Why Is My Brisket Taking So Long To Cook?

Did you need to read the instructions twice before cooking your brisket? Or maybe you are just genuinely interested in why this meat needs such a long cooking time? Well, you are right, brisket does need a long time to cook and today we look at why. We also look at any possible reasons your brisket isn’t cooking in the time you are expecting.

Beef brisket is such a popular cut of meat so it’s safe to assume the lengthy cooking process must be worth it. In this article, we explore why your brisket is taking so long to cook and other helpful information. By the time you have finished reading this, you will be raring to fire up the grill and get going.

Brisket is a complex cut of beef and, as a result, needs longer to cook than other parts. The connective tissue and collagen all need time to break down, creating gelatin. This gelatin then moistens the brisket, so it doesn’t dry out. You may need to check the temperature or wrapping technique.

Why Does it Take so Long to Cook a Brisket?

If you are a brisket lover then you will likely know there is a lot of fat and connective tissue involved in this cut. This part of the cow’s anatomy withstands a lot of strain and supports a lot of the weight of the animal. It is because of this fat and tissue that it comes with a long cooking time.

If you were to cook it in less than the recommended time, you’d be left with a lump of incredibly tough meat. Brisket takes so much more time than other cuts of meat to cook, sometimes more than double. This extended time is spent tenderizing the meat so that it melts in your mouth instead of being chewy and inedible.

The collagen in the meat needs to be allowed to break down. Once broken down, it creates the moistness that is required for brisket.

Does Brisket get more Tender the Longer you Cook it?

Generally speaking, yes, brisket gets more tender the longer you cook it. That being said, it isn’t purely down to the time, the temperature also has to be spot on. The collagen in the brisket needs the temperature to reach 160℉ to begin softening. This will begin the transformation from collagen to gelatin. It is the gelatin that is important as this keeps the beef from drying out. 

How Long is too Long for Brisket?

Have you been left defeated by a dried-out brisket? There is nothing worse than committing to a process for it not to work. There are two elements we need to factor into our answer here. We need to talk about the cooking period and the resting time. We will begin with the cooking duration.

The Cooking Process is Taking too Long …

You are likely googling this predicament if your cut of brisket just isn’t cooking as quickly as it should. When this happens, you begin to worry about the impact on its flavors and if it will dry out. You are right to worry as the results will be impacted by a brisket that is cooked for longer than it should be.

If your brisket has been cooking for longer than expected then you need to reevaluate. It may be that the cut you have chosen has higher levels of collagen to break down. This will, inevitably, break down at a slower pace which in turn lengthens the cooking process.

Also, the size of the meat will affect the cooking time. When a smoker is used and reaches the perfect temperature of 225℉, you can roughly work out the cooking time. Every pound of the brisket should be given between 1.5 hrs and 2 hrs of cooking time. If your brisket has exceeded this then you might find the results are compromised

How long is too long?

How Long Should my Brisket Rest For?

The next part of the cooking process to consider in terms of perfect timing is the resting stage of the brisket. This part of the method should never be skipped, resting is vital for your perfect brisket sensation. That being said, you don’t want to over-rest that brisket either.

Resting refers to the time after cooking when you allow your meat to sit at room temperature. This is an essential part of the cooking process and missing it will impact the quality and even undo all the hard work.

After removing the brisket from the heat and unwrapping it, you should leave your brisket to rest for 1 hour. Skipping out the resting period will give you much drier meat to contend with and the reason for this is simple.

When you rest a cut of meat, it gives all the juices vital time to sink back into the meat, keeping it tender. Cutting straight into a lump of meat, straight from the heat, doesn’t give the juice a chance to sink in. Instead, it ends up all over the plate or cutting area, causing dry meat.

What to do if Brisket is Taking too Long

So, what can be done to help your brisket along if the cooking process is taking longer than it should? There are several reasons your brisket may be taking too long. Let’s take a look at the potential problems, together with the solutions.

PROBLEM: You have air gaps in your wrapping technique.

SOLUTION: Once the temperature inside reaches 165℉, you should check your wrapping for air gaps, and rewrap if necessary.

PROBLEM: Incorrect thermometer reading.

SOLUTION: Purchase a good quality thermometer and replace it regularly if you suspect it is failing.

PROBLEM: Wrong cooking temperature.

SOLUTION: Make sure your appliance is operating at the required temperature and the core temperature of the meat is correct.

PROBLEM: More collagen is present than usual.

SOLUTION: Some brisket will have more collagen than others. Either choose a smaller cut or follow the steps above to allow the perfect cooking time.

Can a Brisket Take 18 Hours To Cook?

18 hours, how is this even possible? It comes down to, unsurprisingly, the size of the brisket you are dealing with. The bigger the cut, the longer it needs to cook properly. If your brisket is around 15lbs in weight then you will be cooking that baby for at least 18 hours.

Can a Brisket Cook in 7 Hours?

7 hours still sounds like a long time to cook meat but less insane than 18 hours, right? You will need to cook your brisket for 7 hours or so if it weighs in at around the 5lb mark once trimmed. It is important to weigh using the trimmed weight, not the weight at purchase.

How do you know if Brisket is Overcooked?

You will know if your brisket is overcooked the minute you sink your teeth into it. Quite literally, if you have to sink your teeth into the meat to eat it, you’ve overcooked it. The ideal brisket should be tender, succulent, and melt in your mouth.

Aside from the obvious taste factor, there are a few other tell-tale signs that you’ve overcooked your brisket. Firstly, the juices of a perfectly-cooked brisket will be pinky. If you cut into your meat and the juices are clear then you have overdone it.

Secondly, how the meat reacts to the knife will tell you a lot. If it glides through the slicing process then you have overcooked your meat. You should need to wriggle the knife around and maneuver it through each slice.

Lastly, if you take a temperature reading of your meat and it is sitting above 210℉ then you’ve overcooked it. The ideal internal temperature after cooking time should read 195℉ or slightly lower.

This YouTube video gives a great insight into the reasons why your brisket may have overcooked and other handy tips.

Can I Cook a Brisket too Slow?

On the other end of the brisket conundrum, we ask, can brisket be cooked too slowly? The answer is yes, so you do need to cook yours to perfection for the best results. You will hear the term ‘low and slow’ all the time in the world of brisket lovers. You aim for tenderness with brisket but cooking it too slowly can mean it ends up mushy with the wrong texture altogether.

To Conclude

Your brisket is taking so long to cook because it is a complex cut of meat. To tenderize the beef to its potential, you need to be patient and vigilant. The weight of your trimmed brisket will influence the cooking time. If you feel yours is taking longer than it should then it is likely something is wrong with your technique.