One of the best parts about smoking brisket is that you almost always have leftovers.
But, with the amount of time and effort you put into cooking one of these bad boys, you don’t want to store it incorrectly and lose all those juices and that flavor!
You want the leftovers to somehow be even better than the freshly smoked ones!
We all know how important it is to rest a brisket, but it’s actually equally as crucial to store a brisket correctly too.
All for the sake of leftovers!
To keep the brisket at its best, here’s everything you need to know about storing brisket in the fridge, how long you should rest brisket before putting it in the fridge, and whether you can store a smoked brisket in the freezer!
Resting brisket can almost be as important as cooking it!
So it’s natural that before putting it in the fridge, you allow your brisket adequate time to rest and continue the magic that happens when you rest your BBQ meat!
But it does raise the question: how long should you let brisket rest before putting it in the fridge?
Well, once your brisket is cooked you should let it rest for at least an hour or as long as you can, but be sure to place it in the fridge before it reaches 140°F.
This allows for maximum time for the brisket to rest, without letting it enter the food-safe “danger zone” of 41°F – 135°F.
If your needing to rest your brisket for a long time, check out what to do when your brisket is done too early!
Or, if you can’t wait that long for the brisket to rest you CAN put it in the fridge earlier, from around 160°F internal, without causing any real harm to the texture.
How To Store Brisket In The Fridge
You wouldn’t simply throw a brisket in the middle of the smoker without taking the necessary steps to prepare it correctly, right? In the same way, you should take the time and make the right preparations before putting your brisket in the fridge.
There are two viable ways of storing your brisket in the fridge and the better method depends on how your going to be reheating it!
That is, you can store your brisket in the fridge whole or you can slice it into portions first!
Each method has its own benefits. Let’s take a taste.
Storing Brisket Whole
Storing brisket in the fridge in one big chunk helps it retain its moisture and prevents it from drying out as easily from the cold temperatures of the fridge.
However, if you’re not going to reheat a whole lot of brisket leftovers at once, then you’ll have to cut the brisket into portions before reheating it.
Though this method still helps keep the quality of the brisket intact, it does take a bit more effort to slice it before reheating.
When storing a cooked brisket as one whole chunk, you should be sure to wrap it tightly with aluminum foil, butcher’s paper, or in any other airtight package or container.
Storing Sliced Brisket
Just to be clear, the main reason you would store your brisket pre-portioned into nice slices is to make things a million times easier when it comes to reheating.
Instead of having to take out the whole chunk of brisket and then carve up a few slices before reheating them, you can simply take your pre-portioned brisket slices out of the fridge, ready for reheating and serving.
Just be aware that pre-slicing your brisket before putting it in the fridge will inevitably dry it out more than keeping it whole. But it does make things a lot quicker and easier when it comes to reheating your leftovers!
How Long Is Smoked Brisket Good For In The Fridge?
When stored in an airtight container or vacuum sealed package, smoked brisket can last for 3-4 days in the fridge, barely losing any of its quality within this time frame.
The same can be said with most other smoked meats, they all tend to last 3-4 days in the fridge, so long as they’re stored under 40°F, ideally in airtight containers.
The less airtight the package, the more moisture will be drawn from the meat and the drier it will become.
It’s best to let your brisket rest for at least an hour and cool down to at least 140°F before storing it in the fridge. This helps keep maximum flavor and moisture content while stored in the fridge.
Can You Freeze Smoked Brisket?
If you want to keep your smoked brisket away for longer than the 3-4 days that the fridge will keep it fresh for, you CAN freeze a smoked brisket for later consumption.
But, if you’re hoping for the same quality of meat when you take it as when you put it in, well, it’s critical to store it correctly.
The cold, dry temperatures of the freezer are much less forgiving than the cool temperature of the fridge.
If you’re freezing smoked brisket it’s imperative you seal it in a secure, airtight container. Even then, the brisket is not immune to the effects of the freezer.
Still, smoked brisket should last at least 6 – 12 months in the freezer if stored well. But, the longer your meat is in the freezer, the higher chance it will dry out or become freezer burnt.
In the name of brisket leftovers I strongly recommend you take the following steps when storing brisket to ensure the quality and juiciness is maintained:
- Rest your brisket for as long as you can or until it reaches 140°F before storing it in your fridge.
- When storing your brisket, it’s crucial to keep any air out. Vacuum sealing, using a zip lock bag, or wrapping tightly in foil or butcher’s paper does the job.
- If stored correctly, smoked brisket will last 3-4 days in the fridge.
- In the best conditions smoked brisket will even last 6 – 12 months in the freezer.
Who says leftover smoked brisket can’t taste just as good as a freshly smoked one!?