Brisket In Cooler: Benefits, Method, and Best Tips!

by | Jan 22, 2023 | Barbecue | 0 comments

The resting period is very important when it comes to cooking or smoking a brisket. A common mistake beginners make is not letting the brisket rest properly after taking it off of the smoker and serving it before it has been cooked well internally. While you also cannot let the brisket sit on the counter for resting. Safe to say that meat smoking is also equally important as resting.

The best way to rest brisket meat is to do it with a cooler and a digital meat thermometer to slowly go about the process. Remember that the bigger the meat is, the longer resting might take. But the results will be worth it.

So, if you are cooking brisket for the first time and are confused about the waiting time, or how a cooler is responsible for the carryover cooking process, read on!

Benefits Of Resting Brisket In Cooler

Resting is important for cooking big cuts of meat parts like brisket as it allows the food to cook thoroughly. Though it can be done without any equipment, a cooler is ideal as it allows carryover cooking to go perfectly. 

Your best option for fixing the timing issue with your briskets is to smoke them the day before and hold them overnight. To hold the brisket simply refers to maintaining the internal meat temperature of the brisket above 140°F and a cooler might just help with that.

Following are other benefits as to why you need to rest your meat in a cooler:

Meat Gets Cooked Thoroughly

Cooking red meat like beef brisket is tough as it is since getting to the core of such a thick structure is difficult! 

The problem with cooking meat on flame is also that due to temperature variations, often, the outside is well cooked with a crispy layer, but the inside could still be pinkish and half done.

If you use a cooler to rest, it allows the brisket to cook while it cools down, as the internal heat remains for a long time after you have taken it out. It will also help with retaining the brisket bark, so you can get a fine piece of meat.

Resting Helps With Juice Redistribution

Resting a brisket is very essential as it helps with the redistribution of the meat juice which means that if you slice into the meat right after you take it off from the smoker, the juices will all flow out and onto the chopping board instead of staying where they are supposed to stay, so when you bite into the meat, it’s going to be hard and dry brisket.

According to the meat science at Texas A&M, when meat is rested, the water is redistributed, ensuring that the juices will stay in the flesh when it is cut.

Resting Keeps Meat Hot

Additionally, when resting or holding barbecue meat, you also let it remain warm for a longer time. 

Resting can be done without a cooler, but letting the meat sit for over 16 hours means that when the time comes to finally eat it, it’s cold. If you rest your brisket, you can cut it up exactly when you need to serve it and it will still be warm.

How To Rest A Brisket In A Cooler?

Before I tell you how to rest the brisket in a cooler, it is important to know how resting meat in a cooler happens:

After you take out the brisket from the smoker, the meat basically continues cooking, which is why you take it out at a certain temperature and give it a good rest for a bit. This is called carryover cooking and the process can be difficult to grasp at first. 

Though it may sound like a lengthy process, it is not so necessary for small beef or pork cuts. But if you have a big portion like a brisket, resetting will allow the meat to cook properly, a smaller piece of meat will also require resting but will take a different time period. Different pieces might have different rest times, however, the end result will be a juicy, tasteful dish. 

The following items are required to rest the meat perfectly. 

  • Butcher paper
  • Towels
  • Cooler
  • Digital thermometer
  • Large pan

Next, you can go through the following steps that are also beginner friendly to keep a brisket in the cooler. 

Step 1: Prepare the Cooler

First, prepare the cooler by getting at least 3 gallons of hot water and putting it into the cooler. Then, give it an hour rest with the lid shut close. 

Step 2: Prepare a Support

Take out the water and then using the towel, make a support for your brisket by laying it on the floor of the bottom of the cooler. Put your pan at the bottom and try to be quick about it. Do not let the hot air escape so easily. 

Step 3: Wrap the Meat

Next, take the butcher paper and wrap the brisket with it and push the digital thermometer into the plumpest area of it. Take the brisket and put the brisket in another towel over it before closing the cooler again. 

Step 4: Let the Brisket Rest

Next, give it at least a time period of 30-45 minutes, and put the meat to rest before you peek into the cooler to check the temperature. You will need to monitor the temperature, but try to not peep till it’s been a while so that hot air does not escape.

Step 5: Check the Temperature

Once the temperature reaches around 195 Degrees Fahrenheit (for whole meat), you can take out the meat to serve it. This is the most crucial part as serving it above or below this temperature might be harmful to your body. 

Do not forget about your brisket as overcooking can make it soggy and tasteless. Meat is always served best when hot and freshly done. 

Things To Take Care Of When Resting Brisket In Cooler

It might sound easy, but when I first tried to rest my brisket, I messed up big time! So, according to my experience, here are a few things to take care of. 

Temperature Is Important

The main reason why meat gets rested properly is its temperature, so it is necessary that you take it out at the right time. Keep checking on the digital thermometer to ensure that the temperature does not drop below the necessary one. 

Remove the brisket once the temperature reaches 195 Degrees Fahrenheit so that it is perfect when it’s time to eat. Also, don’t let it rest too long, and never serve it below 140 Degrees Fahrenheit!

Keep The Cooler Warm

When checking the temperature of the brisket, don’t open the cooler repeatedly – to the point that the hot air inside escapes, just let the meat rest in a cooler.

Before doing the first check, make sure that the meat has rested for at least 30 minutes so that some of the carryover cooking has taken place and the brisket has at least started having a warmer internal temperature. 

The ideal time to let a whole brisket rest is around 1 hour and 15 minutes for every pound. It is a long process of an hour’s rest, so chill for a while before you open the cooler to check on the meat!

Other Ways To Rest Brisket

Resting brisket in a cooler is the ideal way to do it, but if you don’t have one and it’s an emergency, there are other ways available. Here are a few other ways:

  • In A Cambro: A cambro is an insulated cooler made for keeping food hot or warm. It’s a camping tool that will also work similarly to a cooler, and maybe even better as it allows the brisket to rest perfectly. It is also available in a lot of sizes, so it’s perfect for all sizes of brisket. 
  • In A Faux Cambro: Many caterers and even professionals utilize a faux cambro as a culinary appliance to keep their food warm and fresh. It can be made out of a beer cooler, it is the home version of a cambro. It works pretty much the same way as a regular cambro to help the brisket stay warm.
  • In A Steam Cabinet: This is another barbecue tool to keep the brisket warm for long hours. It is similar to a cooler as it can help retain hot air and moisture. 
  • At Room Temperature: Brisket can also be rested at room temperature, but not the best way as the meat might get unevenly cooked if something went wrong in its initial stage in the oven. Just keep your brisket in a warm area or covered in towels or thick cloth that will contain the heat.

Related Questions

Should Brisket Be Wrapped While Resting? 

A brisket should be wrapped properly with butcher paper or aluminum foil and then with a towel when resting in a cooler. This is essential as the cover keeps the heat inside and also protects the meat from harmful bacteria while it cooks. 

How Long To Rest Rest A Brisket?

The resting time to let a brisket rest in a cooler completely depends on the size of the meat, either way, it takes a long to rest brisket. Smaller cut parts would need only about 30 – 45 minutes of resting time before it’s completely done. Larger parts like a whole brisket would need longer – between 3 – 4 hours. You can decide by taking at least 1 hour 15 minutes for every pound. 

Final Thoughts 

Though this step may seem unnecessary, learning how to rest after cooking your brisket properly can certainly improve the taste of your dish. Resting can make it juicier and more tender. Thus, giving you an appetizing meal that leaves you satisfied! 

So, get yourself a cooler for your brisket if you have not already to keep food warm and see the difference for yourself. 




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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