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Tri Tip Brisket comaprison

Tri Tip vs Brisket (Differences Explained)

Tri-tip and brisket are beef meat cuts. Besides this similarity, they have a whole of differences.

Tri-tip is a smaller, leaner piece of meat compared to the larger, tougher cut of the brisket. The tri-tip comes from the rear end of the cow while the brisket is found below the shoulders. Their flavors are distinctly different but both equally delicious. And, preparing and cooking these cuts are not done the same way.

At a Glance: Tri-Tip Brisket Comparison

Here we have grouped the main differences between tri-tip and brisket:

Tri Tip
Which part of the cow it’s found onLocated at the rear end of the cow as part of the bottom sirloin Found in the front of the cow in the lower chest area below the chuck (shoulder)
Size of cutSmall and weighing between 1.5 and 2.5 poundsLarge and weighing anything between 8 pounds and 20 pounds
Fat contentLeanFatty
FlavorJuicy, buttery flavorRich, meaty/beefy flavor
Cooking timeDepending on the size, it takes up to one hour to smoke a roast cutDepending on the size it takes up to 2 hours for every pound of meat being cooked
Cooking methodsCan be cooked as a steak on a grill or skillet.
Roasts do well in the oven or smoker.
Best done in the smoker or oven.
Can be done on the stovetop as a casserole.
Works well in a slow cooker.
PriceMore expensive per poundA cheaper meat
Where to BuyClick this link to buy Tri TipClick this link to buy Brisket


beef meat cuts

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What You Need to Know About Tri-Tip

Tri-tip, which is also known as bottom sirloin butt, is a beef product. It comes from the “tip” or bottom of the sirloin cut. It’s a smaller piece of meat and is triangular in shape. Tri-tip fans will tell it’s a very tasty piece of meat and is low in fat.

Watch this video which tells you everything you need to know about tri-tip and its location on the cow.



What You Need to Know About Brisket



Brisket comes from the lower breast section of the cow, below the ribs and shoulder. This area consists of the pectoral muscles which are responsible for bearing most of the animal’s body weight. Depending on the cut, brisket can be fatty or lean.

What Makes Tri-Tip and Brisket Different?

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Besides their locations, with the brisket coming from the front part of the cow and the tri-tip coming from the back part, there are other differences.

It’s these differences that set the tri-tip apart from the brisket:

  • Weight and size: The tri-tip is a smaller piece of meat weighing anything between 5 to 2.5 pounds. The brisket is a larger piece of meat and weighs anything from 8 to 20 pounds.
  • Cut: The tri-tip is normally sold as a small roast or steak cuts. The brisket is a long piece of meat. It’s often sold at your local butchery in two pieces known as a deckle cut or a flat cut.
  • Texture: The tri-tip is a tender piece of meat and boneless. It’s known for being chewy compared to other steak cuts such as the porterhouse if not cooked properly. The brisket is tougher because of the collective tissue collagen.
  • Fat content: The tri-tip has a lower content of fat compared to the brisket which can be very fatty depending on the cut you buy.
  • Flavor: Tri-tip has a rich and buttery flavor. If cooked properly, the brisket can also offer an incredibly deep and meaty flavor.
  • Cooking time: The tri-tip requires a shorter cooking time because of its smaller size and more tender meat compared to the brisket which is larger and tougher.
  • Price: The tri-tip is often more expensive than the brisket per pound. This could vary on the butchery you use.

Despite coming from the same animal, the cow, tri-tip, and brisket are completely different meat cuts. They’re both considered to be great cuts with great flavors.

Tri-Tip or Brisket: Which is Better?

Californian cooks will argue the tri-tip is better tasting compared to brisket. So much so that it’s often known as the California Cut.

But which one really is better? It all depends on how you cook it and in all honesty, what flavor and texture you like from your meat.

Tri-tip is perfect for a small meal but if you’re into entertaining large groups of people, brisket is the better option.

This brings us to the topic of how to prepare and cook tri-tip or brisket when using a smoker.

How to Prepare and Cook Tri-Tip


Tri Tip


Tri-tip requires less cooking time when you use the smoker. Preparation is always key for an optimal tasting piece of steak. While you can marinate this cut, it’s not necessary. The best is to season it with your favorite seasonings or dry rub.

Pat the tri-tip with a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture before you add any seasonings, here are some great ideas for giving your tri-tip some extra flavors:

  • Spread a layer of mustard all over the roast or steak before adding the dry rub.
  • Sage, garlic powder, freshly ground peppercorns and onion powder makes a nice mix on a roast.
  • Paprika, cayenne pepper, and fresh garlic make for a spicy flavor.
  • Rub a combination of marjoram, thyme, rosemary, basil, mustard seeds, salt, and pepper for a rich, herby flavor.

