How to Reheat Brisket (without making it dry)
There’s no great accomplishment in barbecue than smoking a whole brisket.
Brisket is a huge cut of meat though, and once my family (and dog) have eaten our full, there’s usually still a few pounds of meat leftover.
If you’ve ever tried to reheat leftover brisket you’ve probably noticed that it tastes nothing like the delicious smoked brisket you were enjoying the day before.
After lots of trial and error, I’ve found the sous vide method gets the best results, but if you don’t have the gear for that I’ll share two other great techniques.
How to reheat brisket: The 3 best options
There are a few ways you can reheat a brisket. The best option will depend on how much time you have, and the gear you have access to.
With any of these methods, you can slice the brisket first, or keep it whole and slice it after reheating.
Slicing before vs after reheating
- Slicing brisket before reheating makes storing the brisket easier
- Reheating the brisket whole, and then slicing it when it’s time to serve helps keep the brisket from drying out.
A Word on Food Safety: It is important to check the temperature and not the clock when reheating. The internal temperature of the meat needs to reach 165°F before it is safe to eat.
If you’ve had some leftover brisket stashed in your freezer, you will need to ensure the brisket has defrosted properly before you try and reheat it.
While you can thaw meat in cold water baths, thawing in the fridge is the easiest way to thaw your meat without losing too much moisture, and without leaving your meat in the “danger zone” of 40-140°F.
1. Using the sous vide method to reheat your brisket
The sous vide method is great because you will never dry out or overcook the brisket when reheating it this way.
If you haven’t heard of sous vide before don’t worry. It sounds fancy, but sous vide is just another word for a water bath. It’s a pretty interesting method for cooking that’s been growing in popularity over the last few years.
The downside is that you need the right equipment for this method. It also isn’t the quickest way to reheat your brisket.
I use the Sous Vide 10 precision sous vide cooker from Meat!
Here is a rundown of how it works:
- Vacuum seal sliced brisket in an air and watertight plastic wrap
- Set the water temperature to 165°F (you can set it hotter initially if your meat is still cold and then drop the temperature)
- Leave brisket in the water bath until the internal temperature of the meat reaches the same temperature as the water bath.
The time it takes will depend on the size of the brisket and if you are using already sliced pieces or whole.
My sous vide cooker can heat 10 gallons of water anywhere between 41-203 degrees which makes it perfect for reheating brisket.
While there are very specialized thermometers out there to check the meat’s internal temperature when cooking or reheating this way, they are not commonly used outside of commercial kitchens.
2. How to reheat brisket in the oven
If you don’t have a sous vide machine you can use then the oven is the quickest and easiest way to reheat brisket.
- Ensure your brisket has fully defrosted.
- Preheat the oven to around 225-250°F.
- Wrap your brisket in two layers of foil. You can add a few splashes of beef broth or a few pieces of melted butter to prevent the meat dry out, or keep reading and learn how to freeze your brisket so next time there is plenty of moisture.
- Your brisket is ready once the internal temperature has hit 165°F. This could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the brisket.
When reheating in the oven, there is a tendency for the meat to dry out. To avoid this, either make sure the original cooking juices are still in the bottom of the cooking tray, or add some moisture.
3. How to reheat brisket in a grill or smoker
If it’s more convenient you can reheat your brisket a smoker. You aren’t looking to add new smoke flavor at this point, just gently bring the temperature up for safe eating.
Reheating in a smoker is much the same as reheating in the oven.
If you want to reheat brisket on a grill:
- Set your grill up with a 2-Zone cooking setup with your hot charcoal or gas burners on one side, and the other side with no direct heat.
- Sit your foil-wrapped brisket in the indirect zone until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 155°F
- Unwrap the brisket and finish it off over the direct zone for around 5-10 minutes. Make sure you check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F before serving.
Keep an eye on your meat to make sure it does not burn when it is over direct heat.
If you are cooking on a gas grill, setting it to medium heat should be about right for reheating.
