What Is a Left Handed Brisket (Did You Know There Left and Right Hand Brisket!)

Have you ever heard briskets labelled as “left handed” or “right handed”?

Well, it may surprise you to learn that there is such a thing as “left handed briskets” and “right handed briskets”. 

In this article, we’ll be going through what a left handed brisket is and how it’s different from a right handed one.
Plus, we’ll even share some tips for smoking the perfect brisket. 

Keep reading on to learn all about it!

A left hand brisket we have trimmed and covered in rub to be smoked!

What Is A “Left Handed Brisket”?

A left brisket simply refers to a beef brisket obtained from the lower left rib cage of the animal.

Most cattle prefer to rest on their left side, so the meat on that side is said to be more tender and less muscular.

The science behind it is that the animal often has to use their right side to lift themselves back up into a standing position from their resting position.

Hence, this additional physical activity results in their right side being more muscular. 

Since right briskets have more muscle and less fat, many people claim that the meat is less tender and doesn’t taste as delicious as left briskets.

Our left hand brisket in the smoker”

How To Identify A Left Handed Brisket

In terms of appearance, there are some characteristics of the brisket that can help you determine which side of the animal it came from. 

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get an accurate answer by asking one of the supermarket employees. It’s more than likely that they’re not trained to be able to tell the difference. 

Plus, stores also do not include this information on the sticky labels on the packaging. However, if you enquire at your local butcher, they may recall which side of the animal the brisket was cut from.

However, there’s no need to ask at the shops, because we’ll teach you how to determine which side of the cow your brisket originates from. 

Begin by placing your entire packer brisket fat-side down on a flat surface. The point of the brisket should be closest to you. You’ll then notice that the brisket point curves slightly away from the flat surface.

The point of a right-side brisket would curve to the left. On the other hand, a brisket from the left side will have its point facing the right.

What Is The Difference Between A Left-Handed Brisket And A Right Handed Brisket?

We’ve already mentioned that many BBQ fans and enthusiasts believe that left handed briskets are superior.

They claim that it’s because the meat is fattier, more tender, and just contains more flavor. 

However, in our opinion, the difference is barely noticeable after smoking either brisket.

Due to the cooking method of smoking meat, the cooked brisket should already be tender enough after so many hours in the smoker. 

This low and slow method is what tenderizes a piece of meat to help break down its proteins and fats so that its texture is less tough. 

Having said that, you should make the final decision yourself. Preparing a whole brisket is unlikely to go smoothly the first time.

As a result, you’ll likely need to try both types of briskets — to determine whether buying a left brisket is preferable to buying a right sided one.

How To Shop For A Left Handed Brisket

If you are set on picking up a left-side brisket, you might run into some issues trying to shop for one at your supermarket.

Briskets are often tightly sealed in plastic wrap when it’s sold, so it’s nearly impossible to tell which way the pointed end is curved before buying it.

You might need to specifically go to one of your local butchers instead. Or the second option includes buying it online. Of course, you will need to look for a supplier that discloses left- and right-handed brisket.

Apart from that, you also don’t want to manhandle or flex a whole brisket too much in the supermarket.

After all, it can be a little unpleasant to leave other shoppers to buy the flexed briskets you’ve tested prior.

Selecting a Quality Grade Brisket Is More Important

In actuality, the left-handed brisket thing isn’t the most important factor to look out for.

So, aside from the side of the brisket from which the meat was obtained, are there any other factors to consider when trying to select good brisket meat?

The answer is ‘yes! Selecting high-quality brisket is highly dependent on the grade of meat you choose.

Always remember to be on the lookout for a piece of meat that has sufficient fat on it. You don’t want the piece of meat to dry out during the cook.

There are three main grades of brisket that your supermarket will carry and sell. 

  • USDA Prime grade
  • USDA Choice grade
  • USDA Select grade

USDA is an abbreviation for the United States Department of Agriculture. And they are the authority in charge of grading the quality of meat in the United States.

The USDA Prime grade is the most expensive option. However, the meat is well worth the price as these meats feature the most fat and lots of marbling throughout their entirety. And as we all know, the fat is what keeps the meat moist during long cooking times.

Next, USDA Choice briskets are slightly cheaper but still contain quite a lot of fat and marbling. These are a lot easier to find, as prime grade cuts can be quite rare. Choice grade beef briskets are an excellent way to go for tender and delicious meat. 

And lastly, the USDA Select grade is the cheapest one and these meats have the least amount of fat. Hence, it doesn’t have as much flavor as Choice or Prime grade beef. Plus, it’s more prone to drying out during long smokes. 

If you end up getting a Select grade brisket, it’s best to stew it or use another slow cooking method that isn’t as drying as smoking.

Braising or stewing the beef will keep the brisket tender and moist even if you’re using a cut that doesn’t have a lot of fat. After all, these cooking methods are excellent for breaking down meats that have a lot of connective tissue.

As a final note, if you want moister meat, avoid smoking select grade cuts.

Tips For Smoking The Perfect Brisket

  • You should opt for a prime or choice grade one that has a nice fat layer on it.

    It’s okay if its fat cap is a little too thick, just trim the brisket and leave 1/4 of inch of fat.
  • Next, you should decide on a dry rub beef brisket recipe that you’d like to follow. Here is one of our favorite ones.
    • You will be needing:
      • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
      • 2 tablespoons of paprika
      • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
      • 2 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
      • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
      • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder or cayenne pepper
      • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon of mustard powder 

(And if this isn’t enough flavor for you, then you can always cover your brisket with a little bit of Texas barbecue mop sauce during the cook. However, this will increase the cooking time by a little bit.)

And that’s all there is to it!

Do you prefer a lefthand brisket?

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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