Tri Tip vs Brisket: A Comparison of Two Popular Cuts of Beef

Tri Tip vs Brisket: A Comparison of Two Popular Cuts of Beef

Grilling season is upon us and sizzling steaks, seafood, veggies, and more are all ready for the flame. If you’re looking for something special to fix up on your outdoor kitchen this summer, why not give tri-tip vs brisket a try? Tri-tip has become increasingly popular in recent years as a flavorsome yet inexpensive alternative to traditional steak cuts like ribeye and porterhouse. On the other hand, we have a classic powerhouse that is BBQ brisket – its rich flavor profile pleasing even the pickiest BBQ connoisseurs. So which should you choose? Which cut of beef provides the tastier experience?

In this post, we’ll compare tri-tip vs brisket side-by-side – taking a look at their texture, fat content, cooking time, and price so that you can make an informed decision about what’s ideal for your specific needs. Read on to discover why some prefer one over the other in this ultimate showdown between two delicious cuts of beef!

Brisket vs Tri-tip: Main Differences

Both tri-tip and brisket are beloved staples in the BBQ scene, with passionate followings of devotees that understand their unique qualities.

They may be distinct in taste and texture – but both come from the same source: a beef animal! Grillers everywhere recognize these two cuts as pausing points for smokey flavor heaven.

  • For the ultimate barbecue experience, opt for a smoky brisket that has been cooked to perfection for over 14 hours. For an equally delicious but quicker option, try grilling up some tasty tri-tip in mere minutes.
  • Brisket is known for melting like butter on your tongue while its counterpart brings a steakhouse experience with a signature chewy texture that’ll have you coming back for more!
  • Brisket melts in your mouth when cooked to perfection, while tri-tip offers the perfect balance of tenderness and juiciness that can only come from a medium-rare finish.
  • Brisket is one of the cheapest cuts of beef per pound, while tri-tip is nearly double the price
  • Experience the unique flavors of tri-tip grilled over a smoky oak fire and savor the tender texture of slow-smoked brisket.
  • Tri-tip is a great option if you want something easy and manageable – typically weighing around 2.5 pounds – while the whole brisket may be overwhelming at 15 pounds or more!
  • Grilling tri-tip is a great way for new cooks to get their feet wet in the world of barbecuing. But when it comes down to brisket, true mastery requires patience and dedication – only by honing your technique can you hope to achieve succulent perfection!

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Brisket vs Tri-Tip: Comparison Table

Flavor and Fat ContentRenowned for its rich fat and smoky exteriorSteak-like texture with lower marbling content
SizeWeighs up to 20 pounds, suitable for large groupsUsually 3 to 4 lbs, ideal for smaller gatherings
TendernessLong cooking time for a melt-in-your-mouth textureTender when cooked correctly, avoid overcooking
FlavorBold, beefy flavor with a dark flavorful bark coatingThe deliciously bold and beefy flavor
Level of ExpertiseRequires more experience and knowledge due to sizeEasy dish, suitable for beginners
AvailabilityWidely available in supermarketsMore commonly found in specialty markets
Best Cooking MethodLow and slow cooking over an indirect heat sourceWood-grilling for maximum flavor
SmokingIdeal for smoking due to its lower marbling and tender textureCan be smoked with success, but requires different approach
PriceGenerally pricier due to higher fat contentA more affordable option, still full of flavor

Note: Both brisket and tri-tip offer unique qualities and are suitable for different occasions or preferences.

1)Brisket vs Tri-tip: Flavor and Fat Content

Brisket is a beloved cut of beef, renowned for its rich fat and smoky exterior. On the other hand, Tri-tip has an almost steak-like texture that many people enjoy – just be sure to take note of its lower marbling content!

2-The Size:

When you’re looking for the perfect cut of beef to serve at a family gathering, a tri-tip is ideal.

It’s usually about 3 to 4 lbs and has no problem serving four people – so if there are more mouths needing to be fed it might be worth considering buying several!

Although this tasty cut isn’t often found on restaurant menus due to its size, when shared among friends or family brings smiles all around.

For those looking to master their large-scale cooking skills, beef brisket is the star of the show. Weighing up to 20 pounds and on average 12 pounds, this cut contains muscles that help cows stay upright – which becomes especially useful when entertaining big groups!

Don’t feel obligated to buy a full size though; you can still find sizeable 5-6 pound flats or 3-4 pound points if needed. Who knows? You might even be able to enjoy some delicious leftovers afterward!

