Should You Cook Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?

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Let’s say you’ve got a brisket trimmed, seasoned, and ready to put on the smoker, but you’re not sure whether the fat side should be facing up or down.

There are many opposing viewpoints out there, so we’ll give you the fast answer so you can go back to your cooking, and then we’ll get into the theory and science, looking at all sides of the discussion.

Lets get to the bottom of this.

Brisket fat side up or down?

Briskets feature two different sides, one with a heavy fat cap and the other with a few thin pieces of fat but primarily naked meat.

8 thick. 4 to 1Some individuals like to remove the whole fat cap, however I prefer to keep a thin covering of fat 1.

I propose directing the fat cap in the direction of the major source of heat.

This means fat cap down on a smoker like the Weber Smokey Mountain or a pellet grill.

Because the heat will be coming from above on a well-insulated offset smoker, you should cook fat side up.

Now that we’ve answered the question, you may go eat some brisket and come back to find out what the fuss is all about.

Why cook brisket fat side up?

Cooking fat side up advocates argue that the fat will melt into the meat, keeping it moist and delicious.

However, this is a myth.

Meat, in fact, cannot absorb fat. Instead, the fat melts and flows off the meat into the drip pan, carrying whatever spice you’ve applied to it.

To make things worse, roasting your brisket fat side up will not leave it looking its finest. The fat will not produce a homogeneous bark like the raw meat, resulting in a less-than-appealing-looking brisket.

Cooking brisket fat side up is not entirely forbidden. Cooking fat side up is the way to go if you use a log burning offset smoker or any other smoker where the heat originates from above.

We’ll look at this more in the section Where is your heat coming from?

Why fat dide down is better

Cooking brisket fat side down will usually result in a superior flavor and appearance.

1. Fat side down tastes better

Because the fat is towards the bottom, it will not wash away the seasoning as it melts, and the bark will keep all of the flavors you applied.

Furthermore, the smoke formed when the fat meets the hot coals will enhance the taste of the meat.

The heat in most cookers originates from underneath the meat. Insulation is provided by fat. while a result, the fat that does not melt away protects your meat from the strong heat of the fire while it cooks. As a consequence, your meat will not get dry.

Fat side down looks better

A good-looking brisket has a uniform licorice bark. The flesh must dry out for the Maillard process to occur so that the proteins on the surface may bind.

Fat side up will result in continual rendering fat washing away your rub and avoiding bark formation.

Cooking your brisket with the fat side down allows the bark to develop uniformly, giving your brisket that distinct metorite aspect.

Where’s your heat coming from?

We’ve previously said it, but the source of heat for your cooker is the decisive element when selecting whether to cook your brisket fat side up or fat side down.

Because the heat usually emanates from the bottom (like with a Weber Smokey Mountain Bullet Smoker), fat side down is the way to go.

But there are exceptions.

Horizontal offset smokers, for example, draw heat from above. In such instance, employ the insulating capabilities of the fat cap to protect the meat from the top. As a result, fat side up is the way to go.

So take a look at your cooker, figure out where the heat is coming from, and you’ll be on your way to determining which direction to seat the brisket.

It’s still a good idea to make sure the uncovered side of the meat doesn’t dry out. If it is, cover the brisket in foil or butcher’s paper halfway through the cooking time.

What the pros say about fat up or down

There are specialists on both sides of this topic. This makes sense given that we know it is mostly dependent on the sort of cooker you use.

For example, Malcom Reed of How To BBQ like to grill his briskets fat side up.

He explains his reason why like this:

Malcom Reed, Easy Smoked Brisket Recipe

During a competition, I would cook the brisket fat side down the whole time. But keep in mind that with my competition briskets, I take off the majority of the fat and inject at least 16oz of liquid.

We’re not concerned with the additional fat or how it looks once it’s done for this Eating Brisket, so I’ll cook it fat side up the whole time.

I want the finished product to have a meaty taste without being boosted or fake in any way.

We had a look at the smoker he used in the recipe, and it seems to be a horizontal offset type smoker, so the direction of the heat likely played a factor in this choice as well.

Similarly, Aaron Franklin, noted for his brisket, serves it fat side up.

He does, however, employ a smoker with an indirect heat source. Follow Aaron Franklin’s Brisket Guide here, or read our review of his BBQ Masterclass.

But the fat has its own taste, and when it drops onto the embers, it may transmit that flavor to the meat.’s Meathead Goldwyn says:

What about the fat dropping into the flames and reappearing as tasty droplets mixed in with smoke? I preserve the fat cap and place it on the grate over the fire to drip.

Cooking your brisket fat side down produces a similar effect, with the fat pouring straight into the hot coals and the subsequent smoke seasoning the meat.

Should you remove the brisket fat cap?

Brisket is a cut from the animal’s breast. The fat cap is a layer of fat that covers the side that faces outwards.

Depending on the animal and how it was killed, this may be up to an inch thick.

Some folks choose to remove the brisket fat cap entirely. They claim that it keeps the rub and smoke from reaching the meat.

When preparing a high-end brisket, such as a Wagyu, you may get away with removing the whole fat cap.

4 inch, though, since fat is taste. I would still leave at least one.

Fat up or down? Look at the heat source on your smoker

You now understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the subject of whether to gain or lose weight. However, you must be aware of certain critical information.

No, when it melts, the fat will not permeate your meat, but it will wash away your rub.

Yes, the smoke from melted fat on the coals will flavor your meat.

Yes, the fat will serve as an insulator between the heat source and the meat, keeping it from drying out.

What’s the long and short of it? Know your smoker, locate the heat source, and insert the fat cap between the heat and the meat.

Are you ready to conduct your own tests? We strongly suggest the American Wagyu brisket from Snake River Farms, an internet butcher. You may also be interested in some of our other brisket instructions, such as how to wrap brisket and how to slice brisket.


Do you cook a brisket fat side up in the oven?

Cook the beef brisket with the fat side up to keep the meat juicy and tender as the fat melts. On a raised rack over a baking dish with beef broth, place raw brisket with spice rub. Bake, securely wrapped in aluminum foil.

Should fat cap be up or down when smoking?

The side facing out towards the skin is often coated with a coating of fat known as the fat cap, which should be facing down while smoking your meat. This helps your brisket taste and look better by giving it a crispy back.

Do you need to season the fat side of a brisket?

It makes no difference whether it’s fat side up or meat side up since you’ll have to turn it during seasoning. What do you use to season brisket? The sole rule here is that if your brisket rub does not include salt, you must apply a generous layer of salt before applying any additional spice.

What is the secret to a tender brisket?

We roast our brisket at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F) using Northwest cherry or apple wood. This temperature will cause the connective tissue to break down, rendering part of the intramuscular fat, preserving the softness and juicy taste.

Does brisket get more tender the longer you cook it?

Brisket is a tough cut of meat, thus the best way to cook it is low and slow: It becomes soft after a long, gradual cooking time.

Is it better to smoke brisket at 180 or 225?

Preheat the grill to 225°F and place the brisket on it. Smoke for 6 hours, or until the interior temperature reaches 160 °F. Return the brisket to the grill, wrapped in butcher paper or foil.

Do you put brisket in a pan when smoking?

Set up the smoker for indirect cooking at 225°F (107°C). Place the brisket pan on the smoker and cook for 6-7 hours, or until it reaches 165°F (74°C).

Should brisket be flipped while smoking?

Flipping the brisket evens out the meat’s exposure to heat. Because the airflow inside any smoker is uneven, leaving the brisket in one place for the whole time may cause some of it to dry out. Flip and rotate your brisket at least once throughout the cooking process.


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