Raw Beef Brisket Buying, Preparing, and Smoking Tips 

Raw beef brisket is likely tough, biggest and most challenging piece of meat you might smoke. It certainly is the finest barbecue cut that you can cook for your large gatherings! 

Therefore, it can be difficult for a beginner to choose the right type of brisket, preparing and smoking it.

You don’t need to panic; we have got you covered. This article will provide detailed guidelines and tips for buying, preparing, and smoking a raw beef brisket. 

Understand What a Brisket is.

As you may know, brisket is large and made up of two cuts: flat and point. They are typically sold individually. However, you may also get the entire brisket, including the point and the flat.

It is referred to as the “full packer” or “packer” brisket. Unless you’re preparing for a large group, you can go for only one cut because it will be easier to cook.

How Can You Choose Beef Brisket Raw at the Grocery Store?

After knowing what exactly a brisket is, it’s essential to pick a fresh brisket correctly. Otherwise, despite spending $$$, several hours to smoke the meat, you can end up with a disgusting meal. So, here is how to choose yours.

1- Look for high-quality brisket.

Brisket quality is divided into different categories according to the marbling of the meat. The marbling is critical because it determines whether the brisket will be tender, juicy, and tasty. 

These grades are known as select, choice, prime, and wagyu brisket, from lowest to highest. The USDA applies these labels that show the meat quality in aspects of juiciness, tenderness, and flavor.

Therefore, The first thing that you should look for is the quality of the beef – Choice is fine, but Prime is preferable. Select is just average. 

As Prime is the finest grade of beef, it is superior to Choice brisket. This grade of  Beef has the most marbling, making it more soft, delicious, and juicy. However, Prime is extremely rare. In truth, only 2% of beef is rated as “Prime.” which makes it a bit pricey. 

On the contrary, a Choice is also a fine option. In fact, due to the unavailability of Prime, Choice is frequently used at Barbecue restaurants. It contains less marbling than Prime and so is not as tender. However, you can still achieve your desired brisket from it.

Wagyu is undoubtedly an excellent choice; however, it is highly expensive.

2- Pick the right size of brisket

After deciding on the brisket garde, the next step is to get the brisket of the right size. Briskets are available in the 8-22 pounds range. Yet, most commonly and advisably 14-16 pounds briskets are the best for they desire fat and flat ratio besides serving size: to entertain many people on your table. It’s why Costco also sells full packer briskets of 14-16 pounds.

Tip to choose the right brisket for your BBQ.

Most pitmasters recommend starting with choice or prime brisket. Then look for dark red meat with a “fat cap” at least 1/2 inch thick and streaked with shiny white fat lines, indicating marbling. Look for one that isn’t noticeably thinner on one edge than the other, as this can lead to uneven cooking.


Where Can Buy Beef Brisket Raw Online or Offline?

You can buy the best raw beef brisket from any local butcher shop or grocery store. You can also opt for online purchases, but you have to be extra careful about that. You can check the shop’s review before purchasing to ensure that you are buying a quality brisket. Wrapped vegetables marbled plastic 

Choose a trusted seller.

Many grocery stores offer meat; however, the quality varies with each store. While, many individuals like to shop at superstores such as Walmart, Sam’s Club or Costco for making budget friendly choices. These super stores  provide a wide variety of meat. But which store has better meat, Sam’s or Costco?

Sam’s Club has lower meat prices than Costco; however, Costco is considered to have fresher meat. Sam’s Club and Costco both sell USDA Prime brisket as well as Choice brisket. If you compare Costco brisket with Sam’s for the taste quality, the former will win as the test proves.

The place where you purchase brisket does not matter; what matters is that you carefully check all the factors that we have discussed above to ensure that you are buying the best raw beef brisket. 

How Should You Trim a Whole Beef Brisket Raw?

Trimming is essential to any brisket recipe since it influences the entire smoking process.

Follow these tips to trim your brisket efficiently.

