How to Trim a Brisket: Step By Step Guide

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A brisket will almost always be coated in firm fat and silverskin when you get it home from the butcher.

It will not render no matter how long you cook it, and your rub will not taste the meat.

This is why one of the most critical procedures is to cut your brisket.

This massive, costly cut might be overwhelming, so we’ve broken it down into clear step-by-step instructions.

I discuss the step-by-step method for cutting a brisket for home use in the video below, or keep reading for some fantastic ideas.

Tools for trimming brisket

How to Trim a Brisket: Step By Step Guide

These are the key products I use to make the brisket cutting procedure less stressful. You don’t have to go out and purchase new equipment right once, but it does make the process smoother.

  • Knife for boning A sharp knife, such as our 6.5 Smoke Kitchen boning knife, aids in completing the task quickly before the fat begins to soften.
  • Butcher block made of wood A complete brisket is a massive piece of meat, so you’ll need a 1624 butcher block or larger.
  • Gloves made of nitrile rubber These aid in gripping the flesh and may be removed when finished.

A highly sharp trimming knife is the most critical of these equipment since it enables you to make lots of tiny, simple cuts and shape the brisket.

A dull knife will struggle with some of the tougher fat and making accurate cuts more difficult.

How to trim a brisket

How to Trim a Brisket: Step By Step Guide

Trimming is more than simply getting rid of excess fat. You should consider how you will form the brisket.

Trimming the flat muscle’s tiny thin corner parts that will dry out and shaping it into a more oval form. This enables the heat and smoke to permeate the meat.

You can always remove a little more, but you can’t put it back on.

1. Make sure the brisket is cold

When the soft fat on the brisket heats up, it resembles jelly. The colder the fat, the simpler it is to slice, so make sure your brisket is cool before you begin cutting.

Bring the brisket out of the fridge as soon as possible and begin trimming.

Remove the brisket from the plastic wrap and lay it on a broad cutting board.

2. Start trimming the soft fat

Begin creating tiny slices of fat at the top of the brisket with a sharp knife, angled away from yourself.

Take caution, but work fast since the fat will heat up and become harder to cut.

I always start by cutting the softer fat all over the brisket, and then I go on to the firmer deckle fat.

Because this fat is quite thick and will not soften, you may save it for the very last piece of cutting.

You may cut as close to the flesh as possible to get more rub on the meat, but it is entirely fine to leave about an inch of fat on the meat since some people like the taste. This is a personal choice, but keep reading because I’ll go into more depth on this topic later.

Trim the fat away, being careful not to cut too deeply into the flesh.

3. Trim any fat edges or seams

As you work, you’ll discover certain borders that are virtually totally formed of fat. You should get rid of them. To assist form the edge, cut at an angle.

You should also keep an eye out for any fat seams running through the meat and gently cut them off.

Turn the cutting board around to work on the brisket from various angles.

Take great care to remove any hard fat as you work. The soft fat will render down throughout the cooking process, but the hard fat must be removed.

4. Round off the corners

Round off any edges that may dry up during the cooking process. This isn’t as critical as removing the hard fat since you can easily toss it after the cook. But now I prefer to clean everything up.

When most of the fat has been removed and your brisket resembles this, it’s time to turn it over.

5. Flip your brisket and trim the underside

When you flip the brisket over, you’ll see a huge seam of thick fat that needs to be removed.

Although there will be less fat on the bottom of the brisket, you should still remove any hard fat and trim up any loose parts.

Examine the brisket from various angles and clear out any remaining fragments. Don’t overthink things, particularly if it’s simply a backyard barbecue.

Should you leave any fat on?

There are several perspectives on this. certain individuals believe that leaving a toe of an inch of fat on the bottom shields it from the direct heat of certain smokers. Others like to leave the same amount on top, believing that it bastes the brisket and keeps it moist while it cooks.

I’ve tried both methods, as well as clipping off all the fat, and I believe that at the end of the day, I want to season the meat, not the fat, and I haven’t seen any difference in final meat quality by leaving any fat on the brisket.

So I cut aggressively, removing all of the fat visible on the exterior.

Other ways to trim

So far, we’ve concentrated on cutting a brisket for domestic usage when you want to save as much as possible to consume.

