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Smoked Brisket Done Early? | Reasons Why and What To Do

Smoked brisket is a barbecue staple in the south. It’s often cooked for hours over low, slow heat to keep it juicy and tender.

But what if your brisket is done early? In this article, we will cover some of the reasons why briskets can be finished before their scheduled time, as well as tips on how to handle briskets that are done too soon.

While some barbecue purists may disagree, brisket can still be used successfully if finished early or pulled apart and reheated later on.

What if my smoked brisket is done early?

There are many potential causes for a brisket being completed ahead of schedule:

-The smoker temperature was set too high. If you’re cooking at a higher heat, your brisket will cook faster.

-You may not have applied enough salt and pepper before smoking the brisket. Over time, this can dry out a brisket too much. If you see the brisket getting close to being done but it’s still looking a little underseasoned, mix up some more of your brisket dry rub and apply it before the brisket is finished cooking.

-The brisket wasn’t layered correctly. If you have a thicker part of brisket coming out on top, this will cause your briskets to cook faster than what was originally planned for.

To fix this issue, flip the briskets so that they are evenly layered.

-The brisket may have been a grade of meat that was too lean or not marbled properly to be cooked for the suggested time on your recipe.

This is especially common in briskets from younger cows, which typically have less fat and connective tissue between their muscle groups than older animals do.

There are many reasons you’ll have to pull your brisket early. What are some of the things you should do for this cut of meat to make sure you get what you want when it’s finished?

Pull The Brisket at the right time

One of the most important factors in brisket cooking is pulling the brisket at the right time.

This ensures that you get meat that is cooked to your desired degree of doneness.

To ensure that you pull a brisket when it’s done, use an instant-read thermometer to check the brisket for its internal temperature.

It’s recommended that you check in a few different places to make sure that your brisket is being cooked evenly throughout.

The briskets should have an internal temperature of 198 degrees Fahrenheit or higher before they can be pulled from the smoker and wrapped up so they will cook further without losing any more moisture. Losing moisture will cause your brisket to become dry and will affect its flavor.

A dry brisket is a brisket that has been overcooked.

Storing the brisket correctly

Once your briskets have reached their peak temperature, it’s important to store them in a way that will ensure they don’t get dry and tough. Wrap up each brisket tightly with aluminum foil or butcher paper so its juices can stay locked inside of the meat while it rests.

If you don’t have butcher paper or aluminum foil, a clean kitchen towel can also work to wrap up your brisket for storage.

Make sure you wrap it carefully because briskets are delicate meats that can tear easily. Another storage method is to place brisket in a Cambro container, which will help it retain moisture so the brisket doesn’t dry out while it is resting.

You should also avoid storing your brisket on top of any other foods because this may cause cross-contamination with bacteria from raw meat products.

Letting it come down in temp before slicing

One of the most important things to remember when the brisket is done early or pulled from a smoker at the wrong time, you should let your briskets rest for about 20 minutes before cutting into them.

The resting process allows all of the juices that have been stored up inside of the brisket to redistribute so that they will flow more evenly inside of the brisket.

You can store your briskets this way for up to an hour with no issues, but if you let them rest too long then some briskets may dry out and lose tenderness.


Can you rest brisket for 8 hours?

Yes, you can. You need to carefully monitor the temperature for this long resting process to ensure it doesn’t drop too low. The brisket will need to be placed in a cooler or refrigerator so you don’t risk the internal temperature dropping below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes bacteria growth and spoilage.

If your briskets have been sliced into at this point then they can only rest for an hour before being served because slice meat is more delicate and will dry out if it’s not served within a reasonable time frame. Be careful to use a precise temperature-controlled environment to rest the meat for that long.

Storage Methods

Some of the most common storage methods include:

– Aluminum foil or butcher paper

– Cambro container

– Kitchen Towel

Briskets can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days when wrapped properly until it is been cooked or smoked. You also have the option of freezing your brisket after you’ve cooked it. If you do decide to freeze brisket then make sure that it is wrapped tightly with air-tight freezer packaging or heavy-duty foil so the briskets don’t get freezer burn while they are being stored in your freezer for up to three months.


How long should brisket sit out before smoking?

