Chuck Roast vs Brisket

Chuck roast is sometimes referred to as poor man’s brisket. The price of brisket has gone through the roof in recent years, so chuck is a great brisket alternative. These two smoking meats are very similar, in texture and taste. Although brisket tastes better and is still referred to as the king of the smoking meats. In this post, we’ll compare brisket to a “chucky”.

Brisket weighs between 5 to 16 pounds and takes between 10 to 15 hours to cook. Chuck weighs 3 to 5 pounds and takes around 5 to 6 hours to cook. Brisket has more flavor, and is more expensive due to the size. Both cuts contain a lot of fat and connective tissue and are best cooked low-and-slow.

Beef CutWeightCooking Time
Brisket5 to 16 lbs10-15 hours
Chuck3 to 5 pounds5-6 hours

What is a Chuck Roast?

The chuck originates from the four-quarter of the animal. Chuck is from a hard-working muscle group, so it contains a lot of fat and connective tissue—similar to brisket. Chuck is an excellent alternative for pulled beef, and is becoming more and more popular as a brisket substitute. 

The chuck is easier to cook on a smoker because it’s much thinner, whereas brisket is a large roast and requires many hours in the smoker. A brisket may require 15 hours in your smoker, but we can do a chuck in half the time. 

To learn more about smoking chuck, check out my complete guide: How To Smoke Chuck Roast Like A Pro

What is Brisket?

Brisket is also part of the four-quarter—specifically the pectoral muscle (the chest). The brisket contains two muscles; a point and a flat. The point is the tastiest part of the brisket, and it’s also the larger of the two muscles.

The point is an oval-shaped muscle and is the tastiest part of the brisket. This is because the point contains more fat and connective tissue. The brisket flat is a leaner part of the brisket, and because it’s thin, it makes it more difficult to cook. The flat contains less fat—which is why it dries out easily. 

Some people find it easier to cook the flat separately. Another idea is to separate the flat later in the cook. The flat often cooks at a different temperature to the point, and will take longer to cook. This puts the point at risk of drying out, which is why some people separate the two brisket muscles. In some ways, the point and flat are so different, it’s almost like cooking two different meats. 

For more information on brisket, check out my guide: How To Smoke Tender Juicy Brisket

Cooking Times – Chuck vs Brisket

Chuck roast sometimes appears like a very thick steak rather than roasting meat. So because chuck is so much smaller, it won’t take anywhere near as long to cook. 

Even though there are size differences, there are some similarities between chuck and brisket. Both chuck and brisket should be cooked at a temperature between 250° F or even lower at 225° F. This temperature is ideal for tough cuts of meat because they require lots of time at low temperature in order to break down the connective tissue. 

Tenderness – Chuck vs Brisket

Brisket and chuck both contain a lot of connective tissue, also known as sinew. This connective tissue contains collagen, which is what makes meat very chewy. Low-and-slow cooking is the only way to break down all the fat and connective tissue. 

If you were to cook a brisket or a chuck at a high temperature, it would be almost inedible. Even though the USDA recommends beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 140° F, chuck or brisket would not be edible at this temperature. Low-and-slow cooking is all about breaking down connective tissue to the point where it melts. 

The Taste Difference Between Chuck and Brisket

One of the reasons brisket and chuck taste so delicious is because they have had that connective tissue melt and turn into a gelatin like texture. This transformation adds so much more flavor to the meat. Leaner cuts of meat sometimes don’t have very much flavor. This is because lean cuts contain very little fat. The fatty collagen makes the meat taste so delicious. However, that is depending on how it’s cooked. 

Have you tried smoking a Wagyu brisket yet? You can get one delivered to your door from Snake River Farms.

The Price Difference

Chuck is much more affordable than brisket. Chuck may cost more per pound, but brisket is heavier so will therefore cost more money. One of the reasons brisket is so expensive is because it’s so huge. Expect to pay around about $80 for a decent size brisket whereas a chuck roast won’t come close to that price.  

How To Cook Chuck Roast

  • Cover the chuck roast in your favorite barbecue rub, you can use a barbecue rub, or you can use a simple Texas-style rub of salt and pepper. If you’re going to use a Texas-rub, use of coarse black pepper such as a 16-mesh cafe grind like Aaron Franklin. For the salt, use Morton’s kosher salt or similar.
  • Set the temperature of your smoker between 225° F and 250° F and try to keep it there for the entire cook.
  • If you can, insert a thermometer probe into the meat. However, it may be difficult depending on the thickness.
  • Cook the chuck until it reaches an internal temperature of around about 200° F. As with brisket, temperature is only a guide, and you should perform tenderness tests rather than going by temperature alone. 
  • You can wrap chuck at the halfway point once it has developed a nice bark. 

How To Smoke a Brisket

  • Trim the brisket so 1/4 an inch of fat is on the fat cap , then trim the silver skin from beneath the brisket .
  • Slather the brisket with olive oil or yellow mustard as a binder for the rub. A binder will ensure that your rubble stick to the meat, so that way you won’t get a patchy bark.
  • For the barbecue rub, use your favorite recipe or store-bought rub, or use a simple Texas style rub of salt and pepper. 
  • Set the temperature of your smoker between 225° F and 250° F.
  • Smoke the brisket for about 5 hours, without touching it or opening the lid of your smoker
  • Once the bark has set, and your brisket has a nice color, then wrap it in aluminium foil or butcher paper
  • Place a thermometer into the side of the brisket, and cook until the internal temperature reaches around about 203° F. 
  • Allow the brisket to rest for at least half an hour to an hour, just so the moisture can reabsorb otherwise you’ll have a dryer brisket

Have you seen the most advanced thermometer on the market? FireBoard can be controlled via your phone, holds meat 6 probes, and records your cook data on a cloud.

More Facts About Chuck

  • Chuck usually weighs between 3 and 5 lb, and is usually around about 2.5 in thick.
  • Sometimes Chuck will be sold with some strings wrapped around it, and looks more like a rolled roast. 
  • Often Chuck will just look like a thick steak. 
  • Traditionally, chuck was once only used as a casserole meat.
  • It should take about 6 hours to smoke chuck roast in the smoker. 
  • Wrap the chuck roast once the internal temperature reaches around about 170° F should be about 3 hours of the cook.
  • Compared to brisket, brisket will take 10 to 15 hours to cook, depending on the size and the thickness and the temperature of your smoker

Brisket Total Cook TimeStart Time Begin SpritzingWrap BrisketFinish in OvenDone Time (203°F)Holding Time In Dry Cooler (1-4 hours)
12 hours6pm9pm12am12am6amBetween 7am – 10am
15 hours5pm8pm11pm11pm8amBetween 9am – 12pm
18 hours2pm5pm8pm8pm8am Between 9am- 12pm
Smoked brisket planner

This brisket injection marinade is the secret used in competitions and made by a World Barbecue champion.

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.


Author and founder at Meat Smoking HQ

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