 200°F internal is not the only thing you should be worried about. You have to absolutely make sure that it is probing at that temperature, but also is what you would call probe tender.

The probe has to slide in with zero resistance. If there is any resistance, despite having an internal temperature of 200°F, the brisket is not done too early.


What to do if a brisket finishes too early

Like we mentioned above, just make sure that the brisket is actually done too early, this can help save yourself a lot of time and ensure that the brisket is not undercooked.

There are several things you should be doing when a brisket finishes too early. If it does come to that, go ahead and take the brisket off the smoker. Unwrap any wrapping you may have and let it rest for around 15 minutes. This will help emit any carryover heat that may be present, in other words, you don’t want the brisket to over cook.

Once you have placed the brisket off the smoker, and have let it rest for around 15 to 30 minutes for the carry over heat to diminish, you can then proceed to either re-wrap the brisket in a towel or foil or some kind of butcher paper. You don’t have to do this, but if you were planning to rest the brisket and try and keep it warm for a long enough time, it may be something worth considering.

Let’s say you don’t have to let the brisket rest more than six hours. You don’t have to wrap brisket then, and can just place the brisket inside the warming device. This will effectively keep it warm for a period of time up to 12 hours. So, you can certainly feel great about not only a brisket that is ready to be served, but that the brisket actually has a place to go if it happens to finish too early.


Resting the brisket for 12 hours

If the brisket is done even more earlier than you had previously expected, then you may have to actually wrap it, and then place it in the warming chamber of choice.

The preferred warming chamber of choice just means either an ice chest or a warming oven. For extended periods of time where you have to rest the brisket past 12 hours, I recommend placing it in a warming oven that is set to an ambient temperature of around 175°F.

This will make sure that the brisket never reaches below that internal temperature, and will certainly ensure that the brisket is kept warm overall.


Why a brisket may be done too early

A brisket may finish too early due to high temperatures, low amount of actual weight, high marbling continent, and inaccurate thermometer readings.

When you smoke a brisket, you obviously want to plan ahead. You do this by making sure your thermometer and equipment are sound, and produce accurate results.

One of the reasons why an inaccurate thermometer reading may lead you to believe the brisket finished earlier than expected, is because if it begins to read a lot lower of a temperature than is actually true, you may pull it too soon.

A way to figure out whether or not your brisket is done when you have an inaccurate thermometer, is to employ the probe test. Basically, just start probing around the meat to make sure it slides in with no resistance at all.

Regarding the weight of the brisket, if the brisket itself is already small in size, then it will have a tendency to cook a lot quicker than a brisket that is significantly larger in size and weight. As an example, a brisket that weighs 5 pounds will cook a lot quicker than a brisket that weighs 15 pounds.

The grade and marbling of the brisket also play into affect when considering cook times for brisket. Higher grades of brisket such as choice and prime, are generally speaking, higher in marbling content, which means there is more fat than connective tissue, which further means that the brisket will finish a lot quicker due to not having to render down as much material

These are all factors that play heavily into how quick a brisket will finish, and is something that you should always keep in mind.


Storage Methods to use when a brisket is done early

Storage methods can be a great way to hold your brisket over a longer period of time then you otherwise could.

This is especially handy when you have a brisket that finished earlier than expected. Storing your brisket inside of an ice chest or a warming oven can hold a brisket warm for any time between 6 to 12 hours if the right steps are taken.


Brisket that finishes in 6 or 12 hours

Let’s say a brisket of yours finishes within six hours of placing it on the smoker. There is no need to fret, as mentioned above, there are a variety of ways that you can cater towards this type of scenario.

Specifically, if you were to simply take it off the smoker, unwrap it to avoid any further carryover heat, and then perhaps re-wrap it and then place it into a storage container of your choice, the brisket can be kept warm for hours on end.

Resting is actually recommended for most cooks anyways, so there is really even not a concern at all.

The same applies for a brisket that finishes within 12 hours, when you may be expecting it to last longer than that time frame. Follow the same steps above, just go ahead and place the brisket inside of an ice chest or warming oven and let it rest until you are ready to serve.

If other concerns come up such as the internal temperature decreasing too much, consider placing the brisket inside of a warming oven with an ambient temperature set to 175°F. This will accomplish not only resting the brisket over a longer period of time, but will also keep it nice and warm during that time frame.


Keeping the brisket warm long enough

If you are overtly concerned about keeping your brisket warm over the course of a long rest period, Do not worry. There are a variety of mechanisms that are at your disposal. The first of which, is to re-wrap your brisket in either a piece of foil, butcher paper, or even a towel.

Once you wrapped it to ensure that there is minimal heat loss expended from the brisket, go ahead and place it inside of a warming oven. The reason why I suggest to use a warming oven as opposed to an ice chest, is because with a warming oven you have the ability to modify and control the ambient temperature of the storage device.

This basically means that if you are very concerned about the brisket decreasing in internal temperature, you have the ability to stop that, by Setting the ambient temperature to around 175°F and allowing the brisket to never reach below a certain internal temperature.

This has the effect of producing quite frankly amazing results while also catering towards a brisket that may be done way too early.


Can I rest a brisket for 12 hours?

A brisket can rest for up to 6 to 12 hours. A great way to do this is by placing it in an ice chest or a warming oven. These will keep the insulation of the internal temperature at a reasonable amount, and can also serve as a way to help the average pit-master out when their brisket is done too early.


Can a brisket be done in 4 hours?

Depending on the size of the brisket and the amount of heat you applied to it throughout a certain cook, a brisket will take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours to cook fully through.

In order to get a brisket that is done in four hours, you will most likely have to set the temperature range anywhere from 300°F to 400°F. Not only that, the brisket will more than likely have to be a smaller in weight such as a 5 to 10 pound brisket to accomplish that short of a cook time.


Can you finish cooking a brisket the next day?

You can finish cooking a brisket the next day by letting the brisket rest in a refrigerator overnight. If you happen to start the cook the next day, just take it out of the refrigerator, start your smoker, and throw it back on there.

Just be aware however, that it may take a while for the internal temperature to get back up to where it was previously, and always make sure to fully cooked a brisket to at least 200° internal.


How long can a brisket rest before serving?

A Brisket can rest up to 12 hours, but it is really recommended to rest it for sometime between 6 to 12 hours. In other words, any point past I would say eight hours is unreasonable.

The only reason you would want to rest a brisket for up to 12 hours is if it was done too early, you plan on transporting it, or you are planning to serve for an event that is later on down the road in terms of time.


How do you keep a brisket warm for 5 hours?

Keep a brisket warm for up to five hours by simply wrapping it in foil, butcher paper, or a towel. Once you do this, go ahead and place it inside of a well insulated ice chest or warming oven.

This provides maximum resting properties for your brisket, absolutely will allow you to rest it for a period of up to five hours.