Why Does Beef Brisket Take So Long To Cook? [Best Way To Cook It?]

There is nothing better more rewarding than a beef brisket slow-cooked to perfection on the barbeque! Despite being one of the tougher pieces of meat, beef brisket is probably the most tender, juicy, and flavorful cut of meat if you know how to master the trade. Unfortunately, this enormous piece of meat takes twice as long or more to cook than other braising meat cuts.

Beef brisket is a chewy pectoral muscle with copious amounts of collagenous connective tissue that support the muscle fibers and significantly contribute to the brisket’s toughness. Additionally, the collagen breaks down at 160° F, rendering the brisket a gorgeous yet slow-cooked process.

why does beef brisket take so long to cook

“Brisket, don’t risk it” is a famous statement due to many failed attempts at perfectly grilling a beef brisket. Luckily, with a whole lot of patience and the proper technique, it’s possible to bring about mouth-watering, tender beef brisket.

Why Does Beef Brisket Take Long To Cook?

Beef brisket takes more time to cook than other tough cuts of meat because of its copious amounts of rich fat and collagenous connective tissue. 

This cut of meat comes from the area around the cow’s breast. In other words, it is the chest or pectoral muscle of the cow. Beef brisket cuts typically weigh between twelve and twenty-two pounds.

More so, beef brisket is probably the least tender cut of beef due to its responsibility to support approximately sixty percent of the cow’s steer weight. However, correctly grilled, smoked, or roasted, this fatty beef cut renders soft, succulent meat with an incredibly satisfying flavor.

Over time, the steering weight of the pectoral muscle (brisket) carried along with exercise will create a cross-link in collagen that transforms the tissue from soluble protein to a stronger, more insoluble form.

Regarding the less-tender beef brisket, the meat cut comprises fat and muscle fibers surrounded by collagenous connective tissue that unites these muscle fibers. 

The collagenous tissue contributes to the toughness of beef brisket collagen is the “cement” that holds everything together.

You can distinguish the collagenous connective tissue by its pearly white appearance.

The collagen generally begins to break down at 160° F and continues to reduce until the temperature hits 180° F. At this point, the collagen transforms into gelatin, which keeps the meat juicy and moist.

During this time, the beef brisket’s muscle fibers will relax and become dry. However, the gelatin will saturate the meat fibers, leaving the brisket moist and tender for carving.

So, the beef brisket lends itself to prolonged, low temperatures and is best to slow cook on a pellet grill to achieve tenderness and adequately break down the collagen found in the connective muscle tissues.

Best Way to Cook A Brisket

You can prepare beef brisket in the oven or slow-cooker.

However, the pellet grill gives the beef brisket a fantastic flavor and irresistibly tender texture. That you can’t achieve using the other methods.

How Long Does Beef Brisket Take To Smoke On A Pellet Grill?

Grilling times vary based on the specific beef brisket, weight, and the duration it takes to reach the wanted temperature. 

Beef brisket is a pretty long cut of meat. It is typically divided into halves and sold as two separate pieces of meat; a flat-and-point cut. However, a whole brisket is best for a pellet smoker. 

Additionally, the brisket can weigh anything between twelve and twenty-two pounds and take between six to sixteen hours to tenderize.

As a general rule, plan on grilling or smoking the beef brisket on a pellet grill between thirty to sixty minutes per pound of meat. For example, fifteen-pound beef brisket can take eight to fifteen hours in a 225° F pellet grill before reaching perfection. 

However, this excludes the preparation and resting period. The entire process can take up to nineteen hours; this includes trimming, injections, seasoning, cooking, and resting.

However, try to remember that the brisket’s internal temperature generally has the final say. 

Your beef brisket is ready to take off the grill when it reaches 203° F internally. To test this, insert a probe meat thermometer into the thickest area on the brisket. 

How To Smoke Beef Brisket On A Pellet Grill?

Well, as we said, low-and-slow cooking is the best way to achieve juicy and tender beef brisket by breaking down maximum amounts of soluble collagen.

You’ll want to plug the pellet grill in, fill the hopper with wood pellets, and set the correct temperature to preheat the pellet grill to 225° F. 

Now, place the prepared (trimmed and seasoned) beef brisket on the rack with the fat side facing upward. Then, close the lid and replenish the pellet hopper as necessary.

While grilling, the natural fibers in the beef brisket will start to shrink rapidly at around 140° F, causing the fat to render.

Additionally, temperatures rising between 160° F to 180° F cause the soluble collagen to break down, releasing a great deal of moisture from the denaturing process into gelatin.

It’s best to spray the brisket with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or water to keep the brisket moist.

Then, allow the beef brisket to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 203° F.

This will ensure that the brisket is tender enough to pull apart gently without it falling apart from a slight touch.

Pro tip: Allow the brisket to cook a little longer than recommended to serve the beef brisket as “pulled” beef.

Lastly, wrap the beef brisket in foil and let it rest for half an hour before slicing it. This will enable the temperature to rise to 210° F continuously, allowing the juices to redistribute into the meat.

Final Word

The key to achieving a perfectly juicy and tender beef brisket is the time! Beef brisket takes longer to cook than other beef cuts because of the copious amount of collagen that needs to break down and turn into gelatin. 

So, have a cold one while waiting it out, and remember that low-and-slow cooking is the best way to ensure that the maximum amount of soluble collagen breaks down to achieve tender, tasty meat. 

Happy grilling, guys!

Related Articles




Skip to content