What Part of the Cow Is Brisket? (Beginner’s Guide)

If you want to know what part of the cow brisket comes from, you’re in the right place!

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn: 

  • The part of cow brisket it
  • The difference between the point and the flat
  • And much more!

What Part of the Cow Is Brisket?

The brisket location on a cow originates in the chest area, specifically the lower chest region.

Cows do not have collarbones, so their body is supported by superficial and deep pectorals. This is why brisket is rich in connective tissue and fat.

This adds a unique charm to brisket dishes, as the connective tissues and fat create a distinctly beefy flavor. Brisket is best enjoyed fresh, so it’s best to purchase it directly from a local butcher.

The portions are often sold as a whole but can be split into different parts called the point and the flat.

What is Brisket?

Brisket is known as one of the eight primal cuts. Primal cuts are identified by how they are handled during the butchering process.

Like the other beef primal cuts, brisket is separated from the carcass when it is initially prepared.

As mentioned above, brisket originates from the chest area of the cow. It is a triangular cut that contains the pectorals (superficial and deep) of the cow.

The chest area of the cow is covered in connective tissues to supplement its lack of collarbones. These connective tissues are what keep cows upright and able to support their weight.

Connective tissue may be hard to work with at first, as it adds a tough texture to the meat.

It may take more time to soften the brisket but the tenderness and rich flavor of the meat makes it worth the effort.

The high-fat content also adds a delicious flavor while offering some health benefits as well.

Brisket contains an ample amount of oleic acid within its meat. This fatty acid is classified as a source of good cholesterol.

It also has a low melting point, which is the main factor that contributes to the juiciness of the meat. With that in mind, it is no wonder why brisket has become one of the most popular beef cuts worldwide.

Cow parts broken down and brisket highlighted
Photo Source and Credit: Allrecipes.com

The Different Types of Brisket

The point and flat are the two main cuts derived from a whole brisket. These cuts are different from each other in appearance, texture, and flavor.

Read on to learn more about the flat and point.

The Brisket Point

The brisket point contains more connective tissue and fat compared to the flat cut.

This means that the unique beefy flavor from the fat in the brisket will be much stronger in the brisket point than in the flat cut. The point is sourced from the lower section of a whole brisket.

Overall, the point brisket is thicker but has a smaller, pointed tip on one end. This is where the name “brisket point” originated from. It is also commonly known as the Deckle.

The point is thicker than the flat but has less meat to offer. However, the point brisket is preferred when the goal is to create a flavorful dish with a unique beefy flavor.

The point is often used to create ground meat for hamburgers or other types of beef sandwiches. The quality of the beef is best identified by its color. The meat should be a solid red. The fat should also be completely white, preferably with no yellow or gray areas.

Related >> Brisket Fat Side Up or Down: The Ultimate Smoker’s Guide

The Brisket Flat

The brisket flat is the best option if you’re aiming to enjoy more meat. It’s found near the ribs of the cow.

Compared to the point cut, the flat cut is leaner but contains more meat and less connective tissue. It is long, thin, and flat.

Its shape makes it an ideal choice if you are looking to create meals with a beautiful presentation. The brisket flat looks best when it is cut into thin slices, emphasizing its flat shape.

The flat cut may contain less fat compared to the point, but it is best known for its own layer of fat.

This portion called the “cap” is the layer of fat that determines the juiciness and flavor of the brisket.

Some of the fat can be shaved off, depending on your preference. However, we recommend leaving most of the fat on in order to achieve a deliciously moist texture once the beef has been cooked.

The recommended size of a cap is around ¼ inch to 1 inch.

Read More >> When to Wrap Brisket

diagram showing where the brisket point and brisket flat are
Photo Source and Credit: TAMU.edu

Is Corned Beef the Same as Brisket?

Brisket and corned beef may be similar, but they are two different things.

Corned beef is sourced from raw brisket and cured to achieve its unique flavor.

Meanwhile, beef brisket is sold raw with no additional seasoning or flavor.

Corned beef was first created in the 18th century. It was popularized because of its dry-curing method, which preserved the meat and kept it from spoiling over prolonged times. 

The curing process was performed by covering the meat in salt pellets. These pellets were similar in shape and size to kernels of corn, hence the name.

Read More >> How to Reheat Brisket

How is Brisket Used in Dishes?

