Brisket is one of the best cuts for cooking low and slow, but although I love eating it, I don’t always have twelve hours to smoke it.
I spent weeks trying out different cuts to find the best brisket substitute I could use when I wanted a juicy cut but had little time on my hands.
Here’s my selection of the best eight cuts of meat to use instead of brisket.
- Best brisket substitutes include chuck roast, tri-tip roast, short ribs, beef clods, and more.
- There are many non-beef substitutes for brisket, such as poultry thighs (chicken, duck, or goose thighs), lamb roast, and even vegetarian meat substitutes.
- You can use a substitute for brisket in different beef recipes, including corned beef brisket.
Best Brisket Substitutes
After weeks of testing different types of meat to use instead of brisket, I’ve narrowed my list to these eight.
1. Chuck Roast
Chuck roast is the best beef brisket substitute. It’s more affordable than beef brisket, which is why some people call it “poor man’s brisket.” It comes from the beef chuck primal - the section above the brisket. It’s mostly cooked using braising and stewing.
Chuck roast has plenty of connective tissue because the shoulder is important for steer movement. This makes this area tough and great for low and slow cooking. Moreover, this area is fattier than other parts of the animal.
Tip: Choose USDA Choice when shopping for a chuck roast. You can use the same rub, hardwoods, and temperature as when smoking beef brisket, and you’ll get a very flavorful piece of meat in half the time it takes to smoke a brisket. The flavor is rich and hearty, and the meat shreds just like a brisket.
2. Short Ribs
Short ribs come from short plate primal and are also called short plate ribs. The short plate is located between the brisket and the flank primal. They are better used for braising than smoking.
Short ribs are a good choice for beginners. You don’t have to worry about seasoning, there’s no need to remove the membrane, and temperature swings won’t hurt the meat.
“Beef short ribs have five to six bones across them. As the short rib cooks, the bone implants flavors, and the meat melts slowly, which gives it that nice level of intensity.”
- Gordon Ramsey, Chef
Short ribs have a rich, meaty flavor and are often used in stews and braises. Smoke them for 250 to 275 degrees for optimal smoke results. You can also let them simmer over low heat to break down the connective tissue and develop meat flavors.
Tri-tip comes from the lower part of the sirloin, between the ball-tip and bottom sirloin flap. It can be roasted, barbecued, or smoked.
Tri-tip steak is often cooked but can also be chopped up into meat for kabobs. Overall, this is a very versatile cut.
If you use tri-tip as a substitute for brisket, get a USDA Prime cut. Tri-tip is generally a lean cut of meat, and USDA Prime means it’ll have more fat, so there’s a lower chance of drying out.
Cook tri-tip roast slowly over low heat so it retains its moisture and doesn’t become tough. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees .
Make sure to let it rest for about 15 minutes after cooking so that the juices redistribute.
4. Beef Clods
Beef clods are tough and fatty and should be marinated and slow-cooked, grilled, or smoked.
This is an affordable brisket substitute. Beef clods are made up of three parts: the shoulder, the top cutting edge, and the block heart. This cut is covered in a muscle framework with fat, so this can be a hard cut.
Beef clods are lower in fat and calories than many other brisket substitutes, so they are a great choice if you’re on a diet or trying to eat healthily.
Make sure to marinate the meat well and cook it slowly for juicy and tender results.
5. Lamb Roast
If you want a non-beef brisket substitute, lamb roast is a good choice. It’ll taste different than beef, but if you’re up for a stronger flavor, it’s a great alternative.
Lamb has a very strong flavor, so it works great when paired with a strong marinade or soaked in wine and herbs.
Lamb is usually divided into different kinds of cuts:
- Forequarter - Neck, shoulder, and front legs
- Hindquarter - Rear legs and hip
- Loin - Ribs
Lamb chops and shoulder chops are great options for grilling and smoking. Leg and saddle are most commonly roasted. Forequarter cuts are best for slow cooking because they have more connective tissue. The meat is tender and juicy when slow-cooked.
You can also brown the lamb in a pan, move it to a roasting tray, and cook it in an oven. Make sure to baste the meat so that the lamb stays moist.
6. Pork Roast
Pork is another good substitute for brisket, especially if you are looking for a non-beef alternative.
There are many different pork cuts you can use depending on the recipe you’re using and the cooking method:
- Pork shoulder - Best for slow cooking
- Pork loin - Best for a juicy roast
- Pork flank - Best for broiling
- Pork ribs - Best for barbecuing or smoking
- Pork brisket - Most closely resembles beef brisket and has a lean and greasy side.
Pork is widely available, and you can feed many people at a lower cost compared to brisket meat.
Also Read: How to Shred Pork?
7. Poultry Thighs
If you don’t want to eat beef, another good beef brisket alternative is poultry thighs. This is a very cheap substitute for brisket, and it’s easy to cook.
Poultry thighs you can choose include:
- Turkey thighs - Can be roasted and seasoned like beef brisket.
- Duck thighs - Smaller than turkey thighs and have a stronger flavor that resembles red meat.
- Chicken thighs - Affordable and work well for slow-cooked methods.
Overall, poultry thighs are best slow-cooked and not grilled or smoked. You can use ketchup, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, or apple cider vinegar for the sauce and some extra flavor.
Also Read: How Long to Grill Chicken Thighs?
8. Beef Shanks
The final option on the list of beef brisket substitutes is beef shanks. The beef shank is the leg part of the beef.
These muscles are in almost constant use, so this brisket roast can be tough and dry. You should cook beef shanks for a long time, so it becomes tender and the meat releases flavors.
Beef shanks are also one of the most affordable beef brisket substitutes.
What Is a Cheap Alternative to Brisket?
A cheap alternative to brisket is chuck roast, ribs, tri-tip, and beef shanks.
What Is Brisket Called In a Grocery Store?
In a grocery store, a brisket is called a full-packer if it’s a whole brisket with the point and the flat, or it’s called flat or half if it only includes the half.
What Cut of Meat Do You Use for Brisket?
The cut of meat you use for brisket is the lower breast or cow’s pectoral muscles. This part of the animal is well-exercised, so this tough cut is best when cooked slowly.
Which Beef Brisket Substitute Should You Use?
If you’re looking to substitute brisket with another meat cut, there’s no shortage of options. You can choose between beef, lamb, pork, and poultry cuts and use these to make corned beef, pot roast, and more. Choose the cut that’s best suited for your recipe and the cooking process.
No matter which brisket alternative you go for, make sure to buy quality cuts. It’s been years since I started ordering meat from ButcherBox, a meat delivery that sells grass-fed beef, heritage-bred pork, lamb, and crate-free poultry meat.
Their animals are responsibly raised without additives or hormones, which results in juicy cuts that bring my cooking to a whole new level.