Smoking a brisket may seem like a daunting task. They are big, they are heavy, they take a time-commitment to cook, and inevitably there is a pile of trimmings you’re left wondering what to do with. Many simply toss the trimmings out, but don’t let this be you.

Brisket trimmings are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and can be used for so many things. A full-sized whole brisket can weigh over 20 pounds. Depending on the level of trimming done prior to cooking, it is not uncommon to have five or more pounds of trimmings.


The perfect burger is comprised of just the right fat to lean ratio when grinding. Brisket trimmings are the perfect addition to create an incredibly juicy and flavorful burger. Seasonings can be added to desired taste after burger has been ground.

  • Make sure the meat is super cold. Place trimmings on a sheet pan in the freezer. Freeze until edges are solid but trimmings remain pliable.
  • For a burger blend, select a lean cut of beef such as chuck or round and cut into small pieces to add to grinder/food processor with the chilled brisket trimmings. Add about 25% of the total weight in brisket fat. Example, for 1 pound of chuck, that add 4 ounces (which is around 1/4 pound) of brisket fat trimmings.
  • For a 100% brisket burger – cut trimmings into small pieces and add to grinder. Make note to have approximately 25% of the total weight in fat.
  • Run cold trimmings/meat through a chilled meat grinder on the coarse setting. Run it through an additional time if you desire a finer grind.


Beef tallow (rendered beef fat) is by far one of the easiest and most desirable ingredients to garner from brisket trimmings. With minimal effort, the result is rich and savory tallow that can be used in place of oil or butter and boasts amazing flavor.

  • Make sure the meat is super cold. Place trimmings on a sheet pan in the freezer. Freeze until edges are solid but trimmings remain pliable.
  • Remove all meat from the trimmings and cut fat into approximately 1” pieces.
  • Add fat trimmings to a disposable aluminum sheet pan and place on smoker while brisket is cooking. Depending on size of smoker place beside or on shelf under the brisket.
  • Cook for approximately 4 hours at 250° F, or until fat has rendered into tallow, stirring occasionally to make sure not to burn.
  • Remove from smoker and strain. Straining is important! Strain first trough a small mesh strainer followed by a second strain through a cheesecloth. Be sure to remove as many impurities as possible as these can cause the tallow to perish faster as well as have a poor taste.
  • Place strained tallow in a glass container. Tallow can be used in liquid form immediately or will solidify upon cooling. Tallow can be safely stored in refrigeration for up to three months.


Brisket trimmings can be safely sealed and saved in the freezer for use in recipes at a later date. When you are ready to break out the slow cooker, they will come in handy for everything from tacos to chili and more. When utilizing brisket trimmings in recipe applications, make sure the trimmings are cold and remove a good portion of the fat from the meat and save for use in grind applications. Cut trimmings into smaller pieces for use in recipes. Brisket trimmings cook best under a low and slow application with liquid added to assist in the rendering of trimmings, creating a tender flavorful bite.

Below are some great examples of recipes brisket trimmings can be used in.

  • Slow Cooked Brisket Chili (slow cooker, dutch oven etc.)
  • Carne Guisada – Latin Beef Stew
  • Brisket Smashburgers
  • Brisket Pizza
  • Braised Brisket Stew
  • Brisket Nachos

Whether you’re grinding your own burgers or saving your trimmings for future recipes, there are so many uses for the trimmings that often get tossed out. Don’t be afraid to experiment by adding the perfect boost of savory flavor to your future dishes.