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How long for frozen brisket to thaw? (Explained)

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Understanding the do’s and don’ts of brisket thawing is vital whether you have a stockpile of prime briskets in the freezer begging to be smoked, or you can finally fire the prize brisket that’s been patiently waiting since December.

While defrosting brisket is not a difficult task, it does necessitate careful attention to a few essential elements that aid in food safety. Improperly defrosting brisket may not only reduce its quality, but also pose a risk to those who consume it.

The following article discusses how to properly defrost a brisket, as well as how to safely speed up the process.

How Long for Brisket to Fully Defrost?

Before proceeding, we should be mentioned that using a refrigerator is the safest and most dependable place to defrost a brisket (or any other type of meat product). As long as your fridge is set to a safe temperature (less than 40 degrees(F)), your brisket will remain outside of the danger zone. 

That being stated, a brisket requires around 24 hours of defrosting time per pound of brisket. This means that a 15-pound brisket will need to defrost for around 3 days in the fridge.

Needless to say, some planning ahead of time is required.

Note: If you’re going to freeze a particularly large brisket, it can be a good idea to divide it into portions before storing it in the freezer. This way, deforesting the entire area will take significantly less time when you are ready to smoke it. 

How To Defrost Brisket

As previously said, the best approach to defrost a brisket is to simply place it in the refrigerator to thaw.

Remove the brisket from the freezer and check for frozen patches or ice crystals. Ice will not destroy your brisket, but it will severely dry it out, leaving it tough and chewy. (This is referred to as freezer burn.)

Simply place the brisket in a dish or bowl and place it on the lowest level of the refrigerator. Make sure the dish you use has raised edges to capture any moisture that may seep out as it thaws.

Simply let it to defrost, checking on it occasionally.

The fridge is the safest method since it ensures that the beef stays below 40 degrees(F) at all times, which is the danger zone for brisket.

The danger zone, a term you have heard sprinkled throughout this article, is the temperature range that, if raw or cooked meat enters, renders it unsafe for ingestion.

This temperature range is between 40 to 140 degrees(F) for most meats, including brisket. Raw brisket, for example, should never be permitted to warm up to 40 degrees at room temperature, while fully cooked brisket should never be allowed to cool to 140 degrees at room temperature.

Is There a Quicker Way to Defrost Brisket?

If you’re in a hurry, a cold-water bath can quickly and safely defrost brisket at a considerably faster rate.

Fill a big bowl or other container completely with ice cold water, adding extra ice cubes to help keep the temperature stable.

After taking the brisket from the freezer, keep it in the airtight packaging you had stored it in. Place it inside of the bowl, making sure that the brisket is completely submerged in the ice-water.

If it is not entirely submerged, the sections that are sticking out of the water can warm to dangerous temperatures. If you don’t have a large enough bowl, rotate the brisket every 30 minutes to ensure that no part of it is exposed to room temperature for too long.

About every 45 minutes, replenish the bowl with fresh cold water, and maintain a constant temperature under 40 degrees. 

By using this strategy, you can save a significant amount of time on defrosting. It reduces the thaw rate to roughly 30 minutes per pound of brisket.

This means that the same 15-pound brisket that takes three days to defrost in the fridge will take only 7 to 8 hours to fully thaw in a cold-water bath.

Note: warm water should be avoided at all costs. The belief that warm water will thaw it quickly is a classic fallacy.

The reality is that the warmer water will propel the brisket into the danger zone at a much faster rate, turning its surface into a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause potentially severe illnesses.