Point Vs Flat: The Best Brisket Cut For BBQ

by Matt

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Are you ready to master the art of the perfect brisket but constrained by time?

Every barbecue enthusiast dreams of that perfect smoked brisket with a crunchy bark and succulent interior. Yet, the reality of smoking a whole brisket can take an entire day, often leaving you watching the clock rather than enjoying the food. But what if there was a way to cut down the cooking time without compromising on flavor?

This guide explores the brisket point and flat cuts, offering you quicker yet delicious alternatives to achieve great barbecue. Discover the best brisket cut for your smoking needs as we compare the pros and cons of each, ensuring your next BBQ is both effortless and unforgettable.

Raw Brisket on a Cutting Board Ready for Seasoning, Showcasing Intricate Marbling Ideal for Smoking, Indicative of Flavor and Juiciness.

Understanding Brisket Cuts

Brisket is renowned for its rich flavors and versatility in barbecue cooking, but understanding its different cuts are key to mastering its preparation. 

Let's get into what makes each brisket cut unique and how to choose the right one for your cooking needs.

What is Brisket?

Brisket is a primary cut from the lower chest or breast of beef or veal. The location of this cut means it's made up of the pectoral muscles of the animal, which support a significant portion of its weight.

This makes brisket inherently tough and full of connective tissues, which require proper cooking methods to break down and become tender. This cut's unique characteristics make it a favorite among barbecue enthusiasts for its ability to absorb flavors and achieve a tender texture when cooked slowly.

Comparing Point Cut and Flat Cut

Brisket is generally divided into two main cuts: the point cut and the flat cut.

  • Point Cut: Sometimes incorrectly labeled as the deckle, the point cut is thicker, fattier, and more marbled. It is known for its rich flavor and tender texture when cooked properly. This cut is ideal for smoking and slow-cooking, which allows the fat to render slowly, infusing the meat with moisture and flavor, making it juicy and tender.
  • Flat Cut: The flat cut, sometimes called the first cut, is leaner and more uniform in shape, making it excellent for slicing. It has less fat, which means it can dry out if not cooked correctly. However, its uniformity makes it a popular choice for dishes that require neat slices, such as sandwiches or plated presentations.

Each cut has its advantages and is suited to different types of recipes and cooking methods. Choosing between them often depends on the desired outcome of your barbecue and personal taste preferences.

For instance, the point cut is often preferred for more casual, flavor-focused meals where the meat's juiciness enhances the eating experience, while the flat cut might be favored in settings where a neat, consistent presentation is key.

Choosing the Right Cut

When deciding between the point and flat cuts of brisket, consider the specific needs of your recipe and the preferences of those you will be serving.

When to Choose the Point Cut

The point cut, known for its thick, fatty layers and rich marbling, is perfect for those who prioritize flavor and tenderness in their barbecue. This cut is particularly suited to:

  • Slow Smoking: The fat content in the point cut renders slowly over long smoking sessions, enhancing the meat's flavor and keeping it moist and tender.
  • Moist Cooking Methods: Ideal for recipes that benefit from a bit of extra fat, such as slow cooker dishes or braised brisket, where the fat helps maintain juiciness.

The point cut is often celebrated for producing the beloved "burnt ends," which are highly flavorful, caramelized pieces of meat that are a delicacy in barbecue cuisine.

When to Choose the Flat Cut

The flat cut is your go-to choice when you need a brisket that cooks more evenly and slices cleanly. This makes it an excellent option for:

  • Slicing for Sandwiches: Its leaner nature and uniform texture allow for beautiful, consistent slices that are perfect for sandwiches or platters.
  • Shorter Cooking Times: While it still benefits from slow cooking, the flat cut can be more manageable for those new to smoking brisket due to its more predictable cooking behavior.

The flat cut is particularly popular in recipes where presentation is key, or when cooking for a crowd and consistency in serving size and appearance is important.

Traeger Ironwood Xl Pellet Grill with Smoke, Featuring a Digital Control Panel and Side Shelf with Tools, Ready for an Outdoor Bbq Session.

Cooking Techniques for Brisket

Proper cooking techniques are crucial to bringing out the best in your chosen brisket cut.

Best Practices for Smoking Brisket

Smoking is the most popular method for cooking brisket, especially for achieving that classic barbecue flavor. Here are some tips for smoking both cuts:

  • Low and Slow: Maintain a consistent low temperature (around 225-275°F) and plan for 8-12 hours of cooking time to ensure the meat is tender.
  • Wood Choice: Different woods can impart various flavors; hickory and oak are popular choices for brisket due to their strong, pleasant aromas.

