Can You Freeze a Brisket? An Investigation!

December 1, 2022
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Yes, you can freeze raw brisket as well as a cooked one. However, there is proper protocol to follow to ensure that the meat remains fresh and safe.

If you had asked me a decade ago, “can you freeze a brisket”, I would have replied with yes, but you shouldn’t! This, though, was because I hadn’t the learn the proper way of freezing the brisket. So, my reheated dish didn’t taste that great. Then, I joined culinary school and learned the art of freezing brisket.

In this post, I will answer all your questions about freezing brisket and show you the proper way to do it as well. Let’s begin!

Can you freeze a brisket

Can You Freeze Raw Brisket?


Can you freeze store bought brisket?

Yes, you can. In fact, I would argue that this is the best way to freeze brisket – before it has been cooked.

With raw meat, there is less chance of loss of taste or texture. Of course, this is as long as it is frozen properly, but still!

How long can you freeze an uncooked brisket?

Well, this does depend on if you are using a fresh brisket or not. With fresh brisket, you can freeze brisket for between 6 to 12 months.

Now, that being said, I would suggest that you thaw and cook your beef brisket well before this period. In general, I like to leave my brisket in the freezer for no more than 3 months time.

If you let raw brisket freeze for too long, you do run the risk of losing out on some taste and texture.

Can You Freeze Leftover Brisket?

Yes, you can freeze cooked brisket as well. Cooked brisket can last for up to three months in the freezer. However, I would recommend that you use it before two months is up.

While freezing cooked brisket is a great way to ensure that it lasts longer, there can be a toll on the taste and texture here. After a while, the smoked brisket can begin to lose its flavor and the texture will be soft rather than tender.

Can You Freeze, Thaw, and Refreeze a Brisket?

Let’s take things one step further – is it is possible to freeze brisket, let it thaw out, and then refreeze this thawed brisket?

Technically, yes, this is possible. As long as the brisket has been frozen properly the first time around and then thawed safely, then you can refreeze the brisket once more.

Here’s the thing, though, this can only be achieved if you have defrosted the brisket in the refrigerator. If you do this, the brisket remains at a cold temperature, reducing the risk of bacterial growth. In turn, this makes it safe to freeze brisket all over again.

Also, you should only try this if the thawed brisket has been left in the refrigerator for less than four days. If you meet this criteria, then the brisket is still safe to freeze. Miss the deadline, however, and it is better to cook the brisket instead or toss it out.

Frozen Brisket in a Container

How to Freeze Raw Brisket?

The first thing I need you to do is to consider the size of your brisket. If you have a full packer brisket, then you may want to divide this into two sections – the point and the flat.

This is because a whole brisket can be quite large. In turn, it can be difficult to store it in your freezer unless you have a separate chest freezer. If you do, then you can leave your brisket as whole. Otherwise, get your local butcher to separate the brisket for you.

I have also found that smaller cuts of brisket freeze well while the larger ones can take a long time to freeze.

Keep the brisket in its original packaging. Then, use plastic wrap, freezer paper, or aluminum foil to wrap the brisket in tightly. It is important to create a tight seal around the cut – it is only if the brisket is wrapped airtight or tightly wrapped that you can prevent freezer burn.

If you have a smaller portion of brisket, then you may even be able to find a freezer bag that is the right size for freezing brisket.

If using a freezer bag, place the brisket in and squeeze out all the excess air before sealing the bag. This way, you avoid freezer burn. Place the vacuum sealed bag in the freezer.

Always write the date of freezing on the brisket. This will let you know when you need to thaw and use the brisket by. If you are planning on freezing brisket for a while, place the wrapped meat at the back of the freezer.

How to Freeze Smoked or BBQ Brisket?

Freezing brisket that has been cooked can pose a bit more of a challenge. This is only because it is even more imperative for you to try and preserve the moisture content.

One of the things that you are going to need to figure out is if you should freeze sliced brisket or keep the cut whole.

