What is Brisket Deckle? Mythbusting one of the most misused terms in BBQ

whole brisket with hands and knife slicing out deckle fat

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Just call us MythBusters because we’re busting a big one today. We answer the question, what is brisket deckle?

You see, many people incorrectly label the brisket point the deckle. If you’re one of them, rest assured you’re not alone. But keep reading to learn the difference and everything you need about brisket deckle.

What is brisket deckle?

We have a comprehensive article discussing the differences between the brisket point and flat. But if you didn’t know, a whole packer brisket includes two parts: the flat (the deep pectoral muscle) and the point (the superficial pectoral muscle).

The brisket deckle is the thick portion of hard fat and intercostal meat running on top and between the point and flat cuts. The layer of fat includes muscles, rubbery membranes, cartilage, and connective tissues. Its job is to hold the meat to the rib cage.

brisket point vs flat vs deckle

Brisket comes from the cow’s chest area, so you know it’s a tough cut of meat. The flat or first cut is what you’ll typically find in grocery stores. It’s leaner and more uniform compared to the fattier and marbled point.

Now, some people incorrectly label the entire brisket point as the deckle. They’re both fattier sections, it’s true. But the deckle is specifically the hard fat cap and intercostal meat on the brisket’s inside surface separating the two sections. So while the point might include some deckle, they’re two separate entities.

Should you remove the brisket deckle?

So, if you’re following the definition above, a whole packer brisket includes the flat, point, and deckle connecting them. We prefer to smoke our brisket whole, so we don’t remove the deckle.

What we do instead is carve out and trim as much of the brisket deckle and general fat as possible before smoking. We have a step-by-step guide with video instructions on how to trim brisket.

But you want to trim very close to the meat. The more rub that can penetrate the meat, the better. Some people prefer to leave around a quarter-inch of fat as they love the flavor. Do what works for you.

What is deckle off brisket?

This is where things get tricky. Some butchers and grocery stores sell the meat as “brisket with the deckle removed” or “deckle off brisket.” But they’re often just selling you the brisket flat cut, as they’ve removed both the deckle and point.

This portion of the brisket has the deckle removed, causing it to lay flat.

It’s essential to know the difference so you get the right cut for what you are cooking.

Besides examining the size, you can look at the label. The North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP) has meat buyer identifications.

A 120 Beef Brisket, Deckle-Off, Boneless is a full-packer brisket that includes the flat (NAMP 120A) and the point (120B), with the actual deckle removed. You can buy this exact brisket cut from our friends at Snake River Farms.

Pros and cons of buying brisket with the deckle removed

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of buying deckle off brisket.

Pros

  • Removing the brisket deckle yourself can be time-consuming, so buying deckle off brisket is a lot more convenient. If you want a more hands-off smoking experience and hope to exert the least amount of effort, you’ll want someone else to trim the brisket for you.
  • A lot of people don’t like the flavor the deckle adds to brisket when rendered, so having it removed already is a positive for them.
  • Brisket with the deckle removed is naturally leaner and thus healthier and easier to digest.

Cons

  • Depending on where you’re shopping, brisket with the deckle removed can be pricier. A packer brisket with deckle is typically the cheapest way to buy brisket. 
  • A lot of people enjoy the rich flavor the thin layer of deckle provides when smoking brisket. When you smoke it slowly, the fat will render and melt into the meat, making it both more flavorful and moist.

What do you do with brisket deckle?

There are two main things we love to make with brisket deckle and general fat trimmings. 

  1. Beef tallow is an alternative to butter and oil. It’s kind of like how they use bacon grease in the South. It’s rendered beef fat, so it shouldn’t be confused with lard, which is rendered pork fat. It’s commonly used for deep frying chicken or fries.
Homemade Beef Tallow!
  1. Grilled brisket burgers. If you have a grinder, you can transform brisket trimmings into the most flavorful homemade beef burgers.

Brisket is such a hot and high-priced commodity right now that we like to get as much out of it as possible.

Myth busted

We hope this guide has helped you better understand the difference between the three brisket cuts. We know how easy it is to confuse the point and deckle. But it’s important to remember they’re separate fatty entities with their own pros and cons. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below.

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