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How Long To Let Meat Rest

How Long To Let Meat Rest

We’ve all been told that resting meat is an essential part of the process. However, what happens when you rest the meat for too short or too long?

If you don’t rest meat long enough, you will end up with dry, tough, chewy meat. In contrast, if you don’t rest meat long enough, you will end up with cold meat. So, how long should you rest your meat? 

Should You Rest All Meat After Cooking?

It doesn’t matter whether you are grilling a tomahawk steak in your natural gas grill or smoking pork butt in an electric smoker. You should always let meat rest after you remove it from the heat. 

Resting meat serves 3 primary purposes. First, it lets the meat reach the right temperature. Second, it allows the meat juices to redistribute, and third, it boosts the flavor. 

When it comes to cooking meat, the temperature is critical. You must cook the meat to a specific temperature for safety reasons. The right temperature will prevent you from consuming undercooked meat and possibly getting sick.

For this reason, you should use always use a thermometer to ensure the meat comes to a specific temperature. 

Resting the meat is so essential due to carry-over cooking. When you remove the meat from the heat, its internal temperature rises.

This is why most recipes, especially for larger cuts like brisket, suggest removing the meat a few degrees before it reaches the intended temperature. 

Resting the meat also gives the meat juices to redistribute back into the meat. Some folks argue against resting meat because the juices will be lost anyway.

The proportion of juices lost will be less than if you were to cut into it as soon as it came off the heat. 

As the meat cooks, the protein bonds contract. The juices are drawn to the surface of the meat. 

Therefore, if you slice the meat the second you take it off the stove, a pool of liquid will seep out onto your butcher block. 

In contrast, if you let the meat rest, the protein bonds will relax, allowing the meat’s juices to go back into the meat. 

In terms of flavor, if you slice into the meat immediately after removing it from the heat, you will end up with a dry, tough steak. This is because all of the juices flow out of the meat instead. 

However, if you let the meat rest, the juices will remain in the meat giving it a juicy, tender, and moist flavor. 

How Long To Let Meat Rest 

Letting meat rest yields a juicier and more flavorful cut of meat. However, the trick is not to let the meat rest too long. 

How long to let meat rest depends on the size, thickness, and type of meat. 

For example, roasts will need to rest longer than steaks or chops. A whole chicken will need to rest longer than chicken pieces. 

Thinner meats such as fish, eye of round steak, ribs, and chicken tenderloins need little to no time to rest.

These thin cuts of meat are not dense enough to hold vast amounts of residual heat. There is not much carry-over cooking, so the meat can easily go cold. The general rule is to rest the meat for 1 minute per 100 grams. 

For chicken pieces such as chicken breast or thighs grilled or smoked between 225°F-250°F, let them rest for 5-10 minutes. Chicken pieces roasted at 350°F should also rest for 5-10 minutes. 

A grilled or smoked butterflied or whole chicken smoked at 225°F-250°F or roasted at 350°F will need at least 15 minutes to rest.

In contrast, a whole turkey grilled or smoked at 225°F-250°F or roasted at 350°F will need 20-30 minutes to rest. 

In contrast, pork ribs, including baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, and spareribs smoked at 225°F and 250°F, will need to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Pork butt, brisket, pork shoulder, and prime rib smoked between temperatures of 225°F and 250°F can rest for 2-4 hours.

Even if you partially smoke the meat and finish it off in the oven, it will still need to rest for a minimum of 45 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Remember, these are large cuts of meat, so they will need to rest longer. 

Thinner steaks like sirloin steaks over high heat will need to rest for 5 minutes. Thick pork chops and steak that are an inch or more in thickness or small roasts will need to rest for 10-15 minutes. 

Should You Cover Meat When Resting?

Whether to rest meat or not can is a tricky question. You may not need to rest it for a long time, depending on the size of the meat.

For example, you may not need to cover a steak if you let it rest for 5 minutes. However, if you do not wrap it, there is still a chance that the meat could go cold. 

Nevertheless, wrapping meat while its resting does come with some drawbacks.

For example, if the meat is wrapped too tightly, steam will be produced, softening the crips bark on your brisket or pork butt. Therefore, if you are going to wrap the meat, wrap it loosely. 

How Do You Know When Meat Is Done Resting?

Believe it or not, using a thermometer is the easiest and most efficient way to determine whether your meat is done resting.

You cannot tell that the meat has rested long enough by looking at or touching the meat. Once your meat has an internal temperature of 120°F, it is finished resting and ready to eat.

Final Thoughts 

Resting meat is just as crucial as handling and cooking the meat properly. If you don’t rest the meat, it will be dry and tough, but if you rest too long, it will be cold. 

Nevertheless, the thinner the meat, the shorter the resting time. The thicker the meat, the longer the resting time.

As long as you abide by the rules for resting meat, you will end up with juicy and tender meat. 

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