How To Keep a Brisket Warm and Moist: The Best Options

Are you a backyard king, grilling master or bbq prodigy? You’ve landed in the right place. Here, at mycozybackyard, we talk all about this fine art that is living outdoors and how to enjoy it fully. Going from decoration to gardening, from must have tools to lighting, and eventually, the best for the last: cooking. Or in our particular context, we shall say smoking! If you are reading this, you probably already got your very own smoker. 

But one question is always around, even amongst the most expert pit masters: how to keep a brisket warm before serving?

Keep brisket warm and moist

Aficionados and enthusiasts all around have been facing this dilemma at least one time in their backyard smoking career. And for fair reasons! Smoking a brisket is an amazing but lengthy process that requires your attention. 

To prepare the rub, set up the smoker, make sure the temperature is constant and check on it regularly. The rule of thumb is about 30 to 60 min per pound of meat. Some even push it to 90 min per pound of meat. Your attention is even more required towards the end of the smoking process as you want to make sure to take the brisket out right at the best moment. 

Then you can’t attend anything else at that moment. May it be being with your guests, finishing the set up of preparing some sides. You might also be going for a trip somewhere where you are going to be able to savour your brisket in an amazing location or with some dear friends and relatives and you’d like your brisket to stay warm during the several hours of the drive. 

For all of these reasons, it’s good to know that there some pretty cool and simple ways to keep your brisket warm.

A cooler

Yes, it’s right. It might sound odd but a cooler, at the end of the day, it’s mostly an insulated box. This feature allows it to retain heat or cold. That’s how we will be able to safely store a brisket in a cooler and maintain the warmth for several hours.

The main idea for this is for you to get your brisket out when it’s ready and finished smoking, wrap it really tight in a good amount of foil. Place a towel at the bottom of a cooler, then place the brisket, cover it with another towel and then close the cooler. Some people pour a little bit of boiling water on top of the towel for extra heat. In general, the ideal would be for the inside temperature not to drop below 140 degrees. If you have a thermometer that you can keep inside the box, it will be a good bonus

An oven

If you don’t have a cooler or maybe you just feel adventurous and want to try something new, you can give it a shot to let your brisket hold its temperature in a standard oven. Ovens can be really precise but sometimes they are not.

You might set it up at 190 but the real temp might be only about 170. Sometimes you can even get surprises. If you have a probe that is meant to and safe to place on the middle rack of your oven, you can place it there and monitor it for a couple of hours at its lowest temperature. If it can be as low as 150-170 and maintain this steady for a couple of hours it means that it’s probably safe enough to let your brisket rest there while maintaining its temperature. For this, you can get your brisket out, wrap it tight in pink butcher paper, place it on a sheet pan and place it in the oven. With the help of the oven safe probe thermometer, make sure the temp is low and constant. This probably a conceivable option for shorter holding time like 2-4h.

A holding oven

You will find this alternative mostly in restaurants, caterers and professional venues. However, if you feel like treating yourself you can always get a holding oven, also called a hot box. If you like smoking, and cooking in general and you are often receiving guests, it can be a good investment to have as you can prepare large amounts of food and keep them nice, warm and at a serving temperature for several hours.

The idea is pretty simple, it’s like an oven but made to hold steadily very low temperatures. Like for the oven, you can wrap nicely and tightly your brisket in butcher paper, place it in a tray and then place it in your hot box. As holding ovens are aimed at professional use, they are suitable for holding your brisket warm for a long period of time.


Now that we’ve seen the best ways to keep the meat warm after smoking, let’s go through some simple Q&A where we will discuss this a little bit further alongside some pretty awesome tips.

How long can you keep a brisket in a cooler?

This question can be difficult to answer as it will depend on how well the cooler is insulated. For food safety and to keep to a warm “serving” temperature, it’s important that the brisket never gets under 140 degrees. You will get couple of hours with no doubt but if you want to keep track and make sure everything is ok, the best is to have thermometer in the cooler.

How to keep brisket moist?

The best way to keep your brisket moist is to have a water pan in your smoker. After a couple of hours of smoking, you can start spraying the meat with water, apple cider vinegar or apple juice every 30 to 60 mins. A spray bottle is indeed a convenient tool that is worth adding to your grilling must have utensils. Another way to lock in more moisture is with the famous Texas Crutch. It’s an optional step where you wrap your brisket in foil or butcher paper during the smoking. It can help to keep all the jus. For an extra tip, during this process, spray some beef tallow on the wrapping butcher paper (not foil).

How long to smoke a brisket?

You could count from 30 to 60 mins per pound. As per Aaron Franklin’s advice, it would be more on the higher end: between 1h to 1h15 per pound.

How to reheat a brisket?

The easiest way to reheat a brisket is probably in the oven. Make sure to get your brisket out of the fridge beforehand and let it become room temperature. Preheat the oven at 325 degrees. Before popping the brisket in, wrap it tightly in foil or peach paper. If you want to make sure it is super juicy when it comes out, you can add some butter, jus or beef tallow before wrapping it. Place it in the oven for about an hour, once its internal temp reaches 160-165degrees. If you have a probe, use it, it’s even better, as reheating time will vary if you brisket is whole or already sliced.

Can you rest a brisket overnight? 

This is a hard question. The short answer is yes and no. It all comes down to where and how you rest it and food safety. If you have a professional hot box that can keep your brisket at a steady safe temperature, probably you can keep it overnight. If you are simply resting it in a cooler, you might be taking risks of temperature variation during the night.

Foil vs wrapping paper? 

No hard answer has been given on this one. It is usually down to personal preferences as some people prefer even not to wrap at all. But in general, pink butcher paper, also called peach paper, is a little bit less hermetic and it absorbs some of the grease, which allows you to keep a good bark on top of your brisket, with foil you might find yourself with too much liquid trapped inside and it might “dissolve” your bark and get you a soapy result. But as always, try and get your opinion your best option to see better for you. Foil, paper or no wrapping.