One of the best things about smoking a brisket? The leftovers during the week! We do everything from brisket sandwiches, dumplings, and even my world-famous brisket pot pie!
Smoking meat used to be a preservation technique before the refrigerator was invented.
Now we use the smoking process to cook beef brisket as well as add that unique, smoky flavor!
Like me, many people make more than enough brisket so they can have leftovers! Plus it’s more fuel-efficient to cook in big batches!
But how long can a smoked brisket last in the fridge before it goes bad? Let’s find out!
So How Long Does Smoked Brisket Last?
Smoked brisket can last in the fridge for approximately four days. Of course, you’ll have to keep it in an airtight container. And if it’s securely wrapped or sealed in a heavy-duty freezer bag, it can be kept in the freezer for nearly three months!
Of course, many different variables may affect how long the meat can last. You must be knowledgeable about how to handle meat. After all, food poisoning is no joke and it can even be fatal.
Keep reading this article to learn more about how to stop or at least slow down the growth of bacteria.
Why do You Need to Refrigerate Smoked Meat?
Smoking a piece of meat wasn’t all that was done to preserve it back in the day. It was also cured and completely dried out. Nowadays, we immediately smoke it and serve.
Without curing it and making sure it’s absolutely dry, moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria to grow.
If you don’t intend to finish smoked-cooked meats in one sitting, then it’s important to immediately refrigerate or freeze them. This will drop the temperature of the meat to below 40℉, which will also help prevent bacteria growth.
Practice Food Safety When Smoking Meat
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is that they don’t separate their cooked meats from raw meat. For example, never touch cooked meat if you’ve touched raw meat and haven’t properly washed your hands.
Even cutting something like cooked beef brisket on a surface that touched raw meat will facilitate cross-contamination. This is dangerous as it encourages more bacterial growth on the cooked meat’s surface.
You also need to ensure the meat has been cooked to a temperature in which the food is safe to consume.
See the USDA minimal temperature that meat has to reach before its deemed safe to consume
- All ground meat including lamb, pork, veal and beef needs to reach internal temperature of 160°F
- Sausages that contain ground turkey and chicken should reach 165°F
- All poultry need to be at least an internal temperature of 165°F
- Chops, beef, pork, veal, lamb steaks, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F
To learn more about proper food safety guidelines, we recommend checking out the official USDA site.
Wondering If You Can Freeze Your Leftover Brisket?
After 3-4 days if you still have a leftover brisket in your fridge you can freeze it. Or try my mom’s famous smoked brisket pot pie!
If you a more than meals worth, grab some containers and wrap it, and portion them (see my tips for wrapping it below). You can also use freezer bags, but make sure you get the heavy-duty ones. You don’t want your brisket to get freezer burn. If you are using freezer bags, force out as much oxygen as you can. Then using a permanent marker, mark the bags or containers with the date as well as what it is.
Not only do I put my brisket in containers or freezer bags I also wrap it. If you don’t have freezer paper, you can also use butcher paper. I don’t recommend plastic wrap because it can be quite difficult to pull it off of frozen meat. Next, follow that up by wrapping up the brisket parcel in aluminum foil. Wrapping your brisket in both these layers will ensure tastes best when you reheat it.
This is a tip for friends on the professional circuit. Save your cooking juices and also freeze them. They make reheating your meat much tastier.
Now, it doesn’t usually last more than a month in our freezer. But your smoked brisket should last 6 months in the freezer however I would try and use it within 3 months. Below I have my tips for when you are ready to thaw, reheat and serve your brisket that has been frozen.
Not to Sure How to Thaw Your Brisket?
It’s totally fine to just take the meat out from the fridge and thaw it on your kitchen countertop. However, the immediate increase in temperature can affect the quality of the meat.
If you have the time, we recommend transferring the frozen meat from the freezer to the fridge. The fridge’s temperature is higher compared to the freezer compartment, and it’ll slowly thaw out your meat in a more controlled way. Thawing meats overnight in the fridge also minimizes bacterial growth.
And if you don’t have the time to wait:
Then try placing the frozen brisket in an airtight container before leaving it to soak in a cold-water bath for around half an hour.
How To Reheat Thawed Brisket
You have a few options when it comes to thawing your frozen brisket.
- Can’t wait long for your brisket fix? If you have any leftover brisket sauce or barbeque sauce, then heat that in a pan and throw a few brisket slices in the liquid. You can also use beef broth for this
- Not in a hurry? Then preheat the over at 300℉ and place the brisket in an oven-safe dish. Follow that up by pouring some BBQ sauce over it, and cover the whole thing with a piece of foil before putting it in the oven.
How To Tell If Brisket Has Gone Bad
Look out for:
- Odd smells
- Slimy residue
If your brisket has any of these characteristics, don’t risk it! Throw it in the bin, its not worth it.
The bottom line is, you can enjoy leftover smoked meat. But you do need to know how to store it properly first.
It’s best to transfer the meat to the fridge as fast as possible!
And remember, your health is the most important thing. If any of your leftover meats look, smell, or taste a little odd, don’t take the risk. Throw it out and stay safe.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky brisket and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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