Brisket Fat Side Up Or Down?

Brisket Fat Side Up Or Down

When it comes to cooking brisket, there are a few debated topics. One of them is whether to cook the fat side up or down. Some people believe that cooking the fat side down will render more fat and make the meat juicier. Others believe that cooking the meat with the fat side up will keep the meat from becoming dry. So, which is the right way to do it? In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of each method and help you decide which is best for you. Read on to find out!

Brisket Fat Side Up Or Down

What Is The Brisket Fat? 

The brisket fat is the layer of fat that sits on top of the brisket. This layer of fat is what helps to keep the meat moist and tender while it cooks. It also adds a lot of flavor to the meat.

Many people choose to remove this layer of fat before cooking their brisket, but doing so can actually result in a dry and tough brisket. If you do choose to remove the fat, be sure to leave at least 1/4 inch of fat on the meat. This will help keep it moist and juicy.

If you are cooking your brisket in the oven, you can leave the fat on or remove it, depending on your preferences. If you are grilling your brisket, it is best to leave the fat on, as it will help to keep the meat from drying out.

Separate Myth From Fact About The Brisket Fat

Many people think that the brisket fat is bad and should be removed before cooking. This is a myth that needs to be busted! If you remove the fat, your brisket will dry out, and there will be no juice left in your meat.

There also seems to be some confusion about whether or not it is okay to trim the fat from a brisket after it has been cooked. The good news here is that leaner briskets boil down to personal preference. Some of us like moist, tender meats, so we choose not to trim them. Others prefer their meat with less moisture so they do trim it after it is finished cooking. It really is just a matter of taste and preference which way you decide on this one.

The final myth about the brisket has to do with whether or not it is okay to remove the fat cap during cooking. The answer here is also no. We want that fat cap to melt and slowly bast your brisket, so you want to keep this layer of fat on while cooking.

Brisket Fat Side Up Or Down

What about the fat side of the brisket? Is it better to have it up or down?

This is a question that doesn’t have a definitive answer, as there are pros and cons to both ways. 

If you have the fat side up, the fat will melt and baste the meat as it cooks. This will help keep the meat moist and juicy. However, if your brisket has too much fat on it, it can lead to flare-ups on the grill.

If you have the fat side down, the fat will not melt and baste the meat as it cooks. However, this can help keep your meat from drying out. So, it really just comes down to personal preference and what you think will work best for your particular situation.

Cook Brisket Fat Side Up

Yes, you want to cook your brisket with the fat side up.

Many people will say that it doesn’t matter if you cook your brisket with the fat side up or down, but the truth is that there are some benefits to cooking it with the fat side up.

Some of these benefits include:

1) Keeping Moist – This is probably the biggest benefit when choosing to have your meat sit in a pool of melted fat while it cooks. When you take off the layer of fat after cooking, be sure to leave at least 1/4 inch left on top so that  moisture can still escape from the inside while being basted from the outside.

2) Reduced Chance Of Burning – The fat will help insulate your meat while it cooks, protecting it from burning or getting too hot. This can make a huge difference when cooking on a grill.

3) Even Cooking – The melted fat will coat the brisket and keep everything in an even cooking environment, so that  all parts of the meat cook evenly, resulting in better flavor and texture throughout.

4) Flavorful Brisket – Fat does add taste to your meat, but you cannot argue with science. Because of this fact, much of what is lost during cooking by removing the layer of fat naturally falls back down onto the brisket as it cooks, resulting in flavorful meat! So, even though it may not taste better, it does end up being more flavorful in the end.

5) More Golden Brown Color – If giving your meat a golden brown color is something you are looking for, then this would be one case where cooking fat-side down could help give you what you are looking for. For added flair and visual appeal, this can work well if you are cooking in an oven or charcoal grill. 

Besides, it includes some drawbacks: 

1) More Fat – The more fat you have on your meat, the more it will drip down and burn on the grill. 

2) Flare-ups – This can be dangerous for many reasons. First off, flare ups burn a lot hotter than a small coal fire does, which would lead to burnt bark faster. Second, they can cause flames to rise up and char your meat, leaving it with an undesired taste that is bitter rather than sweet.

