Can You Cut a Brisket in Half? - The Why and Why Not

January 23, 2023 5 min read

view of sliced cooked brisket dinner with sides to show can you cut a brisket in half

If you are a fan of smoked brisket and want to avoid putting the full packer on the grill, you might be wondering: can you cut the brisket in half? Cutting brisket in half is the most logical thing to do. You may not need the whole primal cut, or the size can be too big for a smoker. If you cut it in half you'll also speed up the cooking process, and you can still cook it to perfection.

This article will answer your common brisket question. We will discuss how to do it and why it's actually better to cut brisket in half.

What is a Brisket?

closeup view of raw brisket showing fat marbling throughout

Brisket is one of the best cuts of a steer for slow cooking. It has lots of marbling, tendons, and muscles, so you will need a lot of time to cook it. Once you cook it perfectly, it melts in the mouth and gives a perfect beefy flavor.

Brisket is a large portion of meat. Butchers obtain brisket from a cow's lower chest located near the front leg. Read in detail about otherbeef cuts. That is why brisket is one of the cow's most-used muscles and will be tough for you to cook.

The best way to cook a brisket is to cook it on slow heat for many hours. The slow heat breaks the tough tissues, and there is no risk of overcooking the meat. 

Can You Cut a Brisket in Half?

a piece of medium-cooked beef sliced and stacked on top of each other on top of a wooden cutting board with a steel knife

Brisket is very large. Generally, the size of brisket is around 15-18 pounds, but it can even weigh in around 20 pounds! You can cut it into subprimal cuts, which is more convenient to cook. But to cook the perfect piece of meat, you must know the anatomy of a brisket.

Butchers refer to the whole brisket as a full packer. It consists of two subprimal cuts that are known as the point and the flat, and you can cut the brisket in half by separating the flat part from the point. 

The point is the piece is directly attached to the ribcage. It's a thick cut with dense meat and lots of fat hunks and marbling.

A flat is a rectangular piece attached to the point through a thick layer of fat. The flat part makes up the majority of brisket. It has a thick layer of fat on the top that protect the meat from drying out, but you need to trim some of the fat, or you won't be able to obtain a crisp, flavorful crust.

Read more here aboutuntrimmed brisket. Chefs use the cut in corned beef, and you will need to cook it at a low temperature for a long time because it has tough tissues that take time to tender. 

It has connective tissues and layers of fat as well. However, it contains less fat than the point, and you can cut the flat into uniform slices for steaks. 

Grocery stores sell briskets; the half pack you may find is usually the flat portion.

Why Is It Important to Cut a Brisket In Half?

cross-section of sliced, cooked brisket showing can you cut a brisket in half

Cutting the brisket in half is recommended for many reasons:

Fewer Guests

Unless you are feeding a crowd, brisket can be too large. The average size of brisket is 15-18 pounds, and some can be up to 20 pounds. On average, you need one pound per person, so a whole packer of 15 lb is enough to feed 15 people. 

Too Big For the Grill

Cooking the whole brisket is not only difficult, but it may not fit on the smoker. Moreover, one large hunk of meat will restrict the airflow in your smoker, so it will be easier to manage if you cut it into subprimal cuts.

Cooking Time

A whole brisket takes a long time to cook. For example, it can take 10-12 hours to cook for a whole portion. As we have already mentioned, both flat and point portions of brisket have different types of meat, fat content, and connective tissues.

The flat portion is more uniform and has less cooking time than the point, which has lots of marbling and tough tissues. Therefore, you must vary the cooking time to cook each portion to perfection.

In conclusion, if you cut brisket in half, you can cook both pieces at their optimal time and temperature. The smaller portions are easier to handle, and you won't have too many leftovers.

How To Cut Brisket In Half?

For efficient smoking, we recommend cutting brisket in half. You can separate the flat portion from the point. 

 

a full raw brisket on top of a wooden cutting board with herbs and tomatoes

 

How to Cut the Brisket: Identifying the Point And Flat

Lay the brisket in front of you with the thick fat side down. We have already mentioned the flat side is flat, and the thick, dense part is the point. Consequently, to separate them, you need to look for the thick fat layer that separates the flat from the point. 

Once you see the thick fat layer that separates the flat portion from the point, you can take a boning knife, or even a chef knife will do the job. If you don't yet have a high-quality chef knife, make sure you check out our made in USA chef knife.

Trim the thick layer of fat on the point. If you cut too much fat, the meat will be dry, but leaving too much fat on will not allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat. Check out this simple brisket seasoning recipe if you aren't sure how to season your meat.

For the best result, you should leave a quarter of an inch of fat on the meat (so it doesn't dry out during cooking).

Insert the knife into the layer of fat that is joining the two parts. Separate the flat portion from the point. The next step is to trim the fat from both portions (see our guide on how to trim a brisket with full step-by-step pictures). 

How Long Does It Take to Cook A Flat Portion of Brisket?

The flat portion of brisket can take 4-5 hours or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 195 degrees F. 

How Long Does It Take To Cook The Point Portion of a Brisket?

A brisket point is tougher meat and may take longer to cook. It can take 6-8 hours to be cooked to perfection. However, it depends on the size of the brisket point as well. It usually takes one hour per pound. So, for a brisket point of 5 pounds, you may need five hours minimum to cook it correctly. The internal temperature of the thickest part should be 195 degrees F.

Final Words

Cutting the brisket in half is necessary at times. Smaller portions are easier to cook, and you will have an easier time cooking the meat perfectly since each half requires a different amount of time. And most importantly, you can fit half-portions in a smoker more easily than a full packer. The flat portion goes well for corned beef, and the point is more suitable for slicing meat for burgers or sandwiches. Both are extremely flavorful and rich if cooked on slow heat for a long time.

Related Articles

What is an Untrimmed Brisket?

Best Cutting Boards for Brisket

Beef Cuts: Complete Guide

 

RELATED PRODUCTS YOU MIGHT LIKE

View our entire collection of dark wood walnut reversible boards - there are many shapes and sizes to choose from. Find your perfect board for your next steak, bbq, stew, or smoked meat!

If you're thinking of cooking a brisket, you'll definitely need our extra-large 18 inch x 24 inch cutting board. 



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