Why Is My Brisket Dry: Main Reasons + Quick Solutions

by | Jul 17, 2023 | Barbecue, Smoker | 0 comments

Brisket is a complex dish to perfect – no matter how well you follow the instructions of an age-old recipe, trying to get meat to just the right amount of crispiness and juiciness can be a tough task. 

The possible effects of overcooking or undercooking brisket are two – it either turns the brisket dry and tough, or mushy to the point it leaks. 

If your brisket has turned out dry, which is the more common outcome, it is possible that your meat either lacks enough marbling or was not packed properly. Sometimes, cooking for too long at a hot temperature or not allowing it to rest well can also cause your brisket to become dry. 

Read on to know more about what you can do about dry brisket!

What Are The Signs of a Dry Brisket?

You would recognize a well-cooked brisket just by its smell, the flaky appearance, and the pink-red juiciness of the firm meat. However, when overcooked, brisket does tend to get dry – to a point that it becomes crumbly and extremely easy to slice into. 

If your brisket is dry, it will probably feel tough while being very chewy in texture. There will be no natural fluids and the fats that are supposed to fuse with your meat will appear clear. 

Why Is Your Brisket Dry?

With a dish like a brisket, the results of cooking are rarely perfect. 

If you are confused about where you are going wrong, check with the following reasons to see if they might be the reason why your brisket has dried. 

The Brisket Was Overtrimmed

There is an extra layer of inedible fats in the brisket called the fat cap, which you remove when planning to smoke the brisket. It stops the brisket from cooking well as it does not allow easy absorption. 

Removing the fat cap is known as trimming, and if you trim a bit too much, you also remove the protective layer that keeps the brisket safe. 

The Temperature Of The Smoker Raised Too High

Though the warmth of brisket needs to be maintained throughout the cooking process, a temperature that is too high (above 250°F) can cause the meat to become dry by losing all the moisture. 

Instead of cooking fast with a high flame, the flavor of brisket can only be achieved by slow cooking over a medium-low flame.

The Brisket Lacks Marbling

Sometimes, the meat itself can be lacking in quality, as good brisket will come only from a good or at least decent type of meat. 

A juicy brisket can only be achieved when the meat has a lot of marbling, which is a sign of its good quality and fats. Since people buy briskets in cuts, it is possible you did not have good meat!

The Brisket Was Not Wrapped Properly

The maintenance of a shell that is warm enough to trap hot air inside is very necessary for the brisket to cook properly. 

When the meat is not packed properly during resting, then the passage for air evaporates all the moisture and heat, causing the brisket to become overcooked and dry. 

Pre-Cooking Preparation Was Lacking

Though the resting period is also essential, prepping up the brisket also needs to be perfect so that the meat does not dry off. Make sure that when you add dry brine, you let it sit for at least 48 hours overnight so that the meat is moist and juicy. If you are considering adding marinade, you should try injecting it as well. 

Brisket Was Overcooked

Sometimes, people can overcook brisket by letting it sit in the oven for too long during the resting period. 

Make sure that you use a proper thermometer to note down the heat and that it reaches the perfect temperature (195°F) before you take it out.

You can let it stay a bit longer, but if it goes below 145 degrees Fahrenheit, it will become inedible. 

The Brisket Was Not Rested Properly

A lot of times, the resting period can lead to impatience, and the chef takes out the brisket before it has rested properly. This can lead to undercooking as resting helps the juice seep into the meat properly and cook it well on the inside. Let the brisket rest for at least 1 – 2 hours before you remove it from the oven. 

Cutting Off Brisket Before Time To Serve

Similar to how brisket is undercooked when you remove it before it has finished resting, cutting open the meat before it has rested can also cause it to be dry. 

Hence, allow the brisket to cool down properly as a whole instead of cut up into slices, or the texture will grow dry by the time it is supposed to be served.

What to Do If Your Brisket Is Dry?

When the final result of your cooking ends up being very dry, thankfully, you do not have to throw the whole meat away. There are still a few different ways through which you can try and fix dry brisket!

Add Some Sauce To It

The brisket can sometimes be fixed if you add sauce to it, as it balances out the dry taste. 

There is a specific mixture of peppercorns and brandy that you can saute using a tablespoon of butter with minced peppercorns and garlic. If you add this brisket mixture to a cup of beef broth, you will get the perfect sauce for your dry brisket. 

Once it is ready, simply slice up your brisket and pour the sauce over it along with salt and other seasonings. 

Cook It Again With Oil Or Spices

You can also try and fix your brisket by cooking it again with oil and spices. However, through this method, you will not be able to serve brisket as a whole. First, you need to tear the meat into several tiny pieces, before mixing it with some chili powder and minced cumin. 

Cook this mixture at a low temperature in a pot so that all the components mix well with each other. This shredded meat can be served as a side dish, as a filling, or as a sauce!

Use BBQ Sauce With Vinegar

Similar to the previous method where you mince the meat and then add other components, you have to do the same but add barbeque sauce and vinegar instead. It enhances the flavor and the end result is a mixture of meat that can be used to make patties or toppings!

If you want the sauce to be more savory, you can also add some red wine to make it saucier and then serve it with potato salad. 

Soak The Brisket With Marinade

You can even soak your brisket in a marinade using butter, garlic, and salt to give it extra flavor. It is better to make the mixture first before you put the brisket, as too much butter can make the meat even drier. Instead of cooking the two together, go through the process by heating the brisket in the marinade.

Change The Brisket To A New Dish

If nothing works for your brisket, or it is bland to a point of no recovery, you might want to change the whole dish into something else. The possibilities are endless – either mince the meat and serve it in a sauce, make a stew, or a side dish with eggs or potatoes! You can get creative with the remaining brisket you have. 

How to Prevent Your Brisket from Being Dry? 

Sometimes, brisket is dry and tough simply because of its lower quality, which lacks a proportionate number of fats and marbling. However, the following methods can help prevent your brisket from becoming dry. 

Dry Brining The Brisket

Dry brining is the process of rubbing salt over the meat and then letting it rest for a bit. 

You can dry brine brisket by rubbing the kosher salt all over the brisket and then refrigerating it. This can become a difficult task for larger sizes, as you might have to brine them for more than a day. But, it will certainly save your brisket from being too dry. 

Marinade The Brisket

If you are short on time and cannot wait for the brining, you can simply inject your brisket with marinade 30 minutes before you start cooking the brisket. Choose a simple broth like beef’s, so that your brisket’s flavor profile is not interfered with. 

Go Through Resting Process Carefully

Brisket’s flavor is very dependent on the resting period as it is not just the cooling-off time for the meat, but also its carryover cooking step. Make sure that you wrap the brisket carefully before you put it in the storage you have planned for it. 

Do not let it rest for longer than necessary and keep the heat at a low if necessary for thorough cooking. 

Related Questions

Is Dry Brisket Overcooked Or Undercooked?

Brisket becomes dry when it is overcooked to a point that its texture will be crumbly and appear clear in color. 

Should I Add Liquid To My Brisket?

Adding liquid to your brisket is not exactly important, but can be allowed if you want to enhance the flavor or give it a slight tinge of seasoning. 

Final Thoughts

Making brisket is a long process that requires a lot of time to perfect, and is also difficult due to the various changes in temperature involved. 

However, the tips covered in this article will make sure that your brisket at least never runs dry, so you are already halfway through achieving the perfect meat meal!




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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