  • Remove any chunk of hard fat that you will find on brisket.
  • After removing the majority of the huge pieces of fat, use your knife to level it out with the rest of the meat to avoid cratering.
  • Trim the excessive silver skin of the brisket because it is of no use and also does not render easily.
  • Now trim the fat cap. It contains layers of heavy fat that you need to cut off. 
  • With your sharpest knife, trim the fat cap to around a quarter of an inch thick.
  • If you find a loose or flabby fat on your brisket, carve that off because it will not survive the cook. 
  • You also have to slice off the very thin part of the flat muscle. 
  • Trim any brown meat if found.
  • Always trim cold/refrigerated brisket; it will make trimming easier for you.
  • Also, don’t forget to bring the brisket to room temperature before putting it in the smoker. 

How you trim your brisket influences how it cooks and, as a result, how well it is served and sliced. But don’t get too uptight over it! 

Guess what happens if you trim a bit too much or not enough? Your brisket will be delicious. Simply make notes and practice again and again.

How to smoke brisket (tips)?

It’s not easy to smoke your best brisket. You must go through multiple web pages and spend hours viewing video lessons if you wish to smoke your brisket for a memorable meal.

Even after following the best recipe at each stage, various questions arise in your head, and you have to continue to explore the internet and watch those long tutorials over and over.

As a result, we provide these exclusively valuable tips to you that we learned from great pitmasters.

Adjust the temperature to fit your smoker type.

Brisket smoking temperatures differ depending on the type of smoker. For instance, in a big offset smoker, more convection produces more heat loss. So, cooking a brisket in a large offset smoker at a higher temperature, such as 275°F, is fine; for a small offset smoker, 225- 250° F is sufficient.

In comparison, if smoked on a big green egg, tiny pellet grill, or Weber Kettle at 275°F, it will burn your brisket. In this case, 225-250 is safer, no matter what smoker you use. To summarize, the larger the smoker, the greater the temperature required, and the smaller a smoker is, the lower the temperature it’ll need.

Choose the recipe based solely on your cooking mode.

This is a significant mistake that many BBQ enthusiasts make: they choose a recipe for smoking brisket on a large offset smoker and attempt to smoke it in a Traeger or oven using that recipe.

You didn’t challenge the temperature game. So, please be cautious and use the recipe according to your brisket size and cooking mode.

Choose the recipe based on the size of your brisket.

Just as you should follow the instructions for a specific type of cooking device, such as a smoker, oven, or grill, you should also follow the method for a particular size brisket.

For example, a recipe meant for a 4-pound brisket can destroy a 14-pound brisket. Even if you stick to the recipe, double the cooking and resting times and use the doneness tests to ensure that your brisket is cooked thoroughly.

Finally, you must have a probe thermometer.

It is the most crucial tip. Please purchase a high-quality probe thermometer with several probes for smoking. They’ll help you improve your smoked brisket quality. After a smoker, the second must-have is a probe thermometer.

Brisket Doneness Checking Tips

The following tips will help you determine that your brisket is done.

Conduct a bamboo stick test.

When your brisket has reached 195 degrees Fahrenheit, insert a bamboo stick into the flat thickest section of it; if it slides in and out as if the brisket is cold peanut butter, your brisket is done. If not, continue to smoke it until it passes the “bamboo stick” test.

The brisket lifting test

Use heat-resistant rubber gloves and hold the brisket from the center with your two middle fingers on both hands. If it feels like jelly and is not rigid, it’s done, and you can go to the following stage of resting it.

Press the bark to test the brisket.

Look for rendered fat by poking your finger into the brisket; the fat should not bounce back. If it will feel like butter, then your brisket is done.

Check the brisket’s internal temperature.

Lastly, to ensure the brisket’s doneness, you should look for an internal temperature of 195-203 degrees in the thickest part of the brisket. Yet, if the brisket doesn’t pass the bamboo skewer test, you can smoke it longer.

How Should You Rest a Brisket after Smoking or Cooking it?  


When the brisket gets to an internal temperature of 195-203 degrees Fahrenheit, all collagen, fat, and protein are converted into juices and gelatine. As a result, they must be reabsorbed and dispersed uniformly throughout the brisket fibers. And resting the brisket serves this purpose.

