Thawing Frozen Brisket: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re an avid BBQ enthusiast, you’ve probably encountered the challenge of dealing with frozen brisket. Whether you order it online or find a great deal at a store like Costco, proper thawing is crucial before smoking the perfect brisket. In this guide, we’ll show you how to thaw frozen brisket the right way, ensuring delicious results every time.

frozen brisket in packaging

How long will it take to thaw a brisket?

When it comes to thawing a brisket, maintaining the correct internal meat temperature is key. It’s important to ensure that the temperature doesn’t rise above 40°F for more than two hours. The safest and most recommended method is to thaw your brisket in the refrigerator.

For a 10-12-pound brisket, it will take approximately 2-3 days to thaw in the refrigerator. This slow and controlled thawing process ensures that your brisket remains safe to consume while preserving its natural flavors and tenderness.

BBQ Tips: Brisket

Thawing brisket in a water bath

If time is not on your side and you can’t afford to wait 2-3 days, an alternative method is thawing your brisket in a water bath. Here’s how:

  1. Leave the brisket in its original packaging to prevent waterlogging.
  2. Place the brisket in a cooler.
  3. Submerge the entire brisket in cold water.
  4. Replace the water every 30-45 minutes to maintain a safe temperature and prevent bacterial growth.
  5. Keep in mind that this process will take several hours, so plan accordingly.
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While this method can be effective, it does require attentive monitoring and frequent water changes, making it quite labor-intensive. If possible, opt for the refrigerator thawing method to ensure a stress-free cooking experience.

Once your brisket is almost fully thawed, it’s time to trim it. Interestingly, it’s actually easier to trim a brisket when it’s still cold.


Q: Can I use a prep tub or a fridge thermometer while thawing my brisket?

A: Absolutely! Using a prep tub, like the XL Drip EZ Prep Tub, provides an added layer of protection in case of any leaks. Additionally, a fridge thermometer, such as the Spot from Thermoworks, can accurately monitor the refrigerator temperature, ensuring it stays within the safe zone.

Q: Can I use a cooler for thawing my brisket quickly?

A: If you prefer the quick cooler method, a heavy-duty cooler like the Yeti 45 Tundra is highly recommended. The insulated walls of the cooler will help maintain a steady temperature, ensuring optimal results.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to thaw your frozen brisket correctly, allowing you to embark on a flavorful and enjoyable BBQ journey.


Thawing frozen brisket might seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach, it can be a simple and rewarding experience. Remember to prioritize food safety by thawing in the refrigerator whenever possible, and if time is of the essence, utilize the water bath method with caution. With a little patience and preparation, you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly tender and juicy brisket every time. For more expert tips and exciting recipes, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.

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