Resting the brisket is essential before slicing and carving as it helps in redistributing all the moisture and juices evenly inside your meat. There are several methods that you can explore for this purpose.
Resting brisket inside a cooler is one of my favorite and also the most popular methods among BBQ lovers.
Coolers can create a suitable insulation environment where you can store and rest your brisket for around 4 hours without compromising its quality, taste, and flavor.
Therefore, I will provide all the vital information along with tips and tricks about how long to rest brisket in a cooler. Let’s discover.
How Long Can a Brisket Rest in a Cooler?
You should let the brisket rest in a cooler for at least 2 hours and at max up to 4 hours after wrapping it inside a butcher paper or damp towel to allow the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful brisket.
The resting time also depends on several factors, such as the size of the meat and its internal temperature when it comes out of the smoker after cooking.
But, I would say expanding the time of the resting process can drop the internal meat temperature the same as an overcooked brisket if you prolong the smoking duration.
Therefore, I think going for 3 to 4 hours (not more than that) of duration to let the whole brisket rest in a cooler would be advantageous, keeping it juicy and tender.
Some coolers use the faux cambro method, in which the area of a cooler is preheated before you place your food inside.
As a result, the duration of the resting process expands and allows you to keep the meat inside for a couple of extra hours, like up to 6, without compromising its quality.
Is it Beneficial to Rest a Brisket in the Cooler?
Resting duration and other aspects apart, let’s see if it is really beneficial to let your it rest in the cooler.
After smoking brisket thoroughly, when it leaves the smoker, its correct internal temperature is somewhere between 190 °F to 203 °F.
It will struggle to keep the same heat inside if you don’t allow it to rest. This is where the cooler plays its role.
A cooler provides an insulated environment which is ideal for the brisket to keep the steady temperature alive, redistribute the juices and moist, and carryover cooking if your brisket is undercooked.
The process of resting in a cooler may seem straightforward, but it requires a bit of extra effort. If you want to achieve better results, you need to take some essential steps.
Overall, the cooler method is beneficial and an excellent choice if the goal is to rest a beef brisket or any other large and thick cuts of meat.
Accessories Required for Resting the Brisket in a Cooler
You will need a few essential accessories and put more effort into achieving optimal results when resting a brisket in a cooler.
So, let me share the list of things you will need along with their use.
Paper for Wrapping
When resting brisket at room temperature on the counter, it may not require wrapping. But if you decide to rest it in a cooler, wrapping paper is compulsory.
You can go with the two most beneficial options, aluminum foil or butcher paper. Both play an essential role in resting and have their own noticeable advantages.
You can choose one option between these two papers because both provide different outcomes. Let me differentiate them to help you select a suitable one per your preferences.
Firstly, you need to decide whether you like all of the moisture to be kept inside the brisket or you like bark.
In my advice, aluminum foils are a better option to keep the meat moist because it provides tight sealing when you wrap the brisket. As a result, the moisture remains inside the meat till the end of the resting process.
On the other hand, butcher paper is more suitable for keeping the brisket bark as good as it was right after the smoking session.
This is because butcher paper allows for some airflow. After all, it does not wrap the brisket as tight as aluminum foil.
So, it depends on your personal preferences regarding which wrapping material you should choose. Here’s a complete guide about how to wrap a brisket.
A cooler is the backbone of this resting method. A little inspection is required before you select a cooler for brisket resting.
It will help if you look for a regular cooler capable of keeping the ice cold and providing continuous insulation for several days.
The most important thing here is good insulation because, without it, you can’t properly rest your meat and may end up ruining its taste.
You should keep the cooler’s size in mind as well. It should be large enough that you can easily place your wrapped brisket.
Another essential thing I recommend is to look after the cooler lid. It is as vital as your smoker’s lid, through which you can shut the cooler tightly without compromising the heat escape.
Last but not least, the drains in a cooler will be icing on the cake because they will allow you to drain out the hot water anytime and anywhere when resting is done.
It is a widely admired technique among pitmasters to place the wrapped brisket inside towels to retain more heat. The use of damp towels can also expand the resting time inside a cooler.
Most importantly, if you like to retain moisture inside the meat and keep its bark good simultaneously, the combination of brisket wrapped in butcher paper and towels can be a good choice.
The paper will help with airflow, while the towel will provide extra insulation.
There are no hard and fast rules when choosing towels for this purpose. Ensure you don’t clean them with hard detergents as they may smell, which can impact the brisket.
You may have an idea about the importance of a food thermometer. Whether you are smoking brisket or resting it, it is compulsory to use a food thermometer when using a cooler to hold meat temp.
By probing the brisket at the right part, you can easily monitor its temperature and prepare it with its perfect doneness level.
It is an optional thing that can be handy if you don’t want to waste the juices and other liquids coming out from your brisket.
Using an aluminum pan is simple. You will need to find one that can hold your brisket comfortably. If you have one like that, you can place the meat in a pan and then inside the cooler.
