Fat Side Up or Fat Side Down Brisket?

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People tend to argue over everything, even meat. Nonetheless, several points of controversy in the Barbecue world have never been resolved.

One of the unresolved arguments is whether to cook brisket fat side up or fat side down.

If you’re new to the BBQ world, this can be one of the urgent issues you’re too shy to approach BBQ specialists.

You may be perplexed by all of the conflicting ideas on the internet, which never give a clear solution.

But, we are deconstructing this argument in great depth.

What’s the Nature of the Debate?

Brisket has two distinct sides. One side is covered with fat, whereas the other is all protein.

Apart from the polar opposite sides of the brisket, they are made up of two distinct muscles: the point and flat.

The tip is covered by a thicker layer of fat, whereas the flat is covered by a thin layer of fat.

Brisket may be split in half before being cooked on the grill. Brisket, on the other hand, should be left whole for the best results.

Yet, the key point of contention is whether the fat should be left up or down.

What Factors Determine Fat Side up or Down?

The location of the heat source in the cooker influences whether you should put a brisket up or down.

Most cookers are designed with the heat source on the bottom. As a result, arrange your brisket fat side down.

There are, however, exceptions to the norm. For example, horizontal offset smokers are built with a heating chamber at the top of the machine.

In this case, the brisket should be placed fat side up. The layer of fat serves as an insulating unit.

It shields the meat from the heat generated by the machine’s top.

If you do arrange your brisket fat side down, be sure to check the lean side often to ensure it does not dry out.

Wrapping your meat in butcher paper or foil midway through the cooking process is one technique to keep it from drying out.

Make sure you properly check your stove to locate the source of heat.

This will help you decide whether to cook your brisket fat side up or fat side down.

Cons of Brisket Fat Side Up

A common misconception leads many individuals to cook their brisket fat side up.

The fat cap melts and braises the brisket, according to the fat side-up principle. As a result, the fat infuses or melts into the brisket, promoting moisture.

This, however, is a myth. Have you ever heard the expression “oil and water don’t mix?” The same is true with grilling.

Brisket includes both oil and water, which should never be put together.

The fat crown of a brisket contains oil, whereas the lean red meat contains water. As a result, fat is unable to permeate the meat and encourage hydration.

The second component of this notion is that fat is what tenderizes the meat. This, however, is not the case.

Brisket is not tenderized by fat. Collagen degradation does. The brisket is held together by collagen or connective fibres in the meat.

Cooking the brisket for lengthy periods of time generates the ideal atmosphere and allows the collagen to break down.

As a result, the brisket becomes tender.

In general, grilling brisket fat side up will braise or tenderize the meat.

Moreover, grilling the brisket fat side up compromises the taste of the brisket.

Cooking the brisket with the fat side up removes the spices. The fat will melt and flow down the surface of the meat, bringing a significant amount of the spices with it.

The spice will end up on the fire or in the oil pan, not on the brisket. Your seasoning will ultimately be futile.

Another disadvantage of grilling brisket fat side up is the appearance. We all know that presentation is important in the world of food.

The brisket’s main point is the bark. It’s a delectable, deep-colored crust that forms on the exterior of the meat.

A succession of chemical processes is responsible for the bark. The bark is caused by the rub you used to season the brisket, protein, and the smoke from the meat.

Bottom Line
Cooking a brisket fat side up jeopardizes the briskets appearance. When brisket is cooked fat side up, the presentation side sits directly on the grill grates. Hence, preventing a uniform bark from forming on the surface brisket.

Benefits Of Cooking Brisket Fat-side Down 

There are several advantages to cooking a brisket with the fat side down. Cooking brisket fat side down offers many benefits, including consistent bark formation and preserving the spice in its proper spot. Not in a grease pan, but on the brisket.

As previously indicated, if the heat comes from the bottom of the cooker, cooking it fat side down will insulate the meat from the hard heat.

Heat going above the brisket is responsible for moisture loss.

The fat top of the brisket works as a protective barrier, keeping the strong heat of the flames at bay and limiting moisture loss.

Additionally, grilling brisket fat side down causes fat droplets to enter the flame and produce more smoke.

More smoke is a good thing in this scenario. It will permeate into the brisket, giving it a deeper taste.

Therefore, if white smoke emerges, proceed with caution. A tiny bit of white smoke is OK. Much white smoke can ruin the taste of the brisket.

Allows You To Mop the Brisket

Many pitmasters serve their brisket with a mopping sauce. A mopping sauce is a thin watery solution used to continually bathe and flavor the brisket as it cooks.

It is applied with a brush shaped like a small mop or spritzed on the brisket from a bottle.

Mopping the meat has many advantages, including locking in moisture during the early stages of cooking.

It also adds flavor levels and helps the bark grow in the second part of the cooking process.

The best part is that you may inspect your brisket multiple times before it is done cooking.

You won’t be able to mop or spritz the brisket if you chill it fat side up. You may baste the fat with the sauce at the same time. Yet, it serves no function since it will just run off into the buttered pan.

Hot Tip
For best results, smoke the brisket fat side down so you can mop the meat and add extra layers of flavor.

Gives the Brisket More Meat Exposure

The 30% rule is a little-known secret among most seasoned barbecue gurus.

