How to Cut a Brisket: 4 Methods for Perfect Cuts

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Last updatedLast updated: April 29, 2021
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Figuring out how to cook brisket perfectly takes some practice. But, when you’ve mastered the cooking aspect, the next step is to slice it up. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised to know that there’s a proper way to do it that affects the final taste.

Your next question is probably, how to cut a brisket in a way that doesn’t compromise the taste? Today we’ll be looking at what you’ll need as well as the easiest way to cut or carve a whole brisket. Read on to ensure your next brisket is cut correctly.

Why is it important to slice a brisket properly?

How to Cut a Brisket: 4 Methods for Perfect CutsLooking at a whole brisket, you might be tempted to just reach for the sharpest knife and start cutting. But you’d be doing it wrong. Why is slicing brisket the correct way so important?

A well-cooked brisket has very visible marbling. This marbling is where most of the juices and flavor comes from. Cutting it the wrong way makes the meat chewy and less tender. This is because the grain of the brisket is aligned with the muscle fibers. To get the maximum tender, robust flavored taste, you’ll have to cut AGAINST the grain. Still wondering how to cut a smoked brisket? Read on to find out!

Before you start

Carving or slicing your brisket requires a little preparation. There are a few items you’ll need to get before you start hacking into your freshly prepared brisket.

With the time it takes to prepare a brisket, it would be a waste if you don’t cut it correctly. Let’s have a look at what they are.

A well prepared and rested brisket (obviously):

The most important point to remember here is that you shouldn’t slice into your brisket when it’s fresh out of the smoker.

Whether you use a recipe out of your favorite smoker cookbook, or your grandma’s recipe, the golden rule should always be to let it rest before cutting or carving. Once your brisket has reached its required temperature of 205 F, take it off the smoker and wrap it in tin foil. You could even cover it with a few towels for at least an hour.

Resting stops the robust juices from escaping the meat while the proteins react to the cooking or smoking process.

A brisket slicing knife

“How to slice brisket the correct way?” is the most common question people ask after “how to prepare brisket”. Investing in a quality brisket slicing knife such as the Victorinox Swiss Army carving knife will make cutting your brisket so much easier. Its long, narrow shape and super sharp edge makes slicing through brisket a breeze.

An added feature is the round tip that allows the knife to create air pockets which easily minimizes friction and allows for improved meat separation. This 12” stainless steel knife is popularly hailed as one of the best brisket knives.

Butcher’s block

A butcher’s block is crucial to ensure your meat doesn’t slide around while you’re trying to achieve the perfect cut. A popular choice is the John Boos Maple Classic Reversible Chopping Block.

Made from Northern Hard Rock Maple Wood, this chopping block is regarded as one of the best food chopping boards on the market. Reversible and easy to wash this board is the ideal surface to slice your brisket.

A butcher’s cutting board is thicker than a normal board and makes cutting meat easier and more accurate because you have the right support.

How to cut a whole brisket

How to Cut a Brisket: 4 Methods for Perfect CutsMany people ask whether they should cut brisket with grain or against it. There should never be an option. Brisket must always be cut against the grain to preserve the juicy, tender characteristic of a good brisket.

If you’ve prepared a whole brisket, another tip is to not cut, slice or carve the whole brisket if you’re not going to serve it in one sitting. If you’re planning to serve a chunk of it the next day, rather cut that piece at that time. This way you’ll preserve the moisture and your brisket won’t dry out.

Steps on how to cut a whole brisket include the following:

  • Cut your tasty brisket in half
  • Cutting brisket against the grain is crucial
  • Turn the brisket point about 90 and ensure you’re cutting your brisket across the grain
  • Serve with your favorite main or side dish and enjoy!

How to cut a brisket flat

How to Cut a Brisket: 4 Methods for Perfect CutsSince the brisket is the piece of the carcass of a cow between the fore shank and the plate, it’s commonly removed and trimmed into two very distinctive cuts. The Flat Cut, referred to as the first cut as well as the Point Cut, called the second cut.

A full brisket usually weighs anywhere between 8 and 12lbs and it’s often cut in half while it’s being prepared for sale. You might even cut a brisket flat when you’re preparing it if you aren’t planning to use the whole brisket during one sitting.

When the deckle is removed, the meat lays flat, hence the name. The flat is a much leaner muscle and is primarily less tender and even less moist.

The easiest way for how to cut a brisket flat include the following steps and tips:

  • Ideally, you should leave an average of ¼ inch of fat on the brisket flat to keep the flavor in and avoid being too fatty. It’s also easier to trim while it’s still cold.
  • Using your quality brisket knife, slice your brisket flat against the grain.
  • Always turn the brisket point to 90 and slice as thick or thin as you prefer.
  • Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

How to cut a brisket in half

How to Cut a Brisket: 4 Methods for Perfect CutsOne of the most common questions people ask when preparing brisket is, “should I cut it in half before cooking?”. Generally, a brisket is best prepared when it cooks at a low temperature for several hours.

Cutting your brisket in half will allow you to cut down on the prescribed cooking time as well as monitor the internal temperature a lot easier. Some pieces of brisket can also be too big for your cooker or smoker and forcing it to fit will just result in burnt edges. This is another good reason to cut it in half!

If you’re wondering how to cut a brisket in half, follow the steps below:

  • Split the brisket by using a quality boning knife
  • Cut away from the fat layer between the point and the flat
  • Slice slowly along the fat cap and avoid nicking the flat unnecessarily
  • An option is to save the fat you’re cutting off and add it to the top of the flat throughout the cooking or smoking process
  • Some people rather prefer to smoke the fat on a grate above the flat so that the drippings melt over the flat

How to carve a brisket

How to Cut a Brisket: 4 Methods for Perfect CutsMany people agree that carving meat is important because it preserves the juices in the meat. This allows the brisket to remain tender. Expert brisket makers also agree that brisket slices are better if it’s chilled, even for a short period.

With carving, the rule of thumb is to cut brisket against the grain to avoid dry and chewy meat. You might also want to cut thinner slices as these are also easier to chew.

The quickest steps to follow to teach you how to carve brisket:

  • Allow the meat to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes to ensure the juices don’t dry up
  • Use a serrated knife to ensure a precise, even carving
  • Cut the brisket in half to separate the flat from the point
  • Carve your brisket flat against the grain and try to carve in one single motion to prevent the meat from breaking into pieces
  • Turn your brisket point to 90 and carve slices as thick or thin as you prefer
  • Serve and enjoy!

Final thoughts

From the tips we’ve shared, it’s easy to see that how to cut a beef brisket is actually a lot easier than you might have anticipated. With the right recipe, a sharp, quality brisket cutting knife and a steady chopping block, you and your guests will be enjoying a remarkable brisket in no time.

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