Why Is My Smoked Brisket Rubbery? [Causes and Solutions]

Brisket is one of the most popular cuts of meat to smoke. But it can also be one of the most unforgiving. Smoking brisket is a balance of heat, time, and methods to produce a juicy, succulent, smoked piece of meat. So what has gone wrong to make your smoked brisket turn out rubbery?

The smoked brisket is rubbery if it has not reached the correct internal temperature. It has not cooked long enough to break down the connective tissue between the meat fibers. The problem could be a combination of these two issues. But sometimes, the meat is simply tough.

why is my smoked brisket rubbery

Brisket is considered a cut of meat that only advanced smokers should take on and attempt to cook in their smokers.

One of the most frequent complaints of first-time brisket smokers is that their brisket came out of the smoker tough and rubbery. We have got some tips to correct this and have you smoking brisket like a pro in no time!

Why Your Smoked Brisket is Rubbery

Brisket may be a tough meat to smoke, but your smoked brisket does not need to be tough! A few adjustments to the smoking process and the meat’s post-smoking handling can help produce a juicy, tender, and delightful brisket.

A point to remember is that brisket is a cheap cut of meat. And it is inherently a tough cut of meat. Which is partly why it is an excellent cut of meat for smoking. 

Any cut of meat that is tough by nature benefits immensely from a low and slow cooking process, which is what smoking brings to the table.

Why Is Brisket A Tough Cut Of Meat?

Brisket is a cut that comes from the breast or pectoral region of the cow. This muscle carries up to 60% of the cow’s standing weight. 

Consequently, the muscle fibers need the additional support of collagen connective tissue to give the muscles additional support.

This collagen-based connective tissue running through the muscle fibers makes brisket tough if it is not cooked correctly.

Once the connective tissue in the muscle fibers has been given the right treatment during the cooking process, they break down to produce a juicy, more tender, less rubbery brisket.

Causes Of Rubbery Smoked Brisket

As we have seen, brisket is a cut of meat that requires a specific cooking method in the smoker to achieve tender results.

We will look at some of the possible causes for tough, rubbery brisket in the smoking process and what you can do to adjust your methods.

The main reasons for rubbery smoked brisket are as follows.

  • Incorrect cook temperatures during smoking.
  • The cooking duration is too short.
  • The brisket dried out.
  • It was a tough piece of brisket.

Paying attention to these aspects during the smoking process of your brisket will give you the best chances of achieving a tender smoked brisket.

Correct Smoking Temperatures To Prevent Rubbery Smoked Brisket

The brisket’s internal temperature is an important aspect to get right in achieving a tender smoked brisket.

One of the most frequent causes of rubbery smoked brisket is failing to reach the correct internal temperature in the meat.

There are many opinions on the optimal internal temperature for tenderness when smoking a brisket. The reality is that the correct temperature will vary depending on the piece of meat, the thickness of the meat, and even differences in smoker types.

While finding the right temperature comes with experience, some guidelines will help you build on your brisket smoking experience.

Some people recommend the best temperature for smoking brisket to be 195°F or 90.5°C, others recommend a temperature of 205°F or 96°C.

Personally, I have had great results with a temperature of 203°F or 95°C as a good average internal temperature that produces consistent results

This temperature provides sufficient heat to break down the connective tissue without making the smoke time take exceptionally long and without drying the outer layers of the meat too much.

To get the brisket’s internal temperature to 203°F. The temperature of the smoker must be between a minimum of 250°F (121°C) and a maximum of 275°F (135°C).

The right temperature to smoke the brisket is only one-half of the slow and low equation for smoking brisket. The duration of the cook is a crucial factor in the process.

Cooking Duration To Prevent Rubbery Smoked Brisket

The right temperature to smoke the brisket is only one-half of the slow and low equation for smoking brisket. The duration of the cook is a crucial factor in the process.

The connective tissue must be given sufficient time at the right temperature to break down and produce a tender brisket. Therefore, it is common for new brisket smokers to remove the brisket from the smoker as soon as the internal temperature is reached.

This is a mistake since the high internal temperatures in the meat need time to work their magic and break down the connective tissues deep in the beef.

The best way to gauge the duration required for the cook is by the weight of the piece of meat. The recommendation is between 30 to 60 minutes of smoking per pound of meat at an internal brisket temperature of 203°F or 95°C.

This means a 10-pound brisket will take between 6 to 9 hours and 1 hour of resting to reach the optimal cooking duration to break down the connective tissue.

How To Prevent Smoked Brisket From Drying Out And Becoming Rubbery

Another cause of rubbery smoked brisket is when the outer layers of the meat dry out too quickly during the smoking process. 

A common reason being, too much fat is trimmed from the meat.

This does not leave enough fat outside the meat to render on the surface and keep the inside meat moist while it cooks.

If you are struggling with the brisket drying out too much and being too rubbery, or the piece of brisket has been aggressively trimmed and is very lean, you can try the 3-2-1 method of smoking brisket.

This involves a three-stage smoking method which also helps to speed up the process. It refers to 3 hours of smoking the brisket unwrapped in the smoker until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165°F. 

Then, wrap the brisket in foil for 2 hours in the smoker with the meat at an internal temperature of 200°F. The final hour is smoking the meat unwrapped at a slightly higher temperature of 225°F or 107°C.

The wrapping for a certain period helps to overcome the temperature plateau, where the internal temperature takes a long time to increase and prevents the meat from drying out.

The Piece Of Brisket Was Tough 

Sometimes the piece of brisket was just a tough piece of meat. This can happen if the cut was taken from an old cow or the quality of the beef was not quite what it should be.

In this case, there is not much you can do to get a tender smoked brisket. Irrespective of the method used to cook the brisket.

If your brisket turned out tough and rubbery despite doing everything right, you could still use the meat. For example, you can use your tough brisket in the following way.

  • Cut the brisket into small pieces and make smoked brisket stew. The additional cooking time as smaller chinks of meat will help break down the connective tissue.
  • Slice the brisket and finish it in the oven at 275°F for an hour. Let the brisket rest in a bowl where you can save the resting juices. Then slice the brisket. Place the slices in an oven dish, pour the resting juices over the slices and finish it in the oven for an hour at 275°F or 135°C.

Slice The Smoked Brisket Correctly

The connective tissue in the brisket runs longitudinally in the same direction as the meat fibers. This means that slicing your smoked brisket correctly will influence the tenderness or rubbery texture of the meat.

Slicing the meat with the grain of the meat fibers will result in long strips of connective tissue. Making it chewy or rubbery to eat.

The way to slice brisket to improve tenderness is to slice it at 90° to the grain or meat fibers. This produces shorter lengths of connective tissue in a single piece of the sliced meat. Making it more tender to eat.

Final Word

Smoking meat is a journey toward producing the perfect smoked meat. The pinnacle of meat smoking makes a tender, juicy brisket with repeatable consistency.

This only comes with practice. And trying out methods that have worked for others until you find one that produces consistent results for you. 

Everyone makes mistakes smoking meat, especially when learning to smoke a brisket. So don’t let any failures deter you from the goal!

Change your processes and try again. And soon, people will be asking you how you get your brisket so tender while theirs is always rubbery!

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