Brisket is a kind of meat that comes from the breast of the cow. It is a tougher cut and so many people choose to cook it slowly in order to make it more tender. Cooking it this way can be very time-consuming and so some people also look at freezing their fully-cooked brisket to be able to enjoy it another day, or as part of another meal.
It’s also a relatively expensive cut of meat, which means you want to preserve the life of your brisket as much as possible.
You may be wondering: can you freeze brisket? The short answer is yes, you can freeze brisket but there are things you should know before starting the process. That goes for both cooked and raw brisket.
Freezing is easier than you think so grab a bag, follow our instructions below and your cooked brisket should stay safe, fresh and flavorful for 2-3 months, or if frozen raw around 6 months.
Does Brisket Freeze Well?
Brisket is a cut of meat that freezes well, can be taken out and defrosted as needed, and comes out of the freezer tasting just like the day you originally cooked it.
So yes, brisket freezes well, whether cooked or raw. Freezing will alter the texture of the brisket a little. It may cause the meat to forfeit some of its quality, though the loss will be minimal.
How To Freeze Brisket
Follow these simple steps to freeze brisket. You can freeze the brisket as a whole or slice it. Either way, you choose, it will freeze well.
When your beef brisket is cooked to perfection, give it a 30-minute rest in aluminum foil. This step helps the meat retain moisture, but also makes it easier to slice once it’s chilled.
So, let’s take you through the series of steps involved in freezing brisket:
Step 1 – Cool it Down
Let the brisket cool down to room temperature before putting it inside the freezer. Don’t put the hot or warm brisket in the freezer, or it will result in condensation forming in the packaging it’s contained in and this will spoil the brisket.
Step 2 – Split into Serving Portions
If you want to use the brisket for a big gathering meal, then you can freeze it whole. However, do bear in mind it will take a very long time to freeze then defrost the brisket if frozen like this.
However, if you want to defrost it quicker and/or if you intend to use the brisket for a dish for a small number of people, then you should slice it and then separate it into smaller individual portions. It makes the meat freeze quicker and it will thaw much faster this way too.
Step 3 – Double Wrap
To avoid freezer burn and maximize retained flavor and storage time, you must now carefully wrap or enclose the meat in a way that air can’t find its way in. Double wrap the brisket in aluminum foil.
Step 4 – Put into an Airtight Container
After wrapping the brisket in tin foil, put it in an airtight conditioner or freezer bag for meat. Carefully check through the seals: can you see any cracks, tears, or any fault?
A little cut in the seal will give way for air to enter into the container, and lead to freezer burn. If you can detect any fault, change the seals or the whole lid.
Step 5 – Date and Label
To keep track of the time your brisket has been in the freezer, date and label the packaging. Use within 3 months. To keep longer than that, vacuum seal the brisket and it should stay fresh for about a year.
A good vacuum sealer will cost from $50 upward. Some recommendations:
Voila! These are the processes involved in freezing brisket.
How Long Can You Freeze Brisket?
How long you can freeze brisket varies, depending on whether you freeze it raw or cooked. A raw brisket can stay longer in the freezer than a cooked one.
Similar to freezing salami, you can generally keep a raw brisket in the freezer for up to 6 months. For an already cooked brisket, you can put it in the freezer for two to three months.
How To Defrost Brisket
The various methods you can use to thaw frozen brisket are:
Defrosting in the Refrigerator
The safest method of defrosting brisket is by putting it in the fridge. To defrost, place the brisket in the coldest part of the fridge, preferably the bottom shelf, and ensure you adjust your fridge to 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
It takes an average of 24 hours to defrost 5 pounds of meat. So, defrosting a chunk by refrigeration takes time. However, it is the best thawing out method. This is why it makes sense to freeze it in much smaller sliced packages as it will defrost so much quicker.
Defrosting in Cold Water
You can defrost brisket by putting it in cold water. Simply put the brisket in the selected thawing container and cover it up with cold water.
This method is faster than the fridge. Typically, you’ll need thirty minutes to defrost one pound of meat. So, while it’ll take you an average of 24 hours to thaw 5 pounds of meat if you’re defrosting with the fridge, you’ll need ten hours for the same if you’re using cold water.
However, you should only use this method if you intend to cook the meat immediately after thawing.
Defrosting in the Microwave
You can also defrost brisket by using a microwave. This method isn’t advisable because it won’t thaw your meat consistently through – some parts may be completely thawed, while some may still be frozen.
How To Defrost Brisket Fast
If you’re in a hurry to defrost your brisket, defrosting by cold water is your go-to! With cold water, it’ll take you an average of thirty minutes to defrost one pound of meat. If you froze it sliced, it will defrost quicker.
How Long Can You Keep Thawed Brisket in The Fridge
After you’ve defrosted your brisket, you should cook it as quickly as possible. However, if you’re not cooking it immediately, you can keep the thawed brisket in the fridge for two to three days. Put it in the coldest region of the fridge.
Can You Freeze Brisket Twice?
If you defrosted your brisket with a refrigerator and did not leave it out at room temperature, then yes, you can re-freeze it again. However, you should freeze-thawed brisket within 3 days.
The downside is that if you freeze brisket twice, it will reduce the quality of the meat – changes to the color and odor, and a decline in the ability of the meat to hold moisture.
Freezing Different Types of Brisket
You can freeze the various types of briskets. You can freeze cooked, smoked, raw, BBQ, pulled, marinated briskets.
Of course, the required duration of freezing may vary. For example, while you can freeze a raw brisket for up to 6 months, you can only do so for a cooked brisket for two to three months.
Recipes with Brisket
Here are a few of our favorite recipes with brisket
- Miso, mushroom & brisket pie
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich with brisket
- Smoked brisket tacos
- Taco soup with brisket
- Brisket casserole
- BBQ pizza with brisket
- Brisket enchiladas
How Do I Know If a Brisket is Spoiled?
How to tell if brisket is bad? The best way to tell if brisket is spoiled is to smell it. High-quality brisket should smell like raw beef, but if it has a sour smell this is a warning sign. If it has a sour, ammonia-clad smell, or if it stinks of bleach or ammonia, it’s no good.
If the brisket has slimy surfaces, excess moisture on its surface, or has discolored surfaces, throw it out. Anything with a rotten or sour smell must not be eaten.
Fresh brisket should have a rich red color with creamy white fat; avoid briskets with discolored fat. Cooked briskets should have moist, tender and pink flesh. Brisket that is spoiled will have discolored fat and dark areas as well as graying on the sides.
You now know it’s safe to freeze your brisket as long as you take the correct steps. We took you through the processes involved in freezing brisket, how long you can freeze it, and the defrosting methods (and the pros and cons).
Have you frozen your brisket before? If so, what have your experiences been like so far? We would love to know them. Kindly share them with us in the comment section below!