Cooking a tender and juicy brisket is one of the biggest challenges in the meat world, but it is worth it once you get that perfect brisket. You can take several steps to ensure that you get the tender and delicious brisket that you want.
This article will define briskets and the best cooking methods for brisket that will help you prepare a perfect brisket every time.
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What Is Considered a Brisket?
Each option has varying benefits that make them a good choice for your brisket cooking experience. The flat half provides:
- Minimal fat and juicier meat
- Fewer connective tissues
- Pricier cost but higher quality
By contrast, the point half is typically less expensive and has more fat and flavor. However, it may be harder to cook because it has more connective tissues and may require longer and more sustained preparation periods. Note that fresh beef brisket is different from a corned beef brisket.
In this article, we’ll be talking about the fresh beef brisket. Note that you can use these same cooking methods with the corned beef brisket but will get a sharper and saltier taste with one.
Four Best Cooking Methods for Brisket, But What is the Best Cooking Method for Brisket?
There are typically four different ways to cook a brisket: in an oven, on a stovetop, with a grill, or in a slow cooker.
Of the best cooking methods for brisket, the slow cooker is the best of the best option for several reasons. Let’s take a look at each of these methods to give you an idea of why slow cooking is the best:
Oven cooking a brisket can provide a tender meat if you braise the meat and prepare a cooking liquid that helps it slow cook.
It is a quicker method and can take one hour per brisket pound. However, ovens can be unreliable when cooking at such a low temperature: 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to be aware of wrapping brisket effectively.
Stovetop cooking also includes a cooking fluid and takes about one hour per pound of brisket meat, though you should always cook for three hours.
This method requires careful attention because you need to flip the meat to avoid burning, even at a low temperature.
Grilling is an excellent option if you want a smoky brisket with a barbecue-style flavor. However, you’ll have to constantly check the meat to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Your meat will also be tougher this way, even if you can serve your brisket much more quickly than average.
Using a slow cooker lets you cook a large amount of brisket over a lengthy period (as long as 18 hours) in a cooking fluid and at a steady temperature. It also lets you cook vegetables alongside the meat and requires minimal attention beyond stirring the food after about six hours.
While each of these four methods will provide some benefits, we strongly encourage you to slow cook to get the best results.
Let’s break down each of these methods in a step-by-step guide to help you better understand how they work and which option makes the most sense for your needs.
How to Cook Briskets in an Oven
Cooking briskets in an oven is a good choice for people who don’t own a slow cooker but want a more tender and juicy brisket.
It’s much easier to maintain an even temperature in an oven than in a stovetop or grill, though not as easy as in a slow cooker. Follow these steps when cooking a brisket in a range:
- Prep the Brisket: Dry the brisket by patting it with paper towels and season it with salt and pepper. You may then brown the brisket in oil if you want, as this may help improve its tenderness. However, you can also skip this step to avoid the risk of burning on the stove.
- Create the Cooking Liquid: Place your brisket in a covered baking pan and add a cooking fluid to help it braise. Add one cup for each pound or 3-4 cups total. Your cooking liquid can include any sauce, wine, herbs, and flavoring that you want to improve your meat’s overall taste.
- Bake the Brisket: Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and let it bake for at least 3-4 hours or so. You typically add one hour for every pound, so if you have a five-pound brisket, you can bake it for five hours to get the best effect.
How to Cook Briskets On a Stove
Cooking briskets on a stove is a good idea if you want to enjoy the meat a little bit and don’t mind it simmering for a few hours.
It typically works similarly to baking but is harder to maintain a consistent heat level. That said, there are a few steps you can take to achieve a good brisket:
- Prepare the Brisket: Like when cooking on a stove, you need to pat dry the meat, season it, and add a cooking fluid into a pan. In this way, this method is a good one to use if you’ve already cooked a brisket in an oven and feel comfortable with this method.
- Cook Low and Slow: Place your pan on the stovetop and put it on low heat. Please wait for the fluid to start simmering gently and lower the heat until it barely bubbles. Cover the pan with a lid to trap the liquid inside and provide a more consistent temperature. Cook the meat for 3-4 hours.
- Flip the Meat: Check your meat every 15-30 minutes to see if it’s starting to burn on the bottom. If you notice any burning, turn the heat lower and flip the meat to avoid burns. In this situation, an electric stove is a better choice because you can maintain the temperature a bit more easily.
When using this method, it is essential to make sure that you use a tight-fitting lid on your pan.
