10 Brisket Facts: The World Of Briskets

Freshly smoked cow brisket on a cutting board

Brisket is a delicious part of the cow that is best suited for slow cooking as it’s so exercised during the cow’s life, making it tougher than rest cuts. The world of briskets is fascinating, so I wanted to create this in-depth resource going through many things about it! Without a further due, let’s get at it.

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What Part of the Cow Is Brisket?

Did you know that cow is divided into eight meat quality grades by the USDA? Well, it’s true, and given that cow is a big animal, it’s important to know what part of the cow does briskets come from?

A brisket is located in the cow’s lower breast or chest area. Briskets come in three quality grades, the best being the prime, then choice, and then select. Because briskets are from the lower breast area, it’s highly exercised, and thus, they are tough and fit for slow cooking.

Briskets have more connective tissue and are tougher because cow uses it way more than other areas, such as tenderloin. Think about it this way; if you work out at the gym and gain hard biceps, it’s harder than your upper back muscle that you never work and harder.

Let’s go back to the beef quality grades for a second. There are three general quality grades of brisket; prime, choice, and select. However, there are other grades for meat too.

Beef quality grades from best to worst;

  1. Prime
  2. Choice
  3. Select
  4. Standard
  5. Commercial
  6. Utility
  7. Cutter
  8. Canner

The two main criteria for beef quality grades are determined by the degree of marbling or intramuscular fat in the beef and the maturity or estimated age of the animal at slaughter.

As you can see from the list, briskets can be found in the three best beef grades. Higher quality briskets have more marbling, meaning intramuscular fat within the cut, and the cow’s age isn’t old. According to the USDA, beef tastes the best when the cow is between 18 to 24 months old when slaughtered.

How Much Does Brisket Cost?

Considering that brisket comes from the breast of the cow and, thus, is quite tough, it’s still valued around the world. If cooked right, briskets can be extremely delicious, so how much does acquiring such a treat cost?

On average, a pound of brisket costs $4 to $5; however, the price can be considerably more. Depending on the brisket’s quality grade and whether it is grass-fed or organic, a pound of brisket can easily be between $15 to +$20.

For example, an organic grass-fed brisket with a prime beef quality grade will cost substantially more than a regular commercially grown brisket with a select beef quality grade. Between these two extremes, you will certainly taste the difference too.

Related: Why Is Meat Expensive? (9 Reasons You Should Know)

How Many Calories Is In a Brisket?

Calories, in addition to nutrients such as minerals and vitamins, are important things to understand when it comes to what we put into our bodies. That said, how many calories are there in a brisket?

Raw uncooked brisket has 155 calories per 3,5oz (100g). If you cook brisket in oil or butter, the number of calories will increase.

That said, brisket has very low calories compared to other parts of the cow or meats generally, for that matter. For that reason, brisket is often considered meat that can support weight loss, especially when compared to other cuts such as tenderloin, which has 324 calories per 3,5oz (100g).

Now, how about all the other nutrients found in foods? Does brisket have more, and if so, what are they?

See the table below for more nutritional information about brisket.

Brisket Nutritional Content Per 3.5oz (100g)

How to Trim a Brisket?

Moving on to preparing briskets, you need to do something before anything, and that’s the trimming. Trimming the brisket means that the excess fat will be removed, and it’s done for many reasons. These include increased cooking time, and well, it isn’t exactly delicious. So, how do you trim a brisket?

  1. Preparation: Before anything, you need to prepare yourself for trimming. Start by rinsing your brisket, preferably the night before, so it has time to dry. Choose your knife, preferably a boning knife, because it’s long, sharp, and flexible to cut straight through the fat. Also, make sure you have a good working station that Is clean and roomy to work on.
  2. Look at the Brisket: Before trimming, you should examine the brisket and look at the fat areas. Look for the big thick part of fat and the surface fat area covering the brisket. These are the priorities you want to remove. It’s important to understand how you will start to trim for the best possible outcome.
  3. Remove the Surface Fat: Start the trimming process by placing the brisket, so the fat layer is upwards. Hold the fat layer and start cutting it off slowly. You should notice where the fat starts and the meat begins, so try to separate them without removing meat, yet not leaving any fat. After removing the surface fat, you will probably see slight fat lines on the meat. Those doesen’t necessarily need to be removed because the amount will be so small, yet you can if it bothers you.
  4. Turn & Repeat: Now, turn your brisket to remove the other side’s surface fat similarly you did on the other side.
  5. Prepare the Brisket for Seasoning: After the trimming process, you can admire your brisket and prepare it for seasoning!

