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Why is My Brisket Tough?

why is my brisket tough

Brisket, a popular cut of beef, is known for its rich flavor and tender texture when cooked properly. However, sometimes it can turn out tough and chewy, leaving you disappointed with the results. In this article, we will explain some common reasons why your brisket might be tough and provide tips on how to achieve that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.


What contributes to a tough brisket

Below we will dive into the most common things that can ruin a brisket and make it tough. It all comes down to temperature and time control but there are a few things you can also do to.

1. Cooking Temperature and Time

One of the most common reasons for tough brisket is improper cooking temperature and time. Brisket is a tough cut of meat that contains a lot of collagen, a tough connective tissue. To break down this collagen and achieve tenderness, it needs to be cooked low and slow at a low temperature for a long period of time.

If you cook the brisket at too high of a temperature or for too short a time, the collagen won’t have enough time to break down fully, resulting in a tough texture. Aim for a cooking temperature of at least 225°F (107°C) and plan for a cooking time of about 1 to 1.5 hours per pound of brisket.

2. Lack of Moisture

Brisket is a relatively lean cut of meat, which means it can become dry and tough if not cooked with enough moisture. To combat this issue, it’s important to use techniques that help retain moisture during the cooking process.

One popular method is wrapping the brisket in foil or butcher paper during the latter part of the cooking process. This helps to trap moisture and create a steamy environment, which can contribute to a more tender end result.

Additionally, adding a flavorful liquid such as beef broth or a marinade can help infuse the meat with moisture and enhance its tenderness.

You can also place a water container in the smoker during the cook. This will generate steam and help keep the brisket moist.

3. Improper Slicing

Even if you’ve cooked your brisket perfectly, improper slicing can still result in a tough texture. To ensure a tender bite, it’s important to slice the brisket across the grain.

The grain refers to the lines that run through the meat. By slicing against the grain, you’re effectively shortening the muscle fibers, making it easier to chew and resulting in a more tender brisket.

4. Lack of Resting Time

Resting your brisket after cooking is an essential step that is often overlooked. During the cooking process, the heat causes the brisket to contract and the juices in the brisket tend to exit the meat.

When you let the brisket rest, the muscles and fiber relax to redistribute all those juices back into the meat. If you cut into it immediately, all those flavorful juices will escape, leaving you with a dry and tough piece of meat.

It’s important to let your brisket rest for at least 15 to 30 minutes before slicing it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful brisket.


In conclusion, there are several factors that can contribute to a tough brisket. By paying attention to the cooking temperature and time, ensuring there is enough moisture throughout the cooking process, slicing the brisket properly against the grain, and allowing it to rest before serving, you can greatly improve the tenderness of your brisket.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts don’t turn out as tender as you’d like. With time and experience, you’ll become a brisket master, impressing your family and friends with melt-in-your-mouth results.

So, next time you find yourself wondering why your brisket is tough, remember these tips and give it another try. Your taste buds will thank you!

Happy cooking, and enjoy your perfectly tender brisket!



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