What Does Brisket Taste Like?


There’s nothing better than a tender, juicy brisket cooked low ’n slow in a smoker. This large cut of beef is a delicacy and is central on the barbecue plate in the southern states such as Texas. So why do people come from all around the world, then line up for hours at Franklin’s—just to taste the brisket? What’s so special about this cut of beef? For the backyard cook, brisket takes many years to master on the smoker, which is why it’s known as the ‘king of the smoking meats’. So what does brisket taste like?

Brisket is a cut of beef that contains a lot of connective tissue, which gives it a different flavor and texture when compared to leaner, more tender prime cuts of beef. Since brisket is a tough cut, it needs to be slow cooked—otherwise it will be tough and chewy. When cooked slow, the fat and connective tissue melts and transforms into a gelatin-like texture with unbelievable flavor. Another feature of the smoked brisket is the bark-the crispy outer layer of the meat. The taste of brisket largely depends on how it was prepared and cooked. There are several ways to cook brisket such as smoking, roasting or slow cooked brisket.

Have you tried smoking a Wagyu brisket yet? You can get one delivered to your door from Snake River Farms.

The Low n Slow Brisket

The perfect brisket is slow smoked over many hours. A good pitmaster will build layers of flavor onto a brisket through smoke, seasoning, wrapping, spritzing, and injecting. A standard brisket roast cooked in the oven or slow cooker won’t deliver the same level of flavor as a slow smoked brisket cooked in a smoker over several hours.

What Is Brisket?

Brisket is a large cut of beef from the pectoral muscle (the chest) of the animal. This is a hardworking muscle, which is why brisket is a tough cut of meat. Brisket contains a lot of connective tissue, which will give the meat a unique flavor if cooked slow. Brisket works best as a roasting meat and should never be grilled or fried at high temps.

What’s So Special About Brisket?

If cooked correctly, the smoked brisket has many qualities that make it so delicious. First, there’s the smoke flavor from the wood and charcoal. Then there’s the bark—the crispy outer later, which is a combination of dehydrated meat, fat, rub and smoke. Then, if you’ve done everything else right, there’s the tender, juicy meat. The texture and flavor from the melted connective tissue makes brisket meat unbelievably tasty.

Fat Equals Flavor

As you would probably know—fat equals flavor. Brisket contains a lot of fat and connective tissue, which is why it tastes so amazing! Leaner cuts may be more tender than brisket, but unless it’s well marbled, it has less flavor and will dry out. Since brisket is a fatty cut of meat and contains a lot of connective tissue, therefore there’s an enormous amount of flavor in this part of the meat.

Marbling Equals Flavor

Marbling is the fatty striations between the muscle fibers on the meat. The more marbling, the more tasty and juicy the brisket. The extra fat in the muscle fibers will help keep the brisket moist, plus enhance the flavor enormously. A well-marbled brisket will taste much better than a USDA Select brisket with no marbling. wagyu brisket is famous for its marbling, which is why it’s so delicious and expensive.

Different Brisket Beef Grades

The taste of the brisket or also depends on the quality of the meat. The most flavorful brisket is a wagyu brisket, or an Angus. In America, there’s USDA Prime and USDA Choice. These beef grades of briskets contain a decent amount of marbling. However, USDA Select and lesser grades contain little to no marbling, so are therefore have less flavor. These briskets may be cheap, but they won’t have much flavor, and they are difficult to cook because lean meat dries out easier.

Different Techniques Give Different Flavors

The flavor of the brisket also depends on how it was prepared. A slow smoked brisket is going to have way more flavor than a brisket cooked in an oven or a slow cooker. There are so many types of smokers, and smoking techniques -and all will change the flavor and texture of the meat.

Slow Cooker and Oven Brisket – How Do They Taste?

You can slow cook a brisket in the oven, however it won’t have the same flavor as a smoked brisket. A slow cooked brisket will be nice and tender, but it won’t have that nice crispy crust. An oven brisket will have a nice crust, and it can be tender and juicy if you cook it slow. However, a slow cooked brisket in the oven won’t have smoked flavor.

