Tri Tip Vs Brisket

Tri Tip Vs Brisket: Which Is Better?

There are many comparisons and in-depth reviews about the two most popular barbecue types of meat: tri-tip and brisket. There is no doubt that both of them are delicious when properly prepared; however, each has its own way to be cooked and presents different flavors at the end.

In this article, in order to present the two types of meat, I will start with an introduction explaining briefly what each one is. After that, I will try to highlight some of the differences between them when cooked and served.
Tri Tip Vs Brisket

What is a Tri tip?

A tri-tip is a cut of meat that comes from the bottom sirloin subprimal. It weighs usually between 1 to 2 pounds, with a triangular shape that makes it easy to marinate and cook. Tri-tip has the fat, flavor, and tenderness of top sirloin but can be cooked at higher temperatures due to its thickness.

It was known as “Newport Steak” in California during the ’50s because it became widely popularized by Portuguese immigrants who worked as whalers in Newport’s coastal whaling stations. From there on, many people started calling it simply “tri-tip.”

Nutrition information:

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a 100 gram serving of raw tri-tip contains:

– Calories: 110

– Water: 69.8%

– Protein 19.8 g

– Fat 5.3 g (2.5 g saturated)

– Cholesterol 0 mg 

What are some good cooking methods for tri tip:

There are many ways to cook tri-tip. It is delicious when grilled, roasted, broiled or pan-seared. The most popular way of cooking is over a grill where the fat drips and the meat gets a nice smoky flavor from it.

Grilling – Because tri-tip is a thick-cut, it can be cooked on low heat for an extended time. This allows the meat to get a more smoky flavor and for the inside to cook slower without overcooking the outside. It should be grilled using medium heat at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes on each side.

Roasting – Roasting tri-tip in an oven is another good cooking method because you get great results with very little effort. The high temperatures required are around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. After bringing out the meat from the refrigerator, season it with desired spices. Spray some olive oil on top of each piece of meat so that it doesn’t dry out during cooking. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Broiling/Pan-Searing – Broiling tri-tip in the oven is very easy and it also gives great results. Prepare and bring out the meat from the refrigerator and season it with desired spices. Place a pan filled halfway with hot water under the broiler so that when you cook, there will be steam inside which helps break down connective tissues faster to make the meat more tender while cooking. Cook for 3 minutes per side using high heat.

Things to consider when buying tri tip:

When buying tri-tip for cooking, you should look out for the following things:

Tri-tip can also come from whole sirloin subprimal cut into two triangular-shaped steaks. If the tri-tip steak comes in a short length without any bone, it is more than likely to be fabricated from a bottom round or top round steak which are cheaper cuts of meat. Therefore, when buying tri-tip, avoid this type because it will not give you the desired flavor and quality when cooked.

Marbling is the quality of fat within the meat that enhances texture and flavor. As mentioned above, tri-tip has a higher percentage of marbling than brisket and this contributes to its great taste. Look out for how much marbling there is when buying tri-tip because if there’s too little it may lack juiciness and if there’s too much it can make cooking difficult as the fat gets flaky under heat.

If it’s not pre-packaged, make sure to ask your butcher if it has been previously frozen. It should be red and have a nice color on its exterior after thawing out which tells you that it is fresh.

Preparing tri tip for cooking:

After buying tri-tip, you need to first bring it out from the refrigerator so that it comes down to room temperature. This will not only make cooking easier but also faster. Pat dry using paper towels and season with desired spices on all sides.

The best way to marinate tri-tip is to use a vacuum sealer. It makes sure that the meat absorbs all of its flavors without drying up or soaking into fat which can occur when you use plastic bags for marinating. Alternatively, you may also use resealable plastic bags to create a pocket if cooking indoors in an oven or grill where the meat isn’t exposed directly overheat like with grilling/broiling methods.

A mixture made of oil, salt, pepper, thyme, vinegar, garlic, and soy sauce makes a great marinade for tri-tip. You can use this mixture to season the meat before cooking it with an added tenderizing effect. Prepare the marinated meat at least one hour before cooking so that all of its flavors are absorbed into the meat.

