When you look at a brisket, it’s easy to spot that one side has a thick layer of fat on it, while the other is comparatively leaner.
This fat present on one side of the brisket is known as its fat cap.
The precise answer to your question is: a brisket should be cooked fat side down.
One of the most essential tricks in making a brisket is smoking it in its own fat.
This is highly essential as the fat causes it to be more concentrated with its natural flavor, hence resulting in a very tasteful and juicy brisket.
And as it should, it also protects your brisket from sticking to the smoker or taking extra oils to go with it.
Therefore, experts have debated for a long time whether the brisket should be cooked with the fat cap facing down or up.
Do You Cook Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
This cooking method has been under debate for a very long time and we ourselves can safely tell you that the best way to cook a brisket is fat side down.
So, is it absolutely incorrect to cook a brisket fat side up? No!
It should be smoked in a manner that its fat cap directly faces the incoming heat – which means it should be placed far side down on a conventional or electric smoker.
But if you’re using a horizontal offset style smoker instead, then the heat comes from top, hence the brisket needs to be placed fat side up.
Why Should You Smoke Brisket Fat Side Down?
A brisket should be smoked in a manner that the heat is directed at the fat cap, protecting the meat from direct and harsh exposure to heat.
This of course prevents your meat from being burned, or becoming tough and dry.
This is because the fat will act as an insulation between the heat and meat, becoming a heat shield for the brisket – cooking it low and slow!
This method also ensures that the heat causes the fat to melt and eventually drip on to the coals. This melted fat then later vaporizes to rise back up and make your brisket much more flavorful.
If this fat was allowed to melt on the top of the brisket, it would rub off the marinade and take with it a lot of seasoning in an effort to drip!
Whereas when it simply drips from the underside, it will vaporize to create a very flavorful smoke, that will ultimately make your brisket taste richer and better.
Wrapping it Up
The right way to smoke a brisket is fat side down – mostly, but not always!
The trick is to keep the fat cap exposed to direct heat and not the leaner side of the brisket.