Cook Brisket Fat Side Down

The answer to this question is no, you should not cook your brisket with the fat side down. While there are some benefits to cooking it this way, the majority of them are outweighed by the drawbacks.

Why Is Fat Side Down Better? (Pros)

The Fat-Side Down Keeps Seasoning On The Brisket Where It Belongs

First and foremost, it helps to keep the seasoning on top of the meat where it belongs instead of allowing it to mix in with the rub. This can help to prevent the brisket from drying out, as well as reduce the chances of a flare-up.

The Fat Side Down Prevents Flare-ups:

When grilling, one of the biggest dangers is flare-ups. These can cause your meat to burn and leave it with an undesired taste. Cooking your brisket fat side down can help prevent theis from happening by limiting the amount of dripping fat.

The Fat Side Down Looks Better

When your brisket is done, it will have a nice, even layer of fat on top. This will give it a more appealing appearance and make it look like you know what you are doing.

The Fat Side Down Helps To Keep The Meat Moist:

If you are looking for juicy, moist meat, then cooking it fat side down is the way to go. This is because the melted fat will coat the meat and help keep it moist as it cooks.

Some of these drawbacks include:

1) Dry Meat – If the fat cap is removed, your meat has a higher chance of drying out. This is because there is no longer a layer of protection between the meat and the heat.

2) Less Flavorful Meat – Fat does add flavor to your meat, so if you remove it, you are removing one of the main sources of flavor in your brisket.

3) Less Moisture – Without the melted fat basting your meat as it cooks, it will have a harder time staying moist and juicy.

4) More Likely To Burn – When grilling, the fat will drip down and cause your meat to flame up. This can lead to an overcooked and burnt brisket.

Starting One Way, Then Turning Over 

Another option that some people consider is starting the brisket fat side up, then flipping it over halfway through the cook. This has a few benefits of its own, such as:

1) Prevents The Brisket From Drying Out – When cooking with the fat cap still attached, the fat will slowly drip down over time and create a protective barrier between the heat and the meat. By flipping it over halfway through the cooking, you are essentially replacing this layer of fat.

2) Helps The Brisket Cook More Evenly 

However, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. First, flipping the brisket over can lead to it drying out. This is because when the fat cap is facing up, it acts as a shield and helps to keep the meat moist. Secondly, flipping it over can cause the flames to erupt from the fat drippings, leading to an overcooked and burnt brisket. Finally, cooking with the fat side up can often lead to an uneven cook, as the thinner end of the brisket will not receive as much heat as the thicker end. 

3) Produces A Crisper “bark” — the charred, chewy exterior of the brisket.

Besides, this method includes some downsides:

1) Prevents Seasoning From Being Absorbed Into The Meat:

If you are cooking a rub, sauce or marinade on top of the brisket, you will want it to be absorbed by the meat. This means that fat side up is definitely not your best option.

2) Prevents A Good Bark:

When cooking with the fat cap down, it rests directly on top of the meat and prevents it from burning. This allows for a good bark to form around the exterior which adds flavor and texture. When cooking with the fat side up, however, this effect will be lost as you get an even layer of heat surrounding the brisket instead of just along the bottom edge. 

3) Causes Fat To Burn:

As we know, grease fires can quickly escalate out of control; thus, cooking fat side up is more likely to cause a dangerous flare-up.

4) Leads To An Uneven Cook:

As mentioned earlier, cooking with the fat side up can often lead to an uneven cook, as the thinner end of the brisket will not receive as much heat as the thicker end.

A Word About Heat Sources

When deciding which side of the brisket to cook, you also need to consider your heat source. If you are using a charcoal grill, for example, then cooking with the fat side down is definitely the way to go. This is because the heat will be coming from below, and the fat will help to protect the meat from getting too dry or burnt. 

If you are cooking with a gas grill, however, then cooking with the fat side up may be a better option. This is because the heat will be coming from both above and below, leading to a more even cook. 

In general, though, it is best to avoid flipping your brisket over halfway through the cook process unless you are very familiar with the quirks of your grill and know that it can handle it.

What Is The Source Of Your Heat?

When deciding which side of the brisket to cook, you also need to consider where your heat sources come from.

