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You’ve probably read a lot of recipes and tutorials that tell you to cook brisket for an extended period of time. And while those are certainly not wrong (cooking brisket low and slow is ideal), it stands to reason that sometimes we just don’t have 12 to 16 hours to cook a brisket.
So, what do you do when you need a quick fix for making brisket? You make hot and fast brisket. With hot and fast brisket, you pump up your heat and cook your brisket fast. Typically, these processes take about half the time of the traditional methods for cooking brisket.
When you’re in a pinch or you forgot to start that brisket early enough, this can be a great option. We promise it will still be delicious and it won’t dry out or ruin the flavor of your brisket – especially if you do it the right way.
Stick with us as we cover how to make a hot and fast brisket and give you all of the information you may need to get the job done!
What Does Hot and Fast Mean?
In this statement, when we say hot, we completely mean temperature. We do not mean your brisket will be spicy. It stands to reason that brisket will be hot when it’s done cooking, so by process of elimination, making a hot and fast brisket means making it fast, using a hotter temperature.
Hot and fast brisket is typically made using a type of smoker that can reach a little bit higher of a temperature. Traditional offset smokers might be more of an uphill battle to sustain hot temperatures – not that you can’t do it. It’s just probably a little bit easier on something like a pellet grill, drum smoker, or kamado grill that are more set up to reach high temperatures.
You will be surprised to find that while we are cranking up the heat, we are not using any spectacularly high temperatures. Most hot and fast brisket options still use slightly low temperatures between 300 and 325.
Hot and Fast vs Low and Slow
The low and slow method of barbecuing was originally engineered to accommodate breaking down the collagen in the meat. Brisket is high in collagen and generally a tough cut of beef – therefore it can be too tough or chewy if it isn’t cooked using the right methods.
When hot and fast methods were put into action, it was because pit masters found that a higher temperature for a reduced length of time more or less accomplished the same thing. Now, when we say reduce the length of time, we’re talking 5-6 hours as compared to 12-18 hours with the low and slow method.
Low and slow is typically still the preferred method overall by smoking connoisseurs. This is the best way to get the ultimate flavor and the juiciest brisket imaginable. With low and slow, you get tender and juicy meat, flavorful meat, perfectly cooked meat, and time to do whatever you want in the lengthy cooking process.
When you use the hot and fast method, you don’t necessarily lose these benefits. Your meat can still be tender, juicy, and flavorful using the hot and fast method. It is more possible to dry your meat out but consider that your temperature is still fairly low so it should be ok if you monitor it closely.
The other comparison between hot and fast compared to low and slow is that hot and fast will require more monitoring. With low and slow, you’re not likely to overcook your meat, particularly not in the first half of the cooking process.
With hot and fast, you could potentially overcook your meat, which is really where the risk of dry meat comes in. As we share steps for how to use the hot and fast method, we have some tips for this as well.
In the end, you will find that while a lot of pit masters and smokers and even professional chefs still prefer the low and slow method, the hot and fast method is also a great option, and many turn to it and are not disappointed with the results.
How to Cook Hot and Fast Brisket
Now, let’s talk about the process. If you follow the process right, you shouldn’t have as much to worry about when the meat is cooking. Remember that you will want to keep a close eye on it, particularly after the first couple of hours have passed.
Hot and fast brisket will be done in about half the time and will still produce that bark around the edges, the smoke ring in the meat, and delightfully juicy and flavorful meat!
To prep your meat, be sure to trim up your brisket. This allows you to get rid of some of the excessively fatty parts and to trim the cut of meat to the shape and size you want to cook. Now, we’re not telling you to remove all of the fat as it could help with both moisture and flavor.
We’re just trimming away excessive fatty bits and areas. The larger your brisket is the more cooking time you will need. If you are cooking a large amount of brisket, you can trim down into smaller sections so that you don’t significantly increase your cooking time.
After your brisket is trimmed and prepped, here are the steps to take for hot and fast brisket:
- Allow the brisket to reach room temperature before seasoning.
- Apply brisket rub or season generously to the entire brisket(s).
