How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Brisket

How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Brisket?

Thawing meat can be intimidating, especially meat like brisket or beef ribs, because of the fat and how much it shrinks when frozen. However, how long does it take to thaw a brisket? Continue reading for details on how you can get it done. 

A brisket can take anywhere from 12 to 18 hours to thaw out. However, the best way to defrost a beef brisket is in the fridge if you have the space. It takes about one day to thaw a brisket in an ordinary refrigerator. The only way to speed up this process is by using a microwave, which can cut thawing to about20-30 minutes.

For frozen briskets, it’s important to let them thaw slowly in the refrigerator, taking up to two days. Then place the Brisket in a plastic bag before refrigerating to minimize water loss and protect the meat from contamination.

Although Brisket meat is hard, it must slowly cook inside and out for a few hours before it’s ready to eat. But since Brisket is also full of fat and collagen, it takes longer to thaw than most other cuts of beef.

How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Brisket?

How Long Does It Take to Thaw a BrisketIt depends on how big the Brisket is and what kind of environment you’re in. For an average-sized brisket of about 4 pounds, you should allow 24 hours to thaw the meat fully. If the Brisket is larger, add 24 hours for every additional pound of meat.

If you’re trying to Brisket in a refrigerator, make sure you leave it in its original packaging and put it at the back of your fridge, closest to the freezer compartment. The temperature is most consistent in that location, so it will thaw more evenly than if closer to the front of your fridge or out on a shelf.

And if you can’t wait 24 hours for your meat to thaw, you can also use cold water to speed up the process.  Put your meat in a leak-proof bag (like a Ziploc) and submerge it in cold water. If it starts warming, you’ll probably want to change the water every 30 minutes.

However, the only hard part about thawing a brisket is ensuring you give yourself enough time. The rule of thumb is that one day of thawing should be enough for every 2 pounds of meat, so if your Brisket weighs 7 pounds, you’ll need 3 days in advance to safely thaw it.

There are other options if you forget to start the thawing process early or find yourself short on time. You can put the meat in cold water—the rule of thumb here is 30 minutes of soaking for every pound of meat—and change the water every 30 minutes to stay cold.

Or, if you don’t want to babysit your meat, you can stick it in an airtight bag and soak it in a cold water bowl for 6-8 hours. 

How to Thaw a Brisket

Freezing meat before cooking is a great way to save money. For example, here is how to thaw a brisket.

1. In Cold Water

How to Thaw a Brisket in Cold Water

1. Place the Brisket in a resealable bag.

2. Make sure the seal on the bag is completely secure, and then place the bag in a large bowl with cold water.

3. Change the water every 30 minutes (the colder it is, the better) until the Brisket is defrosted, which should take between 1 and 2 hours.

Place it in an airtight plastic bag for a large brisket and submerge it in cold water. The water should completely cover the meat, so you may need to use a larger bowl or pan than the meat itself. You should replace the water every 30 minutes to keep it cool.

A whole brisket can take up to 10 hours to thaw, while a half brisket takes around 5 hours.

2. In The Refrigerator

Here’s how to thaw a brisket in the refrigerator:

1. First, take your Brisket out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator.

2. Put it in a container or on your fridge shelf, whichever works for you.

3. If you put it in a container, don’t fill it up with any liquid or anything—you’re just using it to keep the meat from prematurely drying out or getting contaminated by other stuff in your fridge.

4. Let the Brisket sit for 1-2 days (don’t let it sit longer than 2 days).

5. As soon as it gets thawed, take the Brisket out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature before cooking (about 30 minutes).

If you want to thaw your Brisket faster than 24 hours per 5 pounds of meat, you can submerge it in cold water (don’t use warm or hot water). Just make sure the package is completely sealed, so no water gets in there and contaminates the meat. 

Then check the water every half hour and change it when it gets too warm. This method takes about an hour per pound of meat.

If you can’t wait for so long, you can also cook a frozen brisket—just make sure to add 50% more cooking time when cooking from frozen.

3. In The Microwave

Thawing a brisket in the microwave is a simple task you can carry out in minutes.

First, remove your Brisket from its packaging and place it on a microwave-safe dish, making sure that the dish is at least one inch larger than the Brisket on all sides. 

Then, cover your Brisket with a lid or plastic wrap to keep heat and moisture in. Next, place the dish inside the microwave and set it on high for two minutes, then leave it inside the microwave for one minute.

Furthermore, check the Brisket’s temperature with a meat thermometer. If it’s below 40°F, cook it on high at two-minute intervals until it reaches a safe temperature. If not, you can begin cooking your Brisket immediately.

Alternatively, you can follow these steps.

