BBQ Brisket-cutting knife

Joined
Oct 16, 2013
Messages
240
I'm looking for recommendations on a knife that I can use to cut nice, relatively-thin pieces of BBQ brisket.

The backstory: I recently moved into a house with a pretty nice 5-burner gas grill that the previous owner no longer wanted. He'd bought it to show off to his friends, and then let it basically sit there, weather, and fall apart. I can tell it was barely used not only by the quantity of rust on various surfaces by also by the fact that a bird had managed to build a nest between a burner and the also-rusted grill grate. The nest was pretty desiccated itself, so I'm guessing the baby birds have long since grown up. Well, I managed to clean it up, order a few replacement parts, and now I've got a pretty nice grill. With the 5 burners, I can put the meat on one side and just fire up one or two burners, throw some wood chips down on top, and have myself a gas-powered approximation of a smoker. I'm new to grilling, so I've been practicing all winter through rain and snow, getting to the point where I can do ribs very consistently with a nice pink smoke-ring and just-right tender, and the briskets have improved significantly from when I started. This past week my wife had her cousins all over at our house and I made two 5-1/2 pound briskets and two racks of baby back ribs, all of which were well received. My wife acts as my taste tester because, well, she grew up in Texas, so she knows what good BBQ is. Her critique this weekend was that the brisket was really getting good in terms of flavor and tenderness, but that I was cutting the meat too thick. It's supposed to be pencil-thick, but instead my pieces are probably double that.

The problem: I'm really unable to cut the meat any thinner with my current kitchen knives. My best knife is a 7" Wusthof classic cook's knife that I keep fairly sharp using a honing steel, but it's a bit small when cutting across an entire 5 or 6 lb brisket, which is the size I typically get from my grocer. Also, when I cook dry-rubbed brisket, it tends to develop a layer of char on the outside that's fairly sturdy while the inside is moist and tender - the Wusthof can't make it through the char cutting against the grain without making it a shredded, sloppy mess.

My guess is I either need a longer, or sharper (or longer and sharper) knife to cut the brisket at the appropriate thinness. I'd definitely welcome any recommendations, thoughts, or suggestions of personal favorites. Thanks in advance!
 

AntDog

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2001
Messages
21,291
I have one word for you my friend - "serrated".
You know those crap serrated knives they sell on TV? I have the biggest one "chef tony" sold and that's what I use for brisket. Sails right through it. Slices right through the char, doesn't mush the meat, and retains all the juices. I'm from Texas as well, and as ALL my family and friends will attest, quite a fair hand at the BBQ.
Keep working on your technique, try different rubs and marinades til you get it perfect, and get yourself a long, thin, serrated knife for that brisket! And post pics. :thumbup:
 

Whetstone39

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2013
Messages
3,887
I haven't tried it, but a friend of mine swears by the Victorinox Forschner slicing knife, with the Granton edge. I think the blade length is 10 or 12 inches, he can get crazy thin slices with his. Seems to go through anything pretty well too.
 
Joined
Jun 24, 2014
Messages
231
Serrated knives are a good option. I'll also throw out the becker bk-5. I have the bk-15 which is a scaled down version. It works great in the kitchen. For brisket you probably want the bigger bk-5. When sharpening you could try leaving it a little toothy.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2014
Messages
1,529
Dexter slicing knife. Not sure if I am allowed to post a link. Also, gas grilled brisket makes this Texan sad, but it is better than nothing I suppose.
 

AntDog

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2001
Messages
21,291
Dexter slicing knife. Not sure if I am allowed to post a link. Also, gas grilled brisket makes this Texan sad, but it is better than nothing I suppose.

Me too, but he's indirectly heating it (heat is on opposite side of the grill) and he's adding wood chips for smoke. So eh, not TOO shabby... I've seen worse attempts! :D
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2014
Messages
1,529
Me too, but he's indirectly heating it (heat is on opposite side of the grill) and he's adding wood chips for smoke. So eh, not TOO shabby... I've seen worse attempts! :D

Definitely seen worse. Hoping for some brisket pictures when it happens. That dexter I mentioned is fairly cheap also. Can find them fairly easy too.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2013
Messages
240
Me too, but he's indirectly heating it (heat is on opposite side of the grill) and he's adding wood chips for smoke. So eh, not TOO shabby... I've seen worse attempts! :D

Indeed, I'd love to have a true smoker, but with money being what it is I'm going to have to make do with this hand-me-down gas grill for a while. I have at least figured out how to get a steady 235-240 degrees or so inside the chamber to go low-and-slow and I foil-seal the top vents in order to seal in moisture and limit the number of air exchanges. I'd like to be able to hold 225 but for whatever reason if I turn it down that low it becomes really inconsistent and swings between 205 and 235, versus if I shoot for 235 it can hold 235 to 240 pretty consistently. Someday I'll get to own a stick-burner, hopefully at that point I'll be well versed in all the other aspects of smoking.

thanks for the knife recommendations everyone, looking up each of them right now
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
3,483
Old Hickory 10in, or 14in butchers knife. 1095 steel, thin, and doesn't break the bank.

What I've noticed cutting large cuts of meat is that I'd rather have the largest blade possible for slicing, since it seems to be the sawing motion back and forth that smashes all the juice out of the meat. So I'd go with the 14in version personally.

I also hear good things about the victorinox slicers.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2014
Messages
1,529
The Dexter V-Lo is the model I've used personally if you are looking them up. Definitely agree with the longer knife.
 

