Should I Rest My Brisket In A Cooler? [Why Do It?]

One of the most important parts of smoking a brisket is resting the brisket properly. Without a proper resting period, the brisket will never be as good as it should be. There are multiple methods for resting a brisket, but one of the most popular methods is using a cooler. Should you rest your brisket this way? Is this an effective resting method?

Resting a brisket in a cooler allows all of the fat within the brisket to render correctly, increases tenderness, helps retain moisture, and allows the meat to rest properly before consumption. Using a cooler is an effective resting method that every barbecuer should consider for briskets.

should I rest my brisket in a cooler

Using a cooler for resting a brisket is a common practice. But it must be done well and with care for the best results. Without the correct process, this resting method can go badly wrong. 

So, let’s learn more about resting a brisket in a cooler to determine if this is the best method for you and how to do it well.

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Why Rest A Brisket In A Cooler?

After a brisket has been smoked. The brisket must be rested to continue cooking and reach safe temperatures and to ensure that all of the fat, collagen, and connective tissue within the brisket renders and breaks down properly. 

This process makes the meat tender, juicy, and suitable for eating.

The meat will be tough, dry, chewy, and very unpleasant to eat without resting the brisket. For this reason, resting the brisket is an important step that should never be left out of the cooking process. One of the best ways to rest a brisket is to place the entire slab of meat into a cooler.

A cooler is suitable for resting a brisket because it is a thermo-insulated container. Coolers are designed to keep items cold. But the insulation properties of these containers mean that they are very good at maintaining the heat as well.

These properties make coolers the ideal containers for resting a brisket. Of course, many briskets are rested in a warm smoker or an oven. But using a cooler is as good as any of these options and is typically a very easy process.

Why Should You Rest A Brisket In A Cooler?

We have established that resting a brisket in a cooler is a good idea and that resting a brisket at all is always critical, but is resting a brisket in a cooler the best resting option for you?

Resting a smoked brisket in a cooler is a good idea, but some situations make it more ideal than others. For example, your oven cannot maintain temperatures low enough to rest a brisket over long periods properly. 

Or if your oven is not big enough for resting a brisket. Or if you simply do not want to make a mess of your oven. Then a cooler is the perfect answer to these dilemmas!

A few good reasons to use a cooler for resting a brisket could be:

  • your smoker is unable to maintain a steady low temperature for many hours 
  • you do not want to use up all of your firewood, charcoal, or smoking pellets for the resting process
  • you do not want to rack up a large power or gas bill from running your oven for extended periods.

Resting a brisket in a cooler is also ideal if you need to travel with the brisket after smoking it. For example, if you take the brisket with you to contribute to the food table at a gathering, the brisket could continue to rest on the way to the event and be ready to slice when you arrive – perfect timing!

Using a cooler is a cost-effective, affordable, reliable, consistent, and a simple way to rest a brisket. 

This method is also very low maintenance if you do it correctly. A good quality, well-insulated cooler will keep a brisket at food-safe temperatures and resting well for several hours, even overnight if necessary.

If you are going to regularly use a cooler as a resting solution for your brisket, you could invest in a more expensive cooler that can hold the required temperature for the time required for the brisket to rest.

Kong and Yeti coolers are extremely popular coolers that will not only work for resting a brisket. But can help keep food items cold on hot summer days. Before buying one or the other, I recommend watching some comparison videos on YouTube to help you decide which is best.

If you only use the cooler as a backyard brisket resting solution. Then a less expensive option should work for you.

When I rested my brisket, I used a Coleman cooler, and it kept the brisket warm without any issues.

How To Rest A Brisket In A Cooler

A cooler is a straightforward method for resting a brisket effectively, but it must be done well.

To properly rest a brisket in a cooler. Be sure that the meat has reached an internal temperature of 200 – 203°F in the smoker.

Then, wrap the brisket in butchers’ paper and add liquid smoke to allow the meat to retain moisture and the smokey flavor and bring it up to the final temperature while resting.

Before placing the brisket in the cooler for resting, heat the cooler with hot water. This will ensure that the cooler is warm enough to not draw any heat from the brisket. But rather keep the brisket hot. 

Drain the water and wipe dry before placing the brisket into the cooler to rest.

Wrapping the brisket in a towel or placing a towel over the brisket in the cooler is another good way to help the cooler retain heat long enough to properly rest the brisket.

Keep a temperature probe within the brisket while resting to ensure that the temperature stays well above 140°F. If the meat drops below this temperature. The resting process will stop, and the meat is at risk of contamination with disease-causing bacteria, particularly salmonella.

The brisket must then be sliced and eaten right away if you want a warm meal, or it can be sliced and stored in the refrigerator to eat at a later stage. 

Final Word

Resting a smoked brisket in a cooler is a very effective resting method. This method is ideal for most briskets, especially for shorter rest times. However, rest times of several hours are achievable with a cooler so long as the process is done well.

Using a cooler to rest a brisket is a good idea. And it can save some money on the gas or power bill. Consider using this method the next time you smoke a brisket to discover how simple it really is.

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