Why Did My Smoked Brisket Fall Apart?

Smoked brisket is a tricky cut of meat to smoke. It requires alot of experimentation and experience to dial in your skills and your smoker to get it right. Sometimes, a smoked brisket may simply fall apart when you cut it. Why does this happen, and is it a problem?

Your smoked brisket will fall apart if the internal temperature of the meat becomes too high, up to 210°F or more. Or if the brisket has been cooked at normal internal temperatures between 195°F and 200°F for too long. For some uses, a brisket that falls apart is a desirable outcome.

why did my smoked brisket fall apart

If you were expecting a nice firm slice of meat when you sliced your smoked brisket. But instead, the meat fell apart, you may be unsure what went wrong. Several aspects of smoking a brisket can cause this, but it is not necessarily a disaster.

What Causes a Smoked Brisket To Fall Apart?

As you try to find your groove for smoking brisket. You will inevitably have some results that are not quite what you expected.

Some of these results may be a happy accident, and you will still be able to eat the meat. While others may be less forgiving. Fortunately, a smoked brisket that falls apart is one of those happy accidents. Where you can still use the meat, and it will taste delicious!

The key is to understand why the smoked brisket fell apart so that you can repeat the event if you want the brisket cooked this way or avoid it if you prefer nice, firm slices of meat.

There are two main reasons for a smoked brisket falling apart. The first is related to the internal temperature becoming too high and the second to cooking time.

The Internal Temperature Was Too High

One reason your brisket may fall apart is due to the internal temperature of the meat during the smoking process.

The ideal internal temperatures of the brisket during the entire smoking process is between 195°F or 90.5°C and 205°F or 96°C.

If the brisket’s internal temperature reaches 210°F (98.8°C) or higher, the end result will be a brisket that falls apart.

Brisket has a lot of connective tissue in the muscle to give it the necessary support for its function on the cow. However, when the internal temperature of the meat becomes too high, this connective tissue breaks down to the extent that it no longer holds the muscle fibers together. Consequently, when you cut the meat, it simply falls apart.

To cook the brisket so that the meat remains firm when sliced, you must maintain the internal temperature of the meat within the recommended range. It is difficult to do this without a good quality meat temperature probe.

Another cause for the internal temperature of the brisket running too high is if you become impatient and try to hurry the process by making the smoker’s temperature too high. Smoking a brisket cannot be rushed, which is why the process is called slow and low!

The Smoked Brisket Was Cooked Too Long

Time and temperature are the two important components of smoking the perfect brisket. Therefore, maintaining the balance between these two components is crucial to control the outcome of the smoked brisket.

This brings us to another possible cause that your smoked brisket fell apart. The brisket may have reached the ideal internal temperature during the process, but you may have cooked it too long.

The collagen connective tissue holding the meat fibers together has broken down too far and cannot hold the meat together when sliced.

The amount of time a brisket should be in the smoker is determined by the weight of the meat. Heavier briskets have more meat on them and take longer to reach the correct internal temperature than a lighter, smaller brisket cut.

The recommended cook times for brisket is between 30 to 60 minutes of smoking per pound of meat at an internal brisket temperature of 203°F or 95°C. This includes a rest time of 1 hour after the cooking process.

This means a 10-pound brisket should be cooked between 6 to 9 hours and then rested for 1 hour to make up the total cook time. 

The variation in the timeframe is to consider the differences in smokers. My smoker may cook a 10-pound brisket in 8-hours, while yours may cook the same size brisket to perfection in 6 hours.

What Can You Do With A Smoked Brisket That Falls Apart?

A smoked brisket that falls apart when it is sliced is not necessarily a brisket smoking disaster! The brisket is generally still tender, juicy, and delicious when it falls apart.

There is nothing wrong with a brisket that falls apart, so you can still serve it to your guests. The texture of the brisket may be slightly different, but it will still be delicious!

There are several ways you can use a brisket when it falls apart. Try some of the following ideas to put the brisket to good use.

  • Slice the brisket thicker. If the brisket is not quite at the point where it totally disintegrates, slicing thicker slices of the meat may help it stay together when it is cut.
  • Use the brisket on tacos. Shredded smoked brisket brings a delicious smokey flavor component to tacos.
  • Put the shredded brisket on a bun or a sandwich. Shredded smoked brisket with some tomato slices on a bun or a sandwich, topped with some spicy mayonnaise, is a mouth-watering treat!
  • Toasted cheese with smokey brisket. Place some shredded brisket on a slice of toast, cover with your favorite cheese and place it under your oven’s grill for several minutes. Once the cheese has melted, take it out of the oven and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Use the shredded brisket in soups. Adding some smoked brisket to soups adds a smokey flavor dimension and brings texture to the soup. A spicy tomato soup or a minestrone soup are prime candidates for a smoked brisket treatment!

The uses for a smoked brisket that has fallen apart are limited only by your culinary imagination! It is worthwhile making a mental note of how you achieved a brisket that falls apart so that you can repeat the process should you so desire!

Final Word

Smoked brisket that falls apart is not necessarily bad, but it is worth understanding what caused it to happen. 

Understanding the process will give you more control over the way you smoke your brisket and serve to enhance your brisket smoking technique. The main causes of smoked brisket falling apart are the internal temperature becoming too high or being cooked for too long.

If you can identify the cause for your brisket falling apart. You will be able to repeat the process if you liked it that way or avoid it if you prefer firm slices of brisket.

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