Dry rubs are another way of adding flavor to your tri-tip. After patting the meat dry, rub some olive oil all over it but make sure not to use too much, or else the spices will become wet and won’t stick onto the meat properly. You can also add other seasonings like rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, cumin seed powder, garlic powder, onion powder, etc depending on your taste buds. It is important that you don’t marinate tri-tip with a mixture that has water or else it will get tough when cooked.

How to cook tri tip? a step by step guide

Now that you know what to look out for when buying tri-tip and how to prepare it, here are some of the best ways with step-by-step instructions on how to cook a tri-tip. In this guide, we’ll be focusing on how to grill tri-tip as it gives the best results.

Step 1: One hour before cooking, remove your tri-tip from the fridge and bring it to room temperature. You can also lightly sprinkle the salt and pepper on both sides of the meat so that they stick onto it better when cooking.

Step 2: Season your tri-tip with desired spices. A simple yet delicious mixture would be a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, vinegar, garlic, and soy sauce if you want a wet rub or else just use dry ground seasonings like onion powder/chili powder/cumin seed powder/paprika/sugar/garlic powder etc depending on preference for a dry rub instead.

Step 3: Add some wood chips (prefer hickory) to your grill. The wood chips will impart a rich flavor to your meat by adding a smoky taste when cooked over the grill.

Step 4: Using your hands, lightly coat the grills with oil before placing the tri-tip on it. This ensures that the meat doesn’t stick onto the grill and is easier to separate from it when flipping/moving it around.

Step 5: Cook one side of the tri-tip for 15 minutes at high heat using tongs or a spatula before turning it over to cook the second side for another 10 minutes with medium heat until done. If cooking indoors under an oven broiler, follow all previous steps but reduce heat to low after placing the meat in and give each side 10 minutes of cooking time.

Step 6: Always use a meat thermometer to know when your tri-tip is done. You can also use the thumb test to find out if it’s done, although it may not be as accurate. A rare tri-tip cooked at high heat will have an internal temperature of around 130 degrees F while medium-rare would be 140 degrees F and so on. The “thumbprint” method involves touching the tip of your index finger with your thumb, then pressing on the center of the thickest part of the tri-tip which should give you an idea of whether it’s done or still needs more cooking time depending on how tough/soft it is between touchings.

Rarely cooked tri-tip will feel soft like touching a baby’s bottom, medium-rare tri-tip will feel firm but springy like touching a grapefruit with your thumb and index finger, and well-done tri-tip will feel as hard as touching a clamshell.

Step 7: Transfer cooked tri-tip onto a cutting board, cover with foil and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it to release all its juices. Always cut perpendicular to the grain into thin slices to be able to enjoy the tenderness of the meat. You can also chill cooked tri-tip in an ice bath then transfer it into the fridge if you want to serve it cold after grilling for added convenience

There are many other ways on how to cook tri-tip depending on preference but these are the most common. Just remember to use high heat and cook it for 15 minutes then flip over to cook 10 minutes at medium heat or until done. You can also cut into it using the “thumbprint” method if you want to check for doneness before cooking is complete.

Tri Tip Vs Brisket

What are good side dishes to serve with tri tip?

As mentioned, you can serve tri-tip as a main dish on its own if it’s cooked to perfection. However, for those who prefer having some carbs with their meat, serving tri-tip alongside potatoes or rice will make your meal complete. Some people also like to serve grilled vegetables with this cut of beef especially carrots and broccoli. If you want something healthier, try cooked quinoa in place of the usual white rice accompanied by fresh salad leaves dressed with olive oil and vinegar instead.

What are good sauces that go well with tri tip?

Just like any other kind of meat that goes well with barbecue sauce or ketchup, tri-tip is no exception. For something different but delicious when grilling tri-tip, try making a melted brie and mushroom sauce that not only tastes amazing but is also healthy for you. Just combine sliced button mushrooms, salt, pepper, and garlic powder with 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and 2 tbsp milk until smooth then spread out evenly on one side of the tri-tip steak before grilling it to your liking. Afterward, simply spoon the creamy mushroom mix atop your cooked meat to enjoy an appetizing meal you won’t forget anytime soon!

