Thanks to the rise of barbecue and grilling trend, brisket has become a prized cut of meat. And now with all the price hikes, brisket has become even more precious. So if you get your hands on a brisket, it would be sinful to waste a single gram of this delicious, fat-filled, gristly meat. As you would know, trimming is an important part of the preparation for smoking a brisket. So, what can you do with brisket trimmings? I did some research and uncovered dozens of recipes and uses for all your brisket offcuts.
Save all your brisket fat and trimmings because it has so many uses. Your brisket trimmings are great for burnt ends, pulled beef, burgers, sliders, sausage, or tacos. Keeping the fat is also important. You can grind brisket fat and mix it through burgers or sausage. Brisket fat is also good for making beef tallow—the pitmasters secret ingredient.
Why Every Gram Of Brisket Is Worth Saving
Brisket trimmings are far too good to waste. This is because brisket has a lot of fat and connective tissue, and when cooked correctly, it will taste absolutely delicious. This once cheap cut of beef has an enormous amount of flavor and unique texture, so it would be a shame for it not to be put to good use. Fortunately, there are a few ideas and some wonderful things that you can do with your brisket trimmings.
The Rising Cost Of Brisket
Brisket is expensive, especially if you are buying a Wagyu brisket or a Prime or a Choice grade brisket. I don’t like to waste anything and I like to put all my brisket trimmings to good use—even the fat.
Brisket is a fatty, awkward-shaped cut of meat, which is why it needs a lot of trimming prior to cooking. Most pitmasters will only leave 1/4 an inch of fat on top of the brisket. If you follow their methods, you will end up with a lot of fat trimmings. Depending on the size and shape of the brisket, you may also end up with meat offcuts. When trimming a brisket for smoking, you don’t want any loose ends because they will burn. So it’s better to cut those off and put them aside. Any fat thicker than 1/4 an inch won’t render, so that also needs to come off.
How To Trim Brisket Like A Pro
When trimming a brisket, you want to take the silver skin underneath on the underside of the brisket. Take a sharp knife and scoop that off. On the fat side or the top side, leave one-quarter inch of that. Take the rest of the fat off because it will not render and it will inhibit smoke from absorbing the meat. Removing a 1/4 inch of fat is the standard rule of thumb. Although you can leave more fat on the thinner, more vulnerable areas of the brisket. So when you’re in the store selecting brisket, keep that in mind that you’re going to only need a quarter of an inch of fat on the top. You don’t want to be paying for all that fat, however you can put that beautiful brisket Prime or Choice or Wagyu fat to good use with tallow, sausage, or mince.
Keep The Fat
You’ve probably heard the saying “fat is flavor”. Well, it’s absolutely true. Without fat, meat is dry and flavorless. Fat lubricates the meat and makes it taste moist and juicy. Brisket fat is worth saving—especially if the beef is Wagyu or Prime Angus because the flavor is amazing! Stick the fat in the freezer and run it through a grinder if you have one at home.
Using Brisket Trimmings To Make Burgers
When trimming brisket, your going to have a lot of scraps that are perfect for the grinder. Ground brisket with the right amount of fat make the best burger patties on the planet—especially if the beef is high quality. If you don’t have enough brisket meat, buy some chuck and run it through the grinder. Chuck is a good brisket substitute. Some pitmasters mix in a little pork belly for extra flavor. This burger recipe doesn’t use any binders. The idea is to make the burgers firm, not frozen. This method will prevent the burgers from falling apart and is better than adding binders.
- Ground brisket
- Ground brisket fat
- Ground chuck
- Salt and Pepper
- Egg for binder (optional)
- Separate the brisket trimmings, chuck trimmings and brisket fat and run them through the grinder separately.
- In large mixing bowl, make a mix of 70% meat to 30% fat. If you’re mixing chuck and brisket, measure an even brisket to chuck ratio.
- If you’re using a binder, mix the egg through the meat. If you would prefer to semi-freeze the burgers prior to smoking, then skip the binder.
- You don’t have to add seasoning, however you can add a little salt and pepper if you like.
- Once combined, roll the ground meat into large 10 to 12 oz balls.
- Apply pressure to compact the meat balls as much as possible. Make sure there are no cracks or air pockets.
- Then, place the meat onto the kitchen scales. Add or remove some of the meat until you have identical weight (10 to 12 oz).
- Squash the meat balls into nice, thick burger patties, again removing any cracks or air pockets.
- Place the burgers on a baking tray lined with wax paper.
- Place the tray into the freezer between 60 to 90 minutes, or until the burgers are firm.
- Once your ground brisket burgers are nice and firm, remove them from the freezer.