Packer briskets are enormous, averaging fifteen pounds in their full-fat glory – a whopping five times larger than the more petite tri-tips which come at an average of 2.5 pounds untrimmed.

3-Difference in Tenderness

With just a bit of heat and time, both beef brisket and tri-tip can be transformed from tough cuts into something that’s irresistibly succulent.

Brisket takes longer to cook than the leaner cut of Tri-Tip – allowing its connective tissues to break down for a melt-in-your-mouth texture!

However, if you’re looking for maximum tenderness then nothing beats Tri Tip when cooked correctly: no chewy surprises here!

Experienced chefs take note – when preparing tri-tip, it’s important not to overcook this very lean cut or else you’ll end up with an unpleasantly chewy meal!

4-Which is More Flavorful?

Brisket and tri-tip both have a deliciously bold, beefy flavor that sets them apart from the rest.

However, when cooked to perfection with dark flavorful bark coating – brisket’s taste is undeniably unstoppable!

Savory barbecue lovers everywhere seek out this smoky masterpiece for its mouthwatering goodness.

5-Level of Expertise:

When it comes to the level of expertise needed to make both dishes, brisket requires more experience and knowledge due to its size and preferred cooking methods.

Brisket might take a master to perfect, but if you’re up for the challenge then it’s definitely worth your time. You’ll need knowledge of using smokers and fire management as well as trimming techniques and marinade-knowhow before beginning this 12+ hour process.

On the other hand, Tri-tip is an easy dish that anyone can attempt in less than half the time! Fire control becomes more important here, however; keep an eye on internal temperatures to ensure optimal results with every cook.

No prior experience is needed – all you need to do is season generously with salt and pepper before grilling or smoking.


If you’re looking for a tri-tip, living in an urban area can increase your chances of finding one. But if you live somewhere more rural and remote, be prepared to embark on a search mission!

Most supermarkets will carry brisket cuts but it’s the specialty markets that are likely to transport foodies into BBQ paradise with their selection of juicy tri tips – so keep hunting ’til your heart is content.

7-Best Cooking Method:

Brisket requires low and slow cooking over an indirect heat source such as a smoker or in the oven.

This allows its fat to break down and become wonderfully tender, while also encouraging the formation of that delicious bark.

For tri-tip, on the other hand, wood-grilling is your go-to method for the most flavor.

This cut of beef is best enjoyed cooked to medium rare, so don’t be afraid to give it a nice char on the outside before slicing and serving!

-Is One Better for Smoking Than the Other?

Brisket is the clear winner when it comes to smoking. Its much lower marbling gives it a perfect texture for cooking low and slow, allowing its fat to break down and become wonderfully tender over time.

Tri-tip also takes well to smoking but it needs to be treated differently: being leaner than brisket, it needs to be cooked faster and at a higher temperature.

But if you’re looking for an intensely flavorful, smoky brisket-like experience – then, by all means, give tri-tip smoking a try! It can be done with great success!

8-The Price:

Tri-tip is generally more affordable than brisket – though the cost of both depends on where you shop.

Brisket is usually a bit pricier, due to its higher fat content – but it’s worth it for that unbeatable taste and texture!

On the other hand, tri-tip is more affordable but still full of flavor – so don’t let its lower price tag fool you!

At the end of the day, both brisket and tri-tip have their own unique qualities that make them a great option for any meal. Whether you’re feeding just your family or throwing an extravagant backyard bash – these two cuts will always be sure to please! So go ahead and give them both a try!

Brisket vs Tri-tip: Which is Better?

The ultimate battle between beef cuts! Both brisket and tri-tip are delicious in their own right, with each bringing something unique to the table. Each cut requires different techniques when it comes to cooking, but both can yield incredible results when cooked properly.

When it comes to taste and texture, brisket takes the lead as its higher marbling gives it a juicier, more luxurious bite. Brisket also requir se slower, more labor-intensive cooking, which results in a tender, flavorful dish.

On the other hand, tri-tip is leaner and quicker to cook, making it easier for novice barbecuers to make a delicious meal. However, its lower fat content means you’ll need to season generously and keep an extra eye on the internal temperature to get an optimal result.

So, which is better? It really depends on personal preference and what you’re looking for in a dish. If you want something more luxurious and full of flavor, brisket is your best bet – but if you’re limited with time and resources, tri-tip is a great option.

What is Brisket?

