There are a lot of reasons why cooking a brisket sous vide works so well. For starters, there’s the way it creates a tender medium-rare brisket full of rich, complex flavors that melt in your mouth in ways that can’t be done in a smoker or oven.
It’s also the easiest way to cook a brisket with deep smokey flavors when you don’t have a smoker on hand and is a forgiving technique that knows how to deliver tender brisket every time.
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What we really love about cooking brisket this way is how it creates a supple texture while locking in the beef’s juices and flavors, elevating the beef in unique ways.
Getting to Know Brisket
Brisket comes from the lower chest area of the cow and is one of the nine primal cuts of beef. For a long time, it’s been a favorite cut for smoking or slow-roasting in the oven. It’s generally available as a flat cut or point cut, this recipe will work with either.
What we love about this recipe is how the long cooking time makes everything incredibly tender while the low temperature keeps it a nice medium; something that can’t be done in a smoker or the oven. This is the type of recipe that shows off sous vide’s capabilities creating a brisket that is special in its own way.
We recommend looking for a brisket that has a nice mix of meat and fat. If you’re breaking down a whole brisket, say the type popular at Costco or other superstores, try to mix and match the leaner parts of the brisket with those that have lots of fat.
A tip if the brisket doesn’t fit the sous vide bags your using is to split it in half. The cooking time for two bags is the same as one and it’s easy to freeze one of the bags of brisket for later.
No matter how the brisket is being cooked, it’s important to leave the fat on during the cooking process to keep the meat from drying out. The best time to trim off any extra fat is right before it’s finished on the grill or before serving.
Our special brisket rub is designed to highlight the flavors in the beef and deliver that something special that makes the brisket memorable. The rub works whether the brisket is cooked sous vide, smoked, or roasted. The biggest difference between the three cooking methods is the unique texture that comes from sous vide.
To help the brisket develop the smokey flavor people love so much, this recipe uses a little liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and smoked paprika. A note of caution on the liquid smoke, a little goes a long way. In our testing any more than a tablespoon overwhelmed the final dish.
Cooking the Brisket
To find the best way to sous vide a brisket we tried multiple combinations of time and temperature.
Based on our testing, the best time and temperature combination for sous vide brisket is 133℉ for 48 hours.
The briskets we cooked at 131℉ ended up being too rare for some testers, any more than 135℉, and the brisket lost that sweet medium-rare spot that makes this recipe special.
We also tried a number of different cooking times, at 24 hours the brisket was good but wasn’t as soft and supple as it gets at 48 hours. There wasn’t enough difference between the 72 hour brisket and 48 hour brisket to justify another day of cooking.
The brisket can be reheated on the grill, in a saute pan with a little water, or the oven. Using low heat and a little liquid will help the brisket stay tender and retain its moisture. We don’t recommend using the microwave to reheat brisket.
Finishing Beef Brisket
The brisket can be finished on the grill, in a smoker, or the oven. Our preference is to finish it on the grill for the way it develops a crisp bark on the outside without taking all day and because it’s fun to play with fire.
To help crisp up the outside, pat the brisket dry with a paper towel when it emerges from its sous vide bath.
To finish the brisket on the grill place it on a medium-high fire for 8 to 10 minutes, turning it regularly. The goal is to get a nice bark without overcooking the meat and not letting the drippings light up like a Roman candle.
To finish the brisket in the oven, place it on a broiler pan in a 400℉ oven for 8 to 10 minutes, turning it once. Using a broiler pan gives the juices a place to go, helping crisp up the outside.
A lot of people like to finish their brisket in a smoker, they generally recommend smoking it at 225℉ for 2 to 3 hours.
If you’re interested in learning more about sous vide read What is Sous Vide Cooking & Why it Works.
Tips for Better Brisket
A few tips from testing and research include:
- After it’s finished cooking, it can be stored in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
- To help develop a crisp bark, pat the brisket dry with a paper towel before finishing.
- Leaving the fat on the brisket until it’s finished cooking will help it stay tender and moist.
- If you’re planning on serving the brisket right away, there’s no reason to cool it down in an ice bath the way a lot of other recipes call for.
This recipe is a great way to feed large groups of people a dish they’ll remember. The ideal way to serve the brisket is right after it comes off the grill slice it thin with some Texas Toast, a good BBQ sauce, and some delicious sides.
If you’re going to go through the time to cook a beef brisket, make sure to serve it with a BBQ sauce that has a little sass, our favorite homemade BBQ sauce is Old No 44.
We also love to serve it sliced thin on our Big Bad Brisket Sandwiches.
Whether we’re serving the brisket sliced thin as a stand-alone dish or as a sandwich, we like to pair it with things like Grilled Butternut Squash, Creamy Mac and Cheese, and Quick Pickled Spicy Carrots.
- 4 lbs beef brisket
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tsp smoked paprika
- 1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Start by rubbing the brisket down with a mixture of liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce.4 lbs beef brisket, 1 tbsp liquid smoke, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- In a small dish mix the smoked paprika, garlic, onion, and mustard powders with the salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the brisket.3 tsp smoked paprika, 1-1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp mustard powder, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
- Seal everything up in a bag and drop the brisket into a 133℉ water bath for 48 hours.
- Finish the brisket on a medium-high grill for 8 to 10 minutes, turning the brisket regularly. The goal is to develop a nice bark on the outside without overcooking the meat.
- To serve the brisket, thinly slice it and serve it with a good BBQ sauce on the side.
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