Brine Brisket: Should It Be Done? Tips & Techniques

Brining is a technique used to tenderize meat before cooking. The brining process helps to break down connective tissue to make the meat more

If you’re new to making brisket, you might be wondering: Should you brine brisket?

Brine Brisket: Should It Be Done? Tips & Techniques

In this article, I will explore whether you should brine your brisket, as well as a few tips & techniques you should bear in mind.

Let’s get started.

Brining also adds flavor and moisture to the meat. Brisket is a particularly good choice for brine because it is a tough cut of meat. 

In addition to this, brining is a simple way to add flavor to the meat.

Types Of Brines

There are several ways to brine, such as using salt or sugar water, soaking in a solution, or adding spices to the brine.

There are two main types of brines: dry brine and wet brine. Dry brine involves adding salt directly to the meat, whereas wet brine uses a liquid ingredient such as water, beer, wine, or vinegar.

How To Brine Beef Brisket

To brine brisket, simply follow these steps:

Step One – Determine how much brine you’re going to need. The easiest way to find out how much water to use is to place the brisket in the container, then entirely cover it with water.

Remove the brisket, and the water that’s left is the amount you need.

Step Two – You will need to boil two cups of water for every cup of salt that you use.

Once the water is boiling, add the salt and the spices of your choice.

Black peppercorns alongside thyme or rosemary are also excellent choices.

Step Three – Stir the brine until all of the salt has dissolved in the hot water. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then add the remaining water, and chill the brine in the refrigerator until it is cold.

Step Four – If your recipe calls for any other ingredients, now is the time to add them before adding the brisket. Now it’s time to add the brisket to the water.

Step Five – Allow the brisket to sit in the brine for an hour per pound of meat. 

Step Six – Remove the brisket from the brining solution. If there’s a lot of salt visible along the surface, run it under cold water before patting it dry with paper towels.

Step Seven – Smoke the brisket according to your chosen recipe.

What About A Dry Brine?

Dry brines are also another option.

Step One – To dry brine brisket, you will first need to measure out 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat.

Kosher salt is superior to table salt for the brining process, as the flakes of salt are much better for drawing out moisture.

Step Two – Next, you will need to pat the brisket dry with paper towels. Once dry, you can rub the brisket with the salt, making sure that you massage it into all of the crevices.

Step Three – Following this, you will want to place the brisket on a wire rack that is placed inside a baking tray. The purpose of this is to catch any juices.

Step Four – Place your baking tray into the refrigerator. Leave it undisturbed for a minimum of 2 hours, but ideally overnight. 

Step Five – When it’s time to begin smoking, remove the brisket from the refrigerator. If you want to add more spices, this is the time to do it.

Step Six – Place your brisket on the smoker and cook it according to your chosen recipe.

Should You Brine Brisket?

Brining brisket can be a good step to take to prevent the meat from drying out as it cooks. Brining is also great for adding a boost of flavor to the meat.

However, there are both positives and downsides to consider that might help you decide whether you want to brine your brisket or not.

Positives Of Brining

Locks In Moisture

The process of brining can help to keep your meat juicy and moist as it cooks.

Tenderizes The Meat

Brining can help the process of  tenderizing your brisket. This can make for an overall more pleasant eating experience when done right.

Adds Flavor

Brining is also great for locking in a lot of flavor to your beef brisket. The salt in the brine, as well as any other spices that you add can do wonders for the flavor of your brisket.

Potential Downsides Of Brining

Adds Time To The Process

Smoking a brisket is already a lengthy process, and brining your meat can add a significant chunk of time to the overall cook time.

If you’re in a rush, you might decide to skip this step to save time.

Brining Can Make The Meat Salty

Brine Brisket: Should It Be Done? Tips & Techniques

While brining can improve the flavor of the brisket, it can also make it incredibly salty if you’re not careful.

Striking the right balance can be tricky, especially when you’re inexperienced. 

Whether you decide to brine or avoid brining your brisket is up to you. While many people swear by the technique of brining, others don’t, and it often comes down to you and your preferences.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to brining, so it is important to consider what you hope to achieve before making your choice.

What Makes A Brisket Tough?

A brisket could turn out tough for a few reasons, as it’s not the simplest joint of meat to cook.

One of the main reasons that a brisket will turn out tough is because it was not cooked properly. This applies to both undercooking and overcooking a brisket.

Experienced pitmasters are well acquainted with what is known as the stall, which is when the brisket reaches a certain temperature and appears to stop cooking altogether.

If you’re inexperienced, you might not have prepared for this eventuality, and could easily remove the meat from the smoker prematurely.

Generally speaking, you need to cook beef brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 195 degrees.

Although 205 to 210 degrees is the ideal, it’s important to recognize that the temperature will continue to rise once you remove the brisket from the smoker and allow it to rest.

That being said, removing the brisket too early can make the meat very tough. If it’s below or above this temperature, the meat likely won’t have the tender texture you’re searching for. 

Another reason that can affect the texture of brisket is neglecting the resting period when you remove the brisket from the smoker.

If you try to slice the brisket immediately, you will lose the majority of the juices from the brisket on the chopping board.

This will not only make the meat tough, but you will also lose most of the flavor that you worked hard to create.

Allow your brisket to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes so that the brisket remains juicy when you come to serving it.

Overall, you can avoid these problems by following some basic guidelines when preparing your beef brisket.

Tips For Brining Brisket 

There are a variety of tips that you will want to consider when brining brisket.

Always Refrigerate The Brine

You will need to make sure that you refrigerate a brining solution after you have boiled the water and before adding the meat.

If the brine isn’t cold, the meat has the potential to rise to the temperature “danger zone,” which ranges from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make Sure That The Brisket Is Fully Submerged In The Brine

You will need to make sure that the brisket is fully submerged in the brine.

If you fail to do this, then there will be parts of the joint that aren’t brined and therefore won’t receive the same benefits as other parts.

Don’t Leave The Brisket In The Brine For Too Long 

Last, but by no means least, you will want to ensure that you remove the brisket from the brine in good time.

While it’s convenient to brine a brisket overnight, generally speaking you won’t want it to brine for longer than 1 hour per pound. 

Any longer, and the brine can discolor your meat and can also impact the flavor in a negative way.


So, there you have the process of brining!

Hopefully after reading this article you have a better understanding of why people choose to brine brisket and whether it’s the right choice for you.

Good luck cooking your beef brisket!

John Rinder
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