AntDog

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2001
Messages
21,291
Agree 100% with using a longer knife. You want the knife optimally to extend past the meat a few inches in both directions. You want to make the cut in as few "swipes" as possible, to keep all those delicious juices in the meat and not on the cutting board.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2015
Messages
93
I lived in Texas (San Antonio) for a few years before moving to Atlanta, and picked up the BBQ bug before I left. I use a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, and have perfected brisket over the last few years. I have a nice block of Henkel knives with some great fine edge knives in it, but for the brisket I always use the serrated bread slicer. It's about 8-10 inches long, and it cuts right through the char (I dry rub as well). Head to Bed Bath and Beyond or any other store that sells knives and pick up a good serrated edge knife and you'll be cutting like a pro in no time. I just checked Amazon, and you can pick one up for 15 bucks.
 

Busto

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
4,073
Here is the knife you need watch the short video....I sent one to my brother couple years ago so it would be there when we go fishing....this is a crazy tuff blade....I know its guys processing big tuna but
this will slice brisket nice and thin....we use it to shave tuna "Sashimi" style paper thin!!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUaDnMK3wPM
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Messages
31,066
I'd get a knife actually purpose built for the task at hand. (Funny thing, people who are the first to say "use the right tool for the job", when it comes to food...they throw that out the window. Odd.)

I'd go with a Japanese slicer, in particular a sujihiki. Long as you can afford. Tojiro makes a nice one in their DP series. 10.6 inch blade, laminated Vg-10, About 110 bucks.
 

AntDog

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2001
Messages
21,291
I'd go with a dedicated straight edged slicer if brisket were like sushi, but it's not. It's fibrous and has to be cut across the grain. (While trying to minimize damage to the meat, and maximize retained juices) That's why a long, thin, serrated knife works better than anything I've ever tried. And I've BBQ'd a brisket or two. (Or a few hundred...)
 

Busto

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
4,073
Don't misunderstand this is not just for sushi...this will cut brisket and it has a nice long edge with that trailing point much like a good meat butchering blade....I make knives and I had my doubts until I tried this
blade not that I will give up any other knives I have but this is a wicked slicer...Just my .02cents
 
Joined
Jan 18, 2015
Messages
743
I'd go with a dedicated straight edged slicer if brisket were like sushi, but it's not. It's fibrous and has to be cut across the grain. (While trying to minimize damage to the meat, and maximize retained juices) That's why a long, thin, serrated knife works better than anything I've ever tried. And I've BBQ'd a brisket or two. (Or a few hundred...)

Agreed.

Shun Sora bread knife would be lovely. 9" composite blade with a VG10 edge. I've got one at home, and it's an outstanding knife in the kitchen. KnifeCenter has em for sale right now at $69.99 (regular price is $100).
http://www.knifecenter.com/item/KSVB0705/shun-vb0705-sora-bread-knife-9-blade-tpe-polymer-handle
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 2, 2009
Messages
1,878
I've seen a variety of knife types used by pitmasters both in competition and commercial use. Scimitars, butcher, roast slicers, bread, chef, sujihiki and a surprising number of machetes, bowies and swords. What may not be common knowledge is how many electric knives are used to slice brisket by competition cooks. Scimitars, butcher knives and roast slicers are very commonly used in many joints inside the Texas BBQ Triangle.

My personal favorite for brisket is a Mac SB-105 scalloped slicer which goes for about $90 but I occasionally pull out my Masahiro MVH sujihiki just for show as it does not perform as well. A scalloped edge 10" slicer from Forschner/Victorinox, Dexter or F. Dick will run you about a 1/3 of the Mac and will get it done just fine. The electric knives do a great job of creating presentation worthy slices of meat but are just wrong to me out of principle.

The key to slicing brisket IMO is to make sure the meat has been sufficiently rested, then separate the point and the flat as the grains do not run the same direction and then slice each of them against the grain.

brisketporn.jpg
 

AntDog

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2001
Messages
21,291
I've seen a variety of knife types used by pitmasters both in competition and commercial use. Scimitars, butcher, roast slicers, bread, chef, sujihiki and a surprising number of machetes, bowies and swords. What may not be common knowledge is how many electric knives are used to slice brisket by competition cooks. Scimitars, butcher knives and roast slicers are very commonly used in many joints inside the Texas BBQ Triangle.

My personal favorite for brisket is a Mac SB-105 scalloped slicer which goes for about $90 but I occasionally pull out my Masahiro MVH sujihiki just for show as it does not perform as well. A scalloped edge 10" slicer from Forschner/Victorinox, Dexter or F. Dick will run you about a 1/3 of the Mac and will get it done just fine. The electric knives do a great job of creating presentation worthy slices of meat but are just wrong to me out of principle.

The key to slicing brisket IMO is to make sure the meat has been sufficiently rested, then separate the point and the flat as the grains do not run the same direction and then slice each of them against the grain.

brisketporn.jpg

Oh yeah, I've seen all manner of craziness used to slice brisket as well! They've got to be doing it for show. I've seen one group set up at a cookoff as a Viking ship and they used a huge broadsword to smash (I mean cut) the meat.
I've also seen electric knives used lots. That doesn't bother me too much. I'm much less of a BBQ purist than I used to be. I didn't use "the Texas crutch" for years. (I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about) I also didn't ever used injectable marinades, brines, mops, sops, fruit woods, etc. Now, if it works good, and produces the results I like, I'm not above using it. I just never used electric knives because they just saw around on the meat too much. I like to just slice cleanly through it in just a few strokes instead of sawing around.
I've seen the scalloped edge slicers you're talking about. They work well. I just swear by my old trusty serrated knife because it's given me the best results for years. It's cut more brisket than I can remember. You're 100% correct on letting the meat rest. It's a rookie mistake to cut it too early. The juice just spills out on the cutting board. Also 100% correct on separating the point from the flat. I usually BBQ a couple briskets, slice up the flats to eat right then, and save the two points for sammiches later.
That is some mighty fine looking brisket in your photo! And your user name doesn't hurt your credibility one bit! :thumbup:
 
Last edited:
Top