How to store and freeze your brisket
How you freeze your brisket largely depends on the answer to the following question:
Do you slice your brisket before or after you freeze it? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of both.
Slicing brisket before you freeze
- Slicing your brisket and freezing the slices so they can be reheated individually is very handy if you only need to reheat a couple of slices at a time.
- Brisket slices will not take up as much room in your freezer as a whole brisket will.
- If you’re not careful, you can be left with dried out brisket when you freeze it in slices.
- Because the meat is sliced, there is more surface area that could be exposed to contamination. Maintain high hygiene standards, and put the slices into the freezer as soon as they are prepared to avoid this issue arising.
Slicing after you freeze
- The brisket will retain a lot of its moisture if it is frozen whole.
- There is less chance of contamination as the exposed surface area is reduced.
- Slicing a whole, reheated brisket looks “fresher” than serving up pre-sliced brisket.
- Will take up more room in your freezer.
- You will have to reheat it all in one go, and this will take longer than reheating slices.
How to keep your brisket as moist as possible
- If you chose to slice before you freeze, let the brisket cool while sitting in its own juices. This will ensure it retains as much moisture as possible.
- Freeze the slices on a flat sheet of baking paper initially. This will allow them to freeze separately. Once they are frozen, pop them in a ziplock bag. Now you will be able to take them out separately as you need them.
- Malcom Reed of howtobbqright.com suggests letting the brisket rest, then separating the fat out of the cooking juices, leaving the quality au jus behind.
- Then, after placing the whole brisket and the au jus into a foil food service pan, he vacuum packs the whole thing, pan and all, making reheating, with juices and all, a breeze.
What about boiling or microwaving leftover brisket?
You may feel tempted to whack the brisket in the microwave, as it is an indisputably quick way to reheat food.
Trouble is, microwaving works by turning the water molecules into steam. Essentially the brisket will be steamed from the inside out.
This will leave you with dry, rubbery and downright horrible meat. Plain old waste of a brisket if you ask us.
How about boiling? Boiling a brisket that is wrapped in an airtight covering can have pretty good results. Similar to the sous vide method, the meat doesn’t dry out.
The trick is ascertaining the internal temperature of the meat, as you will still have to ensure that it has reached at least 160°F for it to be safe to eat. While there are sous vide cooking charts, they will not generally reach the water temperatures when boiling.
Thus, ensuring the meat has reached a safe internal temperature is a concern when boiling meat to reheat it.
What to do with your leftover brisket
If you are open to trying something different, there are countless ways you can use leftover brisket, and you can find a whole stack of them in this roundup of leftover brisket recipes.
But just to give you some inspiration, here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie: Technically, the beef version of this recipe should be called cottage pie, but that is irrelevant. Using cut up chunks of your leftover brisket in this classic recipe not only yields delicious results, but also makes for a quick, easy and filling midweek meal.
- Quesadillas or Tacos: If you have any tortillas laying around, the addition of leftover brisket is a match made in heaven. Keep it simple with cheese and sauce, or jazz it up with toppings such as pickled onions and avocado sauce.
- Grilled Cheese: Simple yet delicious
- Beef Stroganoff: Creamy, hearty and filling, beef stroganoff is a family classic. And if you have leftover brisket it is quick and easy to whip up too.
Wrapping It Up
So long leathery leftover brisket! You now know the three best ways to reheat brisket, plus all the secrets to keeping your reheated brisket nice and moist.
Brisket yields such a good amount of tasty meat that knowing how to freeze, reheat and reuse it means you can get the most out of this delicious cut.
What do you find is the most convenient way to freeze and reheat brisket? Or do you have any questions that were not covered in this post? Let us know in the comments section below. And if you found this article helpful, be sure to share.
- Leftover Brisket
- Ensure brisket is completely defrosted before you reheat it.
- Preheat oven or smoker to 250°F.
- Wrap brisket in two layers of aluminum foil and place in heated oven or smoker .
- Your brisket is done when it reaches 165°F which will take between 20-55 minutes depending on the size of your brisket and if you are heating a large chunk or individual slices.