1. Remove the Brisket from the freezer and place it on the cutting board.

2. Cut Brisket into two halves.

3. Place one-half of the Brisket in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with plastic wrap, and microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds on a medium power setting.

4. Carefully remove the Brisket from the microwave and flip it over so that the uncooked side is facing up, then return to the microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds on a medium power setting.

5. Do steps 3 and 4 with the other half of the Brisket until both sides are thawed, and the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. On a counter

Before you start, spare at least 1 hour for each pound of meat. So if you’re planning on cooking a 3-pound brisket, make sure you’ve got at least 3 hours set aside. It is because beef needs time to warm up evenly throughout the entire piece of meat—even though it might feel warm and soft on the outside, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption.

If a piece of meat is cooked from the outside in but not from the inside out, it can contain harmful bacteria that make people sick.

However, to thaw a brisket on a counter, remove its packaging from your Brisket and place it on a plate or tray. If you use a plate, put some paper towels underneath for easy clean-up. Cover with plastic wrap or foil. Place your Brisket in an area where it won’t be disturbed (like your kitchen counter) and leave it out for a few hours to thaw completely.

Meanwhile, when touched with your finger, you’ll know it’s ready when its exterior feels slightly soft and not too cold.

How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Packer Brisket?

How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Packer BrisketThe time it takes to thaw a packer brisket depends on the size of the Brisket and the method used.

It’s best to use a refrigerator to thaw a brisket. For example, a 3-pound brisket will take 3 days to thaw in a refrigerator, while an 8-pound cut will take 8 days.

If you need your meat sooner, you can place your packer brisket in a cold water bath. Then, replace the water every 30 minutes and let the Brisket soak until it is fully thawed, which may take up to 2 hours for a 3-pound cut or 4 hours for an 8-pound brisket.

But remember that preventing the need to thaw is better than waiting for it to thaw! You can always buy a fresh brisket and prepare it immediately, or you can freeze your cooked Brisket and just heat it when you’re ready to eat.

How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Frozen Brisket?

To thaw a frozen brisket, you’ll want to leave it in the fridge for several days. For a 5-pound brisket, expect it to take at least 3 days. If you can’t wait that long, try leaving the Brisket in hot water for an hour or two. If you will thaw it this way, make sure you cook the meat immediately afterward.

Knowing whether your meat is fully thawed is to feel it with your hands. If there are still any hard areas, return the meat to the fridge for another day or two.

How Long to Thaw a 15 Pound Brisket

The best way to thaw a brisket depends on its size. For a 15-pound brisket, it’s estimated that you should plan for 24 to 30 hours in the fridge.

Make sure you place your Brisket in a plastic bag and wrap it in a few layers of foil or use a roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid. Then, put it on the bottom shelf so that none of the meat juices spill onto other food.

When you thaw your Brisket by placing it in the refrigerator, ensure you’re not trying to cook it within 72 hours. If you don’t have plenty of time, you can thaw your Brisket using cold water instead.

Submerge the wrapped Brisket in cold water for this method and change the water every 30 minutes until it is fully thawed. This method should take about 6 hours for a 15-pound brisket.

How to Thaw a Brisket Overnight

First, place the Brisket on a large plate or platter and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap. Make sure the wrap touches the meat to prevent freezer burn.

Next, put it in the fridge overnight—at least 12-15 hours. The lower temperature will allow it to defrost slowly and evenly. Just be sure your refrigerator is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below; if not, you’ll also need some time for a quick defrosting session on the counter before putting it into the fridge.

Take it out of the refrigerator in the morning and let it stand at room temperature for an hour before cooking.

Meanwhile, Once completely thawed, pat your Brisket dry with paper towels and season as desired before cooking. It will ensure that your Brisket comes out tender and juicy every time.

How to Defrost Brisket Fast

There are two super-fast ways you can use to defrost your Brisket fast:

1. Microwave it

If you’re in a hurry, the microwave is the way to go—but be careful not to overdo it. Overcooking it in the microwave is easy and can make for some chewy meat. To get around this issue, cut the piece of Brisket into smaller pieces, so there’s more surface area for the microwaves to penetrate at an even rate. 

Then, set your microwave on a low power setting (about 30 percent) and let it run for 1-2 minutes until your Brisket is defrosted.

2. Boil it.

Another quick method is boiling water, but this one takes a little planning. First, place the Brisket in a resealable plastic bag and seal out all of the air as much as possible (for extra protection against freezer burn). 

Then, place the sealed bag in a large pot or bowl and fill that with enough water to completely submerge and be ready for cooking.

Can You Freeze Brisket?

Can You Freeze BrisketYou can freeze Brisket. You can freeze it raw or cooked. If you’re freezing uncooked Brisket, the best way to do it is by slicing it up into individual portions. It will make it easier to defrost just the amount you need and allow the meat to defrost more quickly, reducing spoilage chances. 

