Skip to content

    How to Choose a Brisket

    Brisket Basics

    A well-cooked low-and-slow brisket, rich and smoky, is a showstopper at any cookout. But half the battle in cooking a good brisket is knowing how to choose a brisket to buy. Not all briskets are the same, and brisket doesn't give you the wiggle room for error you have with pork butts and ribs.

    Don't make the mistake of buying a small flat like they sell in the supermarket. Those are only good for the crock pot. Instead, go to Sam’s, Costco, or for a really good cut, go to your local butcher. What you want is a whole brisket, also known as a packer’s cut.

    Whole briskets are bigger (10 pounds and up) and come from older cattle with more fat mixed into the muscle than younger, leaner cattle.

    The whole brisket consists of two muscles—the flat (A) and the Point (B).

    How to Choose a Brisket

    A Note About Marbling

    The grading in beef is based on the fat content between the muscle fibers (marbling). Marbling makes the meat more tender and juicy. The higher the grade of beef, the more marbling it will have.

    Marbling in beef

    The grades found in the store are Select (junk), Choice (fine for most of us), and Prime (good for the guy who knows what he’s doing and a bigger budget).

    To choose a quality brisket, follow these guidelines:

    • Buy briskets that weight at least 10 pounds.
    • Buy a grade of choice and above (no select). You must know the grade.
    • Certified Black Angus is a better choice of cut, but Certified Black Angus beef is an industry standard, not a USDA grade.
    • Prime brisket is delicious, but it costs more. Choice is fine for the backyard enthusiast.

    If you want to “blow your guests’ minds,” order a Waygu, the American equivalent to Japanese Kobe beef. We carry these and prime briskets in our barbecue supply store (availability varies).

    What to Look for When Choosing a Brisket

    Do not settle for what is displayed in the counter. If it isn’t right, have the butcher bring out several. If he won’t, leave the store—don’t waste your money. Sometimes we need to look at a handful of briskets before we get the right one.

    • Look for briskets that are the weight you want—bigger is better. Don’t be concerned that you may have too much. After cooking, just slice it into servings that fit your family and vacuum seal and freeze. When you want brisket, start a pot of boiling water and throw the frozen package in the water. Presto, you have BBQ for Tuesday dinner. It keeps well. 
    • When you are evaluating the briskets pick up each brisket by the ends with the fat cap up and bend it. It must be flexible!
    • Find a few that meet the criteria and put them on the side.
    • Now, turn the brisket over (opposite the fat cap) and look at the amount of marbling (fat running through the meat fibers). The more marbling the better, just like picking out a good steak.
    • Take the one with the most flex and most marbling.

    Now you know how to choose a brisket! It's not that hard, and once you've done it a few times, these steps will become second-nature.

    Impress your family and friends with meat that is a cut above the selection often found in grocery stores. Here at Grillbillies BBQ, our freezers are packed with premium selections of popular cuts such as brisket, pork butts, ribeyes, hot dogs, bratwurst, bacon, and so much more.

    Visit our store to purchase carefully-sourced, high-grade meats that you can cook with confidence. Your family and guests will thank you!

    Get Personalized Advice

    Our team of barbecue experts is ready to listen to your needs, answer your questions, and help you create the food of your dreams. Contact us or visit us using the form and map below.

    Visit Us

    136 N Pine St, Wendell, NC 27591

    Store Hours:
    Tuesday–Friday: 10 am – 5 pm
    Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm
    Sunday and Monday: Closed

    Store Number: 919-366-5252

    Contact Us

    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.