What Is Beef Brisket? How to Prepare & Recipes!

A Tough Cut of Beef Made Tender

Sliced beef brisket
Sliced beef brisket. James Baigrie/The Image Bank/Getty Images

With a little bit of time and the right cooking method, even the toughest piece of meat can be made delicious. Brisket is a great example—it's one of the least tender cuts of beef, but braised or slowly roasted, it's rendered soft and satisfying with incredible flavor.

What Is Brisket?

Brisket is a beef cut taken from the breast section of the cow beneath the first five ribs, behind the foreshank. It comprises the pectoral muscles of the cow, which supports much of animal's weight.

Consequently, a brisket can be a large cut of meat, between 3 and 8 pounds, and is rich in the connective tissue collagen.

Choosing the Right Brisket

Fresh brisket is an inexpensive boneless cut that requires long, slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues to achieve unctuous tenderness. The cut is quite long and usually cut in half. Each half has a different name. The flat cut, also known as the first cut, thin cut, or center cut is a leaner piece of meat. The point cut, or second cut, or deckle, has more flavor due to a bit of extra fat. How to choose? The first cut is more attractive and will slice up neatly. It's a great choice for corned beef. The second cut is a favorite of Jewish grandmothers everywhere, as the fatty cap makes a rich and satisfying stew as the meat braises. Pitmasters also gravitate toward the deckle, as the preponderance of fat makes for a juicy smoked cut that shreds nicely.

Note that a "chuck deckle" is not always the same as a second cut brisket, as butchers have found that other tough meats well-endowed with fat make for cuts as successful as deckle when braised.

Brisket Methods

Whether braised, brined, or smoked, brisket needs plenty of time to cook. A smoked brisket, Texas style, is rendered soft and delicious after 8-12 hours at 225 degrees.

A braised brisket, Jewish style, also cooks at a low temperature for at least three hours, as it absorbs the liquid from vegetables and the collagen fibers break down.

Brisket Around the World

As mentioned above, brisket is the primary cut for barbecue, corned beef, and Jewish pot roast. But it's also the main ingredient in a number of other classic dishes, for example Romanian pastrami. In Italy, bollito misto is made with this cut; in England it's a classic cut for a braised beef or pot roast. The classic Vietnamese noodle soup pho is made with brisket, and it's popular curried with noodles in Hong Kong.

More about Brisket

What is brisket?
What is corned beef brisket?
Beef Brisket Storage
Corned Beef Storage
Brisket Cooking Tips
Brisket Recipes

Beef Brisket Recipes

•  BBQ Bacon Brisket in the Oven
•  Beef Brisket with 40 Cloves of Garlic
•  Beef Brisket with Onion-Lemon Marmalade & Sweet Potatoes
•  Beer Braised Brisket
•  Brisket with Burgundy Orange Sauce
•  Brisket Chuck Wagon Stew
•  Brisket in Sweet and Sour Sauce
•  Brisket in White Wine
•  Brisket with Sunchokes
•  Coke Brisket
•  Corned Beef Recipes
•  Cowboy Brisket
•  Easy Beef Brisket with Vegetables
•  Easy Wine-Marinated Brisket
•  Favorite Brisket
•  Homemade Corned Beef 
•  Irish Boiled Dinner
•  Italian Jewish Style Brisket
•  Simple Baked Brisket
•  Southern-Style Brisket Dinner
•  Stringed Beef Brisket
•  Super Bowl Beef and Cheese Stuffed Bread
•  Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage Soup
•  Texas Barbecue Beef Brisket
•  Traditional Yiddish Brisket
•  Wine-Marinated Brisket
•  Yankee Brisket Pulled Barbecue