Put your cut-up brisket in a freezer bag and squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag before sealing it. The USDA says raw Brisket can be frozen for six months if properly packaged and stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. 

While this is safe, freezing meat can lead to a loss of flavor and quality over time; if you want your meat to remain at its best for as long as possible, try not to keep it frozen for over three months.

And if you’re freezing cooked Brisket, portioning your beef into individual servings is your best bet. Ensure your beef is cool before wrapping it in aluminum foil or freezer paper and putting it into a freezer bag. Cooked Brisket can last between two and six months in the freezer, though again, there will be less loss of quality if you eat it within three days.

Can I Cook a Brisket Frozen

You cannot cook a brisket frozen. So before starting, you should thaw it in the refrigerator overnight (or longer if it’s larger than 5 pounds).

But if you have no alternative but to cook the Brisket frozen, there are two ways to go about it:

1. Place your Brisket in a baking dish, cover it with aluminum foil, and bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes per pound (so 50 minutes if you’re using a 2-pound brisket).

2. Place your Brisket in an oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours, then turn it down to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the meat’s temperature periodically to ensure that it gets to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Cook Frozen Brisket

First, you’ll want to always begin with a preheated oven. Then, defrost your frozen brisket by placing it in the refrigerator overnight. If you want it fast, you can also defrost it in cold water, changing the water frequently so it doesn’t get too warm.

Then, wrap your Brisket in foil and place it into your preheated oven for about 1 hour or till the internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, try cooking your frozen Brisket in a Crock-pot or Instant Pot. Unfortunately, if you choose this method, you’re using one of these machines with a low setting—most models do not have a high enough temperature for cooking meat safely.

You’ll also want to check the internal temperature of your Brisket often, as the time needed will vary on the size of your piece of meat and the type of machine you’re using.

Here is a step-by-step guide:

1. Take the frozen Brisket out of the freezer and unwrap it.

2. Rinse the Brisket with cold water and dry it with paper towels.

3. Put the Brisket in a roasting pan, cover it with aluminum foil, and cook it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours per pound.

4. After two hours per pound, remove the aluminum foil from the Brisket and cook it for another 30 minutes to allow its surface to crisp.

5. Check the internal temperature of your Brisket using a meat thermometer; when it reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit, remove your Brisket from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes before slicing into it and serving.

Can You Freeze Brisket After Cooking

You can freeze Brisket after cooking, but you’ll want to be careful about how you do it. Brisket is a delicious, fatty cut of beef that typically cooks for a long time at low heat. This is what makes it so tender and juicy.

The problem with freezing meats like Brisket is that they have a high-fat content. When meat with a high-fat content freezes and then unfreezes, the fat separates from the other juices in your meat. As a result, it causes the texture and flavor of your brisket to significantly.

To freeze your cooked Brisket and keep the texture just right, the first portion of the meat into smaller pieces so that you don’t have to thaw it all at once when ready to eat it. Then wrap each piece in freezer paper or place them inside freezer bags.

You can also freeze Brisket if cooked in sauce—just make sure the sauce is not cream-based before freezing! You can reheat frozen and frozen sauces on the stovetop or in an oven at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.

Can You Freeze Brisket Before Cooking

Can You Freeze Brisket Before CookingIf you’re going to freeze your Brisket, it’s best to do this before cooking. Then, you can freeze it for about a month before it loses its flavor. But if you plan to cook and then freeze leftovers, that’s fine. It’ll last about 3-4 months in the freezer if wrapped well.

When freezing raw meat, using a good airtight freezer bag or container is important. Before you place it in the freezer, you should also remove air from the bag or container. It will help prevent freezer burn.

There are two things you can do to increase the shelf-life of your Brisket:

1. Wrap the Brisket tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store it in a cool place until ready to cook.

2. Put the Brisket into a water container and freeze it (you must thaw it before cooking).

Can You Freeze Smoked Brisket?

You can freeze smoked Brisket, but you have to store it in the freezer for no longer than 6 months, and you should wrap it well in foil or plastic. It’s best to let it cool before freezing, but if you’re short on time and need to freeze it while warm, just make sure you defrost it properly.

When you’re ready to eat your Brisket, just make sure you thaw it completely before reheating it and only reheat it once.

However, it’s best to avoid freezing smoked Brisket because all of the juices and fats will solidify and make the meat chewy when you thaw it. If you’re going to freeze, we recommend slicing the meat very thin before freezing to have a better chance of thawing and staying juicy.


How long does it take to thaw a brisket? This article has shown that it takes as little as five to six hours or twelve to sixteen. However, on average, one will thaw in between eight and ten hours.

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