Should You Smoke Brisket Fat Down or Side Up?


How does the placement of the meat affect the grill? Does it even matter? Find out everything you need to know about increasing or decreasing breast fat in your guide.

One of the many things I love about grilling is that there’s always debate about how best to do things.

Beef brisket on a smoker barbecue

Discussions about smoking temperatures, meat preparation and gastronomy have been going on for years.

One of the issues that hasn’t gone away is whether I should grill the breast fat-side up or fat-side down?

The short answer is evident in many mythologies surrounding fat retention and retention:

The breast should be placed fat-side down. The brisket doesn’t absorb moisture from the fat as it cooks, so placing it fat-side up to keep the brisket moist doesn’t help. It also removes all of the spices from the meat and prevents you from forming a good beef.

This might be a surprising question for a newbie. If you have done the meat preparation correctly and it is the correct cooking temperature, the others should take care of themselves. Apparently not.

In today’s guide, I’m going to walk YOU through the discussion and try to come up with a straight answer to one of the burning questions in the grilling world.

Why are there differences of opinion?

The main argument comes from the fact that brisket consists of two parts. One is covered with fat called the dot. The other part is called flat and is much thinner in comparison.

The composition of the fat in these cuts varies greatly, making it difficult to smoke or cook. For this reason, many experienced barbecue fans prefer to separate them and cook them separately. For this reason, most chest cutting guides recommend separating the two pieces.

However, many experts prefer to leave them intact and cook the whole breast. For example, Aaron Franklin’s famous brisket recipe requires minimal meat prep and cooking of all the cut meat.

With two very different approaches, it’s natural that there will be disagreement about whether to lay fat-side up or fat-side down.

Why cook the breast fat side up?

The main argument for putting the meat fat side up is that the layer of fat melts and melts onto the meat. The argument is that meat has given BECOMING to meat, making it more juicy and delicious.

Sounds like solid science, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a complete myth ( source ). The meat cannot absorb the fat and instead directs it into the fat pan under the grilled breast.

While this is unfortunate, it also poses a bigger problem: the fat will strip any spices from the surface of the briquette.

It’s also a display issue. Many competitive pitmasters aim to develop a nice crust on the surface of their meat, but putting the fat on it and washing the breast will die.

Why cook the breast fat side down?

When the fat cap is placed on the underside of the breast, you are much better able to reap the benefits of the fat.

One is that the fat doesn’t remove spices from the surface of the breast. The other is that grease drain dripping into the water pan or onto the coals creates smoke. This smoke rises through the chamber, filling your chest with extra flavor and aroma.

Another advantage is that the layer of fat can act as a shield against direct exposure to heat from the main breast meat. This is especially helpful when placing the charcoal close to the meat, and the shield can help keep the food moist. This should also help the remaining meat to develop an attractive crust over its entire surface.

What kind of smoker do you use?

While fat side down or fat side up has proponents, the decision can be made for you based on the style of your barbecue smoker.

This is because the position of the combustion chamber and the direction of the airflow affect how heat is conducted into the skirt.

In most cases, the heat comes from under the incense racks, in which case it’s better to put the brisket fat side down.

If you have a staggered smoker, you can place it thick side up. Because the combustion chamber of the smoker is offset to the side, which means that the heat source is placed almost horizontally to the meat.

The final verdict

Was there too we learned in the great debate? Is it better to place the breast with the fat cap down or up?

My personal opinion is that it’s best to do it upside down, even if you’re using an offset smoker.

Any fat runoff from your meat will wash the spices out of your chest, even if you’re using an offset smoker with a built-in side firebox. If you’re concerned about moisture retention, you can try using a good brisket shot recipe.

In addition, the fat cap helps protect the breast meat from falling out and brings it up to temperature slowly and in a manner that ensures tender, tender meat.

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