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What Meat Takes the Longest to Cook?

Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by Lauren Beck

There is a vast array of flavors to discover when cooking meat. However, certain cuts may need additional care and cooking time to reach their maximum level of deliciousness.

Join me as we uncover the meats that take the longest to cook, sharing insights from my own culinary adventures. Get ready for tender triumphs and savory satisfaction!

What Meat Takes the Longest to Cook?

Brisket, pork shoulder, and lamb shanks take the longest to cook. They require hours of gentle heat to achieve tender perfection. But trust me; the wait is totally worth the mouthwatering results!

How Hot Should You Cook Meat?

Before we delve into the specifics, let’s talk about the ideal cooking temperature for meat. To ensure both safety and succulence, cooking meat at the right temperature is crucial. 

The general rule of thumb is to cook most meats at an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for medium-rare, 160°F (71°C) for medium, and 165°F (74°C) for well-done. 

However, some tougher cuts require longer cooking at lower temperatures to achieve tenderness and optimum flavor.

Tips for Cooking Meat

Cooking meat to perfection involves a few key tips and tricks. Here are some suggestions to help you on your meat-cooking journey:

  • Preheat your oven or grill: Ensuring that your cooking surface is properly preheated will promote even cooking and enhance flavor.
  • Use a meat thermometer: This trusty tool will be your best friend in the kitchen, helping you accurately determine the internal temperature and doneness of your meat.
  • Allow meat to rest: Give your meat a few minutes to rest after cooking. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in juicier and more flavorful meat.

Which Type of Meat Cut Needs Longer Time for Cooking?

Lamb Shanks

When it comes to the longest cooking times, tough cuts of meat take the crown. 

These cuts usually come from muscles that have worked hard during the animal’s life, resulting in more connective tissue. 

The connective tissue needs time to break down and tenderize, so these cuts require longer cooking. Some examples of tough cuts that benefit from slow cooking include:

  • Brisket: This flavorful cut from the lower chest of beef requires several hours of low and slow cooking to become tender and succulent.
  • Pork shoulder: Also known as pork butt or Boston butt, this cut is perfect for slow roasting or braising. It rewards you with tender, pull-apart meat, and rich flavor.
  • Lamb shanks: These meaty gems from the lower part of the leg need ample time to simmer or braise until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

What Meat Cooks the Fastest?

On the flip side, lean cuts and smaller portions are your best bet if you’re looking for meat that cooks quickly. Here are a few examples:

  • Tenderloin: This premium cut from beef or pork is incredibly tender and cooks rapidly due to its lack of connective tissue.
  • Chicken breasts: Regarding poultry, boneless, skinless chicken breasts cook faster than other cuts due to their lower fat content.
  • Fish fillets: Fish, such as salmon or tilapia, cooks quickly due to its delicate texture. You can grill, pan-sear, or bake fish fillets to perfection in a matter of minutes.

Does Slow-Cooking Meat Longer Make It More Tender?

Absolutely! Slow-cooking tough cuts of meat for an extended period allows the collagen in the connective tissues to break down, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth tenderness [1]. 

This cooking method is perfect for succulent pulled pork, tender pot roasts, and delectable braised dishes. 

So, if you’re in the mood for fall-apart meat, embrace the slow-cooking process and let time work its magic!


In the realm of cooking, patience is a virtue that pays off in flavor. We’ve discovered that brisket, pork shoulder, and lamb shanks reign as the champions of slow cooking. With their rich flavors and tender textures, these cuts demand our time and attention. 

So, embrace the journey of slow-cooking these meats, savor the tantalizing aromas that fill your kitchen, and delight in the moment when you finally taste the fruits of your labor. 

The reward of tender, succulent meat is an experience that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and a satisfied smile on your face. Happy cooking!


Lauren Beck
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