Brisket is a favorite amongst meat connoisseurs. Removing the bone from under the first five ribs of cattle, brisket can be divided into two unique cuts–the flat and point cut.

But for those looking to experience this delectable dish at its fullest potential, it also comes in an immense “packer’s cut” that contains both these premium cuts untrimmed!

Weighing anywhere between 8-20 lbs and roughly 12-20 inches long with 10-12 inch widths, get ready for a hearty feast fit enough even for kings!

Brisket is a heavyweight cut from a cow and requires special attention when cooking.

What makes it so tough are its connective tissues, which must be slowly cooked at low temperatures to render them tender.

As there’s no collarbone in cows, these muscles bear 60% of their weight – an impressive feat that leads to good flavor but necessitates some patience during preparation!

-Where on the Cow does Brisket Come From?

Cut from the chest of a cow, this impressive beef slab is made up of what some might call its pecs.

Positioned beneath the first five ribs and behind the foreshank lies brisket as we know it – bone-less yet captivatingly shaped like no other cut.

As if that weren’t enough to make your mouth water, sometimes even boasting an added layer of fat for texture and flavor!

-How many briskets per Person?

When it comes to smoking brisket, plan ahead and buy one pound per person. That should give you a delectable half-pound of cooked meat for each guest at your gathering – plus some tasty extras when the leftovers become sandwiches!

While making smaller portions is ideal, most cuts of this smoky treat come in large pieces weighing 8-9 pounds each; so round up whatever size fits with your plans best before lightin’ that fire!

Chef Tip: Bring your favorite cut of brisket to the next level by sourcing pre-trimmed competition style from a local butcher! Though it might take some effort, finding an expert that knows how to properly trim and prepare this special cut for maximum taste will be worth it.

How much brisket you purchase per person depends on how much yield the cut of meat offers and whether it requires trimming – two essential factors to keep in mind when selecting your cuts!

  • Yield: Expertly mastering the art of cooking brisket can be a tricky endeavor, especially when it comes to yield. Depending on fat content levels, trimming amount, smoking temperature, and duration as well as any liquid injections used during preparation-the remaining edible meat percentage can be surprisingly low; even reaching 40% in some cases!
  • Trim: If you’re looking to make the most of your smoked brisket, it’s best to buy a trimmed cut. Not only will this give you more cooked meat when compared with an untrimmed packer brisket but surprisingly enough, it can also save time in prepping—allowing for ease and convenience without sacrificing quality! However, be prepared: You’ll pay extra for that trimming as purchasing a whole packer is significantly cheaper than its already-trimmed counterpart.

Packer Whole Brisket

  • 50% yield
  • 12 to 18 pounds total weight
  • 2 to 3 pounds of fat that will need to be trimmed (about 16%)
  • Fat rendering and juices lost (about 34%)
  • Buy 1 pound per person to yield ½ pound of cooked brisket per person.

Competition-trimmed Brisket

  • 66% yield
  • 10 to 15 pounds total weight
  • No fat will need to be trimmed
  • Fat rendering and juices lost (about 34%)
  • Buy 12 ounces of Brisket to yield just under a ½ pound of cooked brisket per person

-Nutritional Information per 4 oz (1/4 pound)

NutritionTotal Amount% Daily Value (based

on 2000 calories/day)

Total Fat21 g33%
Cholesterol120 mg40%
Sodium55 mg2%
Protein32 g


-How to Prepare Brisket?

When it comes to selecting the perfect brisket, you’ll want to pay attention to those fatty striations throughout the meat.

Opting for either a Choice or Prime Brisket can help ensure that your end result is one which boasts an even flat muscle and trimmable fat cap without sacrificing on the quality of butcher work.

Taking control of your cut and trimming brisket with a fat cap intact is something every pitmaster should strive for since the ideal thickness to achieve maximum flavor is usually around 1/4 inch.

Don’t forget that keeping some fatty goodness within your meat helps maintain moisture during cooking – it’s all part of creating smoky masterpieces!

Make sure to get the perfect brisket for your smoker! For an ideal slow-cooking experience, consider a cut between 6 and 10 lbs. At 225-275F it’ll take anywhere from 9 to 20 hours – so be prepared with time (and plenty of patience).

Slow cooking is the key to creating delicious, tender brisket – and my favorite method of achieving this delightful taste? Smoking it on a trusty Weber Kettle! With a trim weight between 8-10 lbs., you’ll be looking at just enough meat for your average 22″ kettle. Delightful perfection every time… now that’s something to savor!

