Did Your Brisket Come Out Tough? (Learn How to Save It)

Brisket is perfect for the smoker – low and slow. However you need to get it right or it will be chewy and dry.

Achieving that tender meat can be challenging. Even for a seasoned pitmaster!

So, don’t be disheartened if your brisket came out way tougher than you expected.

Trust me; it’s not all over yet.

We’re going to share our tips and techniques on how to save a tough brisket. So that you can still serve delicious food to your guests!

brisket too tough
my juicy brisket cooked low and slow

Can You Save a Tough Brisket?

Tough brisket is usually caused by under cooking. Brisket is packed with connective tissue. If it isn’t cooked low and slow, the tissue doesn’t have time to break down. If your brisket tough, you might be able to save it by returning it the smoker for a couple of hours. Ensure it gets to an internal temperature of 195 degrees.

So Does Brisket Come Out Tough?

Brisket is from in the chest area of the animal, which is sandwiched by the chuck and the front shank. 

When the animal moves or even stands, the muscles in that area get worked. So the cut has much more connective tissue. Which makes the cut of beef much tougher than others

Collagen is part of the connective tissue. This collagen transforms into gelatin if cooked low and slow. The gelatin helps turn a tough cut into a juicy and succulent brisket.

As a result, brisket cut requires hours of smoking low and low for the connective tissue to break down. So, under cooking is the most common reason for brisket being too tough.

The internal temperature must reach at least 195 degrees before the brisket is ready to be taken out of the smoker. 

If it doesn’t hit that temperature, you won’t get that perfect texture

As a rule of thumb, brisket requires a cooking time of an hour per pound in a 275-degree smoker. So, it will take 3-4 hours to slow cook a 3-pound brisket.

You can also overcook brisket, which will leave you with something that’s way too dry. So, what to do with overcooked brisket? I few suggestions below.

Tough Brisket: Can It Be Saved? Our Tips and Techniques

Yes, fortunately, tough brisket can be saved if you do it right.

As we’ve mentioned before, the reason behind tough brisket is most likely under cooking. You didn’t give it enough time to cook. So, here are some of the things you can do.

1. Return the meat to the smoker 

If it didn’t reach 195 degrees, return the brisket to the smoker and let it continue cooking.

2. Refrigerate and Bake

If the brisket feels way too tough and everything seems lost, you still don’t have to panic. Take a deep breath.

Start by wrapping the meat tightly in plastic wrap (make sure you save the cooking juices) Then store it in the refrigerator overnight. Bring the piece of meat out the next day to and slice it up into thin pieces. Place the slices in a baking dish with your cooking juices. Then bake covered at around 350 for an hour.

A Few Others Ways to Soften Tough Brisket

The good news is, yes, there is a way of softening tough brisket.

The bad news? It takes time.

You can’t instantly transform the chewy piece of brisket; it just doesn’t work that way. However, if you’ve got the patience, then we’re going to show you how to make brisket more tender.

3. Make a Brisket Pie

Your leftover brisket can be used to make incredibly delicious brisket pie.

For this quick recipe, you’re going to need tomatoes, onion, garlic, beef stock, balsamic vinegar, grated cheese, and flaky pastry in addition to the brisket.

  1. Slice and dice some onion and garlic, then sauté them in a frying pan. While they’re cooking, cut the brisket into chunks of meat but don’t make them too small. Throw them into the pan with onion and garlic. Proceed to add tomato paste, a little bit of balsamic vinegar, beef stocks, and then about a cup of water.
  2. Allow them to cook for some time in there and continue stirring with a spoon to help them mix. As your pie mixture is preparing, you should now move onto getting the pie base ready. Use flaky pastry and pie cutter to prepare the bases.
  3. Heat the pie maker and put the pie base in there. Now grab the pie mixture, which is heating in the frying pan, and pour it gently into the pie maker, right on the pie base. Then top with grated cheese. Now, close the lid and give it about seven to eight minutes. That’s it; your brisket pie is ready for eating!

4. Make Some Brisket Dumplings

This is a delicious recipe in which you add hoisin to the brisket and shred it. It then popped in some dumplings pastry. Just boil up your dumplings and your ready to eat! See the recipe here.

5. Create Some Burnt Ends

You can turn your tough brisket into burnt ends. It’s pretty easy and a great way to save your meat. The guests who came to your barbecue party won’t be disappointed after all! Here is how you can make burnt ends/

  1. Cut the brisket into small cubes. The cubes should be one and a half to two inches thick.
  2. Then grab a roasting pan or an aluminum tray and place the brisket on it. Get your favorite BBQ sauce and pour it over your brisket You should use enough sauce to cover them all.
  3. Next, prepare your oven. Set the temperature to 225-degrees.
  4. Now, simply roast the brisket for an hour or two, allowing the sauce to caramelize and the meat to soften up.

6. Use it for a Brisket Soup

Brisket soup is another lovely dish that you can make using a tough piece of brisket.

  1. To do this, cut the meat into 2-inches thick cubes. Then neatly place them inside a stockpot, or you can use a Dutch oven too. Before heating, make sure to cover at least half of the meat with beef broth.
  2. Don’t cover the pot until the cubed pieces come to a simmer. Make sure to cook in low heat. It usually requires two or three hours of simmering.
  3. Afterward, go ahead add any vegetables you want like Allow the dish to simmer for one more hour to allow the vegetables to be tender. When it’s all done, serve the food after seasoning with salt and pepper. 

It’s never a good feeling to end up with tough brisket! Especially when you were expecting something tender and juicy.

But don’t throw the meat away just yet. We’ve shown you how to save a tough brisket so that you can still enjoy it

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 nature with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork)

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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