How Long Does It Take To Thaw A Brisket?

Thawing out meat for dinner is a commonplace occurrence in many households. Yet, many individuals have questions surrounding how long it actually takes to thaw out certain cuts of meat.

How much time it takes to thaw out a brisket can be a concern for some. If you are planning a big party or want to smoke a brisket all day, knowing how long to thaw it before cooking will allow you to maintain a timeline. It can take three to four days to thaw a brisket in the fridge or up to 24 hours to thaw in a water bath. Let’s take a look at the different thawing methods and their advantages. 

Let us also start by saying, we always recommend following safe practices for food preparation to avoid illness. Improperly thawing a brisket can lead to bacteria growth and illness in those who consume it.

Steps For Properly Thawing a Brisket

Even if you are used to thawing meat, laying a brisket out to thaw is a whole different concept. Big cuts of meat like this follow different guidelines than if you were thawing ground beef or fajita strips. 

One of the main concerns of thawing a brisket is that the outside may reach a warmer temperature sooner than the inside. This can allow bacteria to grow on the outside of your brisket, while the inside is still thawing. 

Thawing in the fridge is the least risky method of defrosting your brisket. However, if you’re in a hurry there are alternatives to speed up the process. 

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Brisket is a pricey cut of meat, so if you’ve found yourself freezing it to save money, here is how you can safely thaw it before cooking:

  • Generally, it takes about 24 hours to defrost every 5 pounds of meat for a total brisket. 
  • Be sure to lay your brisket on the bottom shelf of your fridge to ensure the juices don’t leak out on other fresh foods. This can be a source of bacteria growth and illness. 
  • If you are short on time, brisket can be thawed in water, which will take 30 minutes per pound of brisket.
  • If you are defrosting brisket that has been wet-aged, be sure to cook the meat as soon as possible after it thaws. 

Tips For Thawing a Brisket In the Refrigerator

The most popular method of thawing a brisket is to throw it in the fridge and let it defrost for a few days. Taking one day per five pounds of meat means that a larger brisket will take substantially longer to completely thaw. 

Once your brisket has fully thawed, it can stay good in the fridge for another 3 to 5 days. So, if you are unsure how long it will take to thaw, set it out in your fridge sooner rather than later.

If your brisket is only partially thawed by the time you need to use it, follow the cold water method we describe next.

How To Thaw a Brisket In Cold Water

If you are someone who always waits until the last minute to do everything, this may be the method of brisket thawing for you. This method consists of thawing your brisket in a cold water bath, preferably completely submerged. 

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For this method to be effective, your brisket needs to be packaged in something that is airtight. When you thaw a brisket in a water bath in a package that leaks, you can expose your brisket to dangerous bacteria. 

If your brisket is under 15 pounds, a large bowl will suffice. For a brisket that is larger than 15 pounds, you may need to seek a bigger area, like a sink or cooler. 

Allowing 30 minutes to thaw every pound of meat is sufficient when using this method. This means a medium-sized brisket can be ready to cook in as few as five hours.

Can You Thaw A Brisket In The Microwave?

Aside from the size of a brisket making it difficult to thaw in the microwave, this wouldn’t necessarily be a sanitary method. The microwave likely wouldn’t thaw this large cut of meat evenly, so you would be left with some raw or frozen parts and some overcooked areas.

Not only would thawing a brisket in the microwave prove to be somewhat inconvenient, but it could also be a health hazard. Microwave cooking is also meant to fast preparation, which would leave the brisket with a dry and rubbery texture.

How Long Does It Take To Thaw Cooked Brisket?

In other instances, you may just be wanting to thaw out brisket that has already been cooked. If you froze an entire brisket after cooking, this could be a challenge. 

However, most often, brisket is frozen in small containers or slices that make it easy to defrost after cooking. You can simply put smaller pieces of cooked brisket in the microwave. 

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This process may thaw your brisket out, though. So, you may want to add a bit of water or barbecue sauce before you nuke it. 

Successfully Thawing a Brisket

In general, thawing a brisket isn’t as complicated as it may seem. If you have thawed a big turkey for Thanksgiving, you can certainly take on this task. 

By following the aforementioned tips, you will be well on your way to safely and properly thawing a brisket. The key is to give yourself enough time to do so, which will also give you options if things go awry. 

Also, take note not to thaw your brisket too quickly or in unsafe conditions. You don’t want to sacrifice your health and well-being by trying to speed up the process by using an unsafe heating methods.