Build Up Brisket Offcuts Over Time
I like to build up my brisket trimmings in the freezer. A single piece of meat doesn’t have enough trimmings to make anything. I’ll only make brisket burgers when I have enough offcuts to make it worthwhile. Fresh brisket meat and burgers will always taste better than frozen. When meat is frozen, it loses moisture, which can make the brisket taste a little dry. However, sometimes you don’t have a choice other than freezing your trimmings. If you don’t have enough offcuts to make something there and then, the deep freeze is often the only option.
Vacuum Sealing Trimmings
If you have a vacuum sealing machine, this is by far the best way to store your brisket trimmings. Vacuum sealed meat can stay in the refrigerator for a few weeks, and can remain in the freezer long term.
Using Brisket Trimmings To Make Burnt Ends
Burnt ends a a great way to use and nice chunks of brisket meat that you’ve set aside while trimming. Brisket burnt ends are a barbecue delicacy. When trimming brisket, cut your offcuts into 1×1 inch cubes. This is the perfect size for making burnt ends. Burnt ends won’t take as long to cook as a whole brisket, however they still need time at a low temp to become tender. I’ve written a full length article on Brisket Burnt Ends, and you can read it here.
- Brisket point
- Barbeque Rub
- Spritz (apple cider vinegar, apple juice, beer or water)
- Mustard * Optional
- Barbeque sauce
- Separate point from flat
- Trim excess fat leaving 1/4 inch
- Apply binder to brisket * Optional
- Season the brisket with a rub
- Set your smoker to 225°F
- Cook for 4 hours
- Spritz every 30 minutes
- Wrap brisket in aluminium foil
- Increase to 250°F
- Cook to 203°F internal
- Slice brisket into cubes
- Place cubes into an aluminium pan and drizzle with a barbeque sauce.
- Place the tray of burnt ends into the smoker for 20 minutes.
If you want the brisket done faster, cook between 250°F and 275°F
Serving Size:140 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 320Total Fat: 16 gramsg
If you have a grinder, you can mince the trimmings for sausage. Like the brisket burger recipe above, you want to get nice meat to fat ratio (70% meat to 30% fat). To make sausage like postmaster Aaron Franklin, check out this video.
Make Beef Tallow From Brisket Fat
Beef tallow is another way to use some of the fat from the trimmings. Tallow is the secret ingredient many Texas barbecue joints use when to smoking brisket. Tallow is simply beef fat cooked down to where all the impurities are removed and you’re left with just an oil-like substance. Once you separate the impurities from the actual fat, you can pour this into a jar and store it long-term and use it in your cooking. You can also pour the tallow all over your brisket at the wrapping stage of the cook. I’ve written a full-length article on how to make tallow and how to use it with brisket. Check it out here: How To Make Beef Tallow.
The easy way to make tallow is to collect all the fat trimmings, place them in an aluminium pan, and the next time you’re cooking a brisket, just place the pan underneath. As your brisket is cooking, your tallow will also break down and remove the impurities. Then, at the end of the cook, use a metal sieve, and separate the hot oil from the fat. Pour into a jar, or use it on your brisket during the cook. Just be careful, it is extremely hot.
Separating The Point And Flat
Brisket has two muscles, a point and a flat. Some people separate the two muscles, because the flat is quite difficult to cook. The flat doesn’t contain as much fat as the point, so it cooks quicker and can dry out. Some people like to separate the flat and cook it in a pan alongside the point.
How To Choose A Good Brisket
When choosing a brisket, try to get one with a lot of marbling, because this will add moisture and flavor to the meat. Marbling is the fatty striations that’s found in between the meat. This would depend on the quality grade you choose, whether it be Select, Choice, Prime, or Wagyu. Select brisket is cheap because it contains no marbling. Obviously, the more marbling, the better the flavor. If you are buying a high-quality brisket, so it’s important to save every single trimming.
My Favorite Brisket Tools
Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.
Meat Injector: Injecting meat is a great way to take your barbecue to the next level and help you make competition-style brisket. An injector is the only way you will be able to get flavor and moisture into the middle of the meat. The Beast Injector is a stainless steel injector that is sturdy and affordable. Check the latest price on Amazon here.
Brisket Marinade: The best injection solution on the market is the Butcher BBQ Brisket Injection. This marinade is used in competitions and is made by World Barbecue Champion pitmaster, Dave Bouska. You can find the marinade on Amazon here.
Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.
Brisket Rub: These days I make my own rub when possible, but I always have a few pre-made rubs for when I’m running low. Barbecue guru Malcom Reed produces Killer Hogs, one of the best brisket rubs I’ve found over the years. Another great rub is Slap Yo Daddy, made by brisket master and multiple World Barbecue Champion, Harry Soo.
Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.
Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.
Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.