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Is pork shoulder the same as brisket?
Both Pork shoulder and brisket are different cuts, but are both very tough pieces of meat to cook through.
It is because of all the connective tissue present within both that make them excellent for barbecuing.
They are also both relatively cheap cuts of meat, and are not officially considered a delicacy such as ribeye or prime rib (that’s okay, more for us!).
Furthermore, Brisket is from the breast area of the cow and is also beef.
Pork shoulder is pork, and is from the shoulder region of the pig.
Smoking brisket and pork shoulder can be done with the same type of techniques.
They work really well with either low and slow, or hot and fast cooks.
This requires similar effort for both, and respond equally well to varying degrees of temperature.
Since these two cuts have tons of connective tissue, they will have to be smoked until around 200 degrees internal temperature.
This is what makes all of the collagen render down and produce juicy cuts of meat!
Difference between brisket and pulled pork?
The main difference between brisket and pulled pork is that they are cut from two different animals.
Brisket is from the breast portion of the cow, while pulled pork is from a pig’s should area.
Pork shoulder is also a lot more forgiving than brisket, which dries out very easily.
Cut From Different Animals
Another prominent difference found between pulled pork and brisket is that a brisket is far more likely to come out dry than pulled pork.
A pork shoulder (made into pulled pork).
Pulled Pork is Easier to Cook than Brisket
Pulled pork has way more marbling than a brisket, and will not dry out as easily.
That is why a lot of PitMasters will suggest that you should first master how to create pulled pork before attempting a brisket.
When you cook a pork shoulder and brisket, you’ll quickly find that pork shoulder is a lot more easy to get right than brisket.
There really isn’t anything you could do to a pork shoulder to make it come out bad, aside from not pulling and resting it properly.
With a brisket – you have to pull it at the right internal temperature, let it rest for an appropriate amount of time, and slice it the correct way.
Pork shoulder is easy to prepare – you just start shredding it apart.
Can you smoke a brisket and pork shoulder at the same time?
You can smoke brisket and pork at the same time, just make sure to place them evenly apart throughout the smoker to ensure all sides of each piece of meat get the appropriate amount of smoke flavor.
For optimal results, monitor the internal temperature of each cut, and make sure they both probe tender.
That is how you know they are done.
Some people may wonder if you need to have them be roughly the same size when placing them together – you don’t.
All it takes is making sure you pay close attention to their respective internal temperature.
This just helps you understand that there isn’t really anything special about placing two different cuts of meat together during the same cook, and that the only thing that matters at this point is ensuring they both get to the correct internal temperature.
In addition to checking their internal temperature, which should be around 200 degrees, you will want to implement the probe test.
When the collagen, fat, and connective tissue render down in your pork shoulder and brisket, the probe or toothpick should slide in like it’s hitting a stick of warm butter.
No resistance should be present at all!
Does brisket and pork shoulder cook the same?
Brisket and Pork shoulder have similar cook times if they are the same weight and are cooked at the same ambient temperature.
That is a wild over simplification, but holds true for the most part.
There are other things that go into the individual cook because every brisket and pork shoulder is different.
They probably have different grades, which means different amounts of marbling, and are just generally different in size.
It’s very hard to get an exact carbon copy of a brisket and pork shoulder that has the exact same marbling profile, grade, and weight parameters.
Remember, they are two different types of cuts from two completely different animals.
The thing pork shoulder and brisket both have in common are that they have all of the interconnecting tissue that needs to be rendered down through longer style of cooks.
That’s why they are both popular choices for barbecue!
In recap, heres what Brisket and Pork Shoulder have the same in terms of cooking them:
- Cook time is extended – 12 hour or more
- Collagen and Fat have to be rendered down before removing off smoker
- Have to let rest for extended periods of time – 8-12 hours for optimal results
Is Brisket Harder To Smoke Than Pork Shoulder?
Brisket is harder and less forgiving than smoking a pork shoulder.
It requires a little more skill, since it is very prone to drying out.
Brisket Drying Out
Brisket is very prone to drying out.
It requires a lot of attention similar to how a pork shoulder requires attention during a cook, but will dry out instantly if not pulled at the right time, rested correctly, and sliced the right way.
Just like smoking a pork shoulder, brisket will take about 12 or more hours to cook all the way through.
The main difference is when it reaches the internal temperature of around 200 degrees, you will need to be very attentive when applying the probe test.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell when a brisket is truly done.
There is a very fine line between an undercooked and over cooked brisket – you want to make sure that the thickest part of the flat is absolutely probe tender.
Brisket Requiring More Skill
Since brisket is more finicky to get right than a pork shoulder, it generally requires a little bit more skill and know-how.
When probing the brisket, there are actually two distinct parts of the meat itself, the point and flat.
Usually the point is finished before the flat, and if you base the probe test off of just the point and not the flat – you will get an undercooked brisket in the flat area.
This is why brisket is tricky for a lot of people.
To circumvent this and ensure you can always get accurate results for smoking a brisket – probe both the flat and point.
Pay special attention to the flat, since this is the particular part that is most prone to going dry.
Regarding the proper know-how with brisket, you will also want to make sure you slice it correctly.
There are lines you can visibly see in the flat called, “The Grain”.
You will want to cut against this rather than with it.
If you don’t slice against the grain and slice alongside it, your brisket slices will be very stringy and tough, even though you pulled and rested it correctly!
Are briskets leaner than pork shoulders?
Briskets have both lean and fatty parts.
The flat of the brisket is leaner than any pork shoulder you will see, while the point of the brisket is similar in fat content to a pork shoulder.
The flat part of the brisket is pretty lean, especially compared to a pork shoulder.
It is harder to get right when cooking, since you have to really make sure the probe test is spot on.
With the point of a brisket, it is pretty forgiving due to its’ fat content, much like a pork shoulder is.
What seasonings go with Brisket and Pork Shoulder?
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper are the best seasonings for brisket and pork shoulder.
Putting Kosher Salt and Black Pepper on your pork shoulder and brisket is the Texas Style method.
This is one of the most famous types of seasoning you can put on these cuts of meat.
It’s simple and effective.
Not only that, but you can really tell good barbecue when only those two ingredients are used, and no barbecue sauce is needed.
This is the Texas way.
Does brisket or pork shoulder taste better?
Brisket has a more diverse flavor profile than pork shoulder.
It is both lean and fatty, while a pork shoulder is mainly just fatty in taste.
If you are looking for a slightly more sweet and fatty taste, go with eating a pork shoulder.
It tastes great, and is a lot easier to get right.
For more of a beefy flavor that has some great lean to fat ratios, always go with brisket!
Is a brisket beef or pork?
Brisket is beef. It is cut from the breast region of the cow, while pork shoulder is cut from the pig’s shoulder region.
Some people like eating beef more than pork in general, so when deciding between the two, be aware of what type of animal you are eating.
Robert is a certified Pitmaster, with over a decade of experience in smoking the best meats you’ll ever feast upon. He also has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. When he’s not researching technical topics, he’s most likely barbecuing in his backyard.