As a result, the drippings and juices will go into the pan that you can pour on the brisket after finishing the resting process. Also, the pan will make cleaning a breeze.
Resting brisket in cooler overnight
It is possible to rest brisket inside a cooler overnight if you do it with the proper techniques.
For example, you will need to provide a nice insulated environment to your smoked brisket so that it does not drop its internal temperature while resting.
Here are my suggestions that can help you in resting in cooler overnight.
- An hour before the smoking process completes, fill the cooler you will use with hot water and let it be there for at least an hour. It provides excellent insulation.
- Next, when you have smoked your brisket, wrap it tightly inside butcher paper or aluminum foil. You can also use a damp towel to place your wrapped brisket inside.
- Empty the cooler and then place the damp towel (holding brisket) inside the cooler and let it rest.
Resting brisket for 12 hours
I believe that 12 hours is too long to rest a brisket, and it can impact the flavor and taste. If you rest it inside the cooler for that long, the internal temperature of the cooler and meat can drop down after 6 hours, which you can’t afford.
Here, I suggest resting in cooler overnight with the tips and tricks shared above. It can let your brisket rest for up to 6 hours.
So, as long as you can provide good insulation, you can rest it. But when the temperature of the cooler or Faux cambro starts to drop, your meat may not stay at a safe temperature.
A Quick Glance at Resting Time Required for Different Sizes of Brisket
Let me share the estimation of how long to let the brisket rest in the cooler, depending on the different weights.
I’m suggesting these stats, but remember, it also depends on some other factors, like the type, the internal temperature of the cooler, the brisket’s weight, etc.
For example, if you are smoking a 10 lb brisket, its resting period can be different from others with different weights.
|Weight of Your Brisket||Possible resting duration|
|3 to 5 pounds||1 to 2 hours|
|6 to 10 pounds||2 to 4 hours|
|11 to 13 pounds||4 to 5 hours|
|14 to 16 pounds||5 to 6 hours|
What is Faux Cambro, and How to Make it?
Faux cambro is an old technique that many pitmasters and barbecue restaurants have been using to keep their different types of food warm and rest brisket for a long time.
I define this thing as an insulation box or meat resting box that can be handy in several conditions, such as storing food and moving the food towards the picnic point.
There are a few simple steps that you need to follow to create your faux cambro.
1. Preheating the Cooler
Pour three gallons of water into the cooler and ensure the water you pour is reasonably hot because it is essential.
After the water is in there, keep the cooler close tightly for around half an hour. It will preheat the cooler and helps in reaching the required internal temperature.
After 30 minutes, empty the cooler and place a towel at the bottom of your cooler.
2. Adding the Brisket
Once the brisket cooking process is done, wrap it on paper and place it inside an aluminum pan. This plan will go at the bottom of your cooler on the towel you set before.
After that, place another towel on the pan and meat to cover things nicely. Close the lid of your cooler, and you are good to rest your brisket for 4 hours.
It will make an excellent insulation environment, allowing you to store your brisket warm and keep its temperature above 145 °F.
I recommend using a food thermometer to make things easier for you. So, probe the thermometer in the thickest part of your meat and let it rest.
This is how you can rest and store your food well within its safest internal temperature. You can use both a traditional and a wireless thermometer.
3. Finish Resting and Cleaning the Cooler
Whether you rest the meat for 2 or 4 hours, when it reaches 145 °F, you can take your food out of the cooler.
As for cleaning, the pan does a nice job of keeping the drippings and juices inside, shortening the cleaning process.
If you are cleaning conscious, a bit of soap and water will clean the cooler nicely and make it ready for subsequent use.
So far, you must have realized that putting brisket to rest after smoking or even roasting is an important step, and I also considered it as a part of the cooking. Though It requires some extra effort.
I have provided you with all the valuable information you need to know regarding how long to rest brisket in the cooler.
By following the tips and tricks I have shared, you will be able to achieve desired results with tender and juicy brisket.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you rest brisket in a cooler for too long?
Resting your brisket for more than 4 hours is not something I would recommend because the outcome may not be suitable. It can make it soggy, and its internal temperature drop to less than 145 °F. The ideal time is from 2 to 4 hours.
What should be the temperature inside the cooler while resting brisket?
The temperature inside the cooler while resting brisket should be around 145 °F to 165 °F as it will provide better results in keeping it warm, juicy, and tender for around 4 hours. Some high-quality modern coolers can maintain this temperature for around 6 hours.
Should you rest brisket wrapped in a cooler for resting?
Yes, you should wrap your brisker inside butcher paper or a damp towel before placing it inside the cooler. It will ensure the brisket bark remains the same and the juices redistribute evenly around the meat.
Robert Gill, a BBQ enthusiast, and Senior Author at FaveGrills.com bring his extensive knowledge of BBQ equipment and exciting recipes to the team. With his outgoing personality and love for BBQ, Robert plays an essential role in the FaveGrills community, sharing his passion and expertise through informative articles and gear reviews.