How To Defrost Brisket? Best Practices To Stay Safe

Brisket is considered one of the most delicious meats when cooked perfectly. However, before you get to cook your brisket, you may need to defrost it first. Defrosting your brisket is not tricky, but there are some things you need to consider. So, how do you defrost brisket? 

When defrosting brisket, you need to ensure the meat defrosts evenly to avoid any harmful bacteria from growing on the meat. Defrost your brisket in the refrigerator on the coldest shelf or in your sink filled with cold water; change the water in 30-minute intervals until the meat has defrosted. 

how to defrost brisket

Is it safe to try and defrost your brisket in the microwave? Can you smoke your brisket when the brisket is still completely frozen? Let’s find out! 

How Do You Defrost A Brisket For Smoking

With a large piece of meat to defrost like brisket, you need to take extra care with the defrosting process as you don’t want to place your health or your family’s health in harm’s way with badly defrosted brisket. 

As briskets are more prominent pieces of meat and are pretty thick, unlike other cuts of meat like lamb chops or chicken breasts, you need to remember that the large cut of meat is not going to defrost evenly. 

This puts the larger cut of meat at a higher risk of being contaminated by bacteria because when the outside of the brisket has defrosted, the middle could still be frozen and require more defrosting. 

This will mean that the outer parts of the meat will be in the temperature danger zone where the harmful bacteria can easily grow. For this reason, you should never defrost your brisket or any other large cut of meat out on your kitchen counter. 

Instead, you can utilize two safer alternative ways of defrosting your brisket. You can defrost it in your kitchen sink or your refrigerator. Let’s go through these two defrosting methods so you can defrost your brisket safely. 

Defrosting Brisket In The Sink With Water

If you are running late in your quest to get your brisket defrosted in time to smoke it before your guests arrive, then a good way to defrost your brisket is in your kitchen sink. You need to submerge the brisket in some cold water in your sink and don’t just throw the brisket in the sink. 

This is most people’s go-to method of defrosting their briskets when they have to smoke the meat the next day. However, before you place your brisket in the sink, you need to wrap the meat in watertight and airtight packaging to ensure the meat does not come into contact with the outside air or the water. 

Then you can place your brisket into a container and fill the container up with cold water, or you can fill your sink up directly and place your brisket in the cold water in your sink. You need to use cold water to help the brisket defrost evenly.

Then every half an hour or so, you need to replace the water and refill it with new cold water to ensure your brisket continues to defrost. Using this method to defrost your brisket will usually take about 45 minutes per pound of brisket to defrost the meat completely. 

Once the brisket is completely defrosted, you can prepare it for smoking as you normally would.

Defrosting Brisket In The Refrigerator

If you are not in a rush to defrost your brisket as your guests are only arriving in the next few days, then a great way to defrost your brisket is in your refrigerator. 

Defrosting your brisket in your fridge is the safest way to do it, as it allows the meat to defrost slowly and evenly, without any part of the meat reaching dangerous temperatures. However, with this method of defrosting your brisket, you need to plan ahead as it can take a fairly long time to do. 

You need to calculate how long it will take to defrost your brisket and ensure you have enough time to defrost it correctly with this method. Defrosting brisket in the fridge will take about 24 hours per 5 pounds of meat. 

Using this calculation, if you have a 15-pound brisket, it will take you about three days to completely defrost it in your fridge. You should place your brisket on a tray to avoid any juices leaking into your fridge when using this method. 

Leave the brisket in the coldest part of your fridge, usually the bottom, and wait for your brisket to defrost. Once your brisket has completely defrosted, you can prepare it for smoking how you usually would, or you can store the brisket in the fridge for an additional three to five days until you are ready to smoke it. 

Can You Defrost Brisket In The Microwave?

This question comes up now and then when people have left it too late to defrost their brisket properly. Defrosting your brisket in a microwave is possible, but it’s not recommended, as this can drastically compromise the texture and taste of your brisket. 

This is because microwaves don’t generally heat food evenly and will not defrost your brisket evenly. Unfortunately, this means you could face the same problems using a microwave that you would if you defrosted your brisket on the counter. 

Your brisket will not defrost evenly, leaving some parts thawed and some parts frozen, which could lead to contamination from bacteria that will then begin to grow on the meat. 

The microwave could also dry out your brisket, which will lead to you having a tough brisket once it’s cooked. So, rather use one of the other defrosting methods.  

Can You Smoke Brisket From Frozen?

If you completely run out of time and have not defrosted your brisket, you might wonder if you can smoke it from frozen. 

Unfortunately, meat should not be smoked if it’s still completely frozen, as this can lead to some safety issues. The sudden change in temperature in the meat can cause bacteria to grow on the outside of the meat while the middle is still frozen. 

Smoking brisket when the meat is frozen will also result in the meat being unevenly cooked, and you could end up with some burnt sections and some undercooked sections. So, it would be best if you always defrosted your brisket before smoking. 

Final Word

Defrosting brisket is not that difficult, but you need to ensure you do it properly to avoid any bacteria growth that could harm your health from developing on the thawing meat. 

You will need a lot of time to defrost your brisket, so ensure you work out the time required and that you remember to take the brisket out of the freezer in time. Good luck defrosting your brisket!

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