Brisket Flat vs. Point: The Difference You Should Definitely Know

Here, you'll find everything you need to know about point and flat brisket cuts, and find out how to separate and cook them.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 03, 2021
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The brisket comes from the animal’s chest. This part contains no bones, is surrounded by fat, but inside it almost exclusively contains very little marbled meat. Its cooking is slow, but it is worth all the trouble. A whole brisket contains two muscles, that is, the flat and the point. In this brisket flat vs point comparison, we’ll define what both cuts are, compare them side by side, and tell you how to best cook each.

We will also teach you how to trim and break down a whole brisket; that is, how to separate a flat from the point to make them ready for the prepared rub and then the pit.

What Is Flat Cut?

Brisket Flat vs. Point: The Difference You Should Definitely Know

Also known as the first cut, the flat cut is that part of the whole brisket where there is lean muscle. When you remove the deckle, this part lays flat, hence, the reason it’s called a flat cut. The flat can include a thick layer of fat which is called the cap. This renders out while cooking, giving the meat more flavor, but not as much as the point. A flat cut is often long and has a rectangular appearance. It is larger than the brisket point cut.

What Is Point Cut?

Brisket Flat vs. Point: The Difference You Should Definitely Know

The brisket point cut is that part where, when you have separated the whole packer, you have most of the fat. This cut is thick, small, has connective tissue. The result of the high-fat layer is more flavor when smoked. However, the point doesn’t have as much meat as the flat has. When this brisket part is cooked, there would not be a lot of meat left.

How to Separate a Brisket Point and Flat?

First, you should know the essence and reasons you may want to separate a flat from a point.

Why do you need to separate a brisket point from a flat

There can be different reasons why you want to separate a brisket point from a brisket flat.

  1. For competition purpose

One reason may be that you’re in a competition. In a competition, you may want to get that perfect smoke ring around your flat. So you’re going to need to separate the point away from the flat side. The smoke ring is even and consistent.

  1. To get burned ends

It may be that you want to turn the point into burnt ends and you want the most perfect and square burned ends. So you can trim the point first.

  1. To cook the brisket faster

Also, you may need to cut the flat from the point to be able to cook it a lot quicker. Logically, thinner meats cook a lot faster than thicker ones.

  1. To make a pastrami

The other reason you want to separate the point from the flat is if you wanted to do something like pastrami. So, in the case of pastrami, most people have been using something like the brisket flat. So you can separate the brisket flat. You can then take it through the pickling process and then through the smoking process to make the most delicious pastrami.

Steps for Separating the Brisket Flat and Point

Brisket Flat vs. Point: The Difference You Should Definitely Know

To follow this tutorial, you need a whole brisket also known as a packer brisket. 10 to 12 pounds of meat will be enough. This whole brisket contains two muscles, that is, the flat and the point.

For those who like to leave quite a bit of fat on the brisket, all you need to do is make the fat uniform and get off all the hard fat. In this sense, you may leave about a quarter-inch of fat all around.

First, you have to flip the meat over and start trimming up at the bottom. You will come back and finish the top. Once you separate the point from the flat, you need to start where there’s a big chunk of fat and get rid of most of that. But again, leave a little layer of it once all the hard thick fat on the top and bottom of the brisket are evened out.

To separate the flat from the point, you should know that you don’t have to do this before cooking. You can cook it whole, but many prefer to do it before they cook it. That way, you wouldn’t need to fumble around with a hot piece of meat.

So, the steps are as follows:

  1. The first thing you need to do is find that seam of fat that separates the two muscles.
  2. First, get a good brisket knife. According to most reviews, the best brisket slicing knife model must be the Blacksmith Knife from Oklahoma Joe, which thanks to the riveted and full-tang handles, make it the best reliable option out there.
  3. Next, cut right down into it and follow it down. And as you’re separating, if you run into any big pieces of fat, cut them off.
  4. Now, continue following the seam of fat until it gets really thin. At that point, turn the knife and cut straight through the point. This way, it will leave a nice protective layer of meat and fat to protect the leaner side of the brisket, the flat. And once separated, you’re going to have two different pieces, the flat and the point. It’s better to have the flat side with a little piece of point on it. That will help protect the brisket while it’s cooking.
  5. The flat should be trimmed with a nice uniform layer of fat, and it will be ready for your favorite rub and the pit. The best part of the brisket point is where you have full fat as fat equals flavor. Simply trim off all the excess hard fat and now your point will be ready for the rub and the pit, and you would have the best burnt end you’ve ever had.

Beef Brisket: Flat vs Point Side-by-Side Comparison

So, what’s the best part for smoking, the point or the flat? The point and the flat are both delicious parts. So, telling which is better for smoking can be difficult. However, it depends on what you’re looking to get and your taste.

What’s known as the point is the part of the brisket that is fattier. However, the fat will render out and become tender and flavorful. The flat also tastes good, but it tends to be very dry. It’s not always as much flavorful as the point is.

If you wish to slice your beef brisket, choose the flat part. Its lean and rectangular shape makes it easier for making uniform slices. The flat has a flavorful taste but it’s not always fatty.

If you are planning to make barbecued sandwiches with beef and would like to shred your brisket, you can choose the point. This is more tender. However, the fat content won’t let you have a lot of meat.

