Tri-Tip vs. Brisket: What Are The Differences

brisket and tri-tip steak

Tri-tip vs. brisket what are the differences between these two beef cuts? Both are taken from different areas of the cow. Brisket is a cut from the breast section of the cow, while tri-tip is taken from a bottom sirloin subprimal. Brisket has more marbling, while tri-tip is a leaner cut. Nevertheless, both brisket and tri-tip are excellent beef cuts. Both cuts benefit from the different cooking methods, which I’ll explain in the article below.

In this article, you’ll find detailed information about both cuts. However, since you want to know the differences between the two cuts, there’s a section explaining the differences and similarities between the two cuts.

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What is Tri-Tip Steak

What is Tri-Tip Steak

What part of the cow does tri-tip come from? Tri-tip is a beef cut from the bottom sirloin subprimal. As the name suggests, it’s named after its triangular-shaped muscle. It’s about an inch thick and lean with some marbling.

How does it taste? Tri-tip is an exceptionally flavorful piece of beef. It has some marbling which makes it taste slightly buttery; however, a robust beefy flavor balances a flavor profile making the overall flavor well balanced.

What is the texture of tri-tip steak? Tri-tip is a lean cut of meat with some marbling. It has a tough texture if cooked past medium. However, if appropriately cooked, the steak is tender and juicy.

How to cook tri-tip? The best way to cook tri-tip is on a grill or in the skillet on a stovetop. Bring steak to room temperature and season with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Depending on the cooking process, preheat the cast iron skillet or a grill before cooking. Sear tri-tip for a few minutes on both sides before turning the heat down to medium. Continue cooking to your liking. However, when tri-tip is cooked past medium, it can become tough and chewy. Recommended steak’s internal temperature is medium-rare.

How much does it cost? Organic grass-fedtri-tip costs about $20 per pound.

Where can you buy tri-tip? You can purchase tri-tip steak at a specialized online store or butcher’s shop.

Tri-tip is also known as triangle steak, Santa Maria steak, California cut, or poor man’s brisket.

What is Brisket

What is Brisket

What Part of the Cow Does Brisket Come From? Brisket is a beef cut from the cow’s breast or lower chest section. It’s a large cut of meat, typically between 3 and 12 pounds. A whole brisket is comprised of two incredibly tough muscles. Most of the time, it’s cut into half. A first cut or a flat cut is lean, while the second cut or point cut is richer in fat, making it more flavorful.

How Does Brisket Taste? Brisket has a rich beefy flavor. However, it all depends on the cooking method. If the meat is braised, the flavor is less intense. If the brisket is smoked, it has a complex set of flavors. A flat cut has less marbling and, therefore, less flavor, while the point cut contains more marbling and more flavor.

What is the texture of brisket? Brisket is a tough cut of meat. It requires slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues; otherwise, it can be too tough to eat. It’s actually considered one of the least tender beef cuts

How to cook a brisket? Brisket benefits from a low and slow cook. Braising, slow cooking, or smoking brisket at lower temperatures for an extended time is the best way to render it soft and incredibly satisfying. A Texas-style smoked brisket is rendered soft after about 10-12 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, braised brisket can take about 3-5 hours, depending on the recipe. Keep in mind that brisket shrinks quite a bit when cooks.

Related articles: How to grill steak.

How much does brisket cost? Brisket is a reasonably cheap cut starting at around $9 per pound, depending on a vendor.

Where can you buy brisket? You can purchase brisket in the grocery store at a meat department, butcher shop, or specialized online store.

Brisket is also known as the flat cut, thin cut, center cut, point cut, or deckle when divided into two separate cuts; otherwise, it’s just a brisket.

The Differences Between Tri-Tip and Brisket

The Differences Between Tri-Tip and Brisket

Flavor and Texture

Both brisket and tri-tip have excellent beefy flavor; however, brisket is slightly better. When smoked, brisket is packed with flavor and is succulent, unlike tri-tip, which is somewhat less flavorful because it lacks marbling. However, brisket is considered one of the toughest beef cuts. It has to be cooked low and slow to render soft, unlike tri-tip, which benefits from cooking hot and fast. If not cooked past medium, tri-tip is a tender cut.


Brisket is a well-marbled beef cut rich in connective tissue collagen. It has a fat cap, making it flavorful when braising and smoking. The whole tri-tip is a relatively lean cut – leaner than brisket.

Cooking Process

Brisket must be cooked at low temperature for an extended time, while tri-tip must be cooked fast on high heat. The cooking process couldn’t be more different. If looking for a quick dinner recipe, brisket is not for you.


Brisket can weigh between 3 and 12 pounds, while tri-tip is a much smaller cut at around 1.5-2.5 pounds.

Cut Type

The brisket is located in the cow’s breast or lower chest section, and it’s one of the nine primal cuts. The tri-tip is taken from the bottom sirloin subprimal.

Which is Better, Brisket or Tri-Tip?

Brisket is a slightly better beef cut. Pound for pound, it’s quite a bit cheaper than tri-tip cut, and because it has more marbling and fat, it’s more flavorful. Of course, cooking brisket requires patience since it takes at least 3-12 hours to render soft. However, a properly smoked brisket is outstanding. You have to experience it, especially if you’re a grilling enthusiast. On the other hand, a tri-tip is also a good option. It’s much easier to cook; unlike cooking brisket, it takes only 5-10 minutes to cook.

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Is tri-tip roast the same as brisket?

Tri-tip and brisket are two different beef cuts. Brisket is located in beef’s breast while tri-tip is taken from bottom sirloin butt.

Is tri-tip more expensive than brisket?

Pound for pound tri-tip is more expensive than brisket. However, brisket is a much larger cut; therefore, you’ll pay more.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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