A charcoal grill will heat from below, and that is how you want the heat source when cooking a brisket with the fat side down. 

A gas grill will heat from above, and that is not good because it cooks too evenly. 

The only upside to gas grills is that if you are cooking on a smoker box for more smoke flavor, then go ahead and flip it over halfway through. One way or another, always keep your eye on it so you don’t burn anything up.

The Opinions Of Professional Pitmasters On The Fat Up Or Down Debate

This question, of course, is a little harder to answer because there are so many different barbecue restaurants and pitmasters out there. This being said, a good follow-up question to ask would be:

When considering the opinions of professional pitmasters on this debate, it is important to first see whether or not they even mention cooking brisket with the fat side up or down. If that specific point isn’t mentioned, then it could be possible that all their cooks are done with the flat side down. 

If they do speak about the fat cap being up vs the bottom, however, then it will often come down to personal preference. Some say that by cooking with the fat side down in order to get a good bark and prevent flare-ups, while others find that the fat cap up leads to a more evenly cooked brisket.

As with most things in the barbecue world, there is no one right answer – it all comes down to what works best for you and your grill.

Here are a few opinions from professional pitmasters on the fat side up or down debate:

“Cooking with the fat side up gives you a better chance of an even cook because the heat is coming from above as well as below. It also prevents the grease from running off and causing flare-ups.” –  Chris Lilly – Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q

“It is a personal choice. Some people will say you should put the fat side down because it prevents flare-ups, and others will say you should have the fat side up to protect your meat. I’ve been cooking this way for years, but now I flip it over halfway through.” – Mike Mills & Amy Mills Tunnicliffe – 17th Street Barbecue and A Tin Roof Cooked Me This Way 

As with most things in life, there truly is no right reply as to whether or not you ought to cook brisket with the fat cap confronting up or down – it all comes down to what works best for your flame broil and yours. Attempt out both strategies yourself and see what leads to the most delicious last item.

And remember, when in doubt always cook with the fat cap down! 

Two Important Advice Takeaways

1) Cook with the fat cap facing  the source of heat:

Whether you are using a gas grill, an electric grill, or a charcoal grill – and regardless of whether your heat source is below or above the meat – lean toward cooking with the fat cap pointing to the heat.

2)Keeping the fat cap on keeps the brisket tender: 

A common pitfall for home cooks is thinking that allowing rendered fat to drip down across the surface of the brisket as it cooks will keep it moist throughout. This isn’t true! Instead, cook with the fat side UP so it melts slowly over your sliced smoked beef brisket, basting every bite as you serve. You will find those slices stay much moister than those cooked with their caps facing down.

Is It Better To Be Fat Up Or Fat Down? Examine Your Smoker’s Heat Source

When cooking on a gas, electric, or pellet grill, it is best to cook with the fat side up. This ensures that the brisket stays juicier throughout the cooking process by letting melted fat drip down onto the surface of the meat as it cooks.

On a charcoal or wood smoker, however, you can choose whether you want to cook with the fat side up or down. If you are grilling over direct heat, then it is best to cook your brisket with the fat cap facing downward so that it doesn’t drip directly over flames and cause flare-ups. 

If you are using indirect heat, however (which is typical when smokers are used), simply leave your brisket fat side up so that juices have an opportunity to penetrate the entire thickness of the meat.

In the end, it is up to you which side of the brisket fat cap you cook with – just be sure to experiment a bit and find what leads to the best results for your palate.

 

FAQs

What About Braising?

If you are looking for a way to cook your brisket that doesn’t involve smoking it, braising is a great option. Braising is a moist-heat cooking method that uses either water or stock to surround the meat as it cooks. This gentle heat breaks down the connective tissues in the meat, resulting in a fork-tender final product.

To braise brisket, start by searing it over high heat until it is nice and browned all over. Then, place it in a large pot or Dutch oven along with some aromatics (garlic, onion, carrots, celery) and liquid. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the brisket is thoroughly cooked; this should take about 3 hours. 

When it is done, remove the brisket from the pot and shred it using two forks. Then, return it to the pot and stir to combine. Serve with some of the cooking liquid spooned over top for extra flavor.

