If you looking to put some beef on your pit this weekend then you might be wondering about Brisket vs Tri Tip. There are pros and cons to both cuts but both are some of the best meat to put on your smoker. Let’s walk through them and see if we can help you make the right choice.
Let’s start with the basics about these two very different cuts of beef. The tri tip is comes from the Bottom Sirloin at the back of the cow while brisket comes from the front of the animal.
A whole tri tip weighs in at around three pounds while a full packer brisket will typically weigh between 12 to 20 pounds. If you are cooking for a family of four then you will polish off a tri tip in one meal. If you cook a brisket then you are going to be eating leftovers for the rest of the week.
In general a tri tip will cost about twice as much as a brisket on a per pound basis. Of course things are different all across the country, etc. but you can estimate about $8 per pound for tri tip and $4 per pound for brisket.
Of course there are different ways of looking at costs. A three pound tri tip is going to run you about $24 while a small twelve pound brisket is going to set you back about $48. Another thing to consider is that you are going to eat all of the tri tip while about 30% of the brisket is going to get discarded when you trim the fat.
Here is where the MONSTER differences come into play.
A tri tip is actually a pretty tender steak and it should be cooked as such. I grill a tri-tip to 135F-140F before letting it rest and slicing. My preferred technique is to smoke it with indirect high heat for about 45 minutes to an hour before moving it directly over the charcoal to put a little sear on the outside.
A brisket is a combination of two TOUGH muscles with a massive amount of inter connective tissues which needs to be broken down before it will ever be tender. Getting a brisket tender enough to be edible will take you HOURS with exactly how long depending upon the technique you are using. For more information read How Long to Smoke a Brisket.
It is much simpler to cook a tri tip than a brisket. As long as you have a digital thermometer and are remotely familiar with how to grill a steak then you will do great with a tri tip. Briskets, on the other hand, have been known to make grown men cry.
I love tri tip but the flavor profile pales in comparison to a properly smoked brisket. Both cuts have a strong beef flavor but a smoked brisket has a crusty bark and succulent fatty bits that will melt in your mouth. Of course if the brisket isn’t properly smoked it will turn out dry and bitter and you are going to wish you had cooked a tri tip instead!
Unfortunately for me the biggest difference between briskets and tri tips is that I don’t have access to a decent supply of tri tip steaks. My local Costco used to keep them in stock but discontinued carrying them about a year ago.
Baton Rouge is a town barren of tri tip.
My suggestion to you is that if you are trying to decide between the two then go with the tri tip. It is easier to cook and you can gloat over poor souls like me who don’t get to enjoy this wonderful cut.
For those of you who are thinking about smoking a 3-4 pound brisket flat instead of a whole packer brisket let me talk you out of it. That small flat will still take you hours to cook, will be more expensive on a per pound basis and will be easier to screw up.
If you were wondering how brisket stacked up against a tri tip then I bet you have a few other brisket questions on your mind. Let me turn you into a legitimate Brisket Master with my FREE Brisket Boot Camp. Sign up below and let me send you some serious brisket lessons.