How Long To Let Brisket Rest Per Pound (3 Simple Steps for Juicy Brisket)

Resting a piece of meat you’ve been cooking is a CRITICAL step! If you want pit master-worthy, brisket resting is just as important as smoking.

You might want to know exactly how long to rest your brisket? You need to rest your brisket for 2-4 hours in a cooler wrapped in a towel.Today I want to analyze the importance of resting meat, particularly a cooked brisket.

How Long Should Your Rest Your Brisket For?

You need to be resting your brisket for 2-4 hours in a cooler wrapped in a towel or foil. If you ever go to a judged BBQ competition then professional chefs like Aaron Franklin or Wayne Mueller are likely to grab a cooler or special cambro box. 

These teams are also known to add beef stock or inject juice into their finished product before wrapping and closing up. The logic behind this is to redistribute moisture back into the proteins in a controlled and optimized environment.

You see when a brisket is cooked for hours at temperatures of 200°F or higher, all of the water within the proteins will be pushed out as the muscles contract, It’s just a fact of life!

Wrapping will create insulation, and protect and stop any steam from escaping. These all have an effect on moisture and the gelatine from fat rehydrating the meat. 

How Long Should I Be Resting My Brisket Per Pound?

You should rest your brisket rest for at least 45 minutes per pound to ensure you get competition-worthy brisket. There are a lot of factors that come into play here and I hope to have enlightened you on a few of them.

The Humble Brisket

The brisket is a well-known cut in BBQ culture and foodies alike for a good reason. Typically a brisket is a large size muscle taken from the chest area of the cow known as beef brisket or a pork butt. 

These pieces of meat are flavorful due to intermuscular layers of fat and connective tissue that reside within the muscle fibers. The cuts of meat are typically cooked low and most recipes will recommend a whole day cooking brisket. 

Smoking brisket is my personal preference the ultimate way to perfect a tender brisket with juicy outer layers and bark formation. 

Lastly I just also want to mention that a dynamic range of spices, aromatics, and seasonings can be used. This subjectivity makes for a more personal touch and overall differentiating experience every time. 


What Do We Mean By Resting?

Resting is quite literally allowing the meat some alone time after the entire process of preparation and cooking has finished.

Today I want to go a bit further into the rationale and know some more delicious details.


Why Do We Rest Brisket?

So why are we going to all this trouble cooking and then leaving it on the side?

I’ve highlighted the 3 most important reasons below but just briefly I will say that not resting meat after heating will have a wholly negative impact when you go to enjoy consuming it. Do you want to sacrifice your best brisket experience at the end of the race?

I know I don’t.

Redistributing The Meat Juices Back Into The Meat

Protein that had a prolonged heat source (cooked) contains loads of moisture. This is why the weight when raw will always be different when cooked.

Would you believe me if I said that water makes up around 2/3 of your brisket? Isn’t that crazy? This being said, at a cellular level during the cooking process the muscular fibers within the protein contract which pushes all that water to the surface which then gets evaporated. 

I don’t want to give you a science lesson but, when you are resting the brisket, it gives a chance for those muscle fibers to relax with all the lovely soft fat layers. 

The unevaporated natural juices then find their way back inside and produce meat juicy enough to please anyone. There are also temperature thresholds to when your mean is almost definitely going to become dry. 

It is also important to monitor the internal temperature of your brisket with a meat probe to ensure it doesn’t go past the internal temp of 170F which is the threshold. 

A dry brisket is a wasted brisket. 

Tenderizing The Meat

So now we understand how resting enables the moisture to seep back into a hunk of meat. We can also see how this also has an impact on the consistency and overall tenderness of the protein.

The muscle fibers relax and make your beautiful meal softer in the mouth. This is of course desirable when eating as no one wants to eat dry meat. 

Not only does resting have an impact on the protein and muscle fibers, but it also enables the layers of fat that have been rendered with internal juices to be absorbed.

Fat = Flavor.

Carry-Over Cooking

Carry-over cooking is a term used by professional chefs and pitmasters. It describes when residual heat from cooking raises the internal temperature of the meat.

Knowing what the internal temperature should be for the cut of meat you are cooking is imperative to get the best results. As you read further you will get to know the right conditions regarding the temperature a brisket should be.

Carry-over cooking could be looked at as a condition when resting rather than a reason. It is still important to know as you can remove the meat from your grill a little bit before the required temp.

For example, many people might think their brisket has stalled at 190°F. But if you remove the brisket at this temp will carry over cook to 195°F – 200°F which is close to the perfect temperature to pull brisket. =

What Does The Weight Of The Brisket Have To Do With Resting?

So why do we look at the weight of the product before knowing how long to rest it? Well, I have spoken about the protein and muscle fibers absorbing back the moisture, and it is then very simple to think that the protein and muscle fibers are the actual mass of the meat.

It’s what your brisket consists of (along with some tasty layers of fat too), so effectively knowing the weight is knowing how much moisture should be absorbed back from the raw product. 

What Is The Desired Internal Meat Temperature of a Brisket?

The ideal temperature for brisket is 204°F but this can increase by up to 15F when resting and could cause your beautiful brisket recipe to be substandard.

Stop the cooking process at around 202°F and it will achieve 204°F when it rests. Monitor your probe and even consider wrapping it with butcher paper or foil halfway through the cooking process.

This will divert any intense hot spots or direct heat from burning or overcooking quickly. 

Note: I have written a whole article on wrapping a brisket which can be found here <insert link>

What Is The Minimum Time To Rest A Brisket?

What is the minimum time to rest a brisket? The general rule of thumb for resting a large piece of meat is 20-30 minutes.

If you were cooking it in a tray or roasting tin then remove it to a room temperature container so it doesn’t affect the carry-over cooking so much. Remember, always cover with tin foil to lock in the steam to keep any juices and flavor from escaping.

Happy eating folks.

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

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 recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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