Best Way to Cook Brisket Point

There are many ways to smoke a brisket. But the point requires extra care as you have a lot of fat here, especially if you’ve decided not to strip the fat. Texas brisket is best cooked with a fat layer of around 6mm and you can get this with the point. Therefore, we’ll be showing you how to cook a brisket point the Texas-style.

Follow our advice to smoke a brisket point. But first, you’ll need to prepare a spicy salt mixture to rub on all surfaces of the piece of meat as well as a vinegar and beer sauce.

Brisket Flat vs. Point: The Difference You Should Definitely Know

Ingredients

One 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) beef brisket

5ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin

5ml (1 teaspoon) dried oregano

5ml (1 teaspoon) cayenne pepper

Spicy salt to rub

45ml (3 tablespoons) Chili seasoning

15ml (1 tablespoon) Coarse salt

10ml (2 teaspoons) Black pepper

10ml (2 teaspoons) Brown sugar

10ml (2 teaspoons) Garlic salt

5ml (1 teaspoon) Onion powder

Vinegar and beer sauce

250ml (1 cup) distilled white vinegar

250ml (1 cup) beer

15ml (1 tablespoon) Garlic salt

15ml (1 tablespoon) Brown sugar

1 teaspoon (5ml) flaked hot peppers

5ml (1 teaspoon) Black pepper

Accessory

1.5 L (6 cups) of wood chips (oak or hickory) soaked for 1 hour in cold water or beer and drained

Preparation

  1. After separating the flat away from the point, rinse the beef point brisket in cold water and pat dry. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the spicy salt to rub. However, the best way to ensure you have the perfect rub is to get a ready-mixed rub that you can find online and in-store. Judging by what pitmasters are saying about it, the Killer Hogs BBQ TX Brisket Rub is perhaps the best for rubbing a texas brisket. Made for Texas-style briskets, it includes salt, pepper, and that smokey flavor.
  2. Rub this mixture on all sides of the brisket tip. Ideally, cover the brisket and let it rest in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours. You can also cook it immediately if you want.
  3. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Stir until the salt and brown sugar dissolve.
  4. Prepare the grill for indirect heat cooking and preheat up to 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. With a gas barbecue, place all the wood chips for brisket smoking in the chip tray and preheat to high temperature.
  5. When smoke appears, reduce to low temperature. With a charcoal grill, add 12 new coals and 1/2 cup of wood chips to each side every hour.
  6. Place the brisket, fat side up, in an aluminum drip pan which is then placed in the center of the hot grill, away from the heat.
  7. Close the barbecue lid. Grill for about 6 hours, until the brisket is tender. Cooking time varies depending on the size and cooking temperature. Brush the meat with the vinegar beer sauce every hour for the first 4 hours of cooking.
  8. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer. The brisket is ready when the temperature reaches 195 ° F. Let the brisket rest for 10 min on a cutting board.
  9. Cut into thin slices against the grain with an electric knife or a sharp carving knife. Drizzle with the juice that has accumulated in the drip pan and serve.

Best Way to Cook Brisket Flat

Here also, we’ll see how to smoke brisket flat the Texas style. The difference between the process of the two is basically in the temperature. The temperature can be varied. You may start with 225 degrees Fahrenheit and add about 30 degrees more in 30 minutes and another 30 degrees in another 30 minutes. As the meat is leaner and thicker, you can choose to inject the brisket.

Brisket Flat vs. Point: The Difference You Should Definitely Know

Ingredients

A 10 to 12-pound beef brisket

The rub

1/4 cup of chili spices

1/4 cup of salt

1/4 cup of pepper

1 cup of paprika

1 cup of onion salt

1 cup of garlic salt

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1 cup of cayenne pepper

Liquid to be injected

1/2 cup of beef broth

1/2 cup of dark beer

1 cup of rub

Preparation

  • Begin by mixing the spices for the rub and reserve them.
  • Mix your beef broth, beer, and a tablespoon of spices. Then inject the brisket with the broth mixture, spiking well into the meat center and every square inch.
  • Once everything is well injected, rub your meat with the mixed spices. All you have to do is cover it with plastic wrap. Then let it marinate overnight.
  • Preheat the smoker to 225 ° F. Indirectly cook your beef flat brisket in it and cook and smoke for about 4 hours. 30 minutes after you start cooking, increase the smoker’s temperature to around 250 degrees and 275 degrees 30 minutes after. The most important thing is for the meat to register a temperature of 200 ° F minimum.
  • After smoking, wrap the brisket in foil and let it be there for 30 minutes before slicing.

Final Thoughts

The brisket flat and point are the main muscle part of the brisket in an animal, which lies in the animal’s chest, specifically, the first five ribs. While the flat seems to be thicker and beefier, the point has a lot of fat and due to this, it is usually very flavorful. While a flat cut will give you a better-burned end, a point cut will give you the best flavor. However, the flat cut is leaner, even in structure, and therefore easier and less intimidating to smoke.

In this brisket flat vs point comparison article, we’ve also shown you how to separate a flat from the point in a whole packer brisket. So, the next time you have a whole pack of brisket, don’t be afraid to trim it up and separate it.

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