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How to Trim a Brisket (Simple Guidelines to Follow)

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How to Trim a Brisket: For your beef brisket to have the ideal amount of smoke, trimming is crucial. You will learn everything you need to know about trimming a brisket so that it is perfectly prepared before going on the smoker from this step-by-step manual.

How to Trim a Brisket (Simple Guidelines to Follow)

How to Trim a Brisket

Alright, folks. It’s time to dive in and get your brisket trimmed and ready for the long smoke. Follow along with these 5 easy steps to get your brisket prepped and ready to go.

Step 1: Trim the Underside of the Brisket

This is a completely optional step, but I find it helps to even out my brisket and prep it for a more even smoke (meaning good bark all the way around). If you’re not into trimming the underside, feel free to skip this step and head to step two.

If you’d like to trim the underside a bit, follow along! Place the brisket fat cap down and lightly trim the fat and excess silverskin on this side of the brisket.

Step 2: Remove the Fat

Look at the point. You’ll see a large, almost moon-shaped, piece of pure fat. Using your free hand, work your fingertips into the inside edge of that fat piece.

Lift it up while you slide your knife in between the brisket and the fat. Work your knife back and forth (in a sawing motion) while simultaneously lifting the fat piece with your hand.

You can see me gripping this piece of fat in the picture below. Remove this entire piece of fat.

Once you’ve removed the majority of this large piece of fat, use your knife to level it off with the rest of the brisket. You don’t need to cut this whole chunk of fat out of the brisket and leave a crater.

Most of this will cook down and melt away, but you want uniformity across the bottom of the brisket for better cooking. 

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Step 3: Square the Brisket

Start by trimming a long thin section off of each side of square off your brisket. When it comes to trimming, don’t get crazy and start hacking stuff off. Be a minimalist first. You can always take more away but you can’t put the meat back on.

Once your sides are smooth and uniform, move to the ends. Your point will look really knobby and absolutely NOT uniform. This is OK. Trim off any excess or loose pieces of meat or fat that could burn during the cooking process.

Step 4: Trim the Skin and Remaining Fat

Now use your knife to remove any of that thick shiny looking skin and also any remaining large fatty pieces. Head to the flat and trim the corners so they are a little more rounded.

This will prevent those corners from drying out, crisping up, and burning. You did it!! The underside of your brisket is well-trimmed and beautiful like the picture below!

Step 5: Trim the Fat Cap

Pick that beauty up and flip her over so the fat cap is again on top. I like to kind of hunch over and get on eye level with my brisket for this next part. Using your super duper sharp knife, trim the fat cap down to approximately 1/4-1/2 inches thick.

This is not an exact science, but by looking at your brisket from the side, you can start to see where the fat is thicker and needs a little trimming and where it is thin enough to let it be.

I also pay attention to my beautifully squared sides because sometimes flipping it can redistribute weight and now they are not so square anymore.

Most briskets will have a section of the point that tapers off and looks like a thin flap of meat with fat above and below. Some brisket cooks trim this flap off entirely to create a more uniform top of their brisket.

Others leave it on and enjoy the thin crispier edges as a snack while slicing. This one is the pitmaster’s choice.

Step 6: Last Call for Trimming!

If you are cooking a Hot and Fast Brisket application, I recommend taking out more fat between the flat and the point. The reason for this is that when cooking a brisket hot and fast there isn’t as much time for the fat to render down.

Work your knife in between the two pieces of meat and lift the flat away while following the fat. Once you’ve separated the flat and pointed a bit, trim away some of the extra fat between the two. Make sure to check out the video for visual help on how much fat to remove.

When you give your brisket an extra once over with your eyes and feel it with your hands. It should look fairly uniform at the flat, and well-trimmed without any weird pieces that could easily burn to stick out at the point. You got it?! Way to go! You have successfully trimmed a brisket!

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