Wrapping your brisket during the long process of cooking and smoking is vital.
It speeds up the cooking when the internal temperature of the brisket naturally slows down.
In addition, wrapping your brisket also stops the meat from drying out. But what internal temperature should your brisket have before you wrap it?
We put together an expert guide on how to wrap your meat and what temperature you need to cook the perfect brisket.
Why Wrap Brisket?
Before we get to the nitty-gritty of cooking and wrapping brisket, let’s take a look at why it’s good to wrap the brisket.
First up, it’s not just brisket that expert pitmasters prefer to wrap, but also ribs and pork butts can be wrapped with foil or paper during cooking.
Although most pitmasters have their own reasons why it’s a good idea to wrap brisket, there are some benefits as well as disadvantages of wrapping.
Pros Of Wrapping Brisket
There are some good reasons why wrapping brisket is important during the cooking process of your meat.
Keeps Meat Tender And Moist
One of the biggest advantage of wrapping your brisket is that it keeps the meat inside moist and tender.
Stops Meat Smoke Flavor
For some, this is a benefit, while others may think this is an advantage.
When you are cooking brisket in a smoker or grill, the meat will naturally pick up some smoke, changing the taste of the brisket.
When you wrap brisket, you can reduce this smoky flavor in brisket, giving it a much more meaty taste.
Faster Cooking Time
Cooking brisket is a long process that requires a lot of patience by pitmasters. During the cooking, the collagen and fat of the meet is slowly breaking down.
It’s important to regularly check the internal temperature of the meat to ensure that it doesn’t get overcooked.
Brisket that’s overcooked will dry out.
Keep The Brisket Warm
This isn’t really a dealbreaker but a nice-to-have. The wrap around your brisket keeps it warm when you take it out of the oven or cooker.
Freeze Without Mess
Another advantage of wrapping brisket is that it creates little to no mess or running juices.
This is ideal when you want to transfer the brisket right from the cooker into the freezer.
Cons Of Wrapping Brisket
Here are some of the disadvantages of wrapping brisket that we found at the beginning.
Ruins The Brisket Bark
When it comes to brisket, the exterior, also called bark, is essential. This is what naturally keeps your meat in place, and it holds the juices in.
If you start wrapping your brisket too early or you overcook it while it’s wrapped, then there is a high chance that the bark will become soft and mushy.
We take a look at how to wrap your brisket at the right time and with the right materials further down.
No Smoky Flavor
As mentioned in the pros section, not everyone likes that the wrap isolates the brisket from the smoke.
Some people absolutely love their smoky brisket flavor, which means that a wrap wouldn’t be ideal.
What Temperature Should You Wrap Brisket?
As a general rule of thumb, meat experts recommend wrapping meat when the internal temperature of the brisket gets to between 150 and170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Saying this, some people prefer to wrap their brisket just based on the look of the bark.
You will need a little bit of experience for this, so not the best method for beginners.
Brisket typically gets to its stall at around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. From then onwards, the internal temperature of the brisket will not increase a lot for the next hours.
The wrap can speed the stall up, and reasonably quickly bring the internal temperature of the meat up to around 203 degrees Fahrenheit, when it is done.
Wrapping Brisket At 150 Degrees Fahrenheit
The best temperature to wrap brisket is a minimum of 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the meat gets to this temperature, the stall will set in and the meat will begin to sweat.
When you wrap brisket at this point in paper or foil, you can get its temperature to push past the stall and increase it until the cooking process is done.
We’ll take a look at specific wrapping options for brisket further down but it’s important to make sure that you use heavy-duty foil or materials to ensure that all the steam and heat stays inside the wrap.
Wrapping Brisket At 170 degrees Fahrenheit
There is no exact temperature to wrap brisket at but most experts recommend applying the wrap between 150 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
This depends on a number of factors, including the size of the brisket, its weight, fat content and your smoker.
Some meat may not reach its stall until 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to find out is to regularly measure the brisket’s internal temperature.
If the temperature keeps rising, then keep the brisket unwrapped for longer until the temperature stays steady.
Big Brisket Wrapping Mistakes
There are a couple of big mistakes that you can make when you are wrapping your brisket.
Wrapping Brisket Too Early
Ideally you do not want to apply the wrap to your brisket too early. This can mean that the brisket hasn’t had a chance to pick up enough of the smoke.
In addition, brisket that has been wrapped too early will also not develop a good bark.
Although the exact moment of wrapping your brisket depends on the size of the meat and your smoker, you can expect to wrap your brisket after around 8-10 hours of cooking.
This is roughly the time it takes to get to the 150 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature.
If your brisket is wrapped too early, you will end up with a brisket which isn’t as nicely finished as it could be.
The bark will be much softer and not crunchy.
If you notice that this is the case when you take your brisket out of the smoker, then just place the unwrapped brisket back into the smoker for a little while before cutting it.
Wrapping Brisket Too Late
Wrapping your brisket too late may mean that the meat absorbs too much smoke.
This will not just change the taste of the meat significantly but it also adds dirty smoke to your meat.
In addition, brisket that was wrapped too late will also take much longer to cook.
Typically, the wrap of brisket will help it cook faster through the stall, bringing up the internal temperature much quicker than without wrap.
Saying this, although wrapping brisket too late has quite a few disadvantages, it can also be beneficial in developing a bark.
Can You Wrap Brisket During The Stall?