You don’t want a lid that barely covers the pan, or it might let out steam from the sides. A tight lid traps the steam and ensures that the fluid remains in the pan as the brisket cooks.
How to Cook Briskets On a Grill
Grilling will create the toughest brisket but can work well if that’s what you’re going for with your meat. It will create a smokey texture and is the fastest method.
If you’re careful, you can create a brisket with some tenderness, but don’t expect it to be as good as when you slow cook:
- Prepare Your Grilling Method: If you’re using wood chips, soak them in water for at least one hour and drain the water before using. If using charcoal, arrange them around a drip pan with one inch of hot water. With gas, pre-heat the grill to about 185-190 degrees Fahrenheit to get a smooth cooking texture.
- Prepare the Brisket: While you wait for your grill to warm up, dry the brisket and sprinkle it with a dry rub or sauce. Make sure that you work the sauce into the meat with your fingers. You may also let it soak overnight in the fridge to give it more flavor.
- Cook the Meat: Place your briskets fat-side down on the grill and cover the grill with its lid. Check the briskets regularly and flip them if they start to burn. The smoke created with charcoal and wood chips will produce an appealing texture and give your briskets a pleasant aftertaste.
While you can produce edible briskets in under an hour using this method, they will be tougher.
Instead, you can cook them for 3-5 hours and get a more tender overall texture. Note that it may be reasonably tender but isn’t going to be as delicious as cooking it with a slow cooker.
How to Cook Briskets in a Slow Cooker
Slow cooking your briskets is easily the best method for bringing out the juiciness inherent in a brisket.
A slow cooker helps you maintain an even temperature for a longer period and produces a tender and delicious brisket. Here’s what you need to do when using this method:
- Prepare the Meat: Remove exterior fat from the brisket and shape it. For example, you may cut it into several strips that will cook more efficiently in your slow cooker. Season the meat however you want and line the slow cooker with a liner to speed cleaning times.
- Add Your Cooking Liquid: Add any herbs and sauces you want to your slow cooker before adding the meat. You can even add water and soy sauce if that’s what you like. Slice and clean any vegetables you want to add and place them in the fluid with the meat.
- Cook the Brisket: Set your slow cooker to a brisket setting (or 225 degrees Fahrenheit if it doesn’t have special meat settings) and let it cook for 10-18 hours, depending on your needs. The longer it cooks, though, the more tender you’ll get your meat.
Carefully plan your slow cooking when using this method with your briskets. For example, you can start it the day before your plan on serving it late in the evening (such as 9 p.m.) when cooking for 16-18 hours or start it early in the morning (such as 5-7 p.m.) when cooking for 10-12 hours.
FAQs on Cooking Brisket
While you should be ready to cook briskets using any of these four methods, it is worth answering a few simple questions before you begin.
These concerns are some of the most regularly asked topics you need to understand before you start preparing and cooking briskets.
How Do You Cook Brisket So It’s Not Tough?
Briskets are tough because they possess a lot of connective tissue and fat that can make them hard to prepare. That’s why slow cooking with even and low temperatures is so essential. Longer cooking times break down those connective tissues and make your briskets more tender.
Some people prefer to brown their brisket a little before cooking it using any of these methods. This technique includes cooking it 3-5 minutes on each side before cooking. Taking this step helps tenderize the meat’s surface a little and may help it cook a bit faster.
How Do You Make Brisket Tender?
It would help if you cooked your brisket for a long time to make it as tender as possible, typically 10-18 hours in a slow cooker at temperatures of at least 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
You should also make sure that you buy on the best briskets because they typically have fewer connective tissues and fat, minimizing cooking time needs. A brisket injection or rub may also help tenderize the meat while it cooks.
What is The 3-2-1 Method for Brisket?
The 3-2-1 Method uses three cooking stages: three hours of smoking, two hours cooking in tin foil, and one hour of cooking without foil.
This six-hour cooking method is typically used for ribs but can be used for a brisket. It’s a good idea if you want a quicker cooking process that requires little maintenance with a somewhat tender brisket.
Slow cooking is still your best method for tender meat, though this option is good for grilling your briskets a bit better.
How Do You Cook a Brisket Without Drying It Out?
Covering your meat with a cooking liquid can prevent drying out your brisket. Your cooking container also needs to be sealed while you cook to avoid steam loss.
Even when cooking in an oven, you need to tightly cover the pan to prevent steam loss. Eliminating stream loss traps it inside the container and keeps your liquid from escaping, minimizing the risk of drying out your brisket.