Tri Tip Vs Brisket: How To Distinguish Them?

July 16, 2023 6 min read

Tri Tip Vs Brisket: How To Distinguish Them?

The Brisket and the Tri-tip are both culinary powerhouses with their own unique flavors, textures, and cooking secrets. Discovering the secrets behind these beefy beauties empowers you to choose the right one for your recipe or taste.

So, what one to choose,Tri-tip vs Brisket?

Tri-tip is a lean, triangular cut from the sirloin, while Brisket is a larger, fattier cut from the foreleg. Tri-tip is smaller, lighter, and best for grilling, while Brisket is bigger, tougher, and slow-cooked. Brisket is richer in flavor and tenderness as it contains more fat and connective tissues than Tri-tip. Tri-tip is popular in California, while Brisket is beloved in Texas-style barbecue.

There's more to it than this, so you may want to dig deeper into it.

Tri Tip Vs Brisket: Quick Overview

tri tip vs brisket taste

Source: Chef Travel Guide

Have a look at the table below for a quick overview o Tri-tip vs Brisket:

Comparing Factors



Cut of meat

Bottom sirloin

Chest region


Smaller and lighter

Larger, 8-20 pounds

Fat content

Lean with marbling

Rich in fat and connective tissues

Cooking method

Quick grilling

Low and slow cooking


Beefy flavor

Distinct flavor, often seasoned with rub


Tender when cooked correctly

Smoked for hours for a tender and juicy texture

Popular uses

Versatile, used in various dishes

Texas-style barbecue, sandwiches, tacos, stews


Sliced against the grain

Sliced against the grain


$8 per pound

$4 per pound 





In the following part, I’ll discuss these parameters in detail.

Cut of Meat

The Tri-tip is a lean triangular cut from the sirloin, while Brisket is a larger and fatter cut from the foreleg.

The following are some of the main differences regarding the cut of meat: 


  • Tri-tip is a triangular cut found in the lower section of the sirloin portion.
  • It is a smaller and lighter cut, typically weighing around 4-6 pounds.
  • Tri-tip is known for being lean, which means it has less fat marbling compared to Brisket.


  • Brisket is a flat cut taken from the foreleg of the animal.
  • It is a larger cut, usually weighing around 8-20 pounds.
  • Brisket is characterized by its higher fat content and abundant connective tissues. As a result, it contributes to its rich flavor and tenderness when cooked low and slow.


Tri-tip is a smaller and lighter cut of meat weighing only around 4-6 pounds. On the other hand, Brisket is a larger cut of meat weighing around 8-20 pounds.


A whole Tri-tip weighs around 3-4 pounds. A whole-packer Brisket, in contrast, can weigh as much as 20 pounds and average around 12. 

Fat Content

The Tri-tip is considered a lean cut of beef compared to Brisket.

The Tri-tip has a lower fat content and is classified as a lean cut despite the marbling it may have. A typical 6-ounce serving of Tri-tip contains around 14 grams of fat, with about 6 grams being saturated fat. 

On the other hand, Brisket has more fat than Tri-tip and is rich in both fat and connective tissues. It has extensive intramuscular fat marbling and is made up of two parts, the point, and the flat. Due to its higher fat content and less muscle, Brisket tends to be tender when cooked properly.

Cooking Method

The Tri-tip is best suited for quick grilling over a fire. In contrast, Brisket is known for its slow-cooking method. 

In most cases, the tri-tip is cooked medium-rare or medium-done in 25-30 minutes over high heat. For a different flavor profile, tri-tip can also be roasted in the oven or smoked. 

Brisket, on the other hand, is usually cooked for a long time over low heat, often around 14 hours. Smoking or braising brisket breaks down collagen and connective tissues, which results in tender, succulent meat.  

Many Briskets are smoked for several hours in order to achieve the desired tenderness. In order to cook a Brisket perfectly, it should reach aninternal temperature of 195°F to 205°F.


The beefy flavor of Brisket is deeper than Tri-tip. 

When cooked properly, tri-tip has the characteristics of a medium-rare steak, beefy flavor, and tenderness. Compared to Brisket, it has a milder taste and is not as well known for its fat content.  

