can you smoke a frozen brisket

One of the commonly asked questions in the barbecue world is “can you smoke frozen brisket?”

There are times when we want to make the best-smoked brisket for a barbecue but forget to bring out our frozen brisket to thaw.

Luckily for you, this article is dedicated to answering that particular question.

This means that although you could smoke frozen meat, you shouldn’t. It all goes down to your choice.

Can You Smoke A Frozen Brisket?

can smoke the frozen brisket

Generally speaking, it is not advised to smoke frozen meat because it will lose texture and flavor when done so.

This is because a frozen brisket contains a very high percentage of water. 

But according to numerous reports, smoking frozen brisket will result in noticeably larger smoke rings.

Even though a lot of high chefs would not recommend smoking frozen briskets, there are a few advantages to consider before we rule out smoking frozen meat in general.

The key to smoking meat is enabling the smoke’s flavors and fragrances to permeate and infuse the meat giving it a unique taste and texture.

Since the smoke is meant to penetrate the meat to add flavor, it would be hard and almost impossible to smoke a frozen brisket that is rock hard.

Note: It would require more time to smoke a frozen brisket and you might not get your desired result.

Advantages Of Smoking Frozen Brisket

advantages of frozen brisket

Larger Smoke Rings

The smoke rings on your meat will be much bigger if you smoke it while frozen rather than fresh. 

This is because frozen briskets often spend a long time in the smoker, unlike fresh meat.

And this in turn may cause the cell walls of the brisket to be damaged and allow more smoke steam to enter the brisket.


If you are going for a smoky taste, then you should consider smoking your brisket while frozen.

Though, if you do want to do that, make sure to season the meat before freezing it.

Disadvantages Of Smoking Frozen Brisket

the disadvantages of frozen brisket

The Texture Will Be Lost

This is the very first disadvantage of smoking a frozen brisket. This is a result of the water content in the meat.

The water content of meat ranges based on the type but in the case of briskets, it is approximately 70%. If you ask me this is a lot. 

Since water tends to expand when frozen, the cell walls will expand and reshape themselves to withstand the expansion.

This would lead to a change in the texture of the briskets as little as it may be.       

In cases where the cells can withstand the expansion and breaks, the water in the meat will start to leak out.

This means there would be way too much juice sipping out of the brisket every time you cut it.

 Diluted Flavor

the diluted flavor

Just like in every other case of excess water in food, the flavor will be diluted by the excess meat juice.

When your brisket is seasoned before smoking, it will absorb the flavors as it cooks.

However, if the water escaping from the brisket is too much, it would wash out the seasons and a sizable amount of flavor also.

Increased Dangers

There are several safety concerns when cooking frozen meat.

The risk of leaving the meat uncooked increases if you don’t use a suitable thermometer to check the temperature. 

If they don’t get to a particular temperature before deciding to consume the brisket, you’ll be at risk of food poisoning.

However, you shouldn’t experience any issues if you always use a thermometer when smoking frozen meat!

Tip: When using a thermometer, check the temperature from the thickest portion to know if it is ready.

Does The Way You Freeze Briskets Have An Effect On Smoking It?

does freezing have an effect

Based on the disadvantages listed above, it is evident that the main issue regarding a frozen brisket is the result of the excess water in it. 

And if you want to adopt a new method of smoking frozen briskets only, it is best to learn how to freeze them properly.

The expansion and cracking of cell walls can be prevented or at least minimized If you use the right freezing technique.

Flash Freezing

Just as the name implies, it involves freezing the meat as quickly as possible.

The likelihood of the meat’s cell wall splitting will be reduced by freezing the meat quickly.

This is true since the size of the water crystals that form on its water content won’t increase.

The easiest way to achieve this is to set up an ice bath for the meat with more salt.

Add cold water, ice, and a generous amount of salt to your sink or a big bowl.

a flash freezing

Once the meat has reached a temperature of 4° C in the water, pack it up in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer.

Packing your meat there in zip lock bags is another option.

You can also use ziplock bags for this, packing your meat inside while attempting to let out as much air as you can.

Tip: You can decide to season your brisket before placing it in the freezer to allow all of it to marinate.

Now we are familiar with the pros and the cons of smoking frozen briskets.

And how to freeze a brisket properly to avoid as much damage as possible, we can move on to the next part of the article.

How To Smoke Frozen Briskets

Here are the steps to follow when smoking a frozen brisket.

Step #1: Thaw the Outside of Your Brisket

thaw outside of brisket

Smoking frozen brisket is naturally hard but what is harder is applying the rub.

To be able to apply rub properly on the frozen brisket, the meat surface must be partially thawed. 

This brings us to our next question, can you smoke a partially frozen brisket?

Yes, you can.

In fact, it is best to smoke a partially frozen brisket because the surface will be thawed enough for the rub to stick to it.

Step #2: Apply Binders

Even after thawing the surface of the brisket, you should still apply binders to be on the safer side. 

The main point of the binder is to enable the spices to stick to the brisket properly.

Mustard and olive oil are good examples of binders you could use.

Step #3: Apply the Spice and Place in the Smoker

apply spice and plcae in smoker

Apply your spice mixture to the brisket surface of the brisket.

Since the brisket is frozen, it might be hard to inject the spice so we will have to settle for just rubbing it on the surface.

After you have added the spice and done everything else, you can then proceed to place your brisket in the smoker and let it do its magic.

Step #4: Wait and Check Occasionally

After placing the brisket in the smoker, you’ll have to check it to see if it is done which could be a while. 

The thickness of the meat will affect how long it takes to defrost when smoking frozen meat.

The meat will begin to cook normally once it has thawed.

Note: Briskets can take a lot longer to thaw.


the faqs about brisket

Can You Microwave Brisket?

In the quest to find a quick way to thaw frozen briskets most people end up using their microwave.

Defrosting the briskets using a microwave is a really bad idea. 

Large chunks of beef, such as brisket, should not be thawed in the microwave.

The brisket may not thaw evenly in the machine. Some portions may be completely defrosted and even begin to cook while the remainder is still frozen.

Will The Meat Go Dry From The Uneven Cooking?

Contrary to popular belief, the juiciness we want in smoked brisket results from the breakdown of fat, not from the flesh’s water content. 

We just need to be concerned about the outside of the meat drying out.

And if that is the case you can spray it occasionally with a  mixture of apple cider vinegar and water.


We have gotten to the end of the article and I hope I have been able to answer the question “can you smoke a frozen brisket?”. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is never to microwave the brisket and follow all the steps given to you above.

I hope this article has been very helpful. Thank you very much for your time and patience. Stay safe!