As you can see, there are many different ways to cook a delicious brisket – it all comes down to finding what works best for you and your smoker or grill. Experiment a little, and before you know it, you’ll be serving tender, juicy slices that will have everyone asking for seconds.

Does Your Type Of Smoker Matter? (Radiant & Convection Heat)

When it comes to cooking a brisket, the type of smoker you use can make a big difference in the end result.

Smokers that use radiant heat (like a charcoal or wood smoker) are best suited for cooking with the fat side down. This is because the radiant heat will cook the meat slowly and evenly, preventing it from drying out.

Convection smokers, on the other hand, cook using hot air that circulates around the meat. This leads to more even cooking and prevents the formation of dry spots. For this reason, it is best to cook your brisket with the fat side up in a convection smoker. This will allow melted fat to drip over the surface of the meat and keep it moist.

Should You Remove The Brisket Fat Cap?

When it comes to cooking a good brisket, one of the most common questions is whether or not you should leave the thick “fat cap” on or remove it.

The short answer? It is up to you! Leaving the fat cap in place will help keep the meat moist through the cooking process. However, if your brisket has an excessive amount of fat then trimming it down can be helpful because excess fat has a tendency to melt and drip into the fire below. This results in thick black smoke that can negatively affect both flavor and appearance.

By removing excess fat from your brisket, you will have fewer flare-ups throughout the cooking process – plus you will have less excess grease dripping onto your coals below. But if you plan to use the grease to make pan gravy at some point, you can leave it on.

Does Fat Braised Brisket?

The short answer? It depends.

On one hand, excess fat does have a tendency to melt and drip into the fire below – this can cause significant flare-ups that will char your brisket.

However, if you are using indirect heat, braising is actually a great way to cook your brisket! When it comes to smoker recipes for brisket, some pitmasters recommend simply placing the meat over direct heat until it has an internal temperature of 160 °F or higher. Then, they will remove it from the heat and cover it with foil. Finally, they will add some sort of moistener (like beef broth) along with some aromatics (like garlic and onion) and cook the meat in the oven until tender.

By doing this, you will actually be “fat braising” your brisket – and it will turn out moist and delicious.

In conclusion, there are many different ways to cook a delicious brisket – it all comes down to finding what works best for you and your smoker or grill. 

How Do You Smoke A Brisket?

The basics of smoking a brisket start with the preparation, which consists of trimming and seasoning. Once this is done, it is time to choose your fuel – you will need both wood and coals for a traditional barbecue. Then, light your fire and get to cooking!

Step 1: Trimming The Brisket

Start by removing the fat from the entire length of the brisket – exposing as much surface area as possible. This will help ensure that your brisket reaches its optimal internal temperature.

Next, remove any additional chunks of fat until you have removed the cap (a layer of fat covering approximately ¼” thick). Finally, trim away any excess silver skin or connective tissue with a sharp knife just below the surface of the meat.

Step 2: Seasoning The Brisket

Once your brisket has been trimmed and cleaned, apply a generous amount of dry rub to both sides until you have a uniform layer covering the entire surface area. You can also add aromatics such as garlic or onion powder to help create a richer flavor profile.

Note: If you are cooking in Texas, it is standard practise to use only salt and pepper when doing your dry rub – but feel free to experiment!

Step 3: Choosing Your Fuel & Firestarter

Now that your brisket is prepped and ready to cook, it is time to choose your fuel source. Traditionally, smoked briskets are cooked over indirect heat using a combination of charcoal and wood.

If you are using a charcoal grill, start by lighting your coals and waiting until they are covered in white ash before adding them to the grill. Then, place your brisket over the indirect heat area and cover it with the lid.

If you are using a smoker, start by filling the smoker box with charcoal and lighting it. Once it is burning evenly, add your wood chunks (hickory or mesquite are both great choices). Then, place your brisket over the indirect heat area and close the lid.

Step 4: Cooking The Brisket

Now that your fire is established, it is time to cook that brisket! For a traditional Texas-style barbecue, aim for an internal temperature of 160 °F. If you are cooking in the oven, simply follow the temperature guidelines for your specific model.

