Brisket is one of the best cuts of meat that you can get. That juicy and tender block of meat is a real treat for many recipes, but it can be hard to find and sometimes needs substitutes.
There is nothing quite like a delicious brisket on a barbecue, but the truth is that it can be too expensive. Because it is SO good, brisket is also one of the most sought-after cuts of meat.
This huge chunk of lean meat and connective tissues is getting expensive for reasons like big restaurants getting them first, limited supply, and higher demand.
You will also need a lot of time to prepare and cook brisket. That is why your recipe may call for an alternative to brisket.
If you think brisket is too expensive, takes too much time to cook, or if your recipe does not call for it, you can get these substitutes for brisket.
Are Brisket And Beef The Same Thing?
Brisket and beef can sometimes be mistaken for each other. However, the two are not the same, as beef is a more general term for meat that comes from cattle.
So that means brisket is a beef cut from a cow, steer, or heifer.
Beef can only come from cattle, and that goes with brisket as well. Marketing strategies you see, like “pork brisket,” are not the real deal since they come from pigs.
The term beef is technically all cuts of meat from cattle. Brisket is just one of those many cuts of meat you can get from cattle.
What Cut Of Meat Is Brisket?
Brisket is a cut of meat that comes from cattle. It comes from the animal’s breast or lower chest part and is one of the 9 primal beef cuts.
The lower chest part of the animal works hard and takes a lot of the animal’s weight throughout its lifetime. This is why brisket contains a lot of lean and tough muscles.
Since cows do not have collar bones, the brisket also contains a lot of connective tissue to hold the animal’s weight.
That is why brisket can be tough and also why it is best cooked with low and slow smoking, braising, or a slow cooker.
Why Do You Need A Substitute?
If I see a brisket sold at my local butcher shop, I buy it immediately. However, that is not always the case so I often go with the alternatives.
Here are the main reasons why brisket needs a substitute:
1. Too Expensive
A whole packer of brisket (including the flat and point) can cost anywhere from $50 up to $150, depending on the quality of the meat.
Beef, in general, is becoming more and more expensive for many reasons like limited supply. Brisket is also becoming more popular and the high demand adds up to the price.
2. High Demand, Low Supply
As brisket becomes increasingly popular during barbecues, the supply is becoming more and more limited.
For each animal, you can only get two briskets, so there needs to be a lot of steer or cow to be butchered if we guarantee a sufficient supply for everyone who wants to buy.
While you are already competing with other local customers for briskets, there are also large competitions.
Smokehouses and restaurants often get brisket and make it the primary dish on their menu. They often reserve or pre-order cuts like brisket from local butcher shops.
That is why brisket is so hard to come by; even the best supermarkets might not have one on the table.
4. The Recipe You Are Cooking
The recipe that you want to make might not necessarily need brisket. Although brisket can be the best choice, there might be some cheaper alternatives.
Since brisket is hard to come by and is expensive, some recipes can be replaced with alternatives and still be good.
The cooking style you plan on doing can also be why you need a substitute.
Brisket is pretty tough so unless you are smoking, slow-cooking, or braising, brisket might not be the best option.
5. Specified Diets
Some people have different diets based on their preferences, such as vegan or vegetarian.
Others have religious laws to follow, like Hinduism, that prohibit them from eating cows. Substitutes for brisket and other protein sources can be found in some fruits and vegetables.
If you do not follow any rules or specific diets, you will have to worry more about the other reasons listed above.
How To Choose The Best Brisket Substitute
While it is mainly based on personal preference, choosing your brisket substitute can depend on many factors.
To choose the right one, ask yourself first what recipe you will cook. The recipe might not need an expensive cut of meat like brisket and can use substitutes like chuck roast.
The method of cooking is also important. Again, brisket is a tough cut of meat, so brisket might not be the best choice unless you plan on smoking it, braising, or slow-cooking it.
Choosing the right substitute for brisket can also depend on your diet. Some prefer not to eat red meat or have laws prohibiting them from eating animals, specifically cows.
Poultry and pork are also great alternatives to keep protein high in your diet. Luckily, we have a lot to choose from.
Beef Substitute Options
Here are the best substitutes for brisket that might be easier to find, less expensive, or more fitting to your recipe:
1. Chuck Roast
Chuck roast is perhaps the closest you can get to brisket. It is very similar to brisket as it also has a lot of lean muscle and connective tissues.
The flavors and texture of chuck roast and brisket are pretty similar as chuck roast has that delicious beefy taste from its lean muscles.
Chuck roast is also not as expensive as brisket. You can get a chuck roast for as low as $5.29 a pound which means a whole 3 to 5-pounder will not cost you more than 30.
2. Short Ribs
Short ribs are a cut of meat that are from different parts of the animal. It can get some from the brisket, rib, chuck, and plate.
That is why short ribs are pretty similar to brisket and are a good alternative. Short ribs can also be tough like brisket so they are usually cooked for a long time as well.
Short ribs are one of the juiciest alternatives you can get because they have a lot of fats. They also have bones between the meat which can help in making them tender and flavorful.
