Table of Contents
London Broil vs Brisket: Know the Difference Between the Two
When people get started with barbecue, one of the mistakes they face is distinguishing one meat cut from the other.
Two cuts that get almost everybody confused, including me, are London broil and brisket. I even remember when I ended up purchasing London broil instead of brisket!
Soon, I realized that both cuts aren’t the same and there are some significant differences between them.
London broil is a preparation style used for lean beef cuts like flank steak whereas brisket is actually a beef cut from the cow’s breast area. London broil cuts have less fat and more meat whereas brisket is quite fatty. Briskets also have a much richer taste compared to the mild taste of London broil cuts.
In this article, I’ve discussed the differences between London broil and brisket in detail. So, read on!
What is London Broil?
First, let’s talk about what London broil is.
Although it may seem like London broil is a cut of meat, the truth is it is not. It is mainly a form of steak preparation.
Even if the name makes it seem like London broil originated from the United Kingdom, there’s no proof for it. However, this form of preparation became one of the most popular ones in the US.
London broil is usually prepared using flank steak, a cut taken from the abdominal muscles of a cow. Yet, many people prepare it using other thick and bold cuts of beef too, like top round.
You’ll also find that in markets, anything from 1-inch steak to 4-inch roast from sirloin or round parts of the beef is labeled as “London broil”.
When it comes to the London broil preparation, the beef cut is marinated and cooked at high temperatures for a short time.
What is Brisket?
Unlike London broil which is a form of preparation, Brisket is actually a beef cut taken from the breast or the pectoral area. It is located just below the first five ribs and above the shanks.
You can also divide brisket into two components – flat and point brisket.
The point brisket comes from an area that is directly connected to the rib cage. Hence, the meat is often fatty and dense.
On the other hand, flat brisket is the meat below the point brisket. It’s as fatty and dense as point brisket. Instead, it just comprises connective tissues and meat.
If you look at a brisket, you’ll notice that the point and flat parts are mainly divided by a thick layer of fat.
As briskets are pretty huge, they’re often sold in half. You can also purchase a full-packer brisket consisting of both the point and flat parts.
Comparison Table: London Broil Vs Brisket
The comparison table below denotes the differences between London broil and brisket in short.
|London Broil Cut
|Mainly abdominal area
|Breast or pectoral region
|Less marbling and less fat
|More marbling and fatty layers
|Chewy without marinade due to less fat
|Tender and soft after cooking due to more fat
|Raw and meaty
|Requires high temperature and fast cooking
|Requires slow temperature and more time
|$7 to $11 (per pound)
|$3 to $10 (per pound)
Differences Between London Broil and Brisket
London broil cuts and brisket may look similar to each other. However, after cooking them in my smoker for several years, I finally realized that they are different cuts of meat.
London broil is a type of preparation method but the meat used for it is mainly flank steak. It originates from the abdominal section of the cow.
Some other lean cuts such as top round, originating from the inside of the rear leg, may also be used in the London broil preparation method.
On the contrary, brisket is taken from the cow’s breast or pectoral area.
- Fat Content
There’s also a clear difference between the fat content of brisket and London broil.
The London broil method is used with lean cuts of beef, such as flank steak and top round. Therefore, these cuts lack fat and don’t require slow cooking since they are much leaner. Instead, you can cook them fast on high heat as required in London broil.
When we consider a whole piece of brisket, it’s extremely fatty. Point brisket, especially, contains a lot of fat, whereas flat brisket is comparatively less fatty. However, both of them are separated by a chunk of fat too.
Therefore, brisket is way fattier than London broil cuts.
Due to the different fat content in London broil cuts and brisket, you’ll also find some variations in the texture.
For instance, the additional fats in the brisket melt and lubricate the muscle fibers. Hence, brisket meat comes out extremely flavorful and tender after slow-cooking it for an appropriate time.
On the other hand, London broil cuts are lean. They don’t have enough fats to make the meat moist and soft.
Therefore, the marination process and fast cooking of the London broil method help in making the cooked meat tender.
When I cooked brisket and London broil steak, I realized that even their taste is not the same when you smoke them!
London broil steak cuts require additional marination as they have a mild flavor with less fat. Therefore, they absorb the flavors of the ingredients that you’ve used for marination.
As brisket has many rich flavors of its own, it doesn’t require a marinade. Hence, cooked brisket has a more raw taste compared to London broil.
Even if you want to add a marinade to your brisket, it’s better to go for mild flavors.
- Cooking Method
Both London broil and brisket have entirely separate cooking methods whether you want to smoke or grill them.
You need to cook brisket at low internal temperatures and for a long time to keep it juicy and tenderize the meat. Generally, you need 30 to 60 minutes for every pound of brisket. Hence, a 16-pound brisket can easily have a cooking time of around 10 to 12 hours for best results.
Instead of low and slow cooking, the London broil method requires fast cooking at a high temperature. So, it won’t take you more than 10 minutes to sear your steak.
Keep in mind that you need to marinate and set aside the London broil steak for at least three to four hours.
London broil cuts and brisket look pretty similar after cooking. They’re cut in stripes, have a beautiful crust, and are also thin.
So what’s the difference? Both cuts vary in appearance before cooking.
Brisket, especially point brisket, is covered in abundant fat layers. It also has more marbling compared to London broil cuts, like flank or top-round.
- Nutritional Value
Although I’m no expert on the nutritional values of beef cuts, here’s what you can expect from London broil and brisket.
(per 4 oz. serving)
As you can see in the chart above, brisket has almost three times the fat content of London broil. It’s also high in cholesterol and calories.
It may come as a bit of a shocker but London broil cuts are slightly more expensive than brisket.
A Select grade (lowest grade) brisket costs around $3 to $6 per pound whereas the Prime brisket (highest grade) is around $5 to $10 per pound.
However, London broil cuts like flank meat cost between $7 and $11 per pound.
The reason behind London broil steak cuts being more expensive is that they have more meat due to less fat content.
On the other hand, beef brisket may contain more fat than meat which reduces their prices slightly.
Can You Substitute London Broil for Brisket?
When I purchased London broil steak instead of brisket, I wondered if I can just use it as a brisket substitute and use my smoker to cook it the same way.
Soon, I came to know that you cannot use London broil as a brisket replacement. Apart from their similar appearances after cooking, there’s nothing common between them.
The cooking method for both London broil cuts and brisket differs significantly. If you try to slow-cook London broil cuts like flank meat, you’ll end up overcooking!
You also need to use marinades and sauces for a London broil preparation. If you don’t, the meat will come out extremely dry and chewy.
Hence, it’s best to not substitute London broil for brisket or even the other way around.
London broil and brisket cannot be more different from each other! One is leaner with barely any fat while the other is full of fat. They also have varying cooking methods, tastes, and even raw appearance.
So, don’t make the mistake of using London broil instead of brisket or vice versa! You’ll end up ruining your dish.
What meat is similar to London broil?
London broil requires flank steak. But, you can ask your butcher for other leaner meat cuts like top-round and sirloin as a replacement too.
What meat can substitute for brisket?
Brisket requires a fatty substitute that can also undergo slow cooking. The best substitutes you can ask the butcher to give you include tri-tip, chuck roast, and short plate ribs. Chuck roast is also known as the “Poor Man’s Brisket”.