How Should You Cook Brisket?

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Brisket is one of the most popular cuts of beef globally, but it is also one of the trickiest to cook while ensuring it remains flavorful.

Briskets are the king of the BBQ. Nothing says ‘I Love You’ more than a brisket.

It’s comforting, budget-friendly, and a showstopper. If you want to be called a pit-master at your backyard BBQ, then take a look at the following guide, which will help you learn the ins-and-outs of cooking a brisket.

Brisket Cooking Tips

While the process is simple, there are over a dozen ways you can screw up things. After speaking to seasoned pitmasters, we have compiled a list of tips that will help you end up with a delicious BBQ brisket every time!

Tip #1: Trim the Fat

Brisket fat should be trimmed until it is about 1/4″ thick. Does a large fat cap add flavor to your brisket? The answer is no because the cap becomes insulated, ensuring the brisket does not cook too quickly (but only on the point, not the flat).

Fat hinders the absorption of salt, which in turn impedes flavor development. The thinner fat cap allows the seasoning to penetrate the meat better.

Tip #2: Seasoning KISS

An authentic brisket needs only three things: salt, pepper, and smoke. Yes, really! As a seasoned pitmaster would say, ‘when it comes to seasoning – keep it simple silly.’ There is no need to add garlic powder, herbs, or any other spices.

Always season your brisket well ahead of time. This helps in tenderizing the meat. With the right amount of smoke, your meat becomes the star, and this is an attribute every pitmaster wishes to achieve. In our opinion, a good brisket does not even need sauce, but that’s a riddle we would leave for you to answer. 

Tip #3: Fat-Side Up or Down

This debate has been the debate of many barbeques, should you cook your brisket fat-side up or down. A brisket always has two clear-cut sides – one side is covered in fat while the other is just bare meat.

Apart from these two sides, a brisket contains two muscles known as the point and the flat. The pointed end usually tends to have a thicker covering of fat, while the flat end has a leaner cover of fat. 

Being both BBQ aficionados and experts, we will help you understand the importance of cooking your brisket fat-side down. 

Tip #4: Slow and Steady Always Win

For cooking a brisket that isn’t raw or dry, you’ll have to keep the temperature in check. Meat cooked quickly at high temperatures of +300°F will result in a loss of juices, which are the very essence of its flavors.

As an amateur cook who is just starting, your best bet would be to maintain a brisket temperature of 225°F and let the heat evenly by going slow. With time once you get the hang of it and become a pitmaster, you can start playing with higher temperatures of 250°F to 275°F.

With higher temperatures, you will be closer to achieving the Maillard Reaction causing your brisket to be at the peak of its flavor. Remember, it’s always better to go slow than rushing the process.

Tip #5: Right Kind of Wood

The best wood for Texas BBQ brisket is earthy wood as it provides the best flavor profile. Earthy woods like Oak, Pecan, and Walnut offer the right temperature to cook your brisket succulently. For best results, use Oak and Pecan with a custom blend of woods that fits your desired final product.

If you are interested in the best woods for smoking, you can find the post on our website.

Tip #6: Brisket Jiggle

The moment of truth has arrived! 

Time to tell if your brisket is cooked? If your brisket, ‘Jiggles’ when you shake it, then congratulate yourself as you have completed a job well done. An adequately cooked brisket will jiggle once the connective tissue turns into gelatin.

Tip #7: Rest the Brisket

As the brisket is rested after cooking, the moisture distributes evenly through it. Doing this further helps the meat is tenderizing. For this process to be effective, we can either rest the brisket in a holding cabinet or tightly wrap the brisket to place in an insulated cooler.

Tip #8: Slicing Against the Grain

A technique that professional BBQ’s need to know and can be used with any protein. Slicing against the grain gives you a cut of meat, which is easier to chew. Even a perfect brisket can be ruined by slicing it in the wrong direction.

The best way is to slice the meat perpendicularly against the grain. As a rule of thumb, it’s always good to remember that the muscle structure grains do not run in the same direction.

Read also:curved vs straight boning knife

Tip #9: Time to Relish

Following the tips mentioned above, we worked hard enough already, and now it’s time to relish your creation. Serve it with your favorite side dish of coleslaw, baked beans, dinner rolls, and the list goes on!  

Final Thoughts on Cooking Brisket like a Pro

Brisket is one of the most popular cuts yet challenging types of meat to perfection. Follow the guidelines and tips featured in the above guide. With regular practice, cooking a brisket will become second nature to you, and your BBQ brisket will taste less like an amateur and more that of a pitmaster.

Brisket can be smoky, juicy, and delicious provided that you are willing to take the time and effort required to master the art of cooking a brisket. The next time you hold a BBQ event, make sure that you’re keeping the tips featured in the above guidelines in mind, and rest assured you shall be called a pitmaster! 

About The Author

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James is a writer who is a self-confessed kitchenware and coffee nerd and a strong advocate of Sundays, good butter, and warm sourdough.