Tri tip recipes?

While tri-tip is a common cut of beef that can be cooked in many different ways, it is most commonly served grilled or barbecued thanks to its quick cooking time. Some examples include:

Grilled Tri Tip with Mixed Tomato Salsa


– 1 tbsp garlic powder

– 1 tsp onion powder

– Salt and pepper, to taste

– 2 pounds tri-tip beef roast


  1. Mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl then rub all over your beef roast before letting it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile heat up the grill to high then reduce heat after placing meat on the grate. Grill tri-tip for 5 minutes then flip halfway through grilling time until done or internal temperature reaches 130 degrees F. Once done cooking, transfer cooked meat onto cutting board and let it rest under tented foil for 10 minutes before slicing against grain into thin slices. Serve alongside tomato salsa mix made by combining diced tomatoes, diced jalapeno peppers, minced garlic, lime juice, and chopped cilantro.

Tri-Tip Sandwich


– 1/2 cup mayonnaise

– 2 tbsp ketchup

– Pinch of celery salt

– 1 tsp black pepper

– 4 sesame seed buns split in half lengthwise then toasted on the grill until lightly browned and crispy around the edges. This process will make your sandwich taste delicious!

Directions: Mix together mayo, ketchup, celery salt, and a couple of dashes of black pepper in a small bowl. Assemble by layering your sliced tri-tip onto bottom halves of buns then topping with lettuce leaves before spooning on creamy sauce mix generously for added flavor. Add other condiments of your choice then top with bun’s other half to complete this satisfying meal!

What are briskets?

Briskets are cuts of beef that come from the breast or lower chest of a cow. They consist of two parts; the “flat” which is leaner while the “point” (or thick end) has more fat marbling throughout. Briskets can be sold either whole or half though usually, smaller cuts are preferred for smoking purposes because many people prefer having leftovers rather than cooking an entire brisket at once. However, if you’re short on time and simply need to cook your meat right away then go right ahead and buy one in its entirety instead!

Nutrition Information:

A 4 oz serving of lean beef brisket contains roughly:

– Calories: 180

– Total Fat: 8 g (12% recommended daily allowance)

– Cholesterol: 70 mg (23% recommended daily allowance)

– Sodium: 0 g (0% recommended daily allowance)

How to prepare a brisket for cooking?

Remove brisket from packaging then remove any excess fat if desired.

Rinse with cold water then pat dry on all sides with paper towels to prevent steaming while cooking on the grill.

Season as desired whether it is by rubbing with spices, marinating overnight in your favorite sauce, or simply seasoning with salt and pepper before placing meat onto the grate of your already heated grill.

Leave the skin on or take it off – It’s up to you! Those who enjoy crispy skin can either cook their briskets whole for a longer time period until done which will produce easily removable juicy beef once ready or they can cut the brisket down into more manageable pieces instead of one large hunk of meat that takes hours just to cook properly.

Seasoning a brisket:

Beef brisket is an incredibly tasty cut of beef when done right. The only problem with this popular cut of meat is its unfortunate tendency to come out dry and tough unless you know how to properly execute this process! Here are some tips on what spices or marinades work best with beef briskets:

Rubs with a high sugar content such as brown sugar, molasses, honey, etc. are preferred by many people when cooking their briskets over low heat with the smoke from the fire. This includes barbecue sauce too which can make your meat taste scrumptious once finished!

Marinades such as Italian dressing, buffalo wing sauce, teriyaki marinade, garlic-based marinades, etc. are equally tasty for flavoring up your brisket with a little extra flavor while also tenderizing tougher cuts of meat such as beef brisket.

What are some good cooking methods for a brisket?