When cooking on a charcoal grill, keep your brisket over indirect heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 °F – about two hours per pound at 250 – 350°F. Once it reaches this range, remove it from the grill and wrap it tightly with aluminum foil to help trap steam and facilitate tenderization. Let it rest for 1-2 hours before slicing across the grain into ¼” slices.

When cooking on a smoker or pellet grill, aim for an internal temperature of 170°F (about 20 minutes per pound). The meat is ready once it reaches this point inside; if you prefer, you can skip the internal temperature inspection and go straight to pulling it off of the grill.

Step 5: Allow The Brisket To Resting & Serving The Brisket

Once your brisket has reached its optimal finished internal temperature, remove it from your cooking device and place it in a foil pan or oven-safe casserole dish with 2 tablespoons of butter (optional). Next, cover tightly with aluminum foil and let rest for at least 1 hour – this allows for carryover cooking that will help ensure the meat is as tender as possible. After resting, cut the slices across the grain to serve alongside your favorite sides!

Note: If you are shooting for a traditional smoky flavor, don’t forget to serve up some “burnt ends” – crunchy nuggets of smoked meat that are typically cut straight from the brisket is the brisket point.

When To Wrap The Brisket?

Traditionally, Texans don’t use any form of wrapping or foil during the smoking process – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. If you are looking to speed up the cooking process and reduce smoke exposure (especially if using a pellet grill), consider wrapping your brisket in aluminum foil after an hour and a half or so on the grill.

Complete this step by removing your brisket from the smoker and tightly wrapping it in two sheets of aluminum foil, followed by another sheet directly on top. Return to your smoker (or oven) and let cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 200°F – about 2 hours per pound at 225 – 250°F. Finally, remove from and let the brisket to rest and serve.

How To Wrap Brisket?

Instructions for how to wrap the brisket are very simple. 

  1. Prepare the aluminum foil by cutting two sheets of about 18 inches long, and one sheet of about 6 inches.
  2. Remove the brisket from your smoker or oven at an internal temperature of 165-170°F. Double check with a digital thermometer.
  3. Place the 6 inch sheet on the counter top, place the brisket in the middle of it, then fold up all four sides to seal tightly around it while leaving some breathing room for steam to escape on top.
  4. Carefully move your wrapped brisket into your smoker or oven at 225-250°F until an internal temperature of 200°F is reached (about 2 hours per pound).
  5. Remove the brisket, open up the foil and cut against the grain into slices. Enjoy your meal!

How To Slice Brisket?

  1. Place the brisket on a cutting board and cut against the grain into ¼ inch slices, making sure to remove any excess fat as well.
  2. Serve it with your favorite sides!

The goal is simply to cook it until it is tender enough to cut a slice of brisket with a butter knife, without much resistance from the meat itself. The final internal temperature you want will be an individual preference – but 160°F is a good target for those new to backyard barbecue cooking. If you are not looking for a smoky flavor, you can stop cooking once it reaches 200 °F as long as you remember that “resting” time is very important or else all that juiciness evaporates and gets absorbed by your foil wrapping.

When you are ready to serve, just cut the foil away and slice it away. You can also make burnt ends from the pointed end of the brisket – they are a popular treat!

The Texas Crutch:

What is the Texas crutch? The Texas crutch is an optional technique for wrapping your brisket in foil to speed up the cooking process. Wrapping your brisket in foil will help it cook faster and reduce smoke exposure, but it is not necessary if you are looking for a traditional smoky flavor.

If you are using a pellet grill, wrapping your brisket in foil after an hour and a half or so on the grill will help speed up the cooking process.

Recipes for Smoked Brisket

Smoked Midnight Brisket

Midnight brisket is a traditional Texas barbecue made by covering your beef brisket in coffee, chili powder and other spices and letting it cook overnight.

Cooking time: 8+ hours

Preparation time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup coffee grounds, boiled.

– 1/4 cup chili powder.

– 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper (add less if you don’t want it too spicy).

– 2 teaspoons ground black pepper. 

– 5 pounds beef brisket, first cut or flat cut is preferable.

– Salt for taste as desired. 

Directions: 

Mix all the spices together to make the dry rub.