If you’re a visual learner, look at the video below on how it’s done. PS. Make sure you use a proper boning knife so you won’t waste meat and make the process easy. I’d highly recommend the Victorinox Fibroc Pro 6-Inch Boning Knife because it’s very high-quality, yet the price isn’t too high as some of its competitors.

How Much Brisket per Person?

Portioning the right amount of food is a tough task sometimes, especially when considering all the different nutritional contents and the fact that different foods aren’t similarly filling.

There are differences between meats, and you need to consider other factors, such as raw or cooked weight, whether it has a bone, and what kind of a cut the meat is. Considering the subject of brisket, how much should you portion for one person?

As a rule of thumb, 1/3 pound (151g) of cooked brisket per adult is good. However, the amount may vary between 1/2 pound (226g) and 1/4 pound (113g), depending on whether your guests are big eaters and the number of sides included with the brisket.

That being said, you should also consider the raw weight of the brisket. When thinking about the servings, note that brisket will shrink 30 to 40% of its weight when cooked. Take a look at the table of raw brisket to portion for different amounts of cooked brisket

Raw BrisketCooked Brisket
5,2-5,6oz1/4lbs / 4oz / 113g
6,9-7,4oz1/3lbs / 5,3oz / 151g
10,4-11,2oz1/2lbs / 8oz / 226g
How much raw brisket to portion for cooked brisket

What Wood to Smoke Brisket?

Wood chip industrial machine creating piles of wooden chips

Things are getting hot, and it’s time to turn on the smoker! However, smoking is included with many things to consider, such as temperature, seasoning, type of meat, and even the type of wood! Wood is used in smoking well to make smoke and add different aromas and flavors. What’s the best wood to use when smoking brisket?

In general, hickory wood is the best, most popular, and most common wood to smoke a brisket. It’ll give a strong and smoky flavor with a nutty and bacon-like flavor. Depending on your taste and seasoning used, other woods can be as good or better for smoking brisket.

There are many other kinds of wood used in smoking a brisket, such as;

  • Pecan: If you prefer a milder smoke flavor on your brisket, pecan wood is great. It doesen’t burn as long and strong as hickory, leaving a milder smoky flavor.
  • Oak: Considered one of the best smoking woods, oak will leave a mild smoky flavor on your meat. What makes it so good is its ability to be paired with other woods. Many smoke woods have oak as the base burning wood, mixed with fruit woods to give a unique flavor.
  • Cherry wood: Perhaps the most popular fruit wood for smoking is cherry wood. Cherry wood is perfect to pair with oak wood. It burns faster than oak or hickory while giving the meat a medium and fruity flavor.

Wood chunks used for smoking meat are a subject of debate because, as humans, we have different preferences and tastes. My favorite way of knowing is to try different woods and then decide which one I like the best. For this purpose, I’d recommend the Western Smoker Wood 5-Pack Set with the following woods included; Hickory, Mesquite, Cherry, Apple, and Pecan.

How Long to Smoke a Brisket at 250?

If you know anything about smoking meats, it isn’t the quickest form of preparation, but it sure is one of the most delicious. 250 degrees Fahrenheit is a great temperature to cook brisket, but for how long?

As a rule of thumb, 90 minutes per pound of brisket is a great smoking time at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 90 minutes for a pound is great at 250°F because it will cook the brisket rather quickly than at lower temperatures, yet it won’t dry. Rather, it’ll give the meat a juicy, tender texture.

Note that the 90 minutes include both rest and hold times. Anyways, It’s great to have some guidelines for smoking a perfect brisket. However, brisket doesn’t weigh 1 pound, and you won’t smoke one in 90 minutes, that’s for sure.

Following the stated guidelines, I created the table below where you can see how long would it take to smoke different sized briskets at 250°F (121°C)

Brisket WeightSmoking Time at 250°F
8lbs12 hours
10lbs15 hours
12lbs18 hours
14lbs21 hours
16lbs24 hours
Brisket weight and the optimal time to smoke it at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Looking at the table, you can see that smoking a brisket takes time, and the time can vary drastically, depending on the brisket’s size.

Related: Can You Smoke Frozen Meat? (6 Helpful Tips)

How to Tell If Smoked Brisket Is Done?

Smoking can take hours or even close to a day, and seeing inside your prime cut is difficult, making it even more difficult to say when it’s’ done. That said, how to tell if your smoked brisket is done?

