Tri-tip vs Brisket: Two Tasty Meats Compared

No barbeque cookout will never be complete without a juicy slice of grilled US beef. It’s tasty, grilled to perfection, and it goes well with a cold bottle of your favorite beer. There’s something about it that always brings family and friends together.

Beef briskets have been dominating your grillers and smokers for some time. It’s not hard to see why. That grilled beef brisket looks amazingly charred and cooked to perfection. When simmered, it has this fantastic rich beef flavor. While these have been a star in everyone’s cookout, the tri-tip cut is slowly gaining everyone’s attention.

These two cuts of beef came from different sections of the animal. In this article, we’ll know where these cuts originated. And we’ll also see what differentiates one from the other. These two cuts of beef have varying taste, size, and of course, the price range is quite different too.

These Beef Cuts Came From Where?

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Only a few cuts of meat come close to the beef brisket. We have always enjoyed charred grilled brisket and beef brisket stew—the meat’s tender and tastes so beefy. And, the tri-tip cut comes close to this beefy indulgence. These two cuts are the closest when it comes to the taste. But you’ll be surprised that tri-tips and briskets are like north and south. They come from different regions of the beef.

Beef brisket comes from the front part of the animal. Precisely, it’s cut from the breast or the lower ribs of the beef while the tri-tip cut is obtained from the cow’s back part, specifically the lower sirloin of the animal.

Tri-tip vs. Briskets: What’s the difference?

If you’re going to host a bbq cookout, there’s no better way than to get two of the most flavorful cuts of beef. Beef briskets and tri-tips are often sold earlier compared to other parts of the cow. These cuts of meat are the bestsellers of the butcher shop. More so, on weekends, when everyone’s preparing for a hearty dinner for the entire family.

Since these two cuts came from entirely different regions of the cow, you can expect the taste, texture, and appearance to be different too.

Appearance differences

tri-tip-and-brisket-raw

You can buy briskets in two cuts. Each cut looks a bit different from one another- the pointcut and the flat cut. The pointcut has a healthy layer of fat running through the meat, and it has a triangle shape. The flat cut, on the other hand, has a less fat content. It’s also available in rectangles or squares.

And how does beef brisket looks like when grilled or smoked? When appropriately smoked, beef briskets can have a beautiful charred crusty bark with fatty bits.

Tri-tip cuts are often referred to as a California cut, getting it from its shape (triangle). And, from the fact that it came from the “tip” of the sirloin. It’s a very fitting name for this triangular-shaped cut.

Texture

Beef brisket came from the chest part of the animal. Since cows don’t have collarbones, this part bears the substantial weight of the animal. As such, connective tissues and tendons develop in this area, making this cut a bit tough. This rich chest muscle cut can be chewy and tough if not cooked properly. Beef briskets can be served sliced using special knives for trimming brisket, but due to its texture, it is often better when pulled apart.

Tri tips, on the other hand, is a tender and leaner cut of beef. Those looking for a healthier alternative tend to shy away from beef briskets. So when undercooked or overcooked, this cut can be tough to chew and to digest. Tri tips don’t have any fat caps, compared to brisket. That’s why the texture is leaner and meaner.

Taste

Beef briskets pack tendons and cartilages, so, this massive piece of muscle requires a slower time to cook. The long cooking method melts all the tendons and cartilages, resulting in a sharp burst of beef flavor. That rich beef flavor is something that you can only get from beef brisket! Everyone loves the beefy burnt ends too, that’s why it’s a preferred cut for corned beef and pastramis. The rich beef flavor is due to the marbled fat and high cartilage content.

Beef tri-tips, on the other hand, have a leaner taste. Although it’s void of any fat cap, this cut still has that distinct beef flavor; it’s just that it tastes less fatty. It still has a decent layer of fat, so you can even expect that buttery taste, only a subtle one, though. And, if you prefer to have a leaner cut of beef, it’s easy to trim the fat off tri-tip.

Cost

Trips may set you back a bit more than briskets if bought per pound. Tri tips cost about 8 dollars per pound, while beef briskets cost about 4 dollars per pound. If you’re going to buy it on a per pound basis, tri-tips can cost twice as much as beef briskets.

But if you’re only cooking for a few people, you have to weigh the initial cost or cost of leftovers. You can buy tri-tips in small packets, whereas, you can’t purchase briskets in small portions. One way to look at it: if you will cook beef brisket for the next couple of days, overall, it’s more worth it than tri-tip. Should you buy it on a per pound basis? If you’re cooking in small batches, it’d be wise to do so.

Cooking method

brisket-and-tri-tip-cooked

Since beef briskets contain a lot of cartilage and tendons, it’s a sturdy piece of meat. You’ll likely be smoking it for hours or even days to get that tender pulled beef texture. But, your patience will be rewarded with a rich beef flavor that you can use for plenty of recipes. Beef briskets can be grilled, but there are also other methods of cooking that you can try. You can even smoke a brisket. It can also be stewed, cooked in a crockpot or oven. Beef briskets are often well done– otherwise, you won’t be able to chew it. Indirect, low heat is preferred when cooking briskets.

Cooking tri-tips, on the other hand, is less challenging. You don’t need hours or days to enjoy a tender slice of bbq beef tri-tips. This cut is often preferred rare to medium-rare, since overcooking it may result in a chewy texture. You can enjoy that slice of tender tri-tips in half the time.

Conclusion

Tri-tip or briskets for your cookout? While both cuts have fantastic taste, they have differences, especially when it comes to fat content.

Which is the better cut? The answer to that question depends entirely on how you prefer your beef. And how much time you can spare in cooking it. Briskets have a rich beef flavor and thicker fat. This cut requires more time to prepare, too. Tri tips, on the other hand, are quicker to cook and have less fat. But, you can still enjoy some buttery beef taste with a tri-tip steak.

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