If you are a meat lover, and if the thought of a juicy, delicious, extremely tender steak brings water to your mouth, then you must have come across this dilemma: Which cut to buy? Or which portion of the meat will end up making the perfectly charred from the outside, and completely juicy and succulent steak from the inside?

Believe it or not, all steaks do not come from a single portion of an animal. There are various types of cuts from different portions of an animal, and a major confusion occurs when people often mix up a Tri tip cut with a Beef Brisket.

Now, while a well-cooked juicy Tri tip may look exactly similar to a Brisket, however, it is important to know that both are different cuts and they both come from exactly different portions of the animal.

There are actually so many differences that you will find in the Tri-tp vs Brisket debate that it will astonish you!

Let us see the differences between a Tri tip vs. Brisket.

Tri Tip vs Brisket

The appearance of a Tri tip vs Brisket: 

At the first glance, anyone who does not have much knowledge about meat cuts will think that a Tri tip is a small Brisket actually.

Even in uncooked form, both look quite similar except for the size.

Brisket is generally bigger in size and heavier too.

On the other hand, the Tri tip is usually thinly sliced in comparison to a brisket.

Both Tri tip and Brisket can be cooked in various ways, but their cooking time differs. Also, their method of cooking is different depending on the preferences of people.

Parts of the animal from where both Tri tip and Brisket come from:

A Tri tip comes from the Sirloin portion of the cow. It is actually a part of the sirloin which is below and thinly cut from its main part. It is triangular in shape and appears with three tips, hence the name, Tri tip. Also, the ‘tip’ refers to the tip of the sirloin from where this portion is cut out. So, it has both meanings to its name and is often called California cut too.

This portion is made up of more tendons and fasciae, and that is the reason why it is more tender in comparison to a brisket. The muscles here are also quick to cook and leaner.

On the other hand, brisket comes from the lower part of the front chest and ribs portion of the animal. This part is made up of weight-bearing and strong pectoral muscles since cows do not have collar bones. So, these pectoral muscles are quite heavy-duty and firm. Their tenderness can only be achieved through proper cooking. Since there are a lot of connective tissues attached, and that is the reason why brisket is not at all tender meat and needs a very long time to cook to turn tender eventually.

Briskets are usually available in two different types of cuts: a pointcut and a flat cut. The pointcut also has a triangular shape, so it can be mistaken with a Tri tip. However, the key difference is that it has a healthy fatty layer running over it. This kind of layer is not present in a Tri tip.

tri tip

The flat cut portion of a beef brisket does not have much fat content and it is mostly available in rectangular and square shapes.

Weight differences

A Tri tip is not heavy. It usually weighs around three to four pounds maximum.

On the other hand, when a brisket is cut off, it can weigh anywhere from twelve to sixteen pounds.

So, if you are looking to serve only 4-6 people, then you can go with a Tri tip. But if you have a lot of guests coming over, then you should go for a brisket.

The price difference

In terms of price also, both Tri tip and brisket are very different from each other.

A Tri tip usually costs around $6-7 per pound. On the other hand, a  beef brisket costs around $3-4 per pound. Now, the rates may differ in various regions, but you can get a general idea that a Tri tip is usually quite expensive as compared to a brisket.

However, there is an interesting thing to consider that when you buy a brisket, it usually weighs a lot more than a tri tip, and this can add to the bill too. So, at the end of the day, a beef brisket may end up costing more than tri tip.

The difference between a Tri tip and a brisket on the basis of trimming:

Since the Tri tip cut is usually quite lean, there are no additonal fats or connective tissues attaching to it.

On the other hand, the same is not true for a brisket. There is almost 30% of fat and connective tissues that you will have to trim before preparing a brisket. This will automatically decrease some of its weight too.

Many people who are looking for healthy, protein-rich meat with less fat content usually opt for tri tip in comparison to a brisket.

Differences on the basis of cooking methods:

Since a Tri tip is leaner and a more proper steak cut, it does not take very long to cook.

You can simply grill it for a little time or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches around 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, a brisket takes a lot of time to cook properly and get tender and juicy. So, it is advisable to smoke it slowly, at a low flame, for many hours instead of grilling it and trying to achieve its tenderness on a grill. You can take out the brisket when the internal temperature gets to 220-225 degrees of Fahrenheit.

A Tri tip can also be cooked in a smoker for sure, but it is much easier to cook and takes lesser time. So, it is ideal for even the people who are just learning the beginning with grilling and barbecue.

Taste differences

Although a Tri tip is a slice of very lean meat, it has fat marbling inside the meat that while cooking, enhance its flavor and also facilitates easy cooking of the meat. It also adds more tenderness to the steak and more juiciness.

On the other hand, a Brisket can turn very chewy and hard to eat if it is not cooked properly. While a fully cooked brisket looks like having a dark, crispy outer bark that may give it a burnt appearance, however, when you slice it, from the inside, it is a juicy and succulent meat with a perfect beefy flavor to it.

Similarly, in terms of preparation also, the Tri tip takes less amount of time for the marination in comparison to a beef brisket which needs to be marinated for a pretty long time so that the flavors inside the marinade are able to penetrate through the brisket easily.

The handling of both types of meat is slightly different too. You have to be a little careful while turning over the Tri tip because if you are not careful, you can damage its structural integrity to some extent.


Brisket is one of the most common meat cuts that are available at almost every departmental store, meat shop, butcher’s place, etc. You just have to say the name and you will find a brisket very easily.

On the other hand, a Tri tip is slightly difficult to find. It is not so commonly available in normal stores and butcher’s places. There are high chances that you will have to request your butcher for a Tri tip next time when you want to make it.

However, it depends on the area to area. In some places, finding a Tri tip is not so difficult anyway.


Both Tri tip and Brisket are excellent choices for a healthy and hearty meaty and beefy meal. Both are very similar in some ways but extremely different in the other. If you do not know the differences between the two, there are high chances that you may even live in the misconception that they both are the same. However, they both are not only different in their structure and composition, but they both are different in their tastes too.

So, the next time when you plan an outdoor cooking session with your friends and family, for a smaller group, you can choose the Tri tip cut, but for a larger group, it will be more economical for your value weight wise if you get a brisket.

As you know, a brisket will take a longer time to cook. But it will definitely give you the satisfaction of smoking it in your smoker outdoors while enjoying with your family.

If you are a beginner or someone who does not like to sit for so long and wait for their steaks to get cooked, then you should go for a Tri tip.

At the end of the day, there is nothing that can compare with a perfectly smoked, delicious, tender, and juicy meat with flavors bursting in your mouth.