The Wrapped Brisket – Does It Change The Taste?

Wrapping is a common technique pitmasters use when smoking brisket. By wrapping the brisket in foil or paper, it will create steam and cook the brisket faster. Foil or butcher paper will make the brisket taste different. Brisket master Aaron Franklin describes a foil-wrapped brisket as very ‘pot roasty’, whereas a paper wrapped brisket will have a crunchy bark and more of a beefy flavor. An unwrapped brisket will be smokier with a crispier bark. However, it will dry out unless you know what you’re doing.

What Should The Brisket Bark Taste Like?

The crispy outer layer of the brisket (the bark) is one of the best features of the smoked brisket. The brisket crust is a combination of smoke, dehydrated meat and the rub. This is where the brisket gets a lot of its flavor. A pitmaster will spend hours nurturing and developing the flavor on the bark, building layers upon layers of flavor. If you’ve labored over a brisket for many hours, you want the payoff to be worth it.

The Rub Adds Enormous Flavor

The type of dry rub or seasoning used on the brisket has a tremendous impact on the overall taste. The crispy outer layer will have a variety of flavors, depending on the rub used by the pitmaster. There are dozens of rub recipes and even more pre-made rubs sold in stores or online.

Aaron Franklin uses a simple Texas style salt and pepper rub of salt and pepper while other pitmasters use more complex rubs containing several ingredients. Many barbecue rubs contain a lot of chili, cayenne pepper, and paprika, which will give the crust a little kick.

World Brisket Champion Harry Soo is now sharing his secrets with his Competition Meat Rubs.

Tender Juicy Meat

If you cook the brisket low and slow, then you increase the chances of having tender, juicy meat. A dry brisket is not very appealing. Not only do you want a crispy external bark, you want tender, juicy meat. Obviously, this would depend on the quality of the brisket, and the way it’s good. If the brisket is cooked too fast, then the meat will not be tender and juicy, will be dry.

The Smoke Ring – Can You Taste It?

Another thing you’ll notice on the smoked brisket is what we know as the smoke ring. If you look at a slice of brisket and see a pink ring around the outer layer of the meat, then that’s a sign that it was smoked low and slow. The smoke ring will give the brisket no flavor cover All it is a chemical reaction that takes place on the surface of the meat. Smoke reacts with the fat and the meat, causing chemical reactions that preserve the pink pigment within the meat. When you first encounter the smoke ring, you might think the meat is raw—but this isn’t the case.

Cook It Low and Slow for Optimal Flavor

Brisket needs to be cooked low and slow, otherwise it will be inedible. It isn’t like a lean steak that can be grilled or fried. Brisket is large roasting meat that needs to be cooked low and slow. When cooked slow, the meat can absorb smoke flavor over several hours.

Why Does Brisket Take So Long To Cook?

Brisket needs a long time to cook, because of the connective tissue needs time at low temperatures to break down. The USDA recommends that beef be served at an internal temperature of 145° F. However, if you were to serve brisket at this temperature, it will be safe to eat but it will be chewy and tough. The ideal internal temperature to cook brisket is 203° F. Once you take the brisket to this temperature, all that fat and connective tissue will have broken down and will be nice and tender.

Texas Barbecue Joints

A Texas brisket may taste different to a brisket cooked in other regions. Texans use mesquite, a very strong smoking wood that is an acquired taste. Mesquite can make the meat taste bitter if you aren’t used to the taste. The other noticeable difference with a Texas brisket is the heavy layer of pepper. This is known as a Texas rub and contains a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Brisket is famous in barbecue restaurants across Texas and the USA. Many of these barbecue joints have their own version of brisket and their so many variations. No different styles, different techniques.

Aaron Franklin Brisket – What Does It Taste Like?

