What is Brisket? (Tips for Making the Best Brisket!)

You’ve likely heard the words “I’m smoking a brisket” tossed around. But what exactly is itt? We’re here to help!

In this TheGrillingDad.com article, we’ll discuss:

  • What brisket is
  • If it’s even a good cut of meat
  • And much more

If you’re looking for an easy-to-follow smoked brisket recipe checkout the video below then keep reading!

What is Brisket?

Brisket is one of the most famous BBQ meats and one that many people look forward to making the minute they get their first smoker. But before you can dive into brisket making, let’s discuss what this piece of meat actually is. 

A brisket is a large cut of beef that comes from the lower chest of the cow. As is, it’s a bit tough to eat, which is why it must be cooked or smoked low and slow to allow all the connective tissue to melt into the meat before serving. 

Read on to learn more about this cut of beef before you attempt to make your first brisket.

Why is it Called Brisket?

Brisket is a cut of meat that technically comes from a cow’s “breast.” This is the area on the front of the cow located just between the legs as the chest begins to turn into the stomach. 

For more info on that, check out our guide on what part of the cow brisket comes from.

Brisket is another word for breast, but over the course of history, it has come to be synonymous with cow meat. You will never refer to chicken breast as a chicken brisket–or maybe in your household, you do. 😂

Either way, while brisket might seem like a fancy name, it’s just the name for where the meat comes from on the cow. There is also such think as a pork brisket, which is a cut of meat that comes from the same location on a pig.

Is Brisket Considered a Good Cut of Meat?

Raw brisket, right after it is cut from the cow, brisket is not a nice piece of meat. This is because this area of the cow is used by the cow as it goes about its day. That means there is a lot of connective tissue in this area, and it is quite tough. 

But, when cooked properly low and slow, this connective tissue melts into the meat and makes it one of the tastiest cuts of the cow available. Brisket is known for its amazing beef flavor that pairs well with several spice combinations. 

Some BBQ joints offer guests BBQ sauce or another gravy for dipping when serving brisket

Are There Different Types of Briskets?

Because brisket is such a specific cut of meat, to begin with, there is very little variation in this cut of meat.

While there is a such thing as pork brisket, most of the time, the term “brisket” is referring to beef.

But it is important to note that brisket has two distinct parts–the point and the flat

The first part is the point which is the part of the brisket that connects with the ribcage. You’ll see the meat come to a point here, and there is typically a large amount of fat. You’ll often see the point used to make juicy burnt ends.

The second part of a brisket is the flat, and this is the part of the brisket that is meat. If you see the photos of sliced brisket with perfect smoke ring, it’s usually the flat. 

In most grocery stores, a “full packer” is a brisket that includes both the point and the flat. 

Are Corned Beef and Brisket the Same Thing?

Corned beef is a type of brisket, but it has been cured in a salty brine solution. Usually made with the point, it’s soaked in a brine solution that contains large grains of salt, also called “corns” of salt, which is where the name “corned beef” comes from. The salt helps to preserve the beef and gives it a very distinctive flavor.

Where Should You Buy Brisket?

Brisket is best purchased from your local butcher. They tend to have the freshest and highest quality meat. Plus, they can help you to select a cut that is best for you and can ensure you get both the point and the flat if you want. 

Many online butchers also sell Brisket. Snake River Farms carries a Wagyu brisket that is to die for, but it can be a bit pricey. Porter Road also has a tasty brisket option that is slightly more affordable. 

Is There Another Name for it?

There is no other name that refers to beef brisket because this is such a unique cut of meat. But in some areas, people do use the brisket cut of meat to make pot roast. 

In these areas, the terms may be used interchangeably. It is also possible that corned beef can sometimes be called “corned beef brisket,” but remember that this dish is only made from the point and not the flat part of the brisket.

Related >> Tri-Tip vs Brisket: Which is Better for Your Next BBQ?

What Meat is Closest to Brisket?

If you can’t find brisket, you may be wondering if there is a cheaper or similar alternative available. 

Chuck roast is the closest meat to brisket, but know that it is called “poor man’s brisket” and for a good reason. This meat comes from a different section of the cow and it isn’t nice unless cooked as a roast or chuck roll because of how tough it is. 

Related >> Lean vs Moist Brisket: A Comparison for BBQ Lovers

How to Season a Brisket

Just like any other meat you are planning to throw on your grill, you’re going to want to season it before putting it on. For a brisket, simple can often be better because this cut of meat already has so much flavor to it. 

We recommend seasoning your brisket with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and letting it smoke. But if you want to add a little something extra, there are many delicious brisket rubs that will go great with this cut of meat. 

You can also make your own seasoning mix using onion, paprika, thyme, and even coffee grounds. For best results, apply this rub to all sides of the brisket the night before you plan to smoke it to allow the flavors to get into the meat. 

Related >> Understanding the Differences Between Shoulder and Chuck Roast

How Long Should You Cook a Brisket?

As we have already mentioned, low and slow is the way to go for brisket–and preferably with some smoke. The amount of time this actually translates to will depend on the weight of your brisket. 

For a smaller brisket, say 10lbs, you’ll want to allow for 6-9 hours of cook time. For a larger brisket, say 15lbs, you’ll want to allow for at least 10 hours. And the largest briskets, which can weigh in at 20lbs, takes anywhere from 12-16 hours to cook.

It’s best to cook a brisket on a smoker, like a pellet smoker, because the smoke flavor really gets into the meat and adds something a little extra. If you don’t have a smoker, however, it is possible to cook a brisket in the oven.

Related >> How Long to Smoke a Brisket at 225? (Expert Tips)

Before You Go

If you’re planning to smoke a brisket soon, we recommend checking out our guide on brisket spritz and the best internal temperature of brisket. I hope it turns out great!

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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