There are many ways to cook a beef brisket, but the most traditional method is slow cooking or smoking it for several hours at very low heat. Other options include baking, braising, grilling, pressure cooking, and simmering. Whatever you do though, try not to overcook your meat because this can cause all sorts of bad things to happen. For instance, collagen will dissolve into gelatin which could dry out your meat while connective tissues in muscle fibers would melt down into a gooey pulp that’s just plain gross if not eaten with a fork and knife!

Smoking – If you have a smoker, then great! You can smoke your brisket for 8-10 hours at different temperatures of 225 to 275 degrees F until it’s done. This slow cooking process allows the meat to properly tenderize while absorbing much flavor from the wood that it is being cooked next to.

Braising – One way of braising involves browning your beef brisket in hot oil before adding onions and garlic along with tomato sauce, broth, herbs, and spices. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, cover pot then place in oven at 300 degrees F before cooking for 2 1/2 hours or so until fork tender.

Pressure Cooking – If you want to cook your beef brisket faster without sacrificing quality though, try pressure cooking it instead! You can do this by searing your meat in oil over high heat than cooking it under pressure for 45 minutes using either a valve or classic cooker.

Grilling – This method is great when you want to add flavor and char your meat’s exterior while keeping its moisture locked inside the cut itself. Simply follow these instructions: preheat grill to medium-high heat, lightly oil grate, season with pepper and salt on both sides of the brisket before grilling each side for 8-10 minutes until done.

Baking and Simmering – Bake or simmer your beef brisket uncovered at 325 degrees F for 2 hours or until fork-tender before removing from oven and letting rest for 15 minutes before slicing into thin pieces against the grain.

How to cook a brisket? A step by step instruction

Cooking a brisket takes time and patience. This guide will show you how to smoke a beef brisket to produce the best result. We focus on using a Charcoal grill, but this can be done using an offset firebox.

The first step is to select the right meat. Beef brisket comes in many sizes, choose the one that best fits your family’s needs. If you are cooking for multiple families or organizations then it is likely that you will need more than one, so plan accordingly.

The next step is preparing it for the oven/smoker. There are two ways of doing this; with dry rubs and marinades. Marinating takes time, usually at least six hours before cooking begins; whereas dry rubs can be applied immediately before beginning to cook. Once you begin grilling always remember to start your grill with a clean grate unless you like the burnt flavor that comes from fat and meat drippings when they burn on hot metal.

Place your brisket on the grill/smoker and keep adding charcoal every hour or so to maintain the temperature in the 225-275 degree F range (see chart below) and make sure it stays in one piece (it may shrink during cooking). After several hours of smoking, it is time to remove it from the heat source. You can use a digital probe thermometer to check if your brisket has reached an internal temperature of 195 degrees F before removing it from heat. If done properly, this process will have made tasty beef brisket you are sure to enjoy!

Good side dishes to serve with brisket?

Sides are essential to any successful meal, especially when you’re cooking for a large family or organization. Whether it’s corn on the cob, potato salad, baked beans, or rice and vegetables, sides can make or break your beef brisket dinner.

Here are some of the most common side dishes people serve with smoked beef brisket:

Smoked potatoes – you can even put this in aluminum foil if you like it really crispy, just don’t use the same grate you used for your meat or it will burn. Corn on the cob – boil or grill corn and slice off kernels while still hot. Make sure to save the liquid to add later when softening your butter/margarine! 

Potato salad – find a simple recipe online before heading out to buy all of that mayonnaise; then get rid of your potatoes and bring them to the party!  

Baked beans – slow cook these babies in another pan; pair with sliced thick-cut bacon (and maybe some pulled pork?). 

Rice and vegetables – easy to cook, all you have to do is buy frozen veggies and boil them!

What sauces go with beef brisket?

Sauces can enhance the flavors in your dish and add that something extra to complete it. There are many different sauces you may choose from when preparing a meal, but always remember that these should complement your food, not overpower it. Here are some sauces and their uses:

Classic barbecue sauce – this sweet-sour concoction is usually made up mostly of tomato paste or ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar (among other things). Go natural if possible because store-bought versions usually contain high levels of preservatives and/or artificial ingredients; then add spices like hot sauce for heat, garlic powder for the smell, etc. This sauce is great for adding flavor to any grilled meat, such as beef brisket, pork ribs, and chicken.

