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Brisket vs. Chuck Roast: Savor the Difference

Mehgan Zheng
cooked brisket next to cooked roast beef to demonstrate brisket vs chuck roast

The brisket vs. chuck roast cuts are relatively close to each other. Of course, you can’t help but wonder whether you can substitute one for the other. After all, not all shopping trips succeed since we often have to substitute a few items to save a few bucks. Perhaps, you're looking for the difference simply because your store doesn’t carry them. Unfortunately, they aren't exactly interchangeable. So, what is the difference between these two cuts of meat?

Brisket vs. Chuck Roast: What is a Brisket?

The brisket is a cut of meat from the breast section of the cow. It is located just below the first five ribs of the cow and before the foreshank. This section of the cow contains pectoral muscles which go through a lot of movement throughout the lifetime of the cow. Therefore, it's a tough portion of meat. The brisket responds well to smoking, braising, and slow cooking. These processes allow the meat to soften and the fat to dissolve into the meat. By applying low and slow heat, you can create a mouthful of flavor.


cow cuts chart showing what part of cow is brisket

As the brisket is a huge portion of meat, you can cut it to produce two popular cuts.

Flat cut

This is a large, uniformly-shaped piece with a thin layer of fat left on one side. It has no shortage of connective tissue. Therefore, it's the optimal choice for you to cook in the oven or the slow cooker.

Deckle Point

This is a much larger piece. It comes with a thick layer of fat and is a smoker’s best pick.

What is a Chuck Roast?

The chuck roast comes from the chuck primal section of the cow. The chuck goes all the way from the neck and shoulders down to parts of the ribs. This section of muscles does a lot of work. As a result, it yields some of the toughest pieces of meat. The chuck roast is one of the many cuts from the chuck primal. Although its texture may be slightly less tough than the brisket,  it still has a ton of marbling.

raw chuck roast on a wood cutting board with a knife

As you consider brisket vs. chuck roast, note that the chuck roast also does well with slow cooking methods. These methods allow the meat to soften without completely drying out. The chuck roast is very popular in pot roasts and smokers swear by it too.

Differences Between Brisket vs. Chuck Roast

These pieces may be right next to each other. Therefore, pure logic would suggest that they are literally two sides of the same coin. However, they have a few differences that make them stand out on their own. Here are some of the most notable differences between brisket vs. chuck roast.

Brisket vs. Chuck Roast: Where Are They Cut From?

The chuck roast is cut from the chuck, which is located on the upper half of the cow. The chuck section is much larger than the brisket. The brisket, on the other hand, is cut from the lower half of the cow. It is, on its own, a whole primal section of the cow. If you want to understand these meat cuts better you can check out our complete guide to beef cuts, full of with a visual aids sure to help you get the gist.


The chuck roast and brisket do not differ much in texture. However, the brisket has pectoral and superficial muscles which work to provide support to 60% of the cow’s body weight. For this reason, the brisket may be a tad bit tougher than the chuck roast.

Fat Marbling

The chuck roast has the luxury of adequate marbling throughout. This marbling enriches the taste and adds moisture to the meat, making it softer once you cook it. While the brisket is equally well-marbled, most of its fat is found outside the meat. This standout feature has been the cause of disagreement amongst pitmasters. Some leave the fat on the brisket, but many trim it off before they cook it. In case you’re interested in learning how to trim your fat, read our step-by-step guide to brisket trimming to help you go from beginner to pro in a few steps. Just be sure to use the best knives for trimming and slicing brisket!

Brisket vs. Chuck Roast: Availability

The brisket is a popular cut of meat. Even so, it can be a little harder to find than the chuck roast. This is because while a cow produces at least 6 chuck roasts, butchers can cut only 2 portions of brisket from the same animal. It may be especially difficult if you're looking for a whole brisket that has not been separated. If you’re bent on the brisket, worry not, because the extra time looking for it will pay off. When it comes to brisket vs. chuck roast, the two are similarly and fairly priced.

cross-section view of cut, cooked brisket

Can You Smoke a Chuck Roast?

Yes, smoking a chuck roast is possible! Word on the street is that it tastes better than brisket. I can already hear the shuffling feet of brisket enthusiasts ready to go to war. Let me explain: while the brisket is popular for smoking and undeniably full of flavor, the fat marbling in the chuck roasts makes for a richer flavor. Another upside of smoking the chuck roast is that it takes a shorter time and bursts with flavor right off the heat. Brisket, on the other hand, develops its flavor over time.

If you do decide to smoke your chuck roast, beware that it won’t present like the brisket. Because it will include multiple muscles, it will be difficult to work with the grain. I think it’s safe to say the brisket may have it when it comes to presenting as slices, and you can always elevate your presentation with a high-quality wooden board for brisket.

Both the brisket and chuck roast are exemplary cuts of beef. When made correctly, you'll yield mouthfuls of pure bliss. Choosing your go-to cut comes down to preference, availability, and how you want to prepare it. We hope we helped clear the mystery around these popular cuts.



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