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10 Things To Know About Brisket Rest Times In Coolers

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How long can brisket sit in cooler

If you are wondering how long a brisket can sit in a cooler, then you have come to the right place.

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Most briskets will certainly need to be rested in a cooler for at least 3 to 4 hours. This is to simply let the collagen and connective tissues inside of the BBQ to render down completely. If you don’t do this, then you run the risk of slicing into a brisket that is still way too hot. The moisture would then evaporate and you would be left with a very dry piece of meat.

Let’s expand further on this.

Why should brisket be sitting in a cooler

The main reason why brisket should be sitting in a cooler in order to properly rest, is to simply let the internal temperature come down to at least 165°F. As you pull the brisket off the smoker, you’ll quickly notice that the internal temperature is still a right at above 200°F.

If you happen to slice into it the second you pull it off the smoker at that internal temperature, then everything would evaporate and you would be left with a very dry brisket that is not edible at all. 

That’s why I’m always a big proponent of taking the necessary steps to ensure that your brisket comes out fantastic. Let alone, brisket resting is perhaps the second most important thing you can do throughout the entire process.

Who should be placing briskets in coolers?

Practically anyone smoking a brisket should be placing their barbecue inside of a cooler. Resting brisket is not really an optional thing. You definitely have to be resting brisket in some form of fashion. 

In terms of the preferred storage container that you should be placing briskets in, people that perhaps need to have a way of transporting a brisket very easily, should be resting briskets in their ice coolers for that specific purpose. 

Otherwise, you can certainly just let your brisket sit in a warming oven or even back into your cooler and let it sit in a specific area within your household.

What does a brisket sitting in a cooler actually do?

One of the main benefits of letting briskets sit in coolers or rest in general, is to let the collagen and connective tissues come to a screeching halt in terms of their temperature readings. 

You don’t want it to be very hot, because as you start to slice into your brisket at those initial temperatures around 200°F, you’ll be left with an unpleasant experience. Not only that, but by letting a brisket soak for a period of time of up to 3 to 4 hours, you’ll be letting the juices and moisture soak back up into the meat.

Where should you be placing the brisket in the cooler as it sits?

As your brisket sits in your glorious little container, you’ll most likely want to just place the cooler inside of your household, somewhere close to the kitchen, so you can easily take it out and place it on a cutting board once it’s finished resting. 

If you are on the move however, then perhaps keep it in a safe location that you can ensure it will stay put while you are transporting it. In other words, if you were driving a large vehicle, consider just placing it inside of your trunk for extra security.

When should a brisket be sitting in a cooler

When the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 200°F, you should be thinking about when to pull it off the smoker and placing it directly into your cooler. 

Before you do this though, make sure you can get an accurate enough reading and ensure to yourself that it is actually tapping out at 200°F and internal temperature. 

Furthermore, you’ll also want to get a toothpick and begin probing around the meet to test for any resistance. 

You don’t want any resistance at all, because that would indicate a brisket that is not done rendering down all of the collagen and connective tissues inside of the meat.

What temp to pull brisket and put in cooler

The specific temperature range that you should always think about pulling a brisket off the smoker is anywhere from 200°F to 205°F. That is the most common range with which collagen and connective tissues inside of the meat render down completely.

Once you can ensure that your temperature readings are accurate and the BBQ is actually tapping out between that temperature range, make sure to employ the probe test and pull the meat off the smoker. 

Let’s take a quick look at whether or not you should be wrapping it in butcher paper.

Should you rest brisket in butcher paper

Once you have identified accurate temperature readings for your brisket to be pulled off the smoker and be placed inside of the cooler, you may want to consider wrapping it depending on how long you’ll actually be resting it. 

Wrapping it in either butcher paper, foil, or perhaps even a set of towels, can certainly prolong the length of which you can rest your brisket inside of an ice cooler. The cooler itself provides excellent heat retention overall, but can be bolstered a little bit better by some extra wrapping such as butcher paper.

Butcher paper also produces the effect of not exactly destroying the smoke flavor or bark, which is a prominent sign and weakness to wrapping brisket. It basically is a great compromise between wrapping the brisket and maintaining internal temperature, while also still allowing for excellent results.

How long can brisket stay wrapped in a cooler

If you do decide to wrap your brisket in either of those methods, and place it inside of your cooler, then you could theoretically let it sit there for anywhere up to 3 to 4 hours, or even up to about 12 hours depending on how well you wrap the brisket.

Final Thoughts 

Brisket can be rested for anywhere between 3 to 12 hours overall. In coolers specifically, it’s usually recommended that most people rest them inside of that storage container for about 3 to 4 hours. This is simply to let the collagen and connective tissues break down inside of the meat and produce amazing results thereafter.

This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.

He primarily hand writes the bulk of the content but occasionally will leverage AI assisted tools, such as chatGPT, to properly edit and format each blog post on this website. This ensures a pleasurable reading experience for visitors. Read more about our editorial policies here. If there are any improvements that can be made to this article, reach out to us directly at