3. Beef Shanks
Beef shanks are a great alternative for brisket because they release a lot of flavors. They are also cheaper and are similar to brisket as they are pretty tough cuts of meat.
Beef shanks come from the leg of the animal which gets constant movement, making them tough.
They are great for slow-cooking and soups as they release all the beefy flavors while they slowly tenderize.
4. Beef Clods
Beef clods are pretty similar to beef shanks as beef clods can be tough. If you want to smoke or slow-cook meat, beef clods are a great brisket alternative.
Marinating the beef clods is also one of the best ways to cook it in order to impart more flavors to the meat.
Pork, Lamb, And Poultry Substitute Options
The substitutes listed above all come from cattle. If you do not need beef in your recipe but you want something similar to brisket, you can get the following substitutes from other animals:
5. Lamb Roast
Lamb is a good option if you do not want to eat beef even though it has a different flavor than beef. Lamb roast has a strong flavor which can be paired with a strong marinade.
Forequarters, the cuts of lamb that include the neck, front legs, and shoulder are the closest alternatives for brisket because of the leaner muscles.
The hind legs and saddle are also tough with a lot of connective tissues and are great for slow cooking just like brisket.
6. Pork Shoulder
While some butcher shops will call this “pork brisket” it is not entirely true. However, it is a close enough match if you do not want to get beef brisket.
Pork shoulders are also lean but they do have more fats than beef brisket. The so-called pork brisket includes the picnic ham and the shoulder.
It is a large cut of meat with lean muscles and enough marbling to make it tender when cooked low and slow.
7. Poultry Thighs
Poultry like chicken and turkey are cheap alternatives for brisket. Poultry is widely used, so you can easily buy them in almost any butcher shop or supermarket.
They are also easy to cook and are great brisket substitutes if you lack both the budget and time for cooking.
Poultry can absorb seasonings pretty well, especially if they are marinated or brined. This will allow you to put as much flavor as you want in them.
Can You Use Corned Beef Brisket As A Substitute?
Unless your brisket recipe calls for seasoning with a salty dry rub or smoking it, you can substitute corned beef brisket for brisket.
Corned beef brisket is a beef brisket that has undergone curing using water and different spices.
Corned beef brisket is cured to develop different flavors from herbs and seasonings in water. The ‘pickled spice’ induces a different flavor to the beef brisket to make corned beef brisket.
The texture of the corned beef brisket is still tough after it has been cured so, in some recipes, corned beef brisket can be used as a substitute for beef brisket.
Since the pickled spice gives the corned beef brisket a different flavor, it is best to soak the corned beef brisket in water for at least 7 hours to reduce some of its strong flavors.
Vegetarian Brisket Substitutes
If you have a more strict diet to follow, you can get these vegetarian alternatives:
Seitan is a popular alternative to cuts of meat which includes beef brisket. It also follows the rules of a vegan diet, which means it does not contain any animal products or by-products.
The texture similar to meat makes seitan a good substitute for brisket. It absorbs seasonings well, like smoked paprika and Worcestershire sauce.
Adding more familiar seasonings for meat to seitan will make its flavor closer to meat.
It is made with vital gluten, so, unfortunately, this is not a good alternative for those who are avoiding gluten in their diet.
Tempeh is a great protein source made out of soybeans. So if you cannot get your protein from brisket and still want that nutritious alternative, tempeh is a good substitute.
It can be sweet for some but by seasoning or marinating tempeh with the classic spices and herbs used for brisket, you can hardly taste the difference in flavor.
Cooked jackfruit has a meaty taste and texture. It is a popular substitute for pulled pork and can be an alternative to your beef brisket.
The tough skin of this fruit protects the juicy and soft interior that is full of flavors. Jackfruit is usually grown in tropical climates and is popular in Asian cuisine.
If you are not familiar with jackfruit and how it is cooked, there are a lot of recipe guides out there like this Vegan Pulled Jackfruit recipe.
What Is The Cheaper Alternative To Brisket?
Poultry is the apparent cheaper choice for brisket substitutes if you want a cheaper option. Ducks, turkeys, and chicken are your best bet for a cheaper ingredient than brisket.
The thigh of poultry animals is close to the brisket because while it is lean, it also has connective tissues that need to be cooked properly to tenderize.
If you want a cheaper option than brisket that would still give you the beefy flavor you want, then chuck roast can be a good alternative.
Can You Substitute Chuck Roast For Brisket?
Yes, the chuck roast is one of the closest substitutes for brisket in terms of the meat’s flavor and texture.
Chuck roast is cut from the shoulder of the cow or steer, close to the breast area where the brisket comes from.
The shoulder and breast area take a lot of weight and move during the animal’s life. This allows the brisket and chuck roast to develop lean and tough muscles.
There is also a lot of connective tissue on the chuck roast from the shoulder joint. Chuck is always my choice if no briskets are left in the butcher shop or supermarket.
If you like the post, do not forget to share it on social media!