Should You Brine A Brisket? Recipe Secrets Unearthed

Should you brine a brisket in pursuit of great taste? We can all agree that brining is a route to excellent taste. The brisket, however, is special. We can’t just go about the ordinary way to brine it, instead, a touch of finesse is necessary.

Should I Brine A Brisket Before Smoking It?

Short answer, yes!

The salt in the brine will help add more taste and deliciousness to the meat. Equally important, the absorbed salt will prevent the brisket from losing moisture. 

When you brine a brisket, you’re more likely to get a delicious, moist, and tender meal. And that alone can make a huge difference between any recipes.

Let’s get to the intricacies and see how to brine a brisket the right way.

The Smart Choice Is To Dry Brine The Brisket

Dry brine sounds like something overly fancy that you’d get in some overpriced fancy restaurant. In reality, it’s a straightforward process. You could call dry brining the same as salting the brisket. 

No liquid is involved, just plain salt. Generally, the brisket is moist enough by itself, so there’s no need for moisture from the conventional wet brine. Besides, by soaking red meat in a wet brine, you run the risk of diluting the flavor of the meat.

With dry brine, you negate the risk of the brine diluting the flavor of the meat. Remember that brisket is a large cut, so you’ll have to give it enough time to absorb the salt. There are no shortcuts here, though you may choose the duration that works best to your taste. Either way, the process will take several hours.

As you smoke a brisket, it will give up its moisture. With brine (rather, dry brine) in play, the salt will absorb this moisture and keep the brisket moist and tender. 

How To Dry Brine A Brisket – A Guide

Using the dry brine method is usually easier and less messy than conventional brine. It also works well with brisket and gives great results.

To start, pat down the brisket with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture on the surface.

Once you’re done, apply salt on the brisket. Use a generous amount of salt and be careful to include all parts of the brisket. Take some time to rub the salt, so that the application is uniform and proper.

If you intend to use a meat rub, it might be a good idea to do that while adding the salt. This will allow the herbs and spices to penetrate the meat and add flavors. Many meat rubs have a high salt content, so you may have to adjust the salt in the dry brine to accommodate this change.

The next step is to place the brined brisket on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. The sheet will catch moisture and prevent it from setting on the brisket’s surface.

Now, put the brisket (and rack) on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. 

Voila! Your dry brine brisket is ready for smoking.

How Much Time Should I Give To The Dry Brine Brisket?

Once you’ve added salt to the brisket, let it rest for a while in the refrigerator. You don’t need to look at a clock, but you can choose a time of your preferred liking or taste.

Mostly, letting it sit overnight will do the trick. If you’re short on time, let the dry brine on the brisket stay for at least two hours. Generally, the recommended time is 12-24 hours.

This works even better if you’re using a meat rub to accompany the brine. There will be enough time for the salt as well as the spices to be absorbed into the meat.

So, what about smoking the brisket after you’ve given it enough time to rest?

Personal preference plays a big role here. Some people swear that moving the brisket straight from the refrigerator to the smoker is the right way. Apparently, the cold brisket attracts more smoke, which helps give it a better taste.

One rule of thumb suggestion is to devote at least one hour for every pound of brisket. So, if the meat is 10 pounds, let it soak the brine for at least 10 hours. 

Many people are squarely in the camp of letting the brisket reach room temperature first. Get it out of the refrigerator, let it sit on the kitchen counter for an hour or so. You don’t have to be exact. Once you think it’s at the right temperature, place it in the smoker.

What Is The Best Salt For A Dry Brine Brisket?

A few factors come into play when you salt the meat. A very clear consideration is if the salt will add additional flavors. For example, conventional table salt may contain additives like Iodine, which will affect the taste. 

Commercially available salts may also contain additives and anti-caking agents. Another concern, though not that important, is the size of the salt grain. Commercial salt is usually very fine and many prefer to use other options with larger grain size.

Kosher salt is a popular choice because of its large granules and the absence of Iodine. Sea salt is another good option here. Consider mixing in a bit of Himalayan pink salt to get its unique and fun flavor.

Curing salts are best avoided unless you intend to cook corned beef.

Can I Wet Brine A Brisket?

Yes, you can use the conventional wet brine for a brisket. The use of dry brine is a recommended and better option, but if you must use wet brine, well, go ahead!

There is some balancing act to handle here. You’ll have to use brine in a way that doesn’t remove the flavor from the brisket. This method requires a little more care and preparation.

A Recipe For Brining The Brisket

When going the conventional wet brine route, add one cup of kosher salt for each gallon of water. It’s a simple rule of thumb and works well in most cases. Use cold water, so that the temperature of the meat doesn’t rise to dangerous levels. We want the meat to soak salt, not to be warm enough to harbor colonies of bacteria!

If you want some spices as well, the process gets a little more complicated.

Put the spices in a saucepan and toast them over medium heat. Wait until they start releasing essential oils. At this point, the aroma will fill the kitchen. Now add salt and a bit of water and let the mix simmer for 10 minutes or so.

When you’re done, pour this mix into a container that holds cold water and ice. Give it a few minutes, but remember that the resulting mix must be ice cold.

Add the brisket to this brine. Ensure that the brisket is completely submerged in the brine. Cover it, and keep it in a refrigerator. It should be good enough for a couple of days, but don’t keep it for too long.

To Brine Or Not To Brine A Brisket?

Should you brine a brisket? Well, as we know, the answer is yes! Using dry brine is preferable because it is cleaner, easier, and has better results. You could use a wet brine as well, but the results aren’t as encouraging.

A benefit of using dry brine is that it makes it easier to add the meat rub as well. That’s a great way for a flavorful, moist, and tender brisket.