Does one half of the brisket cook more quickly than the other? If so, why is that? More importantly, is there anything you can do to ensure that both halves are ready at the same time? Our guide has the answers.
Brisket Flat Cooking Faster Than Point / Brisket Point Cooking Faster Than Flat
If the brisket flat is cooking faster than the point, it’s a good idea to divide them and hold the flat while the point reaches the ideal temperature. When the point cooks faster than the flat—which is the usual course—you can usually just let the smoker do its work, since the point can withstand higher temperatures.
Beef brisket is a primal cut, which means it’s one of the eight pieces that are initially separated from the cow during butchering. As such, the cut is huge—it’s not uncommon for a whole brisket to weigh over 15 pounds.
The brisket is located in the lower pectoral area, beneath the shoulder. The muscles get a great deal of exercise, which has the effect of toughening the meat. The best way to tenderize brisket is to cook it for a long time over low heat, as we’ll discuss later.
Brisket is usually sold in one of three ways. When it’s left whole, it’s often labeled as a whole packer. Since the cut is made up of two subprimals known as the point and the flat, the butcher might also divide it in half, selling each portion separately.
Brisket Flat vs. Point: What’s The Difference?
The flat end takes up the majority of the brisket cut. A typical brisket flat weighs 6 to 10 pounds, but this total depends on how big the whole packer was before being divided in half.
You’ve probably seen a brisket flat for sale in the supermarket before. It’s a long, flat, rectangular cut with a highly visible grain. While it’s considered a lean cut, there should be a layer of fat along one side.
The point end is smaller than the brisket flat—about 5 to 7 pounds. The shape is irregular, and the grain may run in more than one direction. You should also notice many streaks of white fat—or marbling—running throughout the cut.
Thanks to its high fat content, the point is a popular choice for ground beef. When it’s left whole and smoked at the right temperature, though, the meat has excellent flavor and superb juiciness.
Which Is Better?
There’s no clear answer to this question. The flat end is easier to slice, and since the cut is larger, it’s a better choice when you’re cooking for a crowd.
What’s more, butchers don’t always package the point for individual sale. That means you’ll have an easier time finding a brisket flat on short notice.
On the other hand, we love smoking the brisket point because the meat has so much flavor. All that marbling gives it a juicy texture that the flat end can’t match, even when it’s cooked to perfection.
Because it’s so hard to choose between the two, we would suggest buying a whole packer whenever time allows. The meat might take a long time to cook, but the end result is well worth it.
Brisket Flat Cooking Faster Than Point
First of all, be aware that it’s not common for the brisket flat to cook faster than the point. In most cases, it’s the other way around.
The brisket flat is leaner, as we pointed out earlier. That means the connective tissue needs more time to break down. If you remove the brisket from the heat as soon as the point reaches the ideal temperature, the flat might still be chewy and tough.
That said, if you do find that the temperature of your brisket flat is climbing faster than the temp of the point end, it might be a good idea to separate the two. The flat will dry out if it cooks too far past the 210-degree mark.
Some chefs prefer to divide the point from the flat before adding the meat to the smoker. We’ve provided tips on that procedure in separate section below. If you’ve started smoking them together and need to divide them midway through the smoke, here’s how.
Carefully remove the meat from the smoker and set it in an aluminum pan. Transfer the brisket to a clean work surface, making sure you have plenty of space.
Position the brisket so that the fat cap is facing down. The flat should be on top of the point, with a thick layer of fat dividing the two. This layer is called the “nose,” and that’s the spot where you need to make the cut.
Use a sharp boning knife to divide the point from the flat, removing as much of the fat seam as possible. The nose is made of thick fat that won’t render out, no matter how long the meat cooks.
Wrap the brisket flat in foil and a clean towel while you wait for the point to finish cooking. You can keep it warm for up to 4 hours by placing it in a preheated cooler.
Brisket Point Cooking Faster Than Flat
It’s customary for the point to cook faster than the flat end. This is a situation you should plan for whenever you smoke a whole packer brisket.
In addition to being the norm, this phenomenon is nothing to worry about. The high fat content of the point means that it can cook to higher temperatures without drying out.
In fact, many pitmasters use the point to make burnt ends. This staple of Kansas City barbecue is made by waiting until the point meat is cooked, then cutting it into cubes, slathering it in sauce, and returning it to the smoker until the cubes are crispy.
Most of the time, you’ll be fine if you just leave the brisket alone and pull it from the heat when the flat is probe-tender—around the 200-degree mark. However, if you’re worried that the point will overcook, you can always separate them, as described above.
What If I Smoke The Flat and Point Separately?
When you divide the brisket in half beforehand, you make it easier to predict the total cooking time. That’s because these smaller pieces will cook through more quickly, creating a shorter window during which the meat might hit the target temperature.
It’s easy to separate the point from the flat. Start with a clean work surface that’s big enough to hold the entire brisket. Sharpen a long boning knife.
Set the brisket on the work station with the fat cap facing down. The nose, or the fat seam that divides the point and flat, should be clearly visible. Once you’ve found it, use your knife to make a series of small scores along the nose.
Use the scores you’ve made to cut through the nose, following the natural curve of the flat. You may have to lift the flat up slightly to ensure that it comes free.
Once the two halves are separated, trim away any excess pieces of fat that remain behind. This type of fat will only take up room in the smoker, so you’ll want to remove as much of it as possible.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke a Brisket?
The answer to that depends on the size of the cut—and the temperature of the smoker.
We recommend smoking brisket at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, it should cook at a rate of 1.5 to 2 hours per pound—unless you wrap the meat partway through, in which case it will be done sooner.
To put this into perspective, let’s say your whole packer brisket weighs 12 pounds after trimming. That means you can expect it to cook for 18 to 24 hours.
As you can imagine, smoked brisket is a dish that requires a lot of advance planning. Fortunately, a lot of that time will be spent just hanging around waiting for the smoker to do its work.
As a general rule, the brisket point cooks faster than the flat. However, since the fattier point meat can withstand higher temperatures without drying out, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!