Brisket is undeniably one of the favorite cuts of meat used for smoking. If prepared well, it’s definitely one of the tastiest and most tender meats you can serve at a barbecue party.

Speaking of preparation, making sure that you trim your brisket is part of this. It’s not enough to buy a good cut of brisket and destroy it by simply sprinkling some flavor and throwing it in your smoker. That’s not the right way to do it.

Twinning is an essential part of the whole cooking process. But of course, you need to learn how to prepare the brisket well.

  • If you leave too much fat, you won’t have a good bark on your brisket.
  • If there are areas that are too thin or too thick, you’ll end up with uneven cooking, dry spots, and burned edges.
  • If you have lots of fat leftovers, you’ll get charred chunks that you’ll have to throw out.

In other words, not trimming your brisket well can lead to disaster, and you might even end up with a not-so-good-looking brisket that you won’t enjoy.

In this article, we’re going to go over the whole process of trimming a brisket correctly. We’ll discuss:

  • The tools you’d need to trim a brisket
  • How to prepare your brisket
  • The step-by-step process of trimming a brisket

So, if you’re a beginner and want to learn how to trim a brisket correctly, read on…

Tools Needed For Trimming Brisket

To ensure that you can trim a brisket correctly, it’s great to have these three tools in your kitchen:

  • Powder-free Nitrile Gloves
  • Fillet Knife
  • Wooden Cutting Board

These tools will not only make the trimming process easier, but they can also ensure that the meat remains intact and of good quality.

Powder-free Nitrile Gloves

Powder-free Nitrile Gloves are great to use compared to just any ordinary gloves you have around. They are the best kind to use when handling raw meat as they allow you to grip the meat better.

Fillet Knife

There are different kinds of knives, and while you might think that any type of knife can trim a brisket, none of them can actually do a better job than a fillet knife.

Fillet knife allows you to get nice, thin cuts of briskets easily. It also just goes smoothly through the meat, giving you clean and beautiful cuts of your brisket.

Wooden Cutting Board

Lastly, you’d need a cutting board.

Briskets aren’t small cuts of meat, so you definitely need a large surface where you can trim your brisket. When picking up a wooden cutting board, make sure to go with the really large ones, so you won’t have to adjust your brisket frequently while trimming it.

How To Prepare A Brisket

Now that you’ve got all your tools, time to prepare your brisket for trimming.

Remember: It’s important to make sure that your space is clean so that your meat won’t be contaminated. Wash any tools you’ll use that will be in contact with the meat. And wash your hands, too.

Remove your brisket from its packaging and rinse it. Then, palace it on top of your large wooden cutting board. Immediately, you’ll observe this large layer of fat across one top of the brisket, while the other side is mostly meat with some fat.

Study your brisket’s orientation by identifying where your point and flat are and start planning your cuts.

Try to understand your brisket well and think about which parts you’d want to trim away. For example, the denser fat is very leathery and is definitely something you won’t enjoy eating, so you need to trim that away. 

Once you understand what you need to trim and what needs to stay, let’s move to the step-by-step process of trimming your brisket…

How To Trim A Brisket

Step 1

Make sure that the brisket is in a fat cap side-up orientation. This means that the side where a large fat runs across on top should be facing you.

You’d want to remove as much of this large fat as possible. Starting from one side, make a cut long enough for you to hold the fat. Then while holding the fat, cut fully across the surface of the meat, reaching the other end.

Yes, you’ll be accidentally cutting on some meat, but that’s okay. Just do it slowly and make it as shallow as possible.

When you reach the other end of the brisket, you might observe that the fat there is thicker. So, if possible, keep your cut closer to the meat.

Step 2

Once you’ve trimmed away that large piece of fat, continue trimming away that side until it’s clean.

Remove any large fatty areas you’ll find. You might think that this can be a waste, but you should know that if you leave that fatty layer there, it can affect how your brisket would taste. Flavors won’t penetrate these large areas, which means you might end up with bland meat.

It’s up to you how thin you want the layer of fat to be. Some may prefer a quarter of an inch, while some might want it thinner.

Step 3

At the opposite end of the meat, you might also observe an area that has turned color. You will also have to trim that off because it might not cook well and might just cause problems in the overall cooking results. 

Get rid of it and expose the untouched meat underneath that looks nicer and good to eat.

Step 4

Once you’re done with the fatty side of the brisket, flip your meat and do the other side. Again, focus on the fatty sections and remove them to get a good view of that red meat underneath.

Step 5

After you have seen that both sides are clean, you’d want to trim the edges.

As much as possible, try to square up the meat. Don’t remove big chunks of meat, just smaller ones that would expose the meaty red surface. Your aim here is to give your brisket a uniform look.

Step 6

Lastly, you’d want to do a final trim. This is like the final editing of the draft you’ve done earlier.

Flip your brisket once again and try to see if you’ve left out any large chunks of fat. Glide your hand over and see if there’s anything else that you need to trim down. Flip it back and do the same on the other side.

Look at the shape of the brisket, too. Are you happy with it, or do you want to cut the edge more to be more uniform?

In the end, how your brisket looks will be up to your preference. But you just simply need to ensure that you get as much of that denser fat as possible.


Trimming your brisket can be challenging. No beginners can really get it on the first try, but it will definitely become easier as you do this more often.

Having the right tools will help, so make sure you use the right gloves, the right knife, and, of course, the right-sized cutting board.

The step-by-step process is also easy to remember:

  • Start trimming the fatty layer by removing as much fat as possible and leaving a quarter of an inch or a thinner fat on your meat.
  • Flip the brisket and clean out the other side by removing more fatty layers as possible.
  • Clean out the edges by making sure the whole brisket is uniform.

And that’s it!

Don’t forget to do your final trimming, and your brisket would be ready for smoking.

The key here is to make sure that no large chunks of fat will be left, as this will prevent the flavor from your rubs from penetrating the meat. Also, this large fat won’t render, so it definitely won’t be nice to eat.

If you think about it, it is not that hard to trim a brisket. It’s just important to know some basics.