Horseradish cream – this isn’t just for roast beef anymore! Horseradish is a spicy root that can be used to make your own creamy sauce to top off any dish you want to give an extra kick. Experiment with quantities until you find the perfect balance between sweet and hot. You can also use wasabi powder if you don’t have fresh horseradish on hand. Try pairing it with seafood dishes like crab cakes or shrimp skewers… Tzatziki-style sauce – cucumbers are super healthy for you so consider adding them to your tzatziki sauce along with garlic, lemon juice, yogurt (or sour cream), dill weed, and salt and pepper to taste. It’s a great way to balance out the rich flavors of your beef brisket.

What drinks pair well with beef brisket?

Beer, cider, red wine, and white wine are the most common types of drinks you can serve up alongside beef brisket (just make sure to cook your meat first so it is ready at the time you start drinking). Some people like to go beyond the basic beverages and pair their beef brisket with brown liquor such as bourbon or rum, but be careful not to mix them together!

Brisket recipes:

Oven Roasted Beef Brisket

Ingredients: 1 (5-6 pound) beef brisket, trimmed 1/4 cup beef broth or water, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

Directions: In a small bowl, mix together the broth or water with salt, thyme, and pepper. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Carefully cut slits through the fat on top of brisket and rub in the seasoning mixture. Place in a roasting pan and add about one inch of hot water to the pan (or enough to keep the bottom of the pan moist while cooking). Cover tightly with foil and roast for 3 hours or until meat is fork-tender; drain off any liquid that accumulates in the bottom of the pan. Remove foil and cook an additional 30 minutes for a total cooking time of 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing across the grain to serve. 

Grill-Roasted Beef Brisket 

Ingredients: 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 4-pound beef brisket, well trimmed 

Directions: In a small bowl, mix together the salt with all seasonings. Rub all over the brisket. Let stand for 15 minutes before grilling over a medium-hot fire for about 30 to 40 minutes per side or until the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from grill and let rest 10 minutes, then thinly slice across the grain to serve.

What are the differences between tri-tip and brisket?

Size: The brisket is a significantly larger cut of meat than the tri-tip. Brisket weighs on average 10 to 12 pounds and can be as large as 15 pounds for organic beef. Tri-tip, on the other hand, weighs about 1.5 – 2.5 pounds and comes from the bottom sirloin primal cut of beef; it’s roughly triangular in shape and is relatively small (about the size of your fist).

Preparation: Tri-tip needs to be cooked quickly or it will become tough and dry, so grilling over high heat is best; leaner cuts like tri-tip also do well with quick cooking methods such as stir-frying or broiling because there’s less time for excess moisture to evaporate. The flat cut of the brisket is much leaner but it has significantly more marbling which helps keep it moist during long, slow cooking times at low temperatures – making the oven-roasting technique your best bet for this cut.

Flavor: Tri-tip is often seasoned with just salt and pepper or other simple seasonings before grilling because its flavor tends to be rather mild. Brisket, on the other hand, should have a rub applied before it’s cooked – herbs like cumin, garlic, onion powder, chile powder, and paprika are all good choices for beef brisket.

Price: Both cuts are considered economical cuts of meat so they tend to be fairly inexpensive. But since the brisket is larger it will cost more than tri-tip pound-for-pound.

When should you choose tri-tip and when should you choose brisket?

Depends on what you’re serving it with.

While tri-tip is a rather mild beef cut, it pairs well with bold flavors like barbecue sauce and marinades because its flavor doesn’t compete or overpower other ingredients in the dish. 

Brisket, on the other hand, is a fattier beef cut which makes it ideal for pairing with more robust flavors such as those found in caramelized onions and garlic. It’s often served without any additional flavoring as a means to showcase the taste of smoked meat itself.



What makes tri-tip tough?

