Resting Brisket in Cooler — Here’s What You Should Know

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to creating the perfect smoked brisket. Of course, it’s evident that you will need to pay attention to the smoker and that everything gets cooked as intended. But a few tidbits like resting brisket in cooler can make a world of difference.

Unfortunately, many beginner smokers end up ruining all of their hard work by not letting the brisket rest. I made such mistakes too, when I was a beginner. However, I soon discovered that experts say that one of the worst blunders you can make is not to allow the brisket to rest. 

Get To Know The Brisket Better

Brisket is a typical cut of beef from the lower breast or pectoral muscles of a cow. This region is one of the heavily exercised ones, and due to that, it produces extremely tough meat that is high in connective tissue. This is why brisket is most suited for low and slow cooking. 

This cut of meat is very popular and made into corned beef and pastrami. The process of making these types of meats consists mainly of rubbing spices over the meat and then leaving it unattended to cook in water or steam. 

There are many different recipes for cooking brisket. But, they usually have a common thing – they all require resting after you cook them, which brings us to what resting is exactly.

What Does Resting Mean?

The word resting refers to letting the meat sit at room temperature for a while after it’s cooked. It’s that easy. 

However, what happens during the rest time is anything but straightforward, and it may make or break your dinner.

Typically, resting meat means allowing it to cool down slowly after cooking. This gives the meat some time to absorb the juices that have been cooked into it, making it more tender and flavorful. It also allows the meat to cool down slowly so that you don’t end up with a cold piece of meat when you eat it.

I Highly Recommend Resting Brisket in Cooler

In my experience, resting is an essential part of making meat taste marvelous.

If you don’t allow the brisket to rest long enough, you might have problems when you cut into it. The biggest problem is that the juices in the meat won’t be dense enough. Because of this, the juices will dash down the knife as soon as you start cutting.

Also, the meat will likely dry out once your juices have vanished, and the flesh will be no longer flavorful or delectable. Moreover, as all of the steam is being drawn inside the meat, extra moisture will be lost, resulting in it becoming even drier as you chop.

Therefore, after spending hours on end crafting the best brisket, now you’re left with a shriveled-up replica of it in a matter of hours. To prevent this, I wait for an extra half an hour to give the meat proper resting in the cooler.

I have seen people who make things worse by collecting the juices and pouring them back onto the meat by making minor cuts. This method won’t work with brisket because it is hefty and thick enough to obstruct it.

There is no way to rehydrate the brisket once the juices have been drawn out of the meat. This is one of the primary reasons why it is critical to fully comprehend how to prepare brisket for resting.

What is Carry-over-cooking?

Carry-over-cooking is the phenomenon that happens when the temperature of the meat continues to rise after it is removed from the heat source. This is usually due to the residual heat that is still in the grill, oven, or pan.

The larger and thicker the cut, and the higher the cooking temperature, the more remaining heat will be in the flesh. And the greater the internal temperature will rise during rest due to carry-over cooking. 

This implies the meat must be removed from the heat at an internal temperature just slightly below your desired final internal temperature, giving the residual heat time to do the rest of the job.

This is another primary reason you should always let the meat rest for a few minutes after cooking. It allows the carry-over-cooking to take place and prevents the meat from becoming overcooked.

How Do I Rest Brisket in a Cooler?

The process is very easy and nothing complicated that you won’t be able to perform.

  • The first step is to remove the beef from the heat. Do it carefully; use tongs to remove it to save your hands from getting burned.
  • After removing it safely, place it on the cutting board and wrap it in aluminum foil from all sides.
  • I like to add some towels on top of the meat, so it doesn’t touch the cold surface and has more time to absorb all of the juices.
  • Then, close the cooler and let the meat rest for an hour or two. The resting time will depend on the size and cut of meat and how hot it was when you took it off the grill.
  • The general rule is to wait 10 minutes per pound at room temperature.

What Type of Cooler Do You Need?

The cooler you use to rest meat doesn’t have to be anything special. You can even use a styrofoam cooler, an ice chest, or even a cardboard box. The important thing is that the cooler is big enough to hold the meat and has some insulation so that the heat doesn’t escape rapidly.

If you need to hold the brisket in a cooler for more than four hours, it’s better to use a high-quality cooler. There are many options available, including premium ones like Yeti and Kong. These two companies offer an extensive range of coolers to choose from, and they have portable ones too for your camping needs.

You might have seen many people using the hot boxes for resting briskets. They are the same that most catering people use to cater to the needs of large gatherings. Hot boxes are great for keeping the meat at a specific temperature; however, they can be a little pricey.

How Long Should I Rest My Brisket?

The recommended time to rest the brisket is usually an hour or two, but it all depends on the size of the piece of meat and how hot it was when you took it off the grill.

If you’re looking to have a more precise number, use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat after resting. It should read around 160 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re looking to get that perfect pink color in the center.

Always ensure that the meat rests for a minimum of 30 minutes, even if it’s not at room temperature.

How Resting Meat Works

Meat is made of proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and a lot of water. When you cook meat, the proteins change their shape and form new ones. The heat from the oven or smoker causes these proteins to tighten up, and they squeeze out the water and other juices.

When it comes to extremely lean meats, such as chicken breast or pork chop, the moisture gets squeezed out of them by the time they reach 170°F internal temperature, making them dry and hard. 

However, if you don’t allow the piece of meat to rest after cooking a large, fatty piece of meat such as a brisket or pork butt that reaches temperatures of 200-205°F internally, in that case, there will be a lot of liquid under pressure that will flow out onto the cutting board.

When you use a meat thermometer to determine when your food has reached the proper doneness, it is also essential to take necessary precautions against steam loss. You’ll lose moisture in the form of steam that flows away from the extremely hot flesh as you cut into it.

This is why it’s important to let the meat rest; it gives the proteins time to relax, and the juices have a chance to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. This also means that it will be more moist and flavorful when you cut into meat than if you had cut it into pieces right after cooking.


After all that hard work on the grill, you don’t want to eat tough and flavorless meat, do you?

Resting brisket in cooler is one of those steps in the cooking process that many people skip because they’re just too eager to eat their well-earned meal. However, resting meat is an essential step in the cooking process, so make sure not to skip it! Plus, your special guests will thank you for serving them such delight!