Guide To Wrapping Brisket (When, How and What With)

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  March 19, 2022

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Brisket is a type of beef that comes from the chest area of the cow. The main difference between brisket and other cuts of beef is its thickness.

Brisket has a thick layer of fat around it. This makes it very tender and flavorful.

Guide To Wrapping Brisket (When, How and What With)

You can cook brisket in a variety of ways. Some recipes call for slow cooking, while others require high heat.

If you want to get the best out of your brisket, you need to follow some basic rules.

This guide will tell you how to wrap meat like brisket correctly.

Why Should You Wrap Brisket?

Brisket is the perfect type of meat for slow roasting. The fat around the outside melts into the meat, making it juicy, tender, and full of flavor.

A ‘bark’ forms on the edge of the meat where it becomes crispy, creating those ‘burnt ends’ that are so sought after.

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Wrapping your brisket joint helps to keep the juices close to the meat so you don’t lose any flavor or moisture.

This ensures that the meat is not dry or chewy.

It also stops too much air from getting to the meat, which prevents the juice from evaporating in the heat of the smoker.

This means that you can increase the temperature of the smoker without worrying about drying out the meat.

Combine the wrap with a water pan in the smoker, for optimal moisture retention.

Another reason to wrap your brisket is for flavor.

The wrap forms a barrier between the meat and the smoke, which means the joint takes on a smoky flavor without being overpowering.

If the meat is exposed to too much smoke it will taste bitter.

When Should You Wrap Brisket?

There are different opinions on when you should wrap your brisket. Some say that you should wrap it before the meat gets to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Others believe that if you wrap it too early then you won’t get enough bark formation.

Tender meat is never a bad thing, so it is best to wrap the brisket earlier rather than later.

The longer you wait to wrap the meat, the more juices will escape and the less tender the meat will be.

How Should You Wrap Brisket?

How you wrap the brisket will depend on what you are wrapping it with, but there are some general tips to consider.

The tighter your wrap the brisket, the faster it will cook. Keep this in mind when you are planning your cooking times.

The wrap should form a seal around the meat to keep in the juices.

Make sure you always leave a small opening close to the top so that the air can still flow and escape, but the juices do not seep out.

This helps the meat to cook evenly but also ensures that you will still get a nice crispy bark.

If you are using a temperature probe, the hole that this creates in the wrap should be enough to allow the air to flow around the meat.

What Should You Wrap Brisket With?

In areas with tropical climates, smoked meat is often wrapped in large leaves like banana leaves. Most Western chefs and restaurants wrap the meat in aluminum foil.

This is the most simple method and is very practical as aluminum foil is usually readily available in most kitchens.

Start by cutting your aluminum foil into two pieces that are roughly the length of your arm. Place them one on top of the other to form a cross shape.

From here, you can wrap the foil around the meat. The tighter you wrap the foil, the quicker the meat will cook.

The alternative to wrapping your brisket in foil is to wrap it in butcher paper.

This will keep in some of the steam and juices, but allow enough of it to escape that you still get a nice crispy bark.

Get a nice large piece of butcher paper and place your brisket joint in the center of it.

Wrap the ends of the paper into a triangle shape and then fold them over the meat to form a seal.

If you are using a smaller piece of butcher paper then you will need two sheets.

Place the meat slightly off-center and wrap one end, then flip it over and wrap the other end with the second sheet.

Are There Any Downsides To Wrapping Briskets?

Not every chef chooses to wrap their brisket, as there are some potential issues that it can cause.

If you wrap your brisket too early then it won’t have had enough chance to absorb the smoky flavors.

When you are ready to serve your brisket you might fight that the flavor is not as impressive as you had hoped.

To counteract this, make sure you give the meat several hours of unwrapped smoking first.

Wrapping the brisket can prevent the formation of bark on the edges of the meat.

This is a classic feature of smoked brisket and something that a lot of people look out for.

This could be a big problem for grill restaurants who use burnt ends in their dishes- such as for burger toppings or as a side dish or appetizer.

Some chefs decide to remove the wrapping for the last stage of cooking to give the bark time to crisp.

The other concern with wrapping brisket is that it can lead to the meat becoming overcooked. The heat is sealed which often makes the meat cook faster.

You need to be careful with your cooking times and the temperature of the smoker.

The best way to avoid overcooking your brisket is to cook using a thermometer or temperature probe rather than following strict timings.

The temperature can be unpredictable, so if you measure it every hour or so then you will be able to monitor the progress of the meat.

The brisket should be cooked when it reaches 203 degrees Fahrenheit.

Summary

There are different opinions when it comes to the best way to wrap your brisket.

The most important thing is that you monitor the cooking process closely to ensure the meat is not overcooked and dry.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.