I have a blog post on my favorite dry rubs for brisket. These rubs turn a simple brisket into something unforgettable.

Alternative Cooking Methods

While smoking is traditional, other methods can also produce delicious results:

  • Braising: This method involves cooking the brisket slowly in a liquid base, such as broth or wine, which can be especially good for the flat cut to prevent it from drying out.
  • Oven Roasting: For a simpler approach, oven roasting can be effective, especially for the flat cut. Covering the brisket with foil can help keep in moisture and ensure it remains tender.

Both the point and flat cuts of brisket offer distinct benefits depending on your cooking style, presentation needs, and flavor preferences. Understanding these can help you make the best choice for any barbecue occasion.

By focusing on the right cut and proper cooking techniques, you can master the art of brisket and impress your guests with your barbecue skills. Whether you choose the point cut for its flavor and tenderness or the flat cut for its ease of cooking and presentation, both options can yield delicious results when handled correctly.

As for the left overs? Brisket can last a few days in the fridge and can be used in so many ways. It is delicious in Brisket Nacho's, Brisket Chili or Brisket Loaded Fries.

Choosing Between Brisket Point and Flat

Selecting the right brisket cut—point or flat—can greatly impact the outcome of your barbecue. Both cuts have distinct qualities that suit different cooking needs and taste preferences. Here’s a summary to help you decide which brisket cut is right for your next barbecue event:

Recap of Point Cut vs. Flat Cut

  • Point Cut: Ideal for those who love a juicier, more flavorful brisket. Its higher fat content makes it perfect for slow cooking methods like smoking, where it can develop a rich flavor and tender texture. It’s the best choice for creating mouth-watering burnt ends.
  • Flat Cut: Best for those needing a brisket that cooks more uniformly and is easier to slice for a clean presentation. Its leaner nature makes it ideal for sandwiches or when cooking time is limited, yet it still requires careful cooking to maintain moisture.

Making Your Choice

  • Consider Your Event: If you are hosting a casual gathering where flavor and texture are paramount, the point cut may be your best bet. For formal occasions where presentation matters, the flat cut could be more appropriate.
  • Think About Cooking Time: If you have the time to monitor and slow-cook your brisket, the point cut will reward you with its flavor and texture. If you need a quicker or more foolproof option, the flat cut is advisable.

Tips for Perfect Brisket

  • Temperature Control: Whether smoking or roasting, controlling your cooking temperature is key to achieving tender brisket.
  • Resting Time: Allow your brisket to rest after cooking. This lets the juices redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring that every slice is moist and delicious.

By understanding these aspects of brisket cuts, you can better plan your menu and cooking process to suit your barbecue style and guest preferences. Experiment with both cuts to discover which best matches your taste and culinary approach. Remember, the secret to great barbecue is as much about the choice of meat as it is about the passion and care you put into cooking it.


Which is better, flat or point brisket for smoking?

The choice between flat and point cuts for smoking depends on your preference for texture and flavor. Point cuts, with more fat, tend to be juicier and more flavorful, ideal for slow smoking. Flat cuts are leaner, offering a more uniform texture suitable for consistent slicing.

Which cut of brisket is most tender?

The point cut is generally more tender due to its higher fat content, which renders down during long cooking processes, creating a softer texture.

What is brisket point used for?

Brisket point is often used for recipes that benefit from slow cooking, like barbecuing or braising. It's excellent for making burnt ends, a barbecue delicacy known for their caramelized exterior and tender, juicy meat.

Is brisket point thicker than flat?

Yes, the point cut is typically thicker and more irregular in shape compared to the flat cut. It contains more connective tissue and fat, which contribute to its thickness and richer flavor profile.

Does a brisket flat cook faster than the point?

Yes, due to its thinner and more uniform shape, the brisket flat generally cooks faster and more evenly than the thicker, fattier point cut.

What are the best cooking methods for brisket flat?

The brisket flat is best cooked by smoking or oven roasting at a low temperature to keep it moist. Wrapping it in foil can help retain its juices, especially towards the end of cooking.

Should you separate point and flat when smoking brisket?

Separating the point and flat can help manage different cooking times and ensure each piece is cooked to perfection. This is useful in competitive barbecue or when precise cooking is desired.

What is the secret to a tender brisket?

The secret lies in cooking it low and slow. Maintaining a low temperature over many hours allows the connective tissues to break down without drying out the meat, resulting in tender, flavorful brisket.

About the Author

Matt Barrell

Hi, Matt Barrell here. A BBQ and Smoked meat enthusiast. I love grilling and smoking meat, it is not just my hobby its my passion. My goal is to share my passion with as many other like-minded people as possible.