- Heat your smoker to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Start with your brisket placed fat side down on the grates. Cook at this temperature and without turning for approximately 2 hours. You want your brisket to reach an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees.
- Remove the brisket from the smoker and wrap it in foil. You will probably need several sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Before you seal the foil closed, we recommend adding a little moisture. A splash of beef broth or even apple cider vinegar is really great for this.
- Wrap tightly with foil, be sure you don’t have any liquid leaking. We recommend a double-wrapped layer over the entire brisket. Since we added liquid, you will probably want to place the brisket in a pan to finish cooking.
- Put the brisket back on the smoker, this time with the fat side up. You will cook for an additional 2-3 hours at the same temperature (300 degrees).
- You will want to start checking on the meat every hour and then every 30 minutes. Each checkpoint, check the tenderness of the meat and check the internal temperature as well. A good way to check the temperature is to insert your probe thermometer. A brisket is done anywhere from a 190°F to 205°F internal temperature.
- I typically take low and slow brisket off the smoker at 203°F – but anywhere in the range of 190 to 205 is great for hot and fast.
- If the brisket is tender and done, remove it from the smoker. Open the foil, just slightly to allow it to vent for just about 5 minutes.
- Close the foil and let rest in a fully-wrapped state for about 45 more minutes.
- Slice your brisket, serve, and enjoy!
What you will notice is that the total cooking time is probably going to only be about 5 or 6 hours as compared to the 12 and 18 hours of low and slow cooking.
When you remove that foil, your brisket will still be very hot. Be careful. Your brisket should slice nicely and will be juicy, flavorful, and plenty moist for your enjoyment. From there, you can add sauce or sauce can be added by every person eating the brisket as well.
This is a time-saving method but it does still take time. Also, allow the rest time when the meat is removed from the smoker. This is an important part of the process and many people try to skip it. This really allows the natural juices to set in and tenderize the meat further while also adding flavor.
This particular instruction is based on using approximately 15 pounds of brisket.
Hot and Fast Brisket Recipe
- Aluminum Foil
- Probe meat thermometer
- 1 brisket 12-16 lbs
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar to spritz
Texas Style Brisket Rub
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup ground black pepper coarse
- Allow brisket to reach room temperature.
- Mix salt and pepper and apply brisket rub liberally to the entire brisket.
- Preheat smoker to 300°F.
- Place brisket fat side down on the grates and close the lid. Cook for 2 hours.
- Remove brisket from the smoker and wrap in a double layer of foil. Before sealing the foil shut, spritz the brisket with a little bit of apple cider vinegar.
- Tightly wrap brisket in foil and place it back on the smoker.
- Insert probe meat thermometer (through the foil pack is ok) into the center of the brisket.
- Cook for about 3 more hours, or until internal temperature of the brisket reaches 203°F.
- Once the brisket reaches 203°F, remove it from the smoker. Open the foil slightly to allow it to vent for about 5 minutes.
- Close the foil and allow the brisket to rest fully wrapped for 45 minutes.
- Unpack the brisket, then slice, serve, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
We have some common questions to share with you in hopes that we can provide some additional valuable information when you’re ready to try this methodology.
How Hot is Too Hot for a Brisket?
325 degrees Fahrenheit is about the maximum that we would recommend, even with the hot and fast cooking method. Definitely do not exceed 350 or your brisket will not turn out the way that you want it to!
What Happens if You Overcook Brisket?
You CAN overcook brisket. When you smoke brisket, anything at about 210 degrees Fahrenheit or above starts to get into that overcooked range. If you overcook, you might end up with burnt brisket or tough/dry meat that just won’t be as delightful.
How Can You Keep Brisket Juicy?
Remember that in the second part of our process, we added some liquid? That’s a good practice for maintaining moisture. Some pit masters will put a water pan in the smoker with the meat and this is also a good way to keep it moist.
If you have the time, I’d recommend going with a low and slow cook for your brisket. But if you’re tight on time, the hot and fast method is without a doubt a viable way to get the job done. Do it right and you’ll be well on your way to delicious BBQ brisket at your next cookout.
Have you tried hot and fast brisket before? How did it go? Anything to add to this article? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.