Slicing a brisket is a huge part of having the perfect smoked brisket experience. Knowing how to slice a brisket correctly will give you tender, melt in your mouth, smoked meat. I’ll teach you all the tips and tricks to make you look like a brisket pro!
Let’s start with brisket anatomy. In Brisket 101, I mentioned that a full packer brisket is made up of two different, overlapping muscles that we call the point and the flat. These muscles make slicing a brisket a little bit tricky because the grain runs in two different directions. The good news is, I’m here to walk you through each step!
Before we begin, you need to make sure you’ve got the right tools! Since I only slice my brisket right before serving, I try to get everything together that I’ll need. I always make sure to have my cutting board, towel and knife. There’s just something about a freshly sliced hunk of moist, tender meat that transcends anything you can get out of a chaffing dish or off of a cold platter.
Brisket Slicing Knife
Speaking of knives… your brisket slicing knife matters! You want a knife that is serrated, but doesn’t have any of those super small ridge-like teeth. The smooth serrated edge allows you to slide through the meat without squishing it or tearing it to shreds. My most used brisket knife is a ForeverSharp 8-inch blade. Is it $150? Nope! Is it some super premium magic knife that only the coolest cooks use? Also, no. But it works like a champ, is long enough to cover the entire brisket in one fell swoop so I don’t have to hack it into tiny chunks to slice it, and it was a present from my Mom. So I love it. The only issue with a serrated knife is that it is difficult to sharpen.
How to Slice Brisket
You’ve got your tools, you’ve got your perfectly rested brisket, now all that’s left is slicing her open and feasting like a king! Here’s how to get it done!
- Cut your brisket in half. This helps to separate the flat from the point.
- Slice your brisket flat against the grain.
- Turn your brisket point 90 degrees and slice in half.
- Slice the brisket point against the grain.
The pics below give you a good guide to follow when you slice your own brisket! There is also a printable version of these steps at the bottom of the post.
Sliced Beef Brisket
I find it helpful to explain to my guests what they are getting with the different slices. I call the flat “lean” and the point “fatty.” You will find this is consistent with how you are asked to order brisket at any reputable BBQ joint that is up to snuff. I like to eat the fatty brisket, myself, but I know plenty of people who will choose the lean slices every time and love them. If you followed the instructions on How To Smoke a Brisket, you should have delicious, tender meat no matter what slice you choose! Now step away from the cutting board and get yourself a plate. After all of the hours of trimming, smoking, spraying, wrapping, fire tending, and slicing, it is finally time to enjoy the meats of your labor!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of my posts all about the beautiful brisket! Whether you are a beginner, first time brisket smoker or an experienced pitmaster that wants a refresher course, make sure you read BRISKET 101, HOW TO TRIM A BRISKET, and HOW TO SMOKE A BRISKET. If you’ve read all of the posts and have cooked up the perfect brisket, I would LOVE to see it! Tag me on Instagram @heygrillhey, or post it to my Facebook Page!
How to Slice Brisket
- Large cutting board
- Sharp knife
- 1 smoked brisket
- Set your brisket on a large cutting board with the point toward your non-dominant hand (that's left for me.) This hand will be responsible for moving meat around and feeling things out and your dominant hand will be on knife duty. Obviously this will be the opposite if you are a lefty. I try not to confuse the two during the process or I end up with a slippery knife.
- Start by placing your left hand on the point of the brisket and pressing gently. You can feel how tender your brisket is! It should feel like meaty butter. If you move your left hand in a small, circular motion you can start to feel where a small layer of fat separates the flat from the point.
- Where the point comes down to meet the flat is where you want to make your first slice. This is the dividing line, so to speak, where the grain of the meat changes. Since you always want to be slicing against the grain of your brisket, is important to have these two pieces separate and sliced differently.
- Move your attention to the flat, and using long, smooth strokes, cut it into 1/4 inch slices (about the width of a no. 2 pencil.) The muscle of the flat all runs the same direction, so it is pretty simple to get beautifully uniform slices that all run the same direction. Always cut against the grain! Just make sure that each piece gets a good piece of the delicious seasoned bark while you slice and you're good to go!
- Now head over to the point. I start by slicing it in half in the opposite direction of your initial cut. This cut will show you the grain of your brisket and also gives you that magical ah-ha moment where you get to see the "money shot" from all of your time and dedication. You can pick up this beautiful piece of perfectly smoked meat that is just dripping with juices and, I swear, the pride and joy is tangible. Don't deny yourself this moment by rushing through and just slicing all of that brisket up in a hurry! Savor the slicing process, it can be pretty fun.
- Grab one half of the point, and turn it 90 degrees. Working your way to the outside from the middle, slice in 1/4 inch slices. Again, make sure each slice has some of the magic bark on top of it. Some people who slice brisket will remove the entire point from the flat and then proceed to slice the whole flat in uniform pieces. The problem with this approach is that there is no bark on the part of the flat that was under the point! The bark is arguably the best part of the brisket where all of the savory, smoky, flavor lives. Everybody deserves a piece of bark. Don't hack off the point. Ok?
- Get your meat hand on the other half of the point and proceed with the slicing as you did with the first half of the point. By now, your whole brisket should be beautifully sliced and ready to serve. Find your very best friend and give them the end pieces (or save them for yourself) and let everybody else choose for themselves what part of the brisket they want.
**This post was originally written May 2015. It has been updated with more information on 10/15/19.