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You can tell if a smoked brisket is ready by lifting it from below and feeling if it feels soft and wobbly. Alternatively, run a fork through the meat, and if it passes easily, it’s done. The internal temperature of 195-205°F (90-96°C) also states that the brisket is properly cooked.

There are many ways to see if your brisked is done cooking. The feel test, where you will lift the meant and feel whether it’s soft, wobbly, and feels like gelatine, is a decent way, but it’s also an easy way to burn your hand.

My favorite way is the internal temperature check. To do this, locate the brisket’s thickest part and pierce it to the middle. If it shows 195-205°F, it’s done.

Modern technology brings modern meat thermometers! My absolute favorite is the MEATER Plus Thermometer. You can stick the thermometer to your brisket, connect it to your phone via Bluetooth, and set the alarm. Then socialize with your friends and family, sleep, or play video games. Whatever you choose, your phone’s alarm will let you know when the brisket reaches the set temperature! How amazing is that?

The fork test is a good way to know too. Stick the brisket with a fork and try to swipe it in any direction. If the fork can pass easily and break the meat, it should be properly cooked.

How Long to Let Brisket Rest?

When your brisket is done, and you take it out from the smoker or where ever you prepared it, you shouldn’t dive in immediately. This is because of the meat’s juices, and with that, flavors will pour out of the meat leaving it less tasty and with a less juicy texture. I know the waiting is long, so when can you start eating your brisket after letting it rest?

The brisket should rest for at least one hour if you plan to eat it immediately after cooking. If you cook the brisket for later consumption, it’s recommended to let it sit for at least two hours.

In addition to the excruciatingly long cooking time, the resting time isn’t from the short end either. That’s because briskets are so thick and tough, so it takes time for them to cool off.

You shouldn’t eat it 10 minutes after cooking because it will allow too much of its natural juices to flow off and, with that, flavor. The texture will become lesser, too, if you don’t let it rest enough.

What Is Another Name for Brisket?

There certainly has been a lot of information about briskets in this article. Aren’t you getting tired of the name brisket? I am, so there must be other names for it, yes?

Brisket is a beef cut that has only one name. However, when cut into its two main muscle parts called point and flat, they have their names. When the brisket is prepared and cooked, it can be made into pastrami, corned beef, and more.

If you aren’t familiar with corned beef or pastrami, I’ll explain that next.

  • Corned beef is beef usually made from brisket preserved with granular salt. The taste comes from brine and seasoning. Corned beef is cooked at low temperatures with high moisture and is often sold in cans.
  • Pastrami is a treat usually made from beef brisket, but it can also be made from lamb and turkeys. It’s made by brined, partially dried, seasoned raw, and then cooked by smoking and steaming. Pastrami is often described as a mixture of sausage and roast beef with a melt-in-mouth feel.

My saliva just started flowing thanks to writing all this about briskets. Maybe I’ll swing by the grocery store and start cooking some juicy and tender beef. See you next time!

Here You’ll Find My Favorite Kitchen Equipment.

Thanks for reading this article! I hope that it brought you real value that you can benefit from in your personal life! Here is my top kitchen equipment that I seriously couldn’t live without, and I think they could ease your life as well as they do mine.

  • Knife set: As a chef, I can’t stand dull, poor-quality knives without any design. My absolute favorite kitchen knife set is the Gangshan 3-Piece Knife Set. It comes with a handcrafted 8″ chef’s knife and a 3.5″ paring knife. What I love even more than these flawless knives is the walnut knife block which is incredible and unique.
  • Skillet: In addition to knives and my unwillingness to bargain with its quality is the cookware. My favorite skillet is Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet. This particular skillet is 9″ in size, it is heavy, it gets very hot, which is what is required to get a good sear, and it is just beautiful, as are all Le Creuset products. Le Creuset doesn’t need an introduction as a brand, as it is one of the world’s rated brands.
  • Food processor: I remember when I hadn’t a food processor at home. It wasn’t easy! But now, when I use my Ninja BN601 Food Processor, I can make anything super fast, which saves me many hours per week. This food processor has 1000 watts of power and four options, including chopping, slicing, dough, and purees. I also like the middle-sized 9cup (2.1l) bowl as it is big enough yet not too big to look unfitting in my kitchen.
  • Tweezers: Dalstrong Professional Cooking Tweezers are like tongs but much more elegant, thin, and easy to use. They are great for virtually anything, but flipping, turning, and grabbing with them is easy and makes cooking much more fun! These Dalstrgon tongs are titanium coated and very durable. Also, I like the black color instead of the everyday steel.

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Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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