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So you’re ready for a trip to your local butcher to pick up a brisket for some good old fashioned smoked BBQ.
But when you get to the counter, you’re surprised to see that there are a few different cuts of brisket to choose from – the point and the flat.
If you wanted to learn about the difference between a brisket point and a brisket flat, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll go over the brisket point vs flat and look at the anatomy and characteristics of the brisket.
What is Brisket and Where Does It Come From?
Brisket comes from the chest section of a steer, and essentially is the main muscle that supports the weight of the animal as it stands and moves around.
As you can imagine, the brisket is a pretty tough cut of meat because of how often the muscle is worked.
This is precisely why brisket is cooked low and slow on the smoker – an extended cooking time is required to break down tough connective tissue and for the brisket’s fat to render.
Each steer produces two briskets, one per side. Briskets can be sold whole, known as packer briskets, which are often upwards of 15 pounds in weight.
Often times though, the butcher will divide the whole brisket into two sections before resale – the point and the flat. The smaller sections of brisket are a little more manageable to cook on the smoker and also are more price friendly.
Brisket Point vs Flat – What’s the Difference?
Now for what you came for – here is a breakdown of the brisket point vs brisket flat:
The flat cut makes up the bulk of a packer brisket – it’s long, relatively thin, and rectangular in shape. It also has a thick layer of fat on top (known as the fat cap) that helps to keep the meat moist while it cooks. The fat also adds delicious flavoring to the meat as it renders during the cooking process.
Your butcher or grocer might trim down the brisket for you in advance, but you might need to trim your brisket before it goes on the smoker. If that’s the case, you’ll spend much of the time trimming shaving down the fat cap over the brisket flat.
A brisket flat is very lean, with a decent amount of marbling throughout the interior of the cut. Once cooked, the flat is ideal for slicing and produces some beautiful and symmetrical brisket slices.
The brisket point is the other main section of a packer brisket. Compared to the flat it’s much thicker, and more marbled with fat and connective tissue throughout the cut.
Flavor wise, the point is hard to beat. Fat equals flavor, so the extra fat content leads to some incredibly beefy and tasty results.
The “downside” is that the point has less meat in it compared to the flat. Because of the extra flavor and fat content, many butchers will ground the point into meat for burgers or just use it in brisket sandwiches.
On the other hand, a quality brisket point will have plenty of meat to work with – and when cooked right it can produce some of the most spectacular brisket flavor.
Brisket Point vs Flat – Which Is Better?
The answer to which is better between the point and the flat ultimately comes down to your preferences and what you’re trying to accomplish on the smoker. Both are tasty and quite receptive to a nice brisket rub.
If sliced brisket is your thing, the flat is probably the way to go. Since the cut is rectangular and flat, it makes things incredibly easy on you when you whip out the brisket knife to slice. There’s plenty of fat and flavor to go around, and the meat in the flat is delicious when cooked properly.
If you prefer beefier flavor, or want to use some of your meat for burgers or brisket sandwiches, then the point might be a better fit. The extra fat content leads to some out of this world flavors, but the point is just a little less easy to work with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Separate the Point from the Flat on a Brisket?
Yes, you absolutely should separate the point from the flat when you are cooking a brisket. To do this, you will need to remove the layer of fat that is in between the point and the flat, connecting them to one another.
To separate the point from the flat, you first need to locate both of these on your brisket. Once you have found them, you can then take a knife and begin to separate them from one another by cutting through the fat that we mentioned earlier, otherwise known as the nose.
To cut the fat, you should follow the seam of it as it curves around the point and the flat. This will ensure that you do not lose any meat. As you are cutting, hold onto the flat in one hand until it pulls away completely from the nose and the point.
Does the Flat Cook Faster Than the Point?
No, the flat does not cook faster than the point. In fact, it is the other way around, and the point cooks faster than the flat. When you begin cooking a brisket, the entire thing will often be very tough. But, the point will become tender a lot quicker than the flat.
Generally speaking, if you cook a brisket without separating the flat from the point, you can just leave the point to fend for itself. The flat is the piece that you will be eating, so it is very important that you keep your focus on this piece of the brisket throughout the process.
So, no, the flat does not cook faster than the point. The point will become tender a lot quicker than the flat. So, it is very important that you focus on the flat when you are cooking brisket.
What Temperature is Brisket Flat and Point?
One of the most difficult things when it comes to cooking is knowing what temperature to cook meat at. But, no matter whether you are cooking the flat and point separately or together, you should cook your brisket at the same temperature.
To smoke your brisket, we would recommend setting your smoker to a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You should leave your smoker to preheat at this temperature before cooking, then place your brisket flat on the tray when you do.
Using your signals, you should set the top temperature at 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and the low at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you want to check if your brisket is done, you should use a thermometer to check the internal temperature. When the internal temperature reaches 180 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the brisket is cooked and ready to enjoy.
At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong between the brisket point vs brisket flat. Each of these sections of the packer brisket yield incredible BBQ, but knowing the difference is helpful when you’re at the butcher counter deciding what’s for dinner.
Have anything to add to the point and flat discussion? Which cut do you prefer? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.