-How to Cook Brisket

Brisket is a classic comfort food, best cooked with the low-and-slow method. Aim to keep your smoker between 225F and 250F for an average brisket that could take up to 12 hours – plan ahead when making dinner!

While hickory, oak, and mesquite are tried-and-true hardwood selections for smoking meats like beef briskets – you can add flavor complexity by also experimenting with other wood choices such as cherry or apple which tend toward lighter sweeter tastes perfect when partnering them with similarly flavored rubs.

As you begin your slow-smoking journey with brisket, the goal is to get it up to temperature on the grate. Don’t forget an extra spritz of apple cider vinegar throughout! Unfortunately, at some point during this process, you’ll run into “the stall”.

This dreaded plateau has been known to cause immense frustration in even the most experienced pitmasters; however, there are tactics for beating this hurdle such as wrapping the brisket and giving it time.

>>>Read more: When to wrap the brisket

Finally when that internal thermometer reaches 195F put aside those tongs until after its rest period – usually 2-4 hours depending on size. Now dig deep within yourself and enjoy what’s sure be one smokin’ meal!

-Tips for Buying Brisket:

  1. Look for a brisket that has an even flat muscle and trimmable fat cap.
  2. Look for a brisket that is between 6 to 10 lbs. Any larger and it will take much longer to cook.
  3. Choose either Choice or Prime grade of beef brisket for maximum flavor.
  4. Trim the fat to 1/4 inch or less for maximum flavor and moisture.
  5. Experiment with different wood choices to add complexity to the flavor of your brisket.
  6. Wrap the brisket in foil after it reaches a certain internal temperature (usually around 195F) and let it rest for 2-4 hours before serving.

Where to Buy Brisket Online?

-Snake River Farms: Snake River Farms offers a variety of delicious and flavorful beef briskets that are perfect for smoking. Their American Wagyu Beef Brisket is especially noteworthy, as the breed’s intense marbling ensures mouthwatering results.

-Double R Ranch: Double R Ranch offers premium Choice and Prime grade beef briskets, perfect for slow-cooking in the smoker. Their 8-10 lb. brisket is ideal for most backyard smokers, as it won’t take too long to cook but will still provide plenty of servings.

What is Tri-tip?

Tri-tip is an elusive cut of beef notoriously difficult to find. It’s taken from the bottom sirloin butt, near the brisket and makes for a tasty triangular roast.

Obtaining just one requires slicing through a prime steer – what luck! Because this rare delicacy can only be found twice per animal we consider it a true culinary treasure that should never go overlooked or underestimated in flavor.

Tri-tip is an incredibly delicious and flavorful cut of beef that can be enjoyed at home! Starting out as a whopping 5 lbs, the trimmed tri-tip usually comes in between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds with a thick yet tender texture – perfect for grilling or slow roasting on your next backyard barbecue.

Although it’s not available everywhere, some grocery stores are lucky enough to offer this mouthwatering cut of meat!

Tri-tip is the star of many a Western BBQ competition, and its fame even stretches far enough to be known in some circles as either “Santa Maria steak” or simply the “California cut.”

-Where on the Cow does Tri-tip Come From?

The succulent tri-tip steak is cut from the bottom of an age-old breed – sirloin, located near the back end of a cow and in front of its roundest area.

This delectable piece takes on various shapes resembling something between a holiday overindulgent boomerang or even a chubby arrowhead!

When cooked just right, it boasts moderate to heavy marbling with the grain running in two different directions – making every bite as juicy and flavorful as can be.

-Other Names for Tri-tip?

Tri-tip beef has long been popular around the world, with traditions of many countries utilizing it in their cuisine.

It wasn’t until 1950s America that people began to discover its unique flavor and texture – but they were so unfamiliar with this cut of steak, most butchers didn’t even have a name for it!

  • Santa Maria Sirloin/ Santa Maria Steak – another name indicating its origin and the cut it comes from
  • California Cut – an ode to this cuts heritage in the Golden State
  • Bottom sirloin butt – not to be confused with a rump roast
  • Newport steak – the name used on the east coast of the United States for steaks cut out of the tri-tip
  • Aguillote Baronne (France), Picaña (Mexico), Maminha (Brazil), Rabillo de Cadera (tri tip’s name in Spanish)

-How Much Tri Tip per Person?

With a yield of 84%, tri-tip is one of the highest quality cuts for beef. A full piece weighs about 2.5 pounds, which can get you between three to four 8-ounce portions per person when cooked – perfect for large gatherings or small backyard BBQs!

