This ultimate guide will teach you how to freeze brisket properly, whether it's BBQ brisket or uncooked brisket. Learn how to keep it fresh and flavorful for months on end.
If you're like me, you cannot get enough smoked brisket! Fortunately, or unfortunately, brisket is a huge hunk of beef, so there's always more than enough to go around, but what do you do if you can't eat it all at once?
You freeze it, that's what!
Of course, this all sounds very straightforward, but after years of Traegering, I kind of see myself as an expert in this field. So I'm gonna share some tips and tricks on what works best for me, and hopefully, they help you too!
This how to freeze brisket guide is dedicated to expertise!
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Tips + Tricks
No. 1 --> Never forget that air is the enemy of frozen foods! It's imperative to block as much air contact on the surface of the beef as possible to prevent freezer burn.
No. 2 --> When packaging your leftover brisket, consider the uses. I like to package my sliced brisket into 150g packs, while I use 200g for cubed brisket flat or shredded point. If I know I'm going to reheat the flat in the sous vide, I'll leave it whole.
No. 3 --> For best results when freezing brisket, get it into the freezer as soon as possible. This is applicable for both fresh and cooked briskets - the sooner they hit the freezer, the less degradation occurs!
No. 4 --> Check your freezer temperature once in a while! A properly functioning freezer should run at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 celsius.
No. 5 --> When working with cooked brisket, it's easier to slice and cube refrigerated meat, and when shredding, it's easier to work with when warm!
Cooked or Smoked Brisket
Need to know how to freeze cooked brisket? Don't worry, I'll help you with that!
Freezing leftover brisket is so easy and so versatile. Here are some suggestions when it comes to preparations before freezing:
- Cut off the whole flat - this can be later reheated vis sous vide for a nearly fresh experience without even turning on the Traeger!
- Cube the flat - this can be later used for smoked brisket chili, brisket stroganoff, salads, or more.
- Slice the flat - we use sliced brisket flat as sandwich meat! You've not lived till you've had a brisket sandwich loaded with mayo and dill pickles.
- Shred the point - shredded beef brisket is so delicious in brisket nachos, brisket tacos, wraps, Texas Twinkies, Smoked Queso... I think you get the picture!
How To Freeze Smoked Brisket
- Prepare as desired.
- Slide into a vacuum bag and seal. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, use an airtight container.
- Label the bag with the contents and the date. ex. cubed brisket flat March 2022.
- Place in the freezer.
- Store frozen cooked brisket in the freezer for up to three months, or up to 12 months if vacuum sealed.
How To Thaw Cooked Brisket
Place the vacuum-sealed frozen meat into the fridge and allow it to thaw overnight. Alternatively, you could thaw it in a cold water bath if you need it right away - this only takes about 15 minutes.
Wondering if you can freeze uncooked brisket? Heck yes, you can!
We live in a small town and the grocery stores around here rarely carry full packer briskets, so when a foodie like me finds a good deal on briskets in the city, I stock up.
The hardest part about freezing a raw brisket is making the space.
Freezing a fresh brisket before smoking it will not reduce the quality of the finished product IF it is frozen and thawed properly!
How To Freeze Uncooked Brisket
I prefer to freeze a whole brisket as one piece because that's how I always cook them, but they can be split into the flat and the point, or into slices if you'd like to cook them separately. Just prepare your brisket as you like before freezing.
- If the brisket is wrapped in a cryo-pack, there is no need to unwrap it, this will protect the brisket from freezer burn and frost damage. If the brisket is not packaged in an airtight bag or you'd like to portion the raw meat before freezing, remove it from its package, prepare as desired, and tightly wrap it with 3-4 layers of plastic wrap, followed by a wrap in waxed butchers paper.
- Label the brisket with the cut and date, ex. Brisket March 1, 2022.
- Place your brisket in the freezer, I like to remove the older briskets and place the new ones at the bottom of the pile in my deep freeze. Allow the brisket to freeze completely.
- Store the frozen brisket in the freezer for 12 months if it's vacuum packed, and around 6 months if it's just wrapped.
How To Thaw Uncooked Brisket
The worst part about freezing a raw brisket is the wait between pulling it out of the freezer and throwing it on the Traeger!
To thaw a frozen brisket, place it on a large cookie sheet or chafing pan and place it in the fridge for 36-48 hours. As you can see below, a whole packer rarely fits on a standard size baking sheet - I recommend a full sheet pan or large chafing pan!
If your brisket is in a vacuum-sealed bag, it can be placed in a cooler filled with cold water (replace the water every 60 or so minutes) until thawed.
Funny story: One-time Kevy and I were hosting a huge backyard BBQ and I forgot to take the briskets out of the freezer. So while I was doing prep for the party, my briskets were having a cold bath in my freshly cleaned tub! HA!
Storage timelines for both cooked and fresh briskets in the freezer depend a lot on the storage method. A vacuum-sealed uncooked brisket or vacuum-sealed brisket slice will last a lot longer than the same items wrapped in plastic wrap.
Another important factor is where the items are stored. If your frozen brisket is stored in a chest freezer that isn't opened regularly it will last much longer than in the door of a fridge freezer combo that is accessed multiple times a day!
Full disclosure: we bought a lot of brisket when I found them on sale in May 2020 for 2.99/lb, which is basically unheard of in Canada. And I smoked one of them last weekend, March 2022. Even though it was in the bottom of my deep freezer for nearly 24 months, it was still juicy, tender, and delicious!
Avid Armor Chamber Vac: I cannot say enough good things about my Avid Armor chamber vacuum sealer. We partnered up over a year ago, and I have been using my vac sealer religiously since then, and I can confidently say that I would not be able to live without it now!
AVID ARMOR is so awesome, they've generously offered a discount code just for my kitchen buddies, like you! Use the coupon code CRAVE to save!
Notes From The Crave Kitchen
There's no need to be afraid of freezing brisket!
With a little careful planning, you can ensure that your brisket will be just as delicious after it's been frozen and thawed.
First, be sure to protect the brisket from the air by keeping it in a vacuum-sealed bag, wrapping it tightly in multiple layers, or placing it in an airtight container. Label the bag or container with the date so that you can keep track of how long the brisket has been frozen. When you're ready to enjoy your brisket, simply thaw it in the refrigerator, and then cook it as usual.
With these simple tips, you can make sure that your brisket is always delicious, no matter how much time has passed!