Latest posts by Jodie Chiffey (see all)

When you think of slow cooking, brisket is often the preferred choice of cut. However, the tri tip cut has gained ground in recent years and offers a cleaner alternative to brisket.

In this comparison of tri tip vs brisket, we will look at their main differences, cooking methods, and alternatives.

Unlike smoked chuck roast and brisket that have a lot in common, there are many differences between tri tip and brisket. However, what they do have in common is that both meat cuts taste delicious when cooked in a smoker!

Now let’s have a look at what makes them different.

Main Differences Between Tri Tip and Brisket

Here are the main differences between Tri Tip and Brisket:

  • Tri tip is easy to cook and doesn’t take a lot of time, whereas brisket is a little more difficult and requires precision with slow-cooking.
  • Tri tip is usually difficult to find, whereas brisket can be easily found at your local butcher.
  • Tri tip typically weighs 3 to 4 lbs, whereas brisket is normally 9 to 10 lbs or more.
  • Tri tip is a steak, whereas brisket is a roast.
  • Tri tip is cut from the bottom sirloin, which is at the back of the cow, because the brisket is cut from the lower chest.

Not all beef cuts are the same. We’ve covered all the beef cuts and varieties to help you decide which one is the best for you.

Tri Tip – The Basics

Tri Tip

Tri tip is one of the lesser-known steaks out there, but it is instantly recognizable. Weighing around 3 to 4 lbs, this cut of meat comes from the bottom part of the sirloin. It’s one of the leanest parts of sirloin and is incredibly flavorful.

While the tri tip is an easy-to-cook steak for beginners, it is also quite expensive compared to other cuts. Because of the little fat and meaty texture, it is one of the most sought-after cuts of meat today, especially amongst fitness freaks who want the maximum protein.

What Does a Tri Tip Steak Look Like?

As the name suggests, a tri tip has a triangular shape and is considered a steak cut. White tissue lines run across the meat that gives it a beautiful look when smoked. The meat itself is chewy and lean, but it has a similar taste to t-bone steak despite that.

What Does a Tri Tip Taste Like?

So I went to D’Artagnan and ordered a nice 4 lbs piece of tri tip. I got my trusted Realcook Charcoal Smoker ready to prepare this beautiful steak.

It didn’t take long to prepare the tri tip, and neither did it take long for me to finish it. I like lean meat, so the tri tip was a delight, and the flavor profile just added to the experience.

While there are tones of ways to cook steak, and tri tip is no different, I think this cut of meat is best served when cooked in a smoker.

How Much Does a Tri Tip Cost?

Tri Tip1

As mentioned earlier, Tri Tip is expensive and is considered pricey even when compared to other steaks. Since it’s lean and meaty with little fat, it’s considered a very healthy option.

Hence, it’s no surprise that this is one of the favorite cuts of meat for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts.

Depending on where you live, tri tip can cost $6 to $8 per pound, which is higher than a brisket. In fact, in some states, a tri tip steak may cost double the amount of a brisket. That said, tri tip requires little to no trimming as most of the steak consists of meat.

How do You Cook Tri Tip?

The tri tip steak is one of the easiest cuts of meat to cook. You can practically grill it, smoke it, or even slow-cook it if you don’t want a lot of activity on your part.

To cook a lean and mean tri tip steak, you’ll first need a good smoker like the Realcook Charcoal Smoker that I use. If you’re not into charcoal or wood-burning, you can always get an electric smoker like the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker .

Once your smoker is ready and all set up, here is the best way to prepare the tri tip steak:

  1. Let the tri tip rest and get to room temperature. It should only take about 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Generously sprinkle sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Combine with garlic granules and herbs to make your seasoning mix.
  3. Once the steak is seasoned, set your smoker to 250°F.
  4. Let the tri tip cook in your smoker for about an hour if you’re planning to sear it on the grill. If you want to prepare it roast-style, let it cook for 3 to 4 hours.
  5. Once you’ve reached the required time, check the internal temperature of the tri tip using a NutriChef Smart Thermometer and make sure it’s above 135°F.
  6. If you’re going to sear the steak, remove it from the smoker and sear it on each side for about 2 minutes or until you get the desired sear.
  7. Once you’re done with the prep, remove the tri tip from the grill/smoker and slice it to serve!

Brisket – The Basics


On the other side of the meat spectrum, we have one of the classic roasts that you can prepare. The brisket is cut from just below to the cow’s chest. It is typically sold as a large chunk of beef that can weigh anywhere between 9 to 12 lbs or even higher.

A brisker is rather tough cut of meat, so it must be prepared using the slow-cook method. However, when it’s prepared well, it’s one of the most delicious meat treats you could ever have that can easily last you for days.

What Does a Brisket Look Like?

Brisket is a large piece of meat that has a thin layer of fat on one side. Whether the fat side is up or down is a point of debate. I like it with the fat side down, which seems to be what most people do. When cooked, it’s dark on the outside and tender on the inside.

What Does a Brisket Taste Like?

To get the brisket ready, I took out my Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Smoker, which is one of the best smokers on the market.

