There are times when you really want to cook a brisket but life has other plans. Sometimes you can’t find a decent brisket at the store, sometimes the price has gone through the roof and there are times that the thought of dealing with a whole brisket is just a little bit overwhelming.
That’s okay though because there are several cuts of meat that are great brisket substitutes!
These brisket alternatives are either cheaper, faster to cook or taste about the same.
Five Great Brisket Alternatives
- Chuck Roast
- Beef Ribs
- Beef Belly
- Tri Tip
- New York Strip Roast
Let’s look at these options in more detail!
Chuck Roast is Cheaper and Easier than Brisket
A chuck roast is my number one brisket substitute. Whether you want to smoke it or make a pot roast in the oven the chuck is an amazing cut of beef.
You can almost always find a chuck roast at the grocery store. Most chucks are sold in the 3-5 pound range which helps them cook faster than a whole packer brisket.
The chuck is more like a the fatty brisket “point” than the lean brisket “flat”. This makes the chuck great for making classics like “Poor Man’s Burnt Ends”.
While a chuck roast and a brisket cost about the same on a per pound basis the fact that chuck roasts come in smaller sizes means that you can make a great plate of barbecue with a chuck without paying an arm and a leg.
I did a head to head comparison of Smoked Chuck Roast vs Brisket a while back that you can check out for more details.
Beef Ribs Are Faster and More Impressive Than Brisket
Many people call beef ribs “Brisket on a Stick” so, yep…they are a great cut to swap out when you can’t do brisket.
Beef ribs are meaty with enough fat content to keep them succulent and juicy when you smoke them. You can also braise the ribs in some stock and wine if you are looking for a dish to make in your oven.
If you are looking for something that is really going to impress your guests, or will awesome on Instagram, then it is hard to beat a Dino Bone Beef Rib!
In addition to looking impressive, beef ribs will usually cook in 5-6 hours which is much faster than how long it takes to smoke a brisket.
There are a couple different types of beef ribs and they can be hard to find.
If you would like more information then check out this article on How Long to Smoke Beef Ribs.
Beef Belly is a Great Change of Pace
If you are feeling adventurous then try cooking a beef belly instead of a brisket!
The fat on a beef belly has a stronger flavor than on a brisket and the meat is more “streaky” so the cut cooks a little differently. All the same, a beef belly is a beautiful cut of meat and it is a great alternative to a packer brisket.
I have had great luck using beef belly to make pastrami and beef bacon. Here is the article I wrote for How to Smoke a Beef Belly Like a Brisket if you would like to learn more.
Tri Tip is Leaner and Faster than Brisket
I absolutely love cooking tri tips. Tri tips are easier to cook than a brisket and they have a greater meat yield.
While brisket is the king of Texas style barbecue, the tri tip is the king of the California barbecue scene where it is also known as a Santa Maria roast.
A tri tip, which is very similar to picanha, typically weighs between 2-3 pound which makes it more of a roast than a steak. However, I treat tri tips like a large steak and cook them indirect to medium rare before giving them a quick sear and slicing against the grain.
Here is how I cook tri tips on a Weber kettle and here is how I smoke tri tips on a pellet grill.
For a head to head comparison between these two cuts check out my article on Tri Tip vs Brisket. If you can’t find a tri tip locally then here is a guide on Where to Buy Tri Tip.
New York Strip Roast Has a Better Yield than Brisket
Another cut that I love cooking more than brisket that is great for feeding a holiday crowd is a full New York Strip roast. I can find a 8-10 pound strip roast at Costco around most holidays. These are great when slow smoked to medium rare and carved into individual steaks.
The strip roasts cost about twice as much as brisket on a per pound basis. However, a brisket will lose about half its weight after trimming and smoking while the strip loin loses almost nothing. Since the strip has a much higher meat yield than a brisket the cost per serving is almost identical between the two cuts.
For more information please check out my article on How to Smoke a New York Strip Roast.
Bonus Entry: Pork Butt Is Half the Cost of Brisket
I have given you five great beef alternatives to brisket but as a bonus I wanted to throw in another barbecue classic, the pork butt.
A pork butt typically costs half as much as a brisket.
The two cuts take just about as long to cook, even when wrapped in foil, and some people flat out like pulled pork more than smoked brisket.
For a more detailed comparison between these two choices check out my article on Pulled Pork vs Brisket.