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Can You Overcook Brisket? (Things to Know)

Brisket is one of America’s favorite beef dishes. Texas is probably the number one state to find brisket anywhere cooked to perfection. Other states that specialize in meats and grilling can nail this cut of beef perfectly when cooking.

Even if you’re from one of these states yourself, that doesn’t make you a master griller by default, especially when it comes to brisket. Getting this cut of meat right takes some trial and error and, to be able to cook it to sheer perfection, there are a few things you need to know.

So, can you overcook brisket?

It is possible to overcook any type of meat, including brisket. The problem with brisket is it has to be almost perfect with no in-betweens. It cannot be served overcooked or dry, and it cannot be undercooked, like eating a rubber tire.

The best brisket will fall apart or melt in your mouth. That is the flavor and texture you are looking for when cooking or grilling brisket.

Your guest and family will love you for it. You are in the best place to find out all about how to get the perfect brisket cooked the right way.

Overcooked vs. Undercooked vs. the Perfect Brisket

There are a few signs that will let you know whether the brisket is over or undercooked. The temperatures you are looking for to have the perfect brisket are between 185°F and 205°F.

It is essential to remember when using a thermometer to measure the temperature of the meat not to do it too often. The more you poke holes in the meat, the more juices you will lose. This will make the meat dry up quickly.

Poking holes with a thermometer should only get done toward the end of the cooking time. As you read the numbers, you will know if the meat is almost done, just right, or overdone.

Overcooked Brisket

There is no doubt it takes several hours to cook the perfect brisket. Keeping the juices within the meat is the key while it slow-cooks. The hardest part, in all honesty, is your mouth watering while you smell the beautiful aroma and anticipate the flavor.

Even with indirect grilling or slow cooking in the oven, it is still possible to overcook brisket. Once this happens, the outside of the meat becomes hard—and the inside loses all the juices and comes out tough and dry, which makes it extremely difficult to chew and swallow.

Tips on how to avoid this are by injecting the meat before cooking. Basting also helps throughout the process (basting means taking the juices and covering the meat as it gets closer to the finish line).

Wrapping the brisket in bacon is another way to keep the meat basted with the fat drippings. We all know everything is better with bacon, right? Brisket is no different.

Collagen, which is the connective tissue, is what makes the brisket dry and tough. The only way around this is slow cooking. Cooking it quickly is a way to over or undercook the meat. The collagen will then turn to gelatin to make the meat tender.

If you find the meat is overcooked, the only way to resolve this issue is to cook it in liquid. This process will add the juices back to the brisket. Be careful and take heed not to cook it too long from this point. You only want the juices to go back inside the meat.

Undercooked Brisket

The outside of the brisket may appear to be complete, especially after cooking for several hours. However, it may not have finished cooking through in the middle. When this happens, the meat will be tough to chew, almost as if you’re chewing on a rubber tire.

The only tip we have to offer is to keep cooking the brisket if it is undercooked. You may ask how long should you cook the brisket. Every oven, grill, and cookware varies.

The best advice we can offer is cooking at 225°F. Cook the brisket for an hour and 15 minutes per pound and continue to check on it toward the end. In a sense, it may almost be better to overcook it than to undercook the brisket slightly.

If a thermometer is used, follow the advice above for cooking times and temperatures. If the brisket holds the internal temperature at the thickest part at 185°F to 190°F, it will be cooked to perfection. However, keep in mind, it must hold that exact temperature for several hours.

It will be challenging to tell if the meat is undercooked without a thermometer. The one thing you never want to do is cut the meat to check the inside. This will cause the loss of juices necessary to cook the meat properly.

Undercooked brisket will also have some red or pinkness in the middle. This is unacceptable, and the meat will be chewy and hard to break apart. It is critical to remember; this is brisket and not a ribeye steak. The textures are very different.

The Perfect Brisket

The perfect brisket does not have to get cooked with a high-class experience. It only needs a person willing to experiment with patience for cooking times. There should be no problems by following the basics of cooking the brisket and getting it to 185°F and 205°F and the cooking time per pound.

A brisket cooked to perfection is one that is fork-tender and practically melts in your mouth and falls apart. When cutting it, there is little resistance.

These are some things to remember in achieving the perfect brisket:

  • Keep the fat on top when cooking;
  • Add bacon for more fat drippings and additional flavor;
  • Keep the internal temperature between 185°F and 205°F. Once the brisket is pulled out, the internal temperature may rise an additional 10°F. The highest the final temperature can go is 205°F;
  • Never cut the brisket immediately after taking out the oven or grill. It will tighten a bit, but releasing the juices will ruin the texture of the brisket;
  • If you don’t have a meat thermometer, equip yourself with one before you get cooking. A friend, neighbor, or local grocery store will have one available. This will save you a lot of time and trouble.

Final Thoughts on Cooking a Brisket

We hope that this information helps get the perfect brisket on your plate. 

It is a challenge, but nothing to get intimidated over when cooking. Plus, if you like to have a drink or relax and read the news while your food is cooking, there’s plenty of time to do this.

The final question we could try to answer is, “Is your mouth watering yet?” Starting early in the morning is ideal for getting it ready for supper. 

Keep the brisket basted on the outside and juicy inside by adding aluminum foil from the beginning till the temperature holds at 185°F.

When it comes to juicy brisket that falls apart and melts in your mouth, there is nothing better.