The leanness of the tri-tip makes it relatively tough compared to other cuts. It’s important to cut across the grain to thin slices for serving, otherwise, it can be very chewy.

How do you tenderize tri-tip?

There are several ways to tenderize beef tri-tip including marinating, using a meat mallet or wooden spoon, and/or cooking with indirect heat at low temperatures (such as in an oven).

Cooking temperatures for tri-tip?

Because the tri-tip is so lean, you want to cook it at a high temperature or risk ending up with dry meat. It’s best to sear tri-tip until browned on all sides over high heat before transferring the meat to the oven where it should be cooked to an internal temperature of about 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius) for medium-rare.

How long do you cook tri-tip?

The size of your cut will determine how long you need to cook it. On average, though, expect between 15 and 25 minutes per pound at high heat with the grill lid closed or in a preheated cast-iron skillet set over medium heat. Smaller cuts may only require 15 minutes while larger cuts need closer to 25 minutes. 

How often should you flip tri-tip?

If you’re cooking small cuts of tri-tip or larger cuts that are less than 1.5 inches thick, it’s important to flip the cut over every few minutes to achieve even grilling. Larger cuts such as roasts and whole beef tenderloins should be flipped just once, halfway through the grilling process.

Can you freeze the tri-tip?

Yes, you can freeze beef tri-tip. But it’s best to only keep it in the freezer for up to three months at most because the beef will begin to take on a “gamy” flavor that is off-putting. It’s safe to store in the freezer for less time, but if you are considering freezing your tri-tip for longer than that then consider cooking and freezing it instead – this way, there’ll be no need to thaw before using.

How long can tri-tip last in the fridge?

Beef tri-tip can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days before use. Always make sure it’s wrapped tightly like you would any other cut of beef, and try not to leave it out for more than two hours at room temperature.

Does brisket get more tender the longer you cook it?

Brisket does get more tender the longer you cook it but, if overcooked, it can turn out dry and unappetizing. Brisket is best when cooked to an internal temperature of 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius) for about one hour per pound.

What is the difference between brisket flat and point?

The difference comes down to the way that each cut was separated in the animal – whether or not there’s a significant presence of fat in one section or another – which means that sometimes you’ll see butchers selling both cuts under the same name. The flat cut has less marbling than its counterpart, making it leaner with larger muscles running parallel to each other. Its size makes it ideal for slicing thinly across the grain. The pointcut has a much higher concentration of marbling, making it fattier and more tender.

Can you smoke brisket with wood chips?

You’re more likely to get the best flavor out of wood chips when you’re smoking larger cuts, such as whole briskets. If you prefer to use wood chips with smaller cuts like tri-tip, soak it for at least 30 minutes before placing it on your grill or smoker so that it doesn’t burn up too quickly.

How often should I spray my brisket?

Brisket can easily dry out on the smoker if it’s not tended to, so check on your meat often by carefully lifting up the lid of your smoker to peek beneath. If you’re not using a water pan, spray or mop your brisket with apple juice or some other flavorful liquid every 45 minutes.

How do you reheat brisket?

One common way to reheat brisket is in its original packaging – ideally after being marinated overnight if possible – before placing it back in an oven at about 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius). You can also cover it during this time and allow it to steam for about 30 minutes. Large cuts may need more time than that depending on how long they were refrigerated, while smaller cuts may only need 15 minutes.

When should I wrap my brisket?

Try to avoid wrapping your brisket until it reaches about 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius). If you’re using a moist heat like braising, you can wrap your meat when it’s around 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 degrees Celsius) and up.

Do you smoke brisket fat up or down?

The best way to smoke brisket fat up or down is to leave it on top of the flat cut while it’s cooking. This allows the fatty part to melt and baste the meat from above, making for a more flavorful finished product.


Both tri-tip and brisket are very versatile, have a lot of benefits, and have their own unique flavors. While the debate on which one is better will continue to wage on for some time, it’s clear that they’re both great choices for a first-time cook – just be sure to use caution when cooking them. I hope that this article has helped you in your quest for knowledge about beef tri-tip and brisket.

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