While you may recognize brisket served on its own, this meat is also often cut and put in other dishes. Some of our favorites include beef brisket grilled cheese and beef brisket mac and cheese.

How to Choose a Beef Brisket

When you are shopping for a beef brisket, there are a few important things you should keep in mind to ensure you get the right brisket for your family. 

1. Know How Much You Need

Beef briskets can vary widely in size. You should estimate to have about a pound or a pound and a half per person. This means if you want to feed 6 people, you’ll want to get at least an 8-10 pound brisket. 

Related >> How Many Pounds of Brisket Per Person: A Comprehensive Guide

2. Shop Quality

While beef brisket might be cheaper in the grocery store meat section, it is always best to get your brisket from a reputable source, like a butcher. They can help you to get the right size and ensure you get the exact cut you want. 

3. Know Point vs. Flat

There are two parts to a brisket. Know if you want the flat with the point or just the flat. If you can’t decide, a butcher can help you to choose. 

How To Cook Beef Brisket

Beef brisket can be prepared in various ways. The ingredients and methods used in the process may depend on where it is being prepared.

Brisket is loved globally and one of the most popular meats to smoke, which is why various countries have created their own unique take on preparing the meat.

Today, there are several cooking methods used to enhance brisket’s natural qualities, such as its tenderness and flavor.

In the United States, beef brisket is the star of every barbecue. It’s especially famous in the south, namely in areas like Texas.

Smoked brisket is actually Texas’ national dish. They prepare the meat by covering it in a special blend of spices and cooking it slowly over the fire.

The best outcome for smoked brisket can be achieved by cooking it with wood fire or charcoal. This gives the meat a nice, charred flavor that compliments the naturally beefy and fatty flavor of the brisket.

The best part of the brisket is its burnt edges, which add a deliciously crispy texture to the tenderness of the meat.

The number of connective tissues in the beef brisket may make the meat tough or coarse, which is why braising has also become a popular way to prepare it.

Braising or simply cooking the brisket in liquid makes the meat more tender while enhancing its natural flavors. This method is often used in the UK or Germany.

Related >> How Big is a Brisket? A Guide on Meat Cut Size

How Long Does It Take To Cook Beef Brisket?

The preparation and cooking time for beef brisket depends on its size.

If you’re preparing smoked brisket, then the standard cooking time takes about an hour to an hour and a half per pound if smoking it at 250 degrees.

Take note that a whole brisket can weigh up to 20 pounds. However, this may decrease once it is separated into the point and flat cuts.

Although it’s quite heavy when it’s raw, beef brisket loses some of its weight while it is being cooked.

Around 1/3 of the total weight will be shredded while smoking, so make sure to plan portions accordingly for your group’s size.

How to Slice Beef Brisket

In order to slice a beef brisket properly, you first need to allow the brisket to rest. Then you need to cut it against the grain, this way, your guests will have the most tender meat possible.

Should You Trim the Fat Off Brisket?

While it is a good idea to trim some of the excess fat off your brisket before you cook it, you definitely don’t want to trim off all the fat. The fat will melt into the meat while it cooks, making the brisket juicy and flavorful. 

How to Serve Brisket

Brisket is a common BBQ food, and therefore we think it goes best with BBQ sides like corn on the cob, potato salad, cole slaw, and mac n cheese.

How to Store Brisket

The best way to store brisket is by slicing it into slices and putting it in an airtight container in your fridge. Leftover beef brisket will last about 3 to 5 days when stored this way. 

You’ll want to store your beef brisket no later than 1-2 hours after it has been cooked. When beef is left out, it can attract bacteria and make those who eat it ill.

Why is Brisket So Expensive?

Brisket is expensive because there are only about 2 cuts of brisket per cow. This means that there is a limited supply at your butcher’s. Plus, it’s a tasty cut, so it’s high in demand! 

Different Ways to Cook Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is most often served smoked, but this isn’t your only option if you don’t have a smoker on hand. You can also cook brisket in your oven or braised in a crock pot. When you braise brisket, however, this is often called a pot roast or corned beef, depending on the method you use to braise it.

Final Thoughts on Beef Brisket

Understanding the nature and preparation process of beef brisket is the key to creating some of the most hearty and flavorful dishes.

If you have any questions about beef brisket or the cooking process, then please feel free to contact us. We are always ready to help you out!

If you want to learn more about grilling, check out these other helpful resources!

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Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I love this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family. I'm here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you're in great hands! I've tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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