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Sep 20, 2011 09:23 AM

Brisket Shrinkage

Will decreasing the temperature cause there to be less shrinkage? The recipe I use is 350 for 3 hours. Is there anything else to do that will decrease shrinkage when braising the brisket? I start with 5lbs and although it is delicious, it probably ends up being 3lbs.

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  1. No, brisket just shrinks a LOT by the time it's tender enough to eat. I cook it at a lower temp after browning for longer than you do, have done 350 for 3 hours. No diff. When it's done, it's itty bitty. :-)

    29 Replies
    1. re: mcf

      I just assumed that I was doing something wrong! I just asked the grocery to order me the largest brisket possible and the butcher said it would probably only be 5lbs. Does anyone get larger briskets or are you just roasting 2 at the same time?

      1. re: DaisyM

        I buy my brisket at Costco and I have never seen over 5 lb. pieces. They are usually somewhere between 3 and 5 lbs. I just make multiple pieces.

        1. re: valerie

          we get at least 7 lb briskets at Costco FWIW...

        2. re: DaisyM

          Brisket just shrinks period. I buy a whole brisket that come up to 18 pounds. I have the butcher separate the top from the bottom and remove a lot of the fat. I then roast the whole thing. I freeze sliced with gravy. You might go to a butcher shop rather than a grocery. If you can't find larger you can do 2 or 3 smaller ones at the same time.

          1. re: paprkutr

            Thank you. I'm going to roast two at the same time. Even though my roasting pan is huge I expect that I'll have to overlap them a bit. I hope this will still turn out tender.

            1. re: DaisyM

              Try roasting, then let sit overnight, slice put with gravy from pan and reroast for about two hours at about 300 and you will get really tender delicious brisket. I usually freeze at this point.
              What do you season it with?

              1. re: paprkutr

                Yes, I do make it the day before. I know this sounds weird....but it is whole cranberry sauce, ketchup, and beer. It makes a very thick and delicious glaze. The only issue is that (I think) because of the sugar in the sauce you have to remove it from the oven before it cooks down too much, or it will burn.

                1. re: DaisyM

                  More info please, that sounds delicious and I have a brisket in the freezer that needs to be cooked

                  1. re: cleobeach

                    Of course! I double the amount of beer, ketchup, and cranberry sauce. I suggest making it a day ahead and slicing. It freezes beautifully in the sauce.

                    1. re: DaisyM

                      thank you, thank you! I will be pulling my bisket out to thaw tonight and making this on Friday!

              2. re: DaisyM

                I braise to 2 pieces together all the time. I have 2 suggestions. You could either put each piece in it's own smaller foil pan with braising liquid and tightly cover with foil, or if you put them together and they overlap, I switch the position of the pieces 1/2 way through cooking. This way they cook evenly. And if you do cook them together and they overlap, maybe cook and extra 30 minutes or so.

              3. re: paprkutr

                I also buy "packer briskets" - 15-20 pounds, for smoking as BBQ or cured and smoked as pastrami. Separate the flat and point, and trim. Removing the fat prior to cooking shaves off at least 4 pounds. After cooking, probably another 5 pounds. Usually end up with a bit under 10 pounds.

                1. re: sbp

                  You make your own pastrami??? That's amazing! We only have pastrami once a year when we go to Katz's in NYC.

                  1. re: DaisyM

                    Making your own pastrami is actually pretty easy, and the results are deeply satisfying.

                    The hardest part of the process is assembling ingredients for the brine. Well, that and the waiting--2 or 3 days in the brine, 1 day out of the brine (in the fridge), and then a few hours in the Weber.

                    If you have the inclination, I encourage you to give it a go.

                    1. re: hohokam

                      I think Katz's is one of the few places that actually makes their own pastrami. I'm impressed that anyone does this at home!

                      1. re: DaisyM

                        Katz's pastrami is not brisket. They use the navel.