However, if you slice it right away, brisket will drain all of its fluids. You’ll also be presenting dried brisket slices to your loved ones. As a result of this resting, the brisket will turn out:

  •  Juicy and moist  
  • Soft and chewy

Now comes the matter of how long to rest the brisket.

The answer ranges from 1 to 20 hours, based on: 

Rest brisket according to the brisket grade type.

The marbling on these briskets makes them unique. The more marbling a brisket has, the more liquids it will exude, which need to be reabsorbed. In contrast, the slimmer the brisket, the fewer fluids it will release for reabsorption. 

Therefore, resting a select-grade brisket for long hours will be useless. Similarly, not giving a Wagyu, Choice, or Prime grade beef brisket sufficient time will destroy it.  

Moreover, you can rest your brisket by several methods, such as placing it in a warm cooler, oven, or towel. 

Remember, lower your brisket’s temperature by leaving it at room temperature until it reaches 165-185 degrees Farenheit. Otherwise, the carry-over cooking procedure will overcook the brisket and become dry at a higher internal temperature.

You can rest the brisket as long as it can maintain a temperature of 145-150 degrees. If the internal temperature falls from this range, it will be dangerous for your health.

How should you slice a brisket?

Following are some tips to slice a brisket more effectively:

Cut the slice uniformly by using a sharp knife.

You need to cut your brisket against the grain, but you must use a razor-sharp carving knife to protect the bark and shape of the slice.

Slice your brisket into quarter-inch slices that aren’t too thick or too thin. This thickness will also aid in the preservation of the brisket’s juices.

While slicing the brisket, save the juices.

When slicing the brisket, avoid spilling any juices by placing aluminum foil or a wide tray beneath the cutting board. Brush these liquids back on the brisket cuts to maintain their moisture for longer.

Slice the brisket on a wide chopping board.

When slicing a brisket, use a big cutting board to avoid spilling its juices all over the place and wasting any of the meat.


How should you store leftover brisket?

To store your leftover brisket, you can refrigerate it by wrapping it in aluminum foil and then double-wrap it in non-waxed butcher paper. 

By doing this, it’ll not dry up and store all juices. You also need to spray it with apple cider vinegar before wrapping. You can store your brisket for up to 4 days by this method. 

How should you reheat a brisket?

When you want to reheat the brisket, you can simply pull it out from the refrigerator, take a double tray pan, put some water in the bottom tray, and place the brisket on the top tray.

After that, place it in the preheated oven for 2 hours at 250 degrees or until it achieves an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Following this method, your brisket will remain as moist and tender as it was when you smoked it.

You can also use the Sous Vide Method to reheat the brisket.

How long can you refrigerate or freeze a raw beef brisket?

You can refrigerate raw beef brisket for 3 to 5 days; the date on the packet may expire during that time, but if properly maintained, the beef brisket will be safe to consume after the sell-by date.

Keep the brisket in its original store packaging to increase the shelf life of the raw beef; do not remove the packaging until ready to use.

You can extend the brisket shelf life even further by storing it in a freezer. When properly stored, it will maintain its best quality for 6 to 12 months but will stay safe even after that period.

As for freezing a brisket, you can freeze it for up to 3 months under normal conditions and up to 12 months if frozen carefully by keeping the original store wrapping and also over-wrapping it.

Should you wash a raw beef brisket before or after trimming?

Washing raw meat is never a wise decision. Whether done before smoking, freezing, or trimming, washing might cause cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria from the meat spread to other areas, such as kitchen surfaces and hands. Cross-contamination can also result in bacterial illnesses. 

So, after opening the brisket packaging, clean your brisket using a paper towel only. all of the bacteria will ultimately be killed by smoking the brisket. Washing them beforehand increases the possibility of infection. 

Final Thoughts

From buying raw beef brisket to smoking, it’s an art that takes time to master. However, by following in the footsteps of brisket smoking pros, you can learn it quickly. So, be brave, grab the best raw brisket, and smoke it according to the recipe and the valuable tips discussed above. 


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