How to Properly Rest Your Brisket for Ultimate Juiciness

Smoking brisket is a labor of love that requires patience and precision. As you near the finish line and your perfectly smoked brisket reaches its target temperature, it’s tempting to dive right in. However, before you slice that juicy piece of meat, there’s one crucial step you must not skip: resting the brisket. In this article, we will explore why resting brisket is important and provide you with five different methods to ensure your brisket remains moist and flavorful. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets to achieving ultimate juiciness in your brisket!

Brisket wrapped in butcher paper

Why is resting brisket important?

During the hours spent smoking your brisket, the heat has caused the meat to lose a significant amount of its natural juices. Even if you’ve taken precautions to retain moisture, like using a water pan or the Texas crutch method, the beef has still undergone a lot of stress to break down its connective tissues. Slicing the brisket immediately after removing it from the smoker will cause further evaporation, resulting in dry and less flavorful meat. Resting the brisket allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, locking in the desired juiciness.

BBQ Tips: Brisket

Different ways to rest brisket

To ensure your brisket remains moist and succulent during the resting process, follow one of these five proven methods:

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1. Cambro

On the competition circuit, many dedicated teams rely on Cambro insulated food carriers. These vertical coolers maintain temperatures, offering a controlled environment for optimal results. Simply wrap your brisket in butcher paper or aluminum foil, then tightly encase it in plastic wrap and place it inside the Cambro. This method is ideal for extended resting periods or when catering events require reliable temperature control.

2. Faux Cambro or cooler

For those on a budget, a regular cooler can serve as a viable alternative. Wrap your brisket in a towel to insulate it against the cooler air inside. Place the wrapped brisket inside the cooler without ice, and let it rest. Keep in mind that the towel and cooler will retain a brisket aroma until cleaned, so designate a specific towel for this purpose.

Warpped brisket in The Meat Swadl

3. The Meat Swadl

For a convenient and portable option, consider using “The Meat Swadl.” This insulated polyester zip-up bag provides some temperature control and is suitable for shorter resting periods. Unzip the bag, place your wrapped brisket inside, zip it up tightly, and let it rest.

4. On the counter

Resting your brisket on the counter is the least preferred method due to the lack of insulation. If you choose this option, wrap your brisket tightly in plastic wrap and a towel to retain some heat. However, do not leave it at room temperature for more than an hour, as it may enter the food danger zone.

5. Alto-Shaam

While primarily used by BBQ restaurants and caterers, an Alto-Shaam electric hold oven can provide precise temperature control for extended periods. Set the desired hold temperature, place your brisket inside, and let it rest until ready to slice. This method is recommended for large-scale cooking operations.

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Food safety is crucial

When resting and holding a brisket, it’s essential to prioritize food safety. The USDA advises that cooked meat should not remain in the danger zone (between 40°F and 140°F) for more than two hours. To ensure food safety, use a food thermometer to monitor temperature changes during the resting process. Always prioritize the well-being of your guests.

How long should my brisket rest?

The sweet spot for resting brisket is between 2-3 hours. At the two-hour mark, the juices will have settled, resulting in a moist and delicious brisket. If time is limited or temperature control is a challenge, resting the brisket for one hour is still beneficial. However, keep in mind that the longer the resting period, the better the results.

Can I rest my brisket overnight?

Resting a brisket overnight is possible but requires extra precautions. To prevent the brisket from entering the danger zone, use a Cambro or a well-insulated cooler like a Yeti. Ensure the brisket remains above 140°F by using a food thermometer. Don’t take any chances with food safety and always double-check temperature readings.

Can I rest my brisket in the oven?

While resting your brisket in the oven is not ideal, it can be a last resort. If you choose this option, be mindful of the oven’s temperature settings. An oven that is turned off will not provide sufficient insulation, and an oven set too high can continue cooking the brisket, resulting in dry meat. If no other options are available, it’s better to rest the brisket on the counter with proper insulation.

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Q: What is the ideal resting time for a brisket?
A: The ideal resting time for a brisket is between 2-3 hours. For shorter periods, 1 hour is still beneficial.

Q: Can I rest my brisket overnight?
A: Yes, you can rest your brisket overnight, but make sure it stays above 140°F to ensure food safety.

Q: Is resting the brisket necessary?
A: Resting the brisket is crucial for retaining moisture and ensuring a tender and flavorful final product.

Q: Can I rest my brisket in the oven?
A: Resting the brisket in the oven is not recommended unless no other suitable options are available.

Q: How can I ensure food safety while resting my brisket?
A: Use a food thermometer to monitor temperatures and prevent the brisket from entering the food danger zone.


Resting your brisket is a vital step in achieving the most succulent and flavorful results. By allowing the meat to rest, you give it the opportunity to redistribute its juices, resulting in a moist and tender brisket that will impress your guests. Choose a resting method that suits your needs, ensuring food safety and maintaining optimal temperatures. For more tips and expert advice on BBQ and smoking techniques, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. Happy smoking!