Why is My Brisket Dry and Tough: All the Reasons You Might be Missing!


It’s quite often that you are made to deal with tough and dry brisket – especially as a newbie in the meat department.

Although you will get to hear that since brisket itself is a tough cut of meat, it’s almost impossible to achieve the juicy tenderness that you want.

Smoked Brisket

But that’s not true.

Brisket can be just as juicy and just as tender as any other cut of meat. 

We’re here to help you understand why your brisket can turn tough and how to make it tender.

Why is My Brisket Dry and Tough?

Usually, tough brisket results from undercooking it.

This is because the brisket comes from a tough cut of meat. The animal’s movement over time causes the muscles in this cut to toughen up, which then need a lot of cooking time to be tenderized enough to be consumed.

So, whenever it seems that your brisket seems to be tough and rather dry, it is probably because it has been undercooked.

Also See: How Long to Smoke a Brisket per Pound

How Do I Make My Brisket Tender?

In order to tenderize your brisket, you need to cook it for longer. 

However, this isn’t the only way to ensure juicy and tender brisket.

Cooking it Slow and Long

The reason why brisket is tough is also that this cut of meat contains a lot of collagen in the form of connective tissues. The connective tissues are rather tough and dry.

However, when they are exposed to long periods of heat, the collagen begins to convert into gelatin.

This gelatin then moisturizes and tenderizes the brisket for you.

Curing the Meat in Brine

Another common way to make sure that your brisket isn’t tough, you can cure it in brine for about 2 to 3 days.

This process locks in the moisture in the meat and also gives it a rather rich flavor – the only key is to not let it stay for too long!

However, this will also turn your brisket into corned beef.

Does Brisket Get More Tender the Longer You Cook it?


Brisket tends to become more and more tender as it is allowed to cook for longer.

However, this only happens when the heat exposure is low.

If the brisket is tried to be cooked at very high temperatures, the collagen does not get enough time to break up into gelatin, and hence it does not tenderize as much as it should.

Up next: Where to Buy Quality Brisket

Is Overcooked Brisket Tough?

Although the most common reason behind tough brisket is undercooking it, overcooking can also toughen it up.

The best way to tenderize a brisket is by cooking it at low heat to an internal temperature of 195 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Once the brisket is prepared, it is also important to let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes in order let it soak up its juices. This prevents it from instantly drying once it is slices. 


Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.