Place your brisket on the smoker with no smoke for one hour at 225 degrees F.

Remove your brisket from the grill and place it back into an aluminum pan. 

Rub all sides of your meat down with the dry rub.

Cover tight with heavy duty foil (wrap twice). 

Put back in smoker or oven at 225 degrees F with no smoke for the remainder of the time. 

Set your alarm to go off every hour or so so you can monitor your cooking progress. 

Remove from the oven/smoker when the internal temperature reaches 160–170°F and set aside for 1-2 hours, covered in foil.

Unwrap the meat and slice against the grain. Enjoy!

Texas-Style Smoked Beef Brisket

What Is Texas-Style Smoked Beef Brisket? Texas-style smoked beef brisket is a traditional method of cooking the meat slowly over an open flame. Cooking your brisket this way takes hours, but it is worth it!

Cooking time: 10+ hours

Preparation time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

– 5 pounds first cut or flat cut beef brisket (you may also substitute other cuts if you prefer)

– 2 tablespoons salt

– 1 tablespoon black pepper, coarsely ground

– 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

– 1 teaspoon garlic powder

– About 3 cups beef broth (enough to keep from burning).

Directions: Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Mix together salt, black pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. Cut slits into the fat side of your brisket to create a deep pattern. Rub 1/4 of the seasoning blend into your brisket. Place your brisket, fat side up, on a flat rack in an aluminum pan. Add enough beef broth so that it goes about halfway up the meat. Cover the pan tightly with heavy duty foil. Put the pan on the middle rack of your oven. Cook for 8 – 10 hours, checking every hour or two to make sure there is still liquid. You want there to be just enough moisture so that it doesn’t burn off, but not too much that you are left with lots of excessive sauce. Once finished cooking, remove from oven and let rest until easy enough to slice against the grain. Slice as needed. Serve with your meal. 

Smoked Brisket With Traeger Coffee Rub

Traeger coffee rub is a unique way to season your beef brisket for smoking. The coffee flavor gives it a deep, rich taste that is perfect for barbecue lovers!

Cooking time: 10+ hours

Preparation time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup Traeger pellet grill blackwood sawdust or other wood of choice (or use 1/2 cup of your favorite wood chips)

– 1/4 cup chili powder

– 2 tablespoons smoked paprika

– 1 tablespoon cumin

– 1 tablespoon brown sugar

– 1 tablespoon coffee grounds, fresh or dry 

– 2 teaspoons salt 

– 2 teaspoons black pepper, ground 

Directions: Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the seasoning all over your beef brisket, making sure to get into all the crevices. Place your brisket in a smoker set at 225 degrees F. Smoke for 8-10 hours, checking every hour or so to make sure there is still liquid and that the meat is not burning. When done, remove from the smoker and let rest until easy to slice against the grain. Slice as needed, and enjoy!

Rules For A Moist Brisket?

There are a few things to remember when smoking a brisket in order to ensure that it turns out moist and delicious. 

First, you will want to make sure that you use a good cut of meat – preferably a first cut or flat cut. You will also need to season it well with salt, pepper, and other spices, and make sure that there is always liquid in the pan so that it doesn’t burn. Finally, be patient and let the meat cook slowly over low heat for 8 – 10 hours. If you follow these simple rules, your smoked brisket will be tender and juicy!

 

Conclusion

The brisket fat side is often debated, and it can go either way. Some people believe that the fat should be facing up to keep the meat moist, while others say that this traps in moisture, so they put their briskets on with the fat side down. Ultimately, you will have to experiment a bit before finding what works best for your cooking style! You may also want to consider how much time you are willing to spend prepping food as well as other factors like seasoning preferences when determining which direction your brisket should face. We hope this discussion helped clear things up about one of the most common questions surrounding barbecuing recipes! Also, if you still have questions about which way to cook your brisket, don’t hesitate to ask! We are always happy to answer any customer’s is questions.

Read more:

[TOP 15] Best Offset Smokers Reviews In 2022

Tomahawk Steak

Raw Steak

When To Wrap Brisket?

Brisket Fat Side Up Or Down?

Brisket Injection

Blue Steak

Hamburger Temperature

Leave a Reply