There is a true art to wrapping a brisket at the right moment in the cooking process. Expert pitmasters say that you should wrap brisket just before the meat stalls.
While there is no exact temperature, it should be around 150 degrees Fahrenheit and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
You will know that the stall is about to set in when the internal temperature stops rising, and it slows down significantly.
This is the perfect time to wrap the brisket in butcher paper or foil.
If you do not wrap the meat at this stage, then it will start to sweat cooling the internal temperature, and taking much longer to cook.
Is It Best To Rest Brisket Wrapped Or Unwrapped?
Resting brisket after cooking is essential. This will allow the meat to settle and it will continue cooking for a while.
For this reason, it is important that you keep your brisket wrapped while the meat is resting.
In addition, the wrap is a handy barrier which stops the juices from leaking, and it keeps the brisket as juicy and moist for longer.
The resting time is also crucial to the brisket cooking process because it allows the meat to absorb more of the juices.
Once the brisket has rested long enough (roughly 3 to 4 hours), you can then remove the foil or butcher paper.
The brisket will still be hot enough to serve.
The Best Wrapping Material To Wrap Brisket
There has been a lot of debate around this for some time now. What’s better to wrap your brisket with: butcher paper or foil.
Although foil is the most popular method of wrapping brisket for many, butcher paper has become very popular in recent years.
Butcher paper is specifically designed to keep any juices and heat in during the cooking process.
Some people have noticed that the bark of the brisket looks different for both of these materials.
Ultimately, what you choose to wrap your brisket in is up to your personal preference, and also what you may have available at home.
It’s worth experimenting with both to see what you may like.
What Makes Brisket Dry?
One of the biggest reasons why wrapping brisket is a good idea is to stop the meat from drying out.
The wrap helps the meat to retain moisture and therefore keeps it juicy until served.
However, there are some other causes that can lead to the brisket becoming tough.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that can make your meat dry.
Too Short Resting Period
Although it may not be obvious but resting is also an essential part of the brisket cooking process.
During resting, the meat will absorb more of the juices within the wrap and it continues cooking.
Brisket needs to rest for a minimum of 2 hours (maximum 4 hours), or it will become dry and leathery.
If you decide to cut your brisket already after an hour, you should try to retain the juices and pour the liquid of the brisket servings to make sure that they stay moist.
Bad Temperature Control
Keeping an eye on the internal temperature of your brisket is one of the basic skills for beginners to master.
Brisket needs to cook very slowly over a period of around eight to ten hours.
If you do not cook it long enough at the right temperature, then the meat will lose moisture and become tough and dry.
Injecting bone broth, marinade or other liquids into the meat is a great way of ensuring that there is plenty of moisture to aid the cooking process.
If you do not inject the brisket with any liquid, then the meat will likely dry out as it doesn’t contain enough moisture.
Brining is an easy technique where you rub salt over the brisket the day before. Then wrap it in plastic foil and allow the meat to sit in the fridge overnight.
The meat will absorb the salt and this will allow moisture to be absorbed during the cooking.
How To Stop Brisket From Going Dry
There are a number of expert ways to make sure that your brisket doesn’t dry out.
The editors at Texas Monthly Magazine asked the experts what they do to keep their brisket perfect for serving.
Pitmaster Tim Byres at Smoke Restaurant uses a more unusual technique when it comes to preparing and cooking brisket.
At Smoke, they use a large grill and smoker that can hold more a number of briskets at a temperature of 175 degree Fahrenheit.
This is ideal to keep the brisket hot throughout the day.
For this reason, Tim doesn’t wrap the first served briskets, but the briskets later served in the afternoon will have a wrapper of butcher paper applied.
Tim uses wrap to ensure that the brisket doesn’t dry out over the day, and his preference for butcher paper is easily explained: it is used all around the restaurant.
He also believes that the butcher paper allows moisture to escape much faster making the bark nicely crunchy.
Kerry Bexley at Snow’s BBQ says that it is important that the foil is not used too early in the cooking stage.
In comparison, the Dallas restaurant Pecan Lodge wrap their briskets in tinfoil after they are done cooking.
The briskets are removed after they have finished cooking, and then they are wrapped while kept warm in a warmer.
The iconic eatery Franklin Barbecue, which has the proud title of Best Barbecue in Texas, wraps its briskets in his trusted brand of butcher paper.
The paper is applied around half way during the cooking process, and it does not get removed until the brisket is sliced and ready to be served.
The brisket is kept warm in an electric warmer before being served.
The owner, Aaron Franklin, says that the butcher paper was originally much cheaper than tinfoil, and they have been loyal to butcher paper ever since.
However, he does admit that butcher paper is much more beneficial allowing the meat to breath properly.
A more unusual choice for wrapping briskets comes from Louie Mueller Barbecue where the experience of many generations of pitmasters has led to a unique cooking technique.
There, briskets are wrapped when they are nearly done. They use a layer of clear plastic wrap first, and then apply a layer of butcher paper.
Similar to the other eateries, the brisket is also taken out of the smoker when done, and it is then kept warm in a Cambro warmer.
We hope our extensive guide on wrapping brisket has given you an overview of everything you can do to prepare the perfect brisket.
Whatever way you choose to cook your brisket, the method of wrapping and what you use is your personal preference.
Do not be afraid to experiment with the different methods of cooking and wrapping, creating the perfect brisket for you.