Brisket is one tough piece of beef, but when cooked long and slow, a kind of magic happens and the meat becomes meltingly tender and full of robust flavor (seriously, try this French onion brisket and you’ll see what we mean). The preparation of brisket requires patience but if you do it right, you’ll receive a handsome reward: Roughly ten pounds of juicy pleasure. The only problem is that when you have that much mouthwatering meat, it’s hard to eat it all in a single sitting. There’s no need to give your leftovers a nervous side-eye, though. Not a single slice of that juicy beef will go to waste with our handy guide for how to reheat brisket without turning it into jerky.
(Note: The USDA recommends cooking beef until the internal temperature reaches 145°F so keep your thermometer handy.)
How to Reheat Brisket in the Oven
Brisket is prone to losing its tenderness after serving but a conventional oven can do a bang-up job of reheating your meat as long as you take a couple of precautions.
1. Preheat the oven. Start by setting your oven to 325°F. You might be tempted to turn the heat up higher so you can sink your teeth in sooner, but higher temperatures will cause the meat to lose moisture and you’ll end up chewing on shoe leather instead.
2. Prep the meat. Pull that brisket from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes while the oven preheats. Cold meat doesn’t warm through as evenly, and you don’t want to add to the overall reheating time because you had to pop the brisket back in the oven to bring the center up to temperature.
3. Make it moist. When the meat has mellowed on the counter for a while and the oven is ready, transfer the brisket to a cooking tray and pour any reserved cooking juices over the top. Pro tip: Reserve any and all cooking juices when roasting meat—it’ll almost always come in handy for reheating. If you don’t have any leftover juices available, use one cup of beef stock instead.
4. Wrap the brisket. Cover the baking tray tightly with a double layer of foil, crimping around the edges of the tray to ensure a tight seal. Give the foil a once over for holes and send the brisket to the oven.
5. Wait (and then wait some more). Heat brisket in the oven for one hour if whole, and 20 minutes if it has already been sliced. When the time is up, remove the meat from the oven, unwrap and dig in.
How to Reheat Brisket With the Sous Vide Method
If you own this fancy piece of cooking equipment, you and your brisket are sitting pretty. Sous vide is a pro chef secret to reheating meat so that it warms up without extra cooking, meaning that every bit will be juicy and tender. This method—essentially a warm bath for meat—takes a little more time, but if you made brisket then you already know a thing or two about the benefits of waiting for a good thing. If you own the sous vide, the machine will do the work for you so the steps are short and sweet.
1. Prep the meat. Bring the brisket to room temperature by letting it rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Seal the brisket. Transfer the meat to a vacuum-sealed bag.
3. Soak and warm. Fill the sous vide basin with enough water to completely cover the brisket and set the sous vide machine to 150°F. Place your brisket in the water and let it luxuriate—this is a bath, after all.
4. Watch the clock. When the brisket has reached the same temperature as the water, it’s ready to go—but this can take up to five hours for a whole piece of meat. Fortunately, you can speed things up by slicing the brisket before you start. Typically, a pre-sliced brisket is more likely to turn tough and dry, but the risk is negligible when using this clever method. The time it takes to sous vide sliced brisket depends on the thickness of the pieces: Brisket sliced into ½-inch shavings will be ready to pile on sandwich bread in as little as 11 minutes while more substantial pieces (say, two-inch-thick) will need to bathe in the sous vide for two hours. No matter how you slice it, you’ll be in brisket bliss at the end of the process.
How to Reheat Brisket in the Slow Cooker
It might not be quick to reheat beef in a Crock-Pot but it sure is convenient—just set it and forget it, while your meat is warmed to melty goodness. But if you choose this reheating method, keep in mind that the whole process will take about four hours. One more thing: Be sure to introduce some extra moisture to keep your brisket fork-tender. Here’s how it’s done.
1. Let the meat rest. Prior to sending that slab of meat into your Crock-Pot, follow the same advice mentioned above: Let your brisket languish on the countertop for 20 minutes so it can reach room temperature. Once your dinner has acclimated, it’s ready for slow-cooking.
2. Put the brisket in the pot. Once your beef has basked in the moderate climate of your kitchen for a while, plunk it straight into the slow cooker. If your leftovers are oversized and can’t comfortably fit, slice the brisket into thick pieces before placing it in the ceramic container of your Crock-Pot.
3. Add moisture. Now your brisket, be it sliced or whole, has been nestled into the Crock-Pot but don’t start pushing buttons yet or it will be thirsty (and chewy). Empty all of the reserved drippings and juices into the slow cooker—no matter how congealed and unappetizing they look. If you don’t have drippings handy, use the same trick mentioned above and substitute with one cup of beef stock. (You can also opt for a cocktail of stock and apple juice to better compliment your brisket’s barbecued sweetness.)
4. Start cooking. Your brisket has been given the equivalent of a spa treatment now, so it’s time to reheat that sucker. Cover the meat and set the Crock-Pot to low (between 185°F and 200°F if your slow cooker has more precise temperature settings).
5. Wait. Your brisket will be ready after four hours in the low and slow heat of a Crock-Pot. But it will be even better if you remove it from the basin of the appliance to a sheet of tinfoil, drizzle it with drippings and wrap it up. After resting for 10 minutes (five if you’re famished), your brisket will be juicy, tender and ready to board an express train to your mouth.