How to Steam a Brisket of Beef


When they savor the first bite of your soft and juicy beef brisket, your guests will never know that it was once one of the toughest cuts of beef of all -- that is, if you take the time to cook it properly. Of course you can bake a brisket, but if you steam it, you seal in the juices that can make a brisket a hearty and satisfying meal, whether you arrange the slices on a sandwich roll and glaze them with barbecue sauce or scatter them artfully on a plate. Get your steamer ready, for it won't be long before the aroma of the simmering beef draws a hungry crowd.

Things You'll Need

  • Beef brisket, flat cut (usually about 3 pounds)
  • Sharp knife
  • Steamer (or makeshift steamer with large pot and basket)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Meat thermometer
  • Remove any excess fat from the brisket. “Excess” is the key word, for the fat that clings to the brisket provides some of the flavor. A flat cut should be mostly lean, so remove any hanging or bulging fat from the brisket that wouldn't be edible anyway.

  • Cut the brisket into thin slices to expedite the steaming process. If you encounter difficulty, place the brisket in the refrigerator for an hour or so since chilled meat is easier to slice. Sprinkle the brisket with salt and pepper.

  • Place the slices of brisket in a steamer basket. If you don't have one, create a makeshift steamer by filling a large pot with at least 4 inches of water and placing a grilling basket or even a metal colander on top. Either will work as long as it has large holes so that the steam from the water reaches the meat. Bring the water to a full boil, ensuring that the water does not come into contact with the beef brisket; the meat should lay directly above the bubbling water.

  • Cover the pot and set your stove to “medium.” Check the water level every 30 minutes or so and replenish it as necessary. Remove the cover slowly; the steam will be very hot. Rearrange the beef slices in the steamer basket after 1 hour to ensure that they cook evenly.

  • Steam the brisket for about 2 1/2 hours. Check the interior temperature of the meat with a meat thermometer. It should register at least 190 degrees Fahrenheit. For an extra-tender brisket, steam the meat until the temperature reaches 195 degrees F. For meat that nearly melts in your mouth --similar to a pulled beef texture -- allow the temperature to reach 205 degrees F.

Tips & Warnings

  • A sliced, 3-pound beef brisket produces just enough meat to fill a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, perfect for a family dinner and leftovers, too.
  • Steaming a beef brisket requires you to keep an eye on the water level, but don't let this fact deter you from making this delectable dish. Plan it for a weekend day when you're doing another task --or tasks -- that can easily keep you in close proximity to the kitchen.

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  • Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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