When cooked properly, both London Broil and Beef Brisket are the perfect centerpiece to delicious, satisfying, flavorful meals.
There are two main differences between the two.
The critical difference is that the London Broil and Brisket require completely different cooking methods. Therefore, they are not interchangeable in recipes.
Beef brisket is a specific cut of meat, cut from the lower breast of the cow. Although there are many ways to prepare brisket, and all involve very long cooking over low heat.
London Broil is a catch-all phrase for several cuts of beef. Again, there are several ways to prepare London broil, but all will involve very quick cooking over high heat.
Preparing either cut in the method recommended for the other will result in disappointing mouthfuls of dry, tough, flavorless meat. So its not a good idea to interchange London Broil and Beef Brisket in any recipe.
But fear not!
The good news is that its not difficult to choose or prepare either cut properly, as long as you know what you're doing! By the time you finish this article, you'll be equipped with knowledge about both cuts of meat, the proper cooking method for each, and an armful of recipes perfect for any event or crowd!
Where Do Each Come From?
The diagram below will help visualize the cuts you’re choosing.
Brisket is one of 8 primal cuts of beef.
- The brisket portion is a large cut of beef including the pectoral muscles. It contains tough muscle and a lot of connective tissue.
- This turns out to be a good thing, when cooked properly! When cooked for a long time at a low temperature, those tissues break down into a flavorful gelatin.
- A whole brisket (also called a whole packer brisket) can be broken down into two parts: the flat cut (or the first cut) and the point cut (the second cut).
- Although a brisket can be considered a fatty cut, a brisket is NOT well marbled. Rather, there is a fat cap on top of the brisket and another layer in between the two layers of muscle in the point. It can be trimmed off rather easily.
London Broil can come from several parts of the cow.
- Any cut chosen for London Broil will be a lean, tough cut of meat, with a lot of muscle. However, it will NOT contain the connective tissues found in a brisket.
- Traditionally, a London Broil was a flank steak - from the flank, or abdominal muscle.
- Now, your local butcher or grocery store may label any of these lean cuts of beef as "London Broil": Sirloin butt, rump steak, top round
"Up until the last few years [before 1974], London broil meant just one thing — broiled flank steak. ... London broil, which is very lean and therefore much favored by dieters, has become increasingly popular of late, and the demand for flank steak has risen accordingly. So now supermarkets and butchers are beginning to market all sorts of different cuts under the name of London broil — sirloin butt or rump steak, rib eye steak, even top round... It is the thin, fibrous flank steak that makes the best and most authentic London broil, provided it is cooked and carved correctly."James Beard (1974). Beard on Food: a Feast of Gastronomic Inspirations, Cooking Ideas, and Irresistible New Recipes.
How do I cook them? Preparation and Cooking
- If you chose a large London Broil steak that is thick (thicker than 1"-1.5") consider fileting. This will allow more flavor to penetrate during the marinating process and speed up the cook time.
- Marinate in your choice/combination of: olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, wine, garlic, herbs. Lots of recipes below!
- Bring to room temperature for at least an hour before cooking - the muscles will relax, allowing for a more tender finished dish.
- Prepare the grill, cast iron skillet, or oven according to recipe directions.
- Cook at very high heat, flipping once you have a sear on the first side, until the internal temperature 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Let rest to reabsorb juices
- Cut into medium or thin strips against grain (muscle fibers)
- Serve with an herb butter, horseradish sauce, or deglaze the broiling pan with the marinade, boil (to get ride of bacteria), and serve on top
- Brisket can be braised – covered in liquid and cooked slowly in a crock pot or a Dutch Oven. This is a very traditional recipe Ashkenazi Jewish Grandmother Brisket recipe from my podcast guest, Marissa Wojcik.
- Brisket can also be smoked. Usually smoked brisket is used in BBQ.
- Brisket can also be brined (for at least 5 days) and seasoned to make corned beef.
- Pastrami is brisket that has been cured (like corned beef), then covered in spices, smoked or baked, then shaved thinly.
Local and Global Recipes
London Broil Recipes from Around the World
- Perfectly Tender London Broil from The Recipe Critic
- South American Flank Steak from Food.com
- Arrachera Borracha from La Pina en La Cocina
- French Style Bavette Steak from Chez La Reve Francais
- Thai Crying Tiger Recipe or Nam Tok Beef Waterfall Salad from Simply Suwanee
Brisket Recipes from Around the World
- Jewish Grandmother Pot Roast in a Crock Pot or Oven from Marissa on The Storied Recipe
- Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket from Hey Grill Hey
- Cure your own Homemade Corned Beef for St Patrick’s Day from Simply Recipes
- Homemade Pastrami from Leite’s Culinaria
Texture and Flavor
Brisket vs London Broil Texture
- As long as a brisket is cooked properly “low and slow” it will be will be fork tender, but hold together when sliced. This is true whether its smoked or braised.
- A London Broil will become juicy and tender when cooked properly, but it will never approach fall apart or pull apart stage.
- For best results, you'll want to slice London Broil into thin strips to expose as much flavor as possible, and to minimize the slight chewiness that even the best.
Brisket vs London Broil Flavor
- This is really impossible to say without taking the preparation of each into account.
- Both have a beefy flavor, obviously.
Availability: Where Can I Find Them?
- London Broil is easy to find in grocery stores. It may not be labeled as London Broil, however. Any of these tougher cuts of beef can function as a London Broil: It's likely to be called Flank Steak, Top Round (or Top Round Steak), Top Sirloin (or Top Sirloin Steak)
- Brisket, on the other hand, can be difficult to find. In particular, its especially difficult to find full briskets in grocery stores. When you do find one, its generally the flat cut of brisket.
- You can find brisket in the form of pastrami or corned beef at many grocery stores.
- You can find smoked brisket through google or even Amazon.
- Neither London Broil nor Brisket have a lot of marbling. Both will have some meat attached; usually the brisket will have a lot more than a London Broil.
- Besides having an obvious beefy flavor, the difference in taste between pot roast and London Broil is really going to come down to the preparation.
- Reports on this vary
- In my local grocery stores (and at Costco), London Broil is definitely cheaper than brisket.
- Remember that even when comparing price per pound, a cheaper unit price is not necessarily a better value. If you are buying a whole packer brisket with both the flat and the point cut, it may contain quite a layer of fat that you will trim off.
- In brisket, beef is high in protein. It is also a great source of vitamins and micronutrients like B6, Iron, and Zinc – here’s a great graphic of the top 10 benefits of beef.
- Beyond that, the nutritional value of London Broil vs. Pot Roast is going to depend very much on the preparation.
Popular Beef Cuts NOT Suitable as London Broil
- Chuck roast is best for pot roasts and slow cooking, not London Broil
- A Flat Iron steak sounds like it may work, but it's higher in fat and more tender than
- Skirt steak has fooled me before - it needs the low/slow method of cooking
- Top round roast should be roasted
- Short ribs will need to be cooked low and slow, then finished on the grill
- New York Strip - a naturally tender and delicious steak that should not be marinated or sliced like London Broil