It varies based on brisket size and what you’re going to do with it. Briskets that are larger than 12 pounds should spend at least a few hours out of the refrigerator before smoking to ensure they aren’t too cold when placed in the smoker.

If your brisket is pre-cut or sliced then it can be stored for up to two hours before smoking.

Can brisket be done in six hours?

This is definitely an instance where resting can make or break the quality of your briskets, so it’s important to monitor their internal temperature closely during this time period. If you don’t have enough time then consider using a faster cooking method like hot and fast just for the brisket so it’s tender and juicy.

Low and slow vs hot and fast cooking

When briskets are cooked hot or fast they can be done in about six hours, but if you cook them low and slow then the brisket will need to spend at least 12 hours in the smoker before being ready.

The big difference between these two cooking methods is that low and slow smoking cooks brisket over a longer period of time, but allows for the briskets to completely break down. When you cook briskets hot and fast then they are going to have a crispier layer of bark on them as well as be much juicier throughout.


Can You Let brisket rest overnight?

There is no reason you couldn’t let the brisket rest for an entire day after it’s been smoked or cooked. You can keep the brisket wrapped in aluminum foil, butcher paper, plastic wrap, or cambro containers until you’re ready to serve them so they don’t dry out while they are resting which helps retain moisture.

What is the best storage method for resting for long times?

This going to be a debate with some of your barbecue friends. I have heard of many different ways to do this from chefs who specialize in this type of cooking. The most important factor is the temperature. Keep your resting brisket in a cooler that has an accurate internal temperature that is constant and you should be good. I would recommend using a drying rack that keeps that beautiful piece of meat away from the dripping juices. Personally, I will use the juices in a sauce, but that is me.

How long should you rest a smoked brisket?

The brisket should remain in its resting state for at least two hours before you slice it. This will ensure that the juices of the brisket are distributed throughout the entire brisket instead of staying concentrated on one side, which can make your brisket drier than if it wasn’t sliced until after this time.


Oh no! My brisket temperature dropped overnight, what do I do?

Keep that baby warm

You can keep it warm using a heating pad or an oven. If your brisket is already sliced then place it back in the smoker for 30 minutes to warm up, otherwise just heat your brisket until it’s about 165 degrees before serving.


Why did my brisket cook so fast?

Sometimes fast brisket happens. Even the weather can affect the cooking time.

Cooking to fast

So many factors can cause the brisket to cook faster than expected, so it’s important to monitor your meat’s internal temperature closely. You can also try using a good meat thermometer and know when your brisket is at the ideal internal temp for tenderness before serving.

Why did my brisket cook so fast?

In some cases, this could be attributed to brisket being thawed and then going into the smoker, which often results in a brisket that cooks faster. It could also be due to using high temperature when smoking your briskets resulting in less time needed for cooking.

High smoking temperatures

High smoking temperatures can cause briskets to cook faster, which is why it’s recommended that the smoking temperature not get too high.

Most brisket cooks are well-versed in the concept of brisket cooking temperatures. When briskets are cooked at high temperatures, they usually have a thinner layer of bark on them that is also much crisper. They are also usually much juicier throughout.

Brisket with higher grades of marbling is going to have a brisket that cooks at a higher temperature. This brisket will have a thinner layer of bark on it and be much juicier throughout the brisket’s interior. The briskets without as much marbling are going to have a brisket that is leaner and cooks at a lower temperature, which is why they will have a thicker layer of bark on them.

Grade marbling effects on the internal temperature

Four brisket grades are found in briskets, which are Prime, Choice, Select, and Standard. The brisket grade is determined by the amount of marbling throughout the brisket. More marbling translates to a brisket with higher quality.

Prime briskets have the most marbling throughout them, while standard briskets have very little marbling. That is why prime briskets tend to be more expensive than other grades of brisket.

A brisket with a grade of Prime is going to have an end product that cooks at a lower temperature and will be more tender than briskets without as much marbling throughout the interior of it.

A brisket with a standard grade, on the other hand, has less marbling throughout its exterior which means that it’s going to cook at a higher temperature and will be much crispier than briskets with high grades of marbling.

It’s important to monitor your brisket closely while it cooks, as well as using a good meat thermometer will ensure that you’re not under or overcooking your brisket and always serving a tender smoking masterpiece! Listen to your friends and family with experience with cooking and most importantly practice and have fun.