While Brisket has smoky exterior bark, buttery fat, and a rich beefy taste. There is a distinct flavor to it, which is often seasoned with a dry rub or marinade. Both cuts offer plenty of beef flavor, but Brisket tends to be richer in flavor. When cooked properly, Brisket has more fat and less muscle, which contributes to its tenderness.


Tri-tip has a firmer, more tender texture compared to Brisket. The reason behind this is that Tri-tip is a lean cut of beef, which results in a tender texture when cooked correctly. It has a medium-rare steak-like texture, offering a balance of juiciness and tenderness. 

As opposed to this,Brisket has a much tougher texture. This is because Brisket comes from the chest area of the cow, which contains a lot of connective tissues and collagen. 

It takes slow cooking methods, such as smoking or braising, to break down tough tissues and render fat in Brisket. Brisket is known for its rich marbling and flavorful fat, which adds a buttery and unctuous quality to the meat.

Popular Uses

Tri-tip is best for quick grilling over the fire, making it perfect for roasting and smoking. Conversely, Brisket is best for smoking.

Cooking Tri-tip is easier, especially for beginners, and it is a versatile cut of meat. Tri-tip is particularly popular in California. 

Brisket is popular in Texas-style barbecue and is also a great cut of meat for sandwiches. Additionally, Brisket is frequently used in stews and chili.


Tri-tip should be sliced thin against the grain, while Brisket should be sliced thickly across the grain.

Slicing Tri-tip against the grain ensures that the meat remains tender and easy to chew. The grain refers to the direction in which the muscle fibers run. So, by cutting against it, you shorten the fibers, resulting in a more tender texture. Tri-tip is also a smaller and lighter cut of meat compared to Brisket, making it easier to slice into thin pieces.

tri tip vs brisket calories

Source: Foodfire Friends

However, slicing Brisket across the grain is crucial to achieve tenderness and optimal texture. By cutting across the grain, you break up the long muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender bite. 

Also, if you knowhow long should rest Brisketyou will be able to slice it properly.

Brisket is a larger cut of meat which can make it more challenging to slice. Resting the Brisket allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, enhancing its flavor and juiciness.


Tri-tip is nearly double the cost of beef Brisket on a per-pound basis.

On average, a Tri-tip costs around $8 per pound. Despite being more expensive, Tri-tip is still a popular cut of meat due to its versatility and flavor. 

On the other hand, Brisket is less expensive compared to Tri-tip on a per-pound basis. 

On average, a Brisket costs around $4 per pound. However, once cooked, a Brisket yields less in weight, so they come out to about the same cost per cooked pound.


Tri-tip is a smaller and triangular-shaped cut of meat, while Brisket is a larger and rectangular-shaped cut.

The shape of the Tri-tip lends itself well to quick grilling and roasting, making it a versatile choice for various dishes. 

Alternatively, Brisket's size, shape, rich fat, and connective tissue make it ideal for smoking and braising.

Brisket's popularity in Texas-style barbecue is attributed to its unique shape and cooking characteristics. By knowing thedimension of the Brisket you can get a better idea about the shape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What Meat Is Closest To Brisket?

The closest alternative to Brisket is Chuck Roast or "Poor Man's Brisket." Chuck roast comes from the beef chuck primal, which is right above Brisket. It's typically used for pot roast or chuck roll; You might also see it sold as "shoulder steak.

Which Brisket Is Better?

The USDA-certified Angus beef Brisket is the better choice. Angus beef is specifically raised for eating, and the Prime Briskets are more tender due to higher fat marbling. They are also tenderer because the cattle are younger. The closest alternative is the Chuck Roast or "Poor Man's Brisket.

Is A Brisket Halal?

Yes, Brisket can be halal if raised and slaughtered according to Islamic principles. As per Islamic law, the animal must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter. Cows must be stunned before slaughter, and their carcasses must be completely drained of blood before further processing. 

Final Words

This is all about the Tri-tip vs Brisket. Hopefully, you’ve got a clear idea about the comparison of Tri-tip and Brisket. Remember, it’s all about your taste and preference. You can choose either one as long as you like it.

Thank you!

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