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What To Do When Brisket Finished Early? (Explained)

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Brisket can take a long time to smoke completely, sometimes up to 20 hours!

As a result, meticulous planning is sometimes required in order to have everything ready to serve for any potential dinner guests or party goers.

However, there are some scenarios in which your brisket may finish much sooner than predicted. While this may not appear to be a problem, you must now find a means to keep it warm and juicy before serving.

Fortunately, there are loads of options for keeping cooked brisket fresh, including cooler storing and utilizing a crockpot or oven.

This post will discuss what you can do if your brisket finishes sooner than expected, as well as how to safely keep it fresh and juicy for serving.

How Quickly Does Brisket Typically Take to Cook?

The recommended temperature for smoking brisket is 225 degrees(F). The brisket will take 1 ½ to 2 hours per pound of meat to properly cook at this temperature.

This means a 6-pound brisket will take around 12 hours to cook on the smoker.

However, this is not always accurate, because numerous factors influence how quickly the brisket cooks.

What Causes Brisket to Finish Early?

Warm Weather

The hotter the weather, the warmer your smoker will be, which may cause your brisket to cook much quicker.  

The ambient smoke heat inside the smoker is affected by the conditions outside of it. If the temperature is colder, you will need to increase the heat to compensate for the loss.

Warmer temperature has the opposite effect. The higher the temperature outdoors, the more you will need to regulate and lower the temperature within the smoker.

Low Fat Content

Brisket takes so long to smoke because the fatty tissues are broken down and emulsified into the meat. That fat is also responsible for forcing brisket into a stall via a process known as “evaporative cooling.”

So, if a brisket has had too much of its fat puck trimmed away, it may cook considerably faster than previous briskets you’ve smoked.

How To Keep Brisket Juicy and Fresh for Serving?

Using An Oven

Most ovens include a “warm” setting that is ideal for brisket. It protects it from teetering into the danger zone while keeping it hot and ready.

If your oven does not have a warming function, pre-heat it to 150 degrees(F) for the similar results.

If you use an oven, make sure not to remove the wrap when you remove the brisket from the smoker. If you haven’t already wrapped it, you should.

The wrap will hold all of the juices in place, helping keep the meat juicy and tender. 

Using A Crockpot/Slow Cooker

If you’re afraid that an oven will overcook or toughen your brisket, use a crockpot instead.

Set your crockpot to the lowest setting and hold the brisket in there. However, this time, remove the wrap and add all the leftover rendered juices inside the crockpot along with the brisket. 

The best part about using a crockpot is that you can add additional juices to help keep the meat hydrated.

The Cooler Method

Keeping brisket in a cooler is the best and most recommended way for holding and keeping it warm.

Using a cooler to keep brisket warm may seem strange. However, effective coolers are extremely insulative and excellent at holding heat within.

Brisket can be kept warm and fresh in a cooler for up to 4 hours! It does, however, necessitate some minor preparation.

  • Bring water to a boil and pour it into the cooler a few minutes before pulling the brisket.
  • Drain it, then dry it before lining the cooler with dry cloth towels. To keep the heat in, immediately close the lid.
  • Pull the brisket off the smoker and wrap it in another dry cloth towel right away. (If you haven’t already wrapped the brisket in tin foil or butcher paper, do so before covering it in a towel.)

Pour and dry additional boiling water through the cooler every 30 minutes to keep the inside at a proper temperature and keep it warm for as long as possible.

Keep a tight check on the brisket’s temperature to avoid allowing it to fall into the danger zone.

Can Brisket Continue Cooking the Next Day?

Yes, you can suspend the smoking process and finish the brisket the next day. If you pick this option, you must finish it in the oven rather than the smoker.

Raise the internal temperature to at least 160 degrees(F). Then wrap it securely in saran wrap and set it in the refrigerator.

Make sure to include any juices from the foil wrap or rendered drippings from the smoker inside in the saran wrap to keep it hydrated.

The next day, preheat your oven to 250°F and roast the brisket until it reaches 195° degrees(F). Allow at least 30 minutes for it to rest.

Keep in mind that the brisket will be difficult to shred if you do this, so it will be best served in slices at this point. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are numerous methods for keeping a brisket warm and juicy. So, if yours finishes much sooner than expected, don’t worry!

A brisket might finish early for a variety of reasons, some of which are not entirely your fault. 


  • that ovens are fantastic for keeping brisket warmed for short periods of time, but they do pose a greater risk of drying out.
  • Slow cookers are a terrific choice for individuals who don’t want to risk using the oven, especially if you’re creating pulled or shredded pork.
  • The cooler approach is ideal if you do not have access to a crockpot or oven and will keep brisket warm for up to 4 hours!