There are a few distinctions between cutting brisket for a competition and serving in a restaurant.

Trimming brisket for a restaurant

The key to this trimming method is consistency. A restaurant may have many briskets cooking at the same time, and they must cook at the same time every day.

As a result, cutting them requires a bit more skill to maintain them around the same size. Quality is certainly important, but so is profit margin.

Trimming brisket for competition

By far the most harsh pruning technique.

At contests, the brisket slices and charred ends must fit into a square 9 hand-in container.

Generally, the flat and point muscles are separated, then trimmed to account for shrinkage during the cooking process; this allows them to fit exactly within a hand-in box.

Pitmasters compete only on the flavor of the end product, hence yield is unimportant.

Keep the trimmings

Do not discard the cuttings. Brisket isn’t inexpensive, but there are some delicious ways to utilize the trimmings.

When the meat and fat trimmings from a pair of large brisket trims are crushed up, they produce the finest burgers you’ve ever eaten.

Beef tallow may be made simply by rendering down the fat.

Simply throw the trimmings in a zip lock bag, label it, and keep it in the freezer. When you have enough meat and fat trimmings, you may create another batch of brisket burgers, or if you just have fat trimmings, you can make a large quantity of beef tallow.

Can you separate the brisket?

A whole packer brisket is a primal cut composed of two muscles: the flat and the deckle, sometimes known as the tip.

If you’ve ever had brisket burned ends, you’ll know what I’m talking about. These wonderful delicacies are made by employing the point muscle.

The exterior hard fat on the point muscle is what we need to eliminate since it is so thick that it will not render down. Not to be confused with the softer exterior fat that many people prefer to preserve on brisket.

If you wanted to separate the flat and point muscles and cook them separately as in a BBQ competition, a huge fat vein connects them. Simply work your trimming knife gently along the fat seam, then clip the excess away once separated.

That way, you’ll have the flat for slices and the tip to transform into charred ends.

Looking for more brisket resources?

Brisket is one of the most challenging cuts to perfect when it comes to grilling. We’ve got you covered with recipes and in-depth answers to the most frequently asked brisket questions.

  • Hot and Fast BBQ Brisket
  • Brisket Wrapping: When, How, and What To Use
  • Should You Cook Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
  • What Is the Best Wood for Smoking Brisket?
  • Wagyu Brisket Worth the Hype?
  • Leftover Beef Brisket Recipes


What is the 3 2 1 rule for brisket?

The 3 2 1 method for brisket is a common smoking method that includes cooking it at three different temperatures for around two hours each. This technique gets your brisket to the ideal amount of doneness while also adding a tasty coating of smoked bark on the exterior.

Should you put brisket in freezer before trimming?

Brisket trimming is significantly more difficult when the fat is mushy. So I freeze mine for 30 minutes before trimming to firm the fat. Check on it every now and again to make sure it doesn’t completely freeze. I also start by trimming the fat side.

How much fat do you leave when trimming brisket?

At most, 2 inches.4 inch by 1 inchThe fat cap should not be completely removed. A modest bit of fat adds a burst of juiciness to your brisket slices, but too much fat gives those slices a mushy, slimy texture. While this is entirely subjective, we suggest cutting the fat cap to 1 inch.

What is the magic number for brisket?

Brisket can be cooked at temperatures ranging from 200 to 210°F (93 to 99°C), although Franklin believes the optimum temperature is 203°F (95°C) after cooking hundreds of briskets.

What is the rule of thumb for brisket?

Our general rule of thumb is to allow 30-60 minutes per pound. A 16-pound brisket, for example, will take 10 to 12 hours to cook at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Trimming, injection, seasoning, and cooking will all take between 18 and 20 hours.

Should brisket be at 225 or 250?

Brisket should be cooked at 250° for 30-40 minutes per pound. Increasing the temperature to 250° from the tried and proven norm of smoking at 225° produces some surprising and quite wonderful outcomes! When we smoke brisket at 225° F, the time is around 1-1.25 hours per pound.

How long to let brisket rest before cutting for burnt ends?

Allow your brisket to rest flat in a cooler for at least an hour. Cut the point into one-inch pieces. In the aluminum pan, place the cubes. As a typical Kansas City Burnt End, season and toss the cubes with additional Meat Church Holy Gospel.


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