How To Choose The Right Cut Of Brisket For Smoking

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When it comes to brisket, there are three main cuts to choose from: the point cut, the flat cut, and the whole packer brisket.

Each cut has its unique qualities and characteristics that can affect the flavor, texture, and overall outcome of your smoked brisket.

In this guide, we will cover the differences between these cuts and help you determine which one is the best fit for your smoking needs.

So whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner just starting, this guide will provide you with the essential knowledge you need to choose the right cut of brisket for smoking.

What Makes Brisket A Good Piece Of Meat For Smoking?

Brisket is a large cut of meat with a lot of connective tissue.

This means that it requires a bit of time and love to allow the connective tissue to breakdown

Smoking a brisket perfectly is a milestone for pitmasters, so balancing the cooking environment and processes is like a dance on hot coals. Infusing the right smoky flavor, avoiding a stall, and achieving delicious bark, this is how I how I perfected my smoked brisket recipe on a pit boss, these are but a few things!

So choosing the right cut of brisket is very important before you start the cooking process.

How To Choose The Right Cut Of Brisket Before Smoking

Below I have outlined what you should be looking for when choosing a brisket.

I will state that it is always better to source directly from a local butcher.

Their expert opinion and help might mean you don’t go through all these steps!

Beef Brisket Or Pork Brisket For The Smoking Process?

Our first decision is what type of meat you choose for your brisket.

Generally, there are 2 cuts large enough to be defined as brisket in BBQ culture.

– Pork brisket from the whole pork shoulder or pork butt.

– Beef brisket from the pectoral muscles.

This can be swayed by personal preference to what meat you prefer for a brisket recipe.

Today we will be focusing on beef which is the more widely used and popular option.

Note: Any advice for choosing the right cut can be applied to pork as well as beef!

Selecting Your Beef Brisket For Smoking

When selecting the perfect brisket we need to think about what will help us during smoking.

Stuff like a good amount of fat for chemical reactions, protection, and juicy meat.

Little to no silver skin to reduce the prep time…

What size and how heavy is the brisket and will it fit in the smoker?

All this and much much more.

The Cuts Of Beef Available When Smoking Brisket

We have covered that beef brisket comes from the chest muscles.

Check it states brisket on the packaging and not a rib roast or another cut.

This might be obvious but cuts of beef can be stored together and you want the right one!

The Grade Of Beef When Selecting For Smoking

The grades of beef, especially beef are a very important factor when choosing brisket.

These grades indicate how well the cow has been looked after and processed.

As well as the quality of the meat.

When choosing brisket quality over quantity any day!

If you can afford to go for a prime brisket or Wagyu beef.

Prime or Wagyu briskets will have intense marbling of fat and a buttery texture.

Resulting in succulent and tender brisket meat after a slow cooking process.

The Weight Of The Brisket When Selecting For Smoking

The weight and size is another important factor for a few reasons. 

Does the brisket fit in your smoker? 

Will there be enough pounds of brisket per person?

Do you know how to work out the cooking time based on weight and temperature?

These are all factors to consider when choosing the right type of brisket to smoke.

Note: Choice briskets have a high density and indicate a good fat-to-meat ratio.

The Fat Content When Selecting For Smoking 

The fat on your brisket is so important for the smoking process.

– It helps create a chemical reaction known as the Mailliard for taste and texture.

– Protects the meat proteins from hot spots when smoking.

– Contains a beefy flavor.

– Bastes the meat proteins reducing the cooked brisket going dry.

Look for at least a 1/2 inch of fat around the entire brisket.

The Brisket Flat or The Point?

Firstly I would recommend going for a packer brisket, this is when the flat and point haven’t been separated.

If you only have the option between the brisket flat and point, I would suggest the point. Its juicer and tastes better. Its doesn’t slice as well as the flat though.

Summarizing How To Choose A Cut Of Brisket For Smoking

– Go to your butcher if you can.

– Consider prime or Wagyu grass-fed beef for quality and marbling.

– Understand your limits when it comes to the size of the cut.

– At least 1/2 an inch fat cap with little silver skin.

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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