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Brisket Versus Pulled Pork: Key Similarities and Differences

Mehgan Zheng
graphic image of brisket vs pulled pork

Want to barbecue something tasty and succulent? Well, the two best options for you are the BBQ classics – brisket and pulled pork. These two BBQ meats are not only succulent and tasty but also rich in flavor and very satisfying, but when you're weighing brisket vs pulled pork, you'll need to consider a few details.

In an ideal situation, you would have both in a massive smoker every weekend. But we all don’t live in ideal situations, do we? 

The fact that you are reading this means you likely have a regular size smoker, and you can only get one of the two meats. If you're weighing your options (literally), you are in the right place.

This post puts these two classics head-to-head. By the time you are done reading it, you will have the information you need. Get ready to decide what to choose between brisket vs pulled pork!

Let’s begin.

Brisket vs Pulled Pork: Key Similarities and Differences

  1. Origin and taste

The biggest difference between brisket and pulled pork is that the two meats are from two different animals. Brisket is cow meat, while pulled pork is pig meat. Therefore, if you or your guests don’t eat pig meat for any reason (e.g. religious reasons), it is best to go for brisket.

In terms of taste, both meats are tasty and succulent. For most people, brisket tastes better than pulled pork. However, it must be said that some people find pulled pork to be tastier.

man holding raw brisket
  1. Cost of Brisket vs Pulled Pork

Although many people think that brisket is tastier than pulled pork, that doesn’t negate the fact that it is more expensive. In fact, brisket is often three to four times more expensive than pulled pork.

In many places across the country, you can purchase pulled pork at $1 per pound. This means it is something you can buy in great quantity at a very low cost making it the perfect BBQ meat for a large family or a small crowd.

In contrast, brisket often costs between $5 to $15 per pound depending on things like grade and cut. It will cost you an arm and a leg to serve brisket BBQ to a large family.

  1. Ease of smoking

Smoking brisket is harder than smoking pulled pork. Generally, you will cook both meats in the same way – low and slow. However, smoking brisket correctly is harder.

Quality pulled pork is fatty, moist, and tender. This makes it easy and straightforward to smoke as it doesn’t dry and burn quickly. In contrast, brisket is normally lean hence smoking it requires a bit of expertise. If you are not careful, it can quickly end up looking and tasting like a hot rubber tire.

Therefore, if you are a BBQ newbie, you should choose pulled pork for your weekend barbeque. You are unlikely to get it wrong even if it is your first time smoking it.

close up image of pulled pork on a cutting board with a fork
  1. Serving

Pulled pork is usually served in a sandwich. The sandwich is typically made by slicing a bun into two and layering pulled pork on the bottom bun. The pork is then topped with a sauce followed by the regular sandwich accompaniments and finally the top bun. 

Oh, and by the way, if you're serving a sandwich, our 8x12 inches cutting board is the perfect size for this - with room for chips or fries!

When made perfectly, a pulled pork sandwich can taste like a piece of heaven. Of course, you need to wash it down with an ice-cold soda or chilled beer to complete the affair. You can also serve pulled pork on top of BBQ pizza, tacos, or nachos.

Brisket, on the other hand, is typically served as it is. Of course, you need to slice it and add a great BBQ sauce to make it finger-licking good. You can also serve it in a sandwich or as part of meals such as hash, nachos, tacos, and macaroni & cheese.

  1. Health Value

Neither of the two classic BBQ meats is exactly a healthy food or a super food. Nevertheless, brisket has better health value compared to pulled pork. This is because of three key reasons.

First, pound-for-pound, brisket is lower in fat and calories. This means it has a slightly lower potential of making you gain weight if you consume it frequently.

Second, brisket has plenty of iron and important minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. This makes it a better food for your wellbeing.

Lastly, brisket typically has more vitamins like zinc, selenium, and B vitamins compared to pulled pork.

The three reasons above make brisket an overall healthier food than pulled pork.

What Else do You Need to Know about Brisket vs Pulled Pork?

cow parts with the brisket (chest) area highlighted

Brisket is meat from the chest of a steer. Therefore, it is typically full of connective tissue. Because of this, you need experience and expertise to make it tender and ready to chow.

The best way to prepare brisket for smoking is to coat the meat with a BBQ rub the night before. This gives the rub time to penetrate the meat. And the best way to smoke the meat is to do it with the fatty side facing down. This protects the meat from burning.

When you finish smoking your brisket, be sure to rest it for at least 120 minutes before you dig in.

cross section close up view of cooked brisket

What Else do You Need to Know about Pulled Pork?

Pulled pork is usually made of meat from the shoulder of a pig. It is heavily muscled meat with plenty of connective tissue just like brisket. It needs proper smoking to make it consumable.

The best way to prepare pulled pork for smoking is to coat it with rub and tie it with kitchen twine to preserve the moisture.

It is important to wrap your pork to protect it once it reaches 160 degrees F to protect it as you continue smoking it.

a pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw and sauce

Final words

Brisket versus pulled pork is a debate that is not ending anytime soon. This is because these two BBQ classic meats are similar in some ways. However, as you have also seen, they are also different.

Based on the differences revealed in this post, it should be easy for you to choose what meat to put in your smoker the next time you fire it up.

 

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