I would argue that you should never freeze brisket slices. The moment that you start slicing brisket, you begin to lose moisture. When you freeze brisket, you lose even more of this moisture. This is why I never freeze sliced brisket.

If you do want to freeze sliced brisket, I would advise you to only freeze brisket for a short period of time – a couple of weeks at most to ensure you end up with delicious brisket.

Also, for sliced brisket, start by placing the brisket slices on a baking sheet lined with freezer paper. Do so in a single layer and make sure that the slices aren’t touching each other. Place the sheet in the freezer until the slices are frozen.

Then, take out, place in a freezer bag or wrap in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Then freeze once more.

The reason that you do this is to avoid the slices from sticking together. This way, if you want to defrost brisket in smaller portions you will be able to instead of thawing out the whole brisket portion.

If you can find an airtight container that is large enough to store your cooked briskets, then great. If you are placing the cooked brisket in a bag, then make sure to squeeze out as much excess air as possible before sealing it.

Otherwise, wrap the brisket using plastic wrap, freezer paper, or aluminum foil.

Cooked and Sliced Brisket

How to Wrap Brisket

Once again, make sure to wrap the brisket really tightly. This will ensure that the brisket freeze well and that you cut down on the risk of freezer burn.

Tear out a large section of plastic wrap or other packaging. This should be about six times the size of your brisket. Place this on the countertop.

Set the brisket in the middle of the wrap. Pull the bottom half of the plastic over the brisket. Then, take right section and fold it over the brisket. As you do this, make sure that the plastic is sticking to the meat tightly.

Repeat this with the left side of the plastic. Once again, the plastic should be tight against the meat.

Roll the brisket forward once. Then, pull the right and left flaps of plastic over the brisket again. Roll the brisket over again. Repeat this process until all the plastic has been wrapped around the meat.

Then, tear of another piece of plastic the same size as the previous section. Then, repeat the wrapping process again until the brisket is double wrapped.

Write the date of freezing on the packaging and place the smoked brisket in the freezer until needed.

How to Defrost Brisket?

If you want your frozen brisket to taste as good once it has been thawed out, then you need to be careful when you defrost the meat.

First off, always make sure that you are defrosting frozen brisket safely. This means that during the thawing process that the brisket never enters the danger zone. This is a range of temperatures that encourages bacteria growth and can result in food poisoning.

This is why there are two top ways to defrost frozen meat:

The Refrigerator Method

Take the frozen brisket out of the freezer and place in a large enough container or tray. Then, keep the brisket in the fridge until it is completely thawed.

On average, brisket defrosts at a rate of 5 pounds per 24 hours. Due to this, you should leave a large cut in the refrigerator for several days to ensure that it is fully thawed by the time that you need it.

Remember that with fresh briskets, you can store the brisket in the fridge for about 3 days after you defrost meat. For cooked briskets, the brisket should be good for about 2 days after defrosting.

The Cold Water Bath Method

Now, I do want to start off by saying that you can’t use the cold water method for frozen cooked brisket. This is because it involves submerging the meat in water fully and this isn’t a risk that you want to take with smoked brisket.

Place the frozen raw meat in a large enough container or bold. Then, pour cold water into the bowl. You have to keep the brisket cool during this period. So, if you feel like the water isn’t cold enough, add some ice cubes.

To speed up the process even further, empty out the water and refill the bowl with cold water every 30 minutes. This way, the brisket should be defrosted in four or five hours.

Raw Brisket with Bone

Reheating the Brisket

Only reheat the brisket once the meat has fully thawed out. You can do so in an oven – this is the best option for a larger cut.

Now, if you are reheating slices, I would suggest adding a little bit of cooking liquid into the mix – perhaps some broth. This will ensure that the meat doesn’t lose any more moisture.

And, for both the large cut and the slices, make sure to keep track of the internal temperature. The meat is only safe to eat if it has registered at 145 F for at least three minutes.

So, always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temp.

Wrapping It Up

This is all that you need to know to freeze brisket the right way. Now that you know all the secrets, you can ensure that your tasty BBQ can be enjoyed long after your cookout is done!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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