When cooked properly, the brisket is dark and crispy on the outside and juicy and flavorful on the inside. Since it’s prepared using the slow-cook method, the brisket absorbs all the flavor, and every bite packs a punch.

The best part? The flavor profile improves as time goes on, so this is one roast you would love to have the next day and even after that!

How Much Does a Brisket Cost?


Just like the tri tip steak or any other cut of meat for that matter, the price of a brisket varies from state to state. However, compared to a tri tip steak, a brisket is relatively cheaper than the steer, which consists of a tough cut of meat.

The price of brisket can range from $3 to $5 per pound. In most cases, you’re going to end up with a brisket that weighs around 10 lbs, so you’re going to spend around $30 to $50.

Keep in mind that 10 lbs of brisket is enough for a party of 10, and you’ll have leftovers for days!

How Do You Cook a Brisket?

Brisket can be prepared in several ways, but in my opinion, the best way to do it is in a smoker for a long period. When you slow-cook a brisket in the Oklahoma Joe’s Highland Smoker , it gives you brisket you can enjoy for days.

There’s a bit of a learning curve when cooking brisket because it can become very dry and chewy if it’s undercooked or overcooked. If you feel you’re ready, here are the cooking instructions:

  1. Let the brisket get to room temperature.
  2. Once it’s warm, rub oil on the brisket and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Mix with garlic and rub well.
  3. Bring the smoker to 250°F. Place the fat side down brisket and let it slow cook for around 5 hours.
  4. Once you’ve reached the 5-hour mark, take the brisket out and wrap it in foil. Place the brisket back in the smoker and cook for 2 more hours.
  5. Remove the brisket from the smoker and let it rest for half an hour so that all the flavors infuse with the team.
  6. Slice the brisket using the DALSTRONG Phantom Series Carving Knife and serve!

The best smokers trap the flavor in the meat and give it that classic, smokey taste. Check out our guide on the best smokers on the market for all types of meat cooking!

Tri Tip Vs Brisket – Alternatives

Tomahawk steak

Tri tip and brisket are definitely two amazing cuts of beef that are full of flavor. However, if you are not a fan of either cut, there are some alternatives you should try.

Wagyu tri tip

If you want the tri tip cut to be fattier, this is a great option. A Wagyu tri tip steak can be expensive, but it’s definitely worth the money. The steak has a beautiful marbling and an incredible buttery taste that will excite your taste buds.

Tomahawk steak

I call this king of steaks, and it’s easily recognizable with the bone sticking outlines of fat running through the meat. Not only is it the tastiest of all steaks, but it’s also straightforward to make on a grill or a smoker.

Short ribs

if you want to put your smoker to the test and want a hassle-free cooking experience, then you can’t go wrong with short ribs. They take half the time a brisket takes to cook and taste so good that you’d regret not putting in more!

Thinking of upgrading your knives, grinders, and other tools? Check out our comprehensive guide on the best butcher tools and meat processing equipment you can buy in 2022 .

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s have a look at some frequently asked questions about tri tip vs brisket.

Question: Is the tri tip a healthy cut of meat?

Answer: Yes, it’s actually one of the healthiest cuts of meat you can find. The tri tip is cut from the bottom of the sirloin and has very little fat.

Health enthusiasts often prefer this lean and meaty cut as it offers one of the highest protein per ounce of weight ratio amongst all cuts.

Question: Is there a way to cook brisket faster?

Answer: There are many ways to speed up the process of preparing the brisket, but you’re only saving an hour or two max at the cost of losing flavor and tenderness.

I would not advise speeding up the process because the last thing you want is to have a brisket devoid of flavor. Good things take time!

Question: Can I slow cook a tri tip steak?

Answer: Yes, you can. I would suggest wrapping it in foil and putting it in your smoker so that all the flavor and juices get absorbed in the meat. You can also place the tri tip with seasoning directly in the smoker if you want a tender and smokey steak.

Question: How long can a brisket last?

Answer: That’s a great question. Brisket develops flavor after cooking but up to a certain point.You can eat brisket 3 to 4 days after preparing it. Make sure to refrigerate it in the coldest part of your fridge. My advice would be to have it the next day as it’s the tastiest then.

Tri Tip vs Brisket – Which Cut of Meat Should You Try?

Since we’re talking about two completely different types and cuts of meat, I would suggest you give them both a try. Both are cut from different parts of the animal (front and back), and both offer a unique flavor profile. This should get you excited to cook both cuts.

If you’re a complete beginner, I would suggest that you stay with the steaks so that the tri tip will be a great option. Though it’s a little expensive, it’s one of the easiest cuts and a very healthy one.

If you’ve done a few reps with the smoker, then you should give the brisket a try. When done well, there are not many things that can taste as good. Brisket is the perfect cut to treat your friends and family with that will last you for a couple of days as well!

So I’m not going to end this comparison with ‘it depends.’ It would be best if you tried both cuts as they’re delicious in their own right.

If you’re looking for other cuts of meat or want to upgrade your butcher tools and equipment, we’ve got a lot more comparisons, guides, and reviews for you to check out on Meat n Marrow to help you make the right choice.

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