Aaron Franklin from Franklin’s BBQ cooks his briskets in an offset smoker, using a Texas style rub of salt and pepper. So the briskets at Franklins are peppery!Aaron doesn’t use any techniques such as injecting, although he I’ve heard that many barbecue joints like Franklin’s use beef tallow on brisket. If you want to learn more about tallow on brisket, check out this article I wrote a while back.

Hot and Fast vs Low

Many people are now cooking hot-and-fast briskets—the latest trend in barbecue. Ideally, a brisket should only be cooked between 225°F and 250°F so it not only has time to tenderize but also absorb smoke. A hot and fast brisket (cooked at 350°F) will have less flavor than a slow smoked brisket because it has less time to absorb smoke.

Injected Brisket – The Flavor Boost

Another technique that can influence the flavor of brisket is the use of injection marinade. Injecting is popular in barbecue competitions and will give the meat an amazing flavor boost. The extra fluid pumped into the meat will also make the brisket taste moist and juicy. Injecting brisket involves taking a meat syringe and pumping the brisket with a marinade or stock. For more on brisket injection, check out this article.

What Does An Oven-Baked Brisket Taste Like?

A standard oven roast in brisket can still be delicious, although I have a little less flavor than a smoked brisket. As long as it’s cooked low and slow to an internal temperature of 203° F, then an oven roasted brisket will still be delicious. You can still put a dry rub on the brisket, and wrap it at the halfway point. Anything in oven roasted brisket will be missing is that barbecue flavor from the smoke.

Brisket Burgers – The Best Tasting Smokehouse Burgers

One of the best things to do with brisket trimmings is to combine them with some brisket fat and make burgers. Brisket burgers have an enormous amount of flavor and are extremely delicious. If you have a grinder at home, mix some brisket fat with the brisket trimmings, and shave them into burger patties. Place him in the freezer for an hour to make them firm. Then, just throw them on their grill. Check this article on how to make brisket burgers.

Shredded Brisket

Shredded brisket is also delicious, and it can be prepared just like pulled pork. Shredded brisket can be used in nachos, touch tacos. One of the best ways to save brisket is in a sandwich. A traditional brisket sandwich and slaw go is a magnificent combination and you’ll see this southern barbecue.

My Favorite Brisket Tools

Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.

Meat Injector: Injecting meat is a great way to take your barbecue to the next level and help you make competition-style brisket. An injector is the only way you will be able to get flavor and moisture into the middle of the meat. The Beast Injector is a stainless steel injector that is sturdy and affordable. Check the latest price on Amazon here.

Brisket Marinade: The best injection solution on the market is the Butcher BBQ Brisket Injection. This marinade is used in competitions and is made by World Barbecue Champion pitmaster, Dave Bouska. You can find the marinade on Amazon here.

Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Brisket Rub: These days I make my own rub when possible, but I always have a few pre-made rubs for when I’m running low. Barbecue guru Malcom Reed produces Killer Hogs, one of the best brisket rubs I’ve found over the years. Another great rub is Slap Yo Daddy, made by brisket master and multiple World Barbecue Champion, Harry Soo.

Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.

Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.

Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBooard website here.


More Brisket Articles:

Can You Finish Brisket In The Oven? (The Secret To Overnight Cooks)

The Brisket Rub Guide: Recipes From The Experts (Plus The Top 5 Best Pre-Made Rubs To Buy)

How to Get Bark on a Brisket

Should I Brine a Brisket?

Basting Brisket While Smoking

How To Spritz Brisket – The 10 Best Liquids For Smoking Meat

How To Get Tender Smoked Brisket Every Time

Tough Chewy Brisket? Here’s Why

Smoking Brisket The Day Before – Can You Serve The Next Day?

Dry Smoked Brisket? Here’s Why

How To Smoke A Brisket Flat

Should I Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?

What’s A Brisket Point? The Ultimate Flat vs Point Comparison

How Long Should I Rest Brisket?

Brisket Leftovers: The Best Way To Reheat Brisket

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