Tips to Cooking and Serving Your Tri-Tip

  1. Make sure your smoker is at the desired temperature of about 250 to 275 degrees F.
  2. It’s always recommended to sear the meat on high heat for about 45 seconds on either side. This is to keep in the juices. Most cooks will tell you to do this before placing it into the smoker. Others have found searing after smoking works just as well.
  3. Place the tri-tip on a cooking dish and put it into the smoker. Let it cook for about one hour until the internal meat temperature reaches 140 degrees F. A meat probe will be useful here.
  4. When the meat is cooked, take it out and leave for 20 minutes before slicing. This is an important step most cooks skip and then wonder why their meat is dry. Letting your cooked tri-tip sit allows the juices to settle around the whole meat.
  5. Another mistake many cooks make is slicing incorrectly. Make sure you always cut against the grain for the tenderest slice. And, use a sharp knife for an even and smooth cut.

How to Prepare and Cook Brisket




Smoking brisket is one of the best ways to cook this type of meat. Brisket does well when it’s cooked low and slow. This way you can be sure to have a tender brisket full of flavor to serve your guests.

Make sure the brisket is at room temperature before you prepare it with seasonings.

The Texas-style dry rub is a good choice for the natural meaty flavor of this cut of meat. But you can also use these other ideas to add some different flavoring:

  • A rub made of freshly ground peppercorns, herbs, garlic, and onion powder makes for a tasty brisket.
  • Brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, garlic and onion powder, mustard, and cayenne pepper make a deliciously spicy rub with hints of sweetness.
  • Use the same mix as above but replace the brown sugar with maple syrup.

Make sure you rub the seasonings in well and all over the brisket. Then you can leave it to sit for up to 2 hours although some cooks will even let it sit overnight.

Tips for Cooking and Serving Your Brisket

  1. Prepare your smoker. Use your favorite wood chip flavors and get the ideal temperature of 220 to 225 degrees F. Remember, we’re wanting a low and slow cook. The temperature needs to stay consistent throughout.
  2. I recommend you estimate 2 hours for every pound of meat at this constant temperature.
  3. Place the prepared brisket into the smoker with the fat cap upwards (this rule may have exceptions). Now, this is when patience is called for. The perfect internal meat temperature is 195 degrees F.
  4. When the brisket is cooked, take it out and wrap it in aluminum foil. Then let it sit for up to one hour. Once again, you’re doing this to let the meat juices settle equally throughout the meat. You’re also giving the flavors a chance to improve.
  5. When you’re ready to slice the brisket, use a sharp knife and cut against the grain.

Which One Do You Prefer – Tri-Tip or Brisket?

Deciding if you prefer tri-tip or brisket really depends on your personal taste buds. But, it also depends on how much time you want to spend cooking your meal. And, how much you’re willing to pay for a piece of meat. And, whether you’re cooking for a crowd or not.

Reasons to Prefer Brisket

For a very long time, the brisket was considered low-grade meat used only for stews or to be ground up for mince or hamburger patties. But, as more people discovered its delicious flavors when cooked for a long time over a low temperature, it became a popular choice for smoking.

You like meat with a good layer of fat on it for rendering and giving more flavor.

Brisket is a cheap way to entertain your large groups of friends without giving them a bland meal. You simply can’t go wrong with a perfectly cooked brisket brimming with meaty flavors and taste. Brisket is also a great meat choice if you want to prepare your homemade Jerky.

Brisket is often available in your local supermarket or butchery. And, if you’re looking out for your health, this is a good piece of meat to eat. It contains high levels of oleic acid which drops the bad cholesterol and improves the good cholesterol levels in your body.

Reasons to Prefer Tri-Tip

If you’re a Californian native then deciding whether you prefer tri-tip or brisket is simply not something you consider. Tri-tip is your first choice, every time!

People love the fact tri-tip is leaner but still has a rich, buttery flavor. It doesn’t take ages to cook so if you’re an impatient cook then this is your best bet.

It’s a very tender cut and while it produces a good roast, it can also be found as steak on many menus. In fact, if you love meat sandwiches, this is good meat to slice and use on fresh bread.

You can’t easily go wrong with cooking tri-tip as long as you don’t overcook it and you get the temperature right.

Tri-tip is boneless which, for many people is positive. And, for health reasons, you can’t find fault with this cut. It’s full of Vitamin B and other minerals and it’s good for the heart with its low-fat content.

A Final Word

While both tri-tip and brisket come from the same animal, that’s where their similarity ends. Each cut offers a range of differences you need to consider when you want to cook with it.

Tri-tip is quicker cooking meat with scrumptious, rich flavors. The brisket takes a whole lot longer but it tastes just as good. Both types of meat cook well in a smoker though the brisket wins hands down for big parties. It’s easier to find brisket in your local supermarket and often more affordable than tri-tip.

Tri Tip vs Brisket (Differences Explained)