                        1. re: phantomdoc

                          For those of you who haven't had a pastrami sandwich from Katz' it is...

                 It is worthy of a trip to NY just to have one.

                        2. re: DaisyM

                          You can cheat and used a prepared corned beef brisket and after soaking to remove excess salt, coat it in pastrami spices and smoke it, then steam it to finish. This is what I do most often when making pastrami.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            I do exactly the same thing. Comes out pretty good. Not Katz's, mind you, but then what is?

                            And if you use the whole packer cut, as woodburner does below, you'll get the point included along with the flat. The Point cut is pretty close to the Navel (some says it IS the navel, but I'm not getting into that debate) and it does taste pretty close.

                            And don't even get started on whether either is the same as the "deckle."

                            1. re: acgold7

                              I usually find a corned beef with a bit of point attached. I do remove this after cooking so I can slice it correctly. I usually eat this on the spot since the other family members are fat adverse

                        3. re: hohokam

                          Would you please post your recipe? TIA

                          1. re: paprkutr

                            This is pretty much it:


                            Because I like the meat to retain its pink color, I use curing salt in the brine, at a rate of 40g to 4000ml. Totally optional here, but if you don't use it, the meat will be uniformly grey after cooking.

                            1. re: hohokam

                              That's the one. Pink salt is available online at Allied Kenco. Cheap. I usually brine for 5 days. I get very large briskets, and Ruhlman recipe is for like 5 pounders - also, don't want to risk grey center. Since that can make it too salty, I then soak for a day in fresh water. Dry, then smoke.

                          2. re: hohokam

                            Ditto hoho. We've been smoke briskets and/or making pastrami at home for years. If you can smoke, you can make pastrami.

                            1. re: hohokam

                              So, I have to give you props on the patience to brine out the brisket before seasoning and smoking to pastrami. I smoke like a madman... but don't have the patience to brine it.

                              So...... I CHEAT ! I have found that if I get a nice whole packer brisket corned beef at Restaurant Depot, then soak in cold water for several swap outs (to get the excess salt out), then rub with rough cracked coriander seed, mustard seed and black pepper, then smoke to about 190 internal. I get a happy, happy product. Sort of a cross between Montreal smoked meat and pastrami, I think.

                              1. re: woodburner

                                I guess the wait for the brine curing seems like only a minor hardship, because my benchmark is the 7-8 days of waiting I have to endure when curing bacon. :-)

                            2. re: DaisyM


                    2. I braise my brisket in an oven bag. I add beef broth and red wine and braise at 300 for three hours. About a five pound or so brisket. I've had less shrinkage using the oven bag at a low temp. I do the brisket a day ahead. After it's cooked I refrigerate overnight. Next day I remove the fat, slice and simmer the slices in the sauce for an hour or so.

                      1. I figure around 30% shrinkage on well trimmed flats....and 40-50+% on packers...depending how much trimming you do prior to.......

                        1. I''ll point this out because it's an answer to your question, but you should note that though it's a fine way to cook brisket, my favorite is still traditional barbecue, which entails shrinkage:

                          Sous vide cooking can drastically reduce the shrinkage in a brisket. The lower the cooking temp and final internal temperature, the less the brisket will shrink (generally).

                          Using a jaccard can also have a minor but noticeable effect on reducing shrinkage, whichever way you decide to cook it.

                          1. Going to try a crock pot recipe for brisket this year that starts the process the night before, courtesy of I'm thinking of doing it a day before we're going to eat it so it has plenty of time to both cool and for the flavors to come together. I'm using two pieces of brisket. Anyone know how the slow cooker impacts shrinkage?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chicgail

                              Anyone know how the slow cooker impacts shrinkage?
                              Pretty much the same. A little less shrinkage than if you cook it at high temperature for a shorter time. But the biggest factor determining degree of shrinkage is the final internal temperature of the brisket, which is usually pretty much the same whether you cook in the oven, the crock pot, or the barbecue.