If you’re looking specifically for sandwiches, that same piece will give just over seven 4-ounce servings; no matter what your needs are, denuded tri tip has got them covered.

-Nutritional Information per 4 oz (1/4 pound)

NutritionTotal Amount% Daily Value (based

on 2000 calories/day)

Total Fat12.5 g19%
Cholesterol95 mg32%
Sodium60 mg3%
Protein29 g
Iron4.3 mg10.5%


-How to Prepare Tri-tip?

When it comes to tri-tip, the difference compared with brisket couldn’t be more stark. You could opt for an untrimmed cut of meat that includes a thick fat layer on top – yet don’t expect this extra fat to offer much-added benefit!

Tri-tip is already known as being naturally tender and doesn’t require lengthy smoking in order to bring out its full flavor potential; some might even go so far as calling it a great substitute for classic smoked brisket dishes itself.

Though pricier than other cuts, you’ll get better value from your purchase since its resilience against shrinkage ensures all of those juicy bits stay intact until served at the table.

-How to Cook Tri Tip (Step by Step)

The tri-tip cut of meat offers a variety of flavorful cooking options. For the ultimate smoky flavor experience, slow smoking is best: set your smoker to between 225F and 250F for around 30 minutes per pound to get you an exquisite medium-rare delight at its thickest point – with delightful hints of medium closer towards the thinner ends!

Red oak gives it that extra “authentic” touch every time; however, any type can still bring out those mouthwatering flavors like no other.

Tri-tip is a flavorful cut of meat that lends itself to many cooking methods, such as grilling over indirect heat or being spit-roasted on a rotisserie.

Chef’s choice! Going for the classic smoke session? Wrap your tri-tip in foil while it rests so juices settle down and there’s less leakage when carving time comes around.

Remember: rare to medium rare will give you maximum tenderness and flavor – an internal temperature target of 135F – 140F should do the trick!

So why not spice things up with one delicious experiment after another, all until you find yourself making THE perfect meal every single time.

Where to Buy Tri-tip Online

Snake River Farms: Snake River Farms is one of the most popular places to buy great quality tri-tip online. They offer cuts that are USDA Prime, with a good amount of marbling, and usually come pre-trimmed for convenience.

Double R Ranch: Double R Ranch offers high-quality tri-tip that is aged for over 21 days. They have a variety of cuts available, including the whole tri-tip roast, as well as individual steaks and pre-seasoned trim.

*You Might Also Like

3 Best Recipes for Tri-Tip

  1. Grilled Tri-Tip with Chimichurri Sauce:

This juicy and flavorful grilled tri-tip is served with a delicious homemade chimichurri sauce that takes the already tender cut of meat to the next level.

  1. Barbecue Rubbed and Smoked Tri-Tip:

This slow-smoked tri-tip is rubbed with a mixture of spices and smoked low and slow for tender, juicy, flavorful results.

  1. Tri-Tip Roast with Garlic Herb Butter:

This roast tri-tip is slathered with herbed garlic butter before roasting, resulting in a juicy, tender cut of meat that’s infused with flavor. Serve it up with mashed potatoes and your favorite vegetables for an easy weeknight dinner.

3 Best Recipes for Brisket

  1. Perfectly Smoked Brisket:

This recipe produces the perfect smoked brisket every time with a simple dry rub and low and slow cooking. The result is a tender, juicy cut of meat that’s bursting with flavor.

  1. Beer-Braised Brisket:

This beer-braised brisket is cooked in an oven until it’s perfectly tender and infused with beer and herbs. Serve this up with some mashed potatoes for a comforting dinner everyone will love.

  1. Spicy Dry Rubbed Brisket:

A spicy dry rub adds lots of flavor to this delicious smoked brisket without adding any extra fat or calories! This one takes about 10 hours of work, but the results are well worth the wait.

Conclusion: Brisket vs Tri-tip

At the end of the day, both brisket and tri-tip are delicious cuts of meat that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Brisket is traditionally smoked or braised while tri tip is best grilled, barbecued, or slow-cooked.

When it comes to flavor and texture, brisket has a richer flavor due to its high-fat content while tri-tip tends to be leaner but just as flavorful. Depending on your budget and preference, either cut of meat can make for an excellent meal. Whatever you choose to make with these two proteins, there’s no doubt that you’ll have a delicious result!

Happy grilling! 🔥🤗

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