I love cooking brisket. Especially a whole packer style brisket.
The problem is that once my family (and dog) have eaten our full, there’s usually still a few pounds of meat leftover.
And 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.
If you’re sick of leathery leftover brisket, keep reading. In this guide you’ll learn the 3 best ways to reheat brisket as well as a few secrets the barbecue pro’s use to keep their brisket moist.
Click to jump straight to each topic
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 your after you freeze it? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of both.
Slicing 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 then 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.
The Best Ways to Reheat Brisket
There are a few ways you can reheat a brisket. Depending on how much time you have, or how you froze the brisket in the first place, the best way to reheat will differ.
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 160°F for it to be safe to eat.
Similarly, when reheating a whole brisket in the oven or the smoker, make sure you have let it defrost properly first. This means letting it defrost for around two days in the fridge.
While you can also 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 40-130°F.
1) Reheating Brisket in the Oven
If you have frozen your brisket whole, the oven is probably the quickest and easiest way to reheat your meat.
- Preheat the oven to around 325°F.
- Once the brisket has defrosted, and the oven has reached temperature, pop the brisket in the oven and cover it with foil. Two layers of foil is even better if you want to be sure that there are no holes in the foil. Holes in the foil will lead to dried out meat.
- Your brisket should be ready in about an hour, once the internal temperature has hit
When reheating in the oven, there is the 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.
One suggestion is to reduce two cups of apple cider or apple juice by half, add a couple of tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce and pour that mixture into the bottom of the pan. You can use this as a sauce once the brisket is reheated.
2) Reheating in your Smoker
Once the meat is thawed out, you may also choose to reheat it in your smoker.
Reheating in the smoker is much the same as reheating in the oven, only it will take longer.
Meathead Goldwyn, of amazingribs.com suggests the following method in his guide to reheating leftovers
- Heat your grill to 225°F
- Use the 2-Zone cooking setup for reheating
- 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 160°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.
3) Using the Sous Vide Method to Reheat your Brisket
This method is great because you will never dry out or overcook the brisket when reheating it this way. We have to give credit to foodfirefriends.com for the idea to use sous vide to reheat brisket.
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.
Check out the video below if you’re interested to learn more.
The downside is that you need the right equipment for this method. It also isn’t the quickest way to reheat your brisket.
Here is a run down of how it works:
- Meat is vacuum sealed in an air and water tight plastic wrap
- Water temperature is between 110-175°F
- Meat is left in the water bath until the internal temperature of the meat reaches the same temperature as the water bath.
For a whole brisket which is around 4 inches thick, this will take around five hours. For pre sliced brisket around two inches thick, it will only take two hours.
While there are very specialised thermometers out there to check the meats internal temperature when cooking or reheating this way, they are not commonly used outside of commercial kitchens.
For reheating brisket you can use the time suggestions in this guide
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 favourite 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.
- 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
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to reheating brisket. 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.