For countless BBQ fans, brisket is the best cut of meat. But even if you don't have a smoker, brisket is a classic choice for dishes such as pot roast and corned beef. If you love cooking brisket, you may have wondered whether it's safe to store it in the freezer for future use. Anyone curious about freezing raw or cooked brisket has to check out the research we've done on this topic.
It's safe to freeze both raw and cooked brisket. Many people claim frozen brisket leftovers taste better than a fresh-smoked brisket feast.
To preserve your meat's freshness, always pack it in an airtight container, vacuum-sealed bag, or a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Typically, frozen brisket won't significantly lose its flavor for about six months.
Freezing brisket is a great way to preserve leftovers or keep some meat on standby. However, you have to know the proper technique to freeze your brisket properly. Please keep reading to learn how BBQ legends preserve their favorite bits of brisket.
Can You Freeze A Brisket?
Brisket is freezer-friendly. Whether you want to freeze raw or cooked brisket meat, it's OK to pop it in your freezer's frigid temps. As long as you store your meat in a Ziploc bag or a food storage container, it will last months in your freezer.
What's The Best Way To Freeze Brisket?
Many BBQ fans argue the best way to freeze brisket is to vacuum seal it. Since these freezer-safe bags remove virtually 100 percent of oxygen, there's no risk of freezer burn. Also, if you freeze cooked brisket in a vacuum-sealed bag, you could easily reheat it "sous vide style" in a pot of hot water.
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Check out this video to see how brisket fans heat their vacuum-sealed brisket using hot water:
While using a vacuum sealer may be optimal, you don't need to invest in this device to freeze brisket. You can safely seal brisket in a freezer-approved Ziploc bag or an airtight container. For extra protection, consider wrapping your brisket in cling wrap before putting it in your container.
If you're curious how to slice your brisket before freezing it, you may want to check out our post, "Is A Bread Knife Good For Cutting Brisket?"
Bonus tip: You should also mark the day you're putting your brisket in the freezer. Either make a note on your kitchen calendar or write the day directly on the Ziploc bag. This will give you a sense of how fresh your brisket's flavors should be.
How Long Can A Brisket Stay In The Freezer?
According to the USDA, frozen meats are "good" to use indefinitely. However, foods like brisket could lose their flavor after about six months in the freezer. Most chefs strongly recommend eating frozen brisket no later than this six-month mark.
Note: These average times assume you're packing your frozen brisket in an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag. To keep your brisket fresh for as long as possible, you must reduce the risk of oxygen exposure. While not necessary, some brisket fans swear by using a vacuum sealer to freeze their brisket for the long haul.
To find out more about using a vacuum sealer to freeze brisket, be sure to watch this YouTube video:
How Long Does Brisket Last In The Fridge?
If you're storing raw brisket in the refrigerator, it should last for about five days if it's kept in a well-sealed container or bag. To preserve your brisket in the fridge for longer, turn your temp down to below 34° F.
If you're storing cooked brisket in the fridge, please expect it to last for less time than raw brisket. Generally, you should use cooked brisket within at least four days after putting it in the fridge. As always, please keep your cooked brisket in an airtight container or bag to help preserve freshness.
To learn more about using Ziploc bags in the freezer, please read our post "Are Ziploc Bags Safe For Food Storage?"
Is It Better To Freeze Brisket Raw Or Cooked?
Many BBQ enthusiasts swear that frozen brisket tastes better than a fresh-cooked meal. Arguably, the critical reason frozen brisket tastes better is that it's way easier to cook. All you have to do is thaw, reheat, and serve!
However, foodies claim frozen cooked brisket tastes better because it absorbs all of that delicious sauce. Supposedly, when you make a frozen brisket meal, it will have an enhanced flavor profile.
Therefore, it may be "better" to freeze cooked briskets rather than raw brisket meat. Both of these foods will last indefinitely in the freezer, and there seems to be no diminished taste in frozen meat (provided you eat it within at least six months). If anything, frozen cooked brisket may taste better.
However, if you're not a fan of frozen cooked brisket, please remember you can freeze raw brisket and use it when you're ready. Be sure to try both of these methods and see whether you notice a significant flavor difference.
If you want some pointers on cooking a delicious brisket, you've got to check out this helpful tutorial:
Can You Cook A Brisket That Is Frozen?
You can cook with a frozen brisket, but it's always better to defrost it before use. Defrosting not only improves a brisket's texture but will also reduce the risk of cold spots. It also takes significantly less time to cook defrosted meat.
That being said, you could pop a frozen brisket in the oven or slow cooker and get decent results. The only caveat is you'll have to add a few extra hours to your total cooking time. Some oven-baked brisket recipes claim frozen brisket needs at least one additional hour.
Just remember that you should always judge a brisket's doneness by its internal temp, not its time in the oven. The USDA recommends cooking all cuts of meat to an internal temperature of at least 145° F before eating. Be sure to have a food thermometer at the ready to ensure your brisket is well-cooked.
By the way, you should check out our post on the "Ideal Temperature To Cook A Roast" for more details on how to cook various cuts of meat.
How Do You Defrost A Frozen Brisket?
The safest way to defrost frozen brisket is to place it in the fridge at least one day before you cook it. Some BBQ fans suggest leaving your brisket in the refrigerator for ~ 24 hours per pound of meat.
If you need to defrost your brisket extra fast, you could place your frozen brisket in a cold water bath. You should replace this cold water about every 30 minutes until your brisket is fully dethawed. Most cooks claim you need at least 45 minutes per pound of brisket to dethaw using the cold water method.
While it may be tempting to leave brisket on the countertop, this isn't as safe as the other two defrosting methods. It's far easier for foodborne illnesses to thrive if you try to defrost meat at room temp.
Oh yeah, and please never defrost frozen brisket in the microwave!
Can You Smoke Previously Frozen Meat?
You could smoke previously frozen meat, but most chefs don't suggest it. No matter how well you seal frozen meats, they will have greater cell damage due to contact with ice crystals. Frozen brisket probably won't be able to absorb as many nuanced notes from your smoker.
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This doesn't mean you can't smoke defrosted frozen meat, but you'll probably get a diminished ROI versus cooking raw meat. It's a better idea to buy your brisket from your butcher a few days before you plan to cook it.
After you've smoked your brisket, you could freeze leftovers for future meals. Since frozen cooked brisket has already trapped those delicious flavors, it should retain its smokiness in the freezer.
Enjoy BBQ Anytime With Frozen Brisket
It's safe to freeze raw and cooked brisket in an airtight container, vacuum-sealed bag, or a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Interestingly, it seems most people believe frozen cooked brisket tastes way better than fresh-smoked meat.
While this is a debatable point, there's no doubt having cooked brisket in the freezer is an easy way to enjoy slow-cooked meat whenever a carnivore craving kicks in. If you and your family love BBQ, pot roast, or corned beef, consider adding extra space in your freezer for some brisket.