How to Trim Brisket (In 8 Simple Steps)

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Briskets are the holy grail of barbecue.

Brisket is packed full of connective tissue that melts during smoking.

As a result, briskets are known for being juicy, tender and flavorful.

But if you want to maximize its savory and smoky flavor, you must remove the excess layer of fat.

This is especially true if you’re planning to smoke an entire brisket.

Some have soft fat, while others have harder types of fat.

 I think you should trim the brisket, however, the debate about untrimmed vs. trimmed brisket has been going on for years.

Removing the harder fat ensures that you don’t end up with an overly greasy or chewy piece of meat.

Smoking also can’t penetrate deep if there is a thick layer of fat.

This guide will teach you everything about brisket trimming.

Equipment Needed for Trimming Beef Brisket 

  • Chef’s knife or boning knife 
  • Brisket 
  • Cutting board 

How to Trim to Get the Perfect Brisket 

Now that you’ve prepared the meat, it’s time to trim the brisket! 

Step 1: Pick Your Brisket

The size of brisket you will need will depend on how many people you are feeding.

The average size of a packer brisket ranges between 15 to 17 pounds and that can feed up to 20 adults.

Also, select a high grade of beef such as prime or choice brisket, you can afford it go for wagyu brisket.

Next, lay the brisket flat on the plastic cutting board. Make sure the piece of meat isn’t covering your cooker.

Step 2: Rinse The Brisket And Pick Your Knife 

Take the packer brisket out of the package. Then rinse the meat off and let it dry.

We recommend using a sharp boning knife.

A boning knife is both sharp and flexible, allowing it to cut through chunks of fat with ease quickly.

Note: you might see some black spots on your brisket, don’t worry about them.

Step 3: Think About Your Cuts 

Before you can plan your cuts, it’s important to understand the anatomy of brisket.

Across the meat surface of the brisket, you’ll find a fat layer, also called the fat cap.

You’ll find a chunk of fat underneath the flap of meat called the silver skin.

The long and rectangular sides of the brisket are called the flat, and the corners are called the point.

Depending on what you’re planning to cook, you’ll want to prioritize the cuts based on your needs.

For example, the point is best for shredded meat such as sandwiches, tacos, and burritos.

Whereas, the flat is best used for serving whole and slicing.

Step 4: Take Off the Surface Brisket Fat 

Place the meat surface lying side up on the sturdy cutting board. Use your knife to make shallow cuts on the meat surface.

Keep the knife parallel with the brisket as you make long cuts across the surface.

Feel free to leave roughly 1/4 inch of fat on the chunk of meat.

This ensures that you avoid cutting the actual meat. However, trimming more fat will allow it to have more meat flavor. 

Step 5: Trim the Underside and Silver Skin of the Brisket

Flip the meat over. Trim the layer of silver skin and about an inch of fat underneath the brisket.

Cut along the sides, exposing the bright red color of the meat.

This should create a rectangular shape for the brisket. 

Step 6: Trim the Point Ends 

Once the surface fat is removed, you can move to the point of the brisket. Unlike a paring knife or filet knife, a boning knife has a longer blade.

Therefore, it can make long vertical cuts to remove the excess fat away from the meat.

However, be careful since the point contains a lot of intramuscular fat.

This means you may end up cutting a slice of brisket and losing meat instead.

Flip the brisket back over. Check to see that the flat meat doesn’t have a lot of excess fat. 

You can make burnt ends with the brisket flat

Step 7: Season Your Brisket 

Now that you’ve finished trimming the fat, you can apply a brisket rub, this will help the brisket bark to develop

Depending on the smoked brisket recipe, you can play around with the seasoning.

Most people will add black pepper, garlic powder, fajita seasoning, and citrus herb rub.

Spread the seasoning mix onto the meat and rub it all over the raw meat.

You can choose to smoke the juicy brisket on the pellet grill right away or let it marinate for up to 24 hours.

If you opt to let it marinate, put the brisket in foil and refrigerate it overnight. 

Step 8: Discard the Pieces of Fat

With the brisket trimming, you can choose to throw it in the trash or use it to ground-up sausage or homemade hamburger meat.

In addition, the excess fat could be used as cooking fat.

Or it can add a nice flavor to potato dishes like hash browns or fries. Or perhaps, use the drippings to provide nice moisture to the smoking brisket

Have You Overtrimmed Your Brisket?

Have you trimmed too much from your brisket? Don’t worry see how to fix an over trimmed brisket here to ensure it stay super juicy and moist when you smoke it.

Smoked brisket is a timeless barbecue classic.

Nothing beats taking a tender bite of the brisket as it melts in your mouth.

Now that you know how to trim the brisket, it’s your turn!

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

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 adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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