Cooking brisket with the fat side up exposes the meat to contact with the grates. True, the openings in the grate allow smoke to get to the brisket, however the areas immediately on the grates do not obtain the smoky taste.

Because of the rods used to form the grate, the surface area of a conventional cooking grate is roughly 70% open and 30% closed.

Cooking it fat side down exposes 30% more flesh, enabling all of the meat to be exposed and imbued with delicious smoky taste.

Hot Tip
Always remember the 30% rule: fat side up, lose 30%; fat side down gain 30%!

Cons of Cooking Brisket Fat Side Down

There is one disadvantage to grilling beef with the fat side down. Within the smoker, two forms of heat circulate: hot air and radiant heat.

During the cooking process, heated air oscillates in the smoker.

Radiant heat, on the other hand, moves in a straight path and warms everything it touches.

Radiant heat is responsible for drying out the brisket. As a result, most pitmasters never let flames come into direct touch with brisket.

What if I Have an Offset Smoker?

There is no reason to be concerned if you possess an offset smoker. Certainly, you will have to cook your brisket fat side up, but there are no disadvantages to doing so.

There are a few straightforward methods that will help to mitigate the harm.

Wrapping it in butcher paper or foil is the most effective way to keep it from harming the bark.

Therefore, we advocate utilizing pink butcher paper, often known as each butcher paper.

Should You Flip Brisket When Smoking?

Turning the brisket evens out the meat’s exposure to the heat. Put your meat in your smoker, fat side down.

Midway through the cooking time, flip the brisket fat side up.

This easy procedure encourages even bark growth. It also helps the spice rub to thoroughly permeate the brisket.

You may even reverse the flipping procedure!

But, even if you position it fat side up first, the brisket’s aesthetic side and the rub may adhere to the grates or wash away.

Smoking brisket fat side down on an offset smoker only exposes the meat to the elements for half the time.

But, you may always use butcher paper or foil to give further protection.

Yet, turning the brisket has a benefit. Turning your brisket over every two hours or so and basting it with a mop sauce produces a happy medium.

According to those who believe in the fat side up hypothesis, turning the meat helps it to rest and absorb more moisture.

As a consequence, one side of the brisket will not dry up while the other is basted with the melting fat.

However, most benefits are not without drawbacks. Pockets of moisture form on the surface of the meat with each turn of the brisket.

The moisture droplets will fall onto the flame, generating an overabundance of smoke.

In addition, water has weight. As moisture gathers, it puts strain on the flesh, causing it to release even more liquid.

Fortunately, cleaning or spritzing the brisket after each turn prevents moisture loss.

Another disadvantage of this middle ground approach is that the turning of the meat may produce rips in the fat. Tears in the fat equal moisture loss.

Turn your brisket carefully to avoid the fat from ripping, or you’ll wind up with a piece of dried-out meat.

Final Thoughts

The issue of the day is whether to cook brisket fat side up or fat side down. We call it fat side down. Nonetheless, if you must cook your brisket fat side up, use extreme care.


Is it better to smoke brisket at 225 or 250?

Certainly, some cuts of meat are better suited to smoking at a specific temperature range. Brisket and pork shoulder, for example, are best smoked at 225°F, although ribeye and pork loin may be cooked at higher temperatures, such as 250°F.

Should fat cap be up or down after wrapping?

As a result, the fat cap should be lowered to facilitate spritzing the flesh side on top. Some believe that spritzing or not, they obtain a superior bark development with the meat side up. Lastly, cooking with the fat side down prevents the fat from sticking to the grate, as it does with the meat.

Is 205 overcooked for brisket?

Brisket is cooked when the interior temperature reaches 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. To prevent overcooking, remove the brisket from the fire before it reaches this temperature. You may easily cook it a little longer if necessary. Lastly, remember to rest your brisket.

How long will a 15 pound brisket take at 225?

How Long Does a 15 Pound Brisket Take to Smoke? A 15-pound brisket is smoked for 15-20 hours at 225 degrees. After the internal temperature of the brisket reaches around 170 degrees, we will cover it in pink butcher paper and remove it from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees.

Do I flip the brisket after wrapping?

Turning the brisket evens out the meat’s exposure to heat. Since the airflow inside any smoker is uneven, leaving the brisket in one place for the whole time may cause some of it to dry out. Flip and rotate your brisket at least once throughout the cooking process.

Do you put brisket fat cap up or down reddit?

Fat side up has always been the greatest. Because of the fat layer, the bark is not as firm… But, the beef itself was moister.

Do you put fat cap first or last?

Tip: Begin by scorching the fat cap (no need to add oil first). Hold it in place with tongs while the fat crisps and the oil renders into your pan.

What temp is brisket most tender?

A properly smoked brisket should be 195°F, but bear in mind that the internal temperature of the brisket might rise by 10 degrees even after it’s taken from the grill. You don’t want to overcook your brisket, which can result in dry, chewy meat.

Should I pull my brisket at 195 or 205?

Brisket should be pulled from the smoker when the internal temperature reaches 195°F or 203°F.

At what temp do you wrap a brisket?

When Should You Wrap a Brisket? After the brisket achieves an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit, most barbecue gurus advocate covering it.

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