The Best Slow Cooker Beef Brisket is fork tender, melt in your mouth, and oh so flavorful! So easy to prepare and perfect for any occasion! The ultimate comfort food!
Don't you just love having a fantastic meal slowly cooking, freeing up oven space, leaving you available to visit and get everything else ready? Then impressing your family or guests with the ultimate comfort food! It doesn't get better than that!
The Best Slow Cooker Beef Brisket is absolutely amazing really. We enjoy it with mashed potatoes, covered in the most wonderful gravy, whatever vegetables we have on hand, and usually a salad, on the first night.
The next night we take the leftover beef brisket, slice it up, cover it in barbecue sauce, broil it until it bubbles and caramelizes, and make the most incredible sandwiches. Sometimes with coleslaw on top but more often than not without. I'm literally salivating while writing this post just thinking about it.
This is one of our favorite meals as an entire family. What I mean is we all LOVE it just as much. I truly wish I could have some every day but then I would get sick of it eventually, probably, maybe. I hate to think that it is even possible to get sick of this wonderful dish.
As it is we make this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket about once a month, ever since we were served it at my late foodie friend Marcel's house for dinner, years ago. I believe this recipe has been adapted from Americas Test Kitchen or Cooks Country as she had a membership there and loved to alter their creations and everyone else's too for that matter. She was a food genius!
Regardless, I wish she was here with me so I could ask her. That being said I really wish I could take credit for this recipe myself. Then you all would believe I was a food genius too! ?
What is Beef Brisket?
Beef brisket is a wonderful cut of boneless meat found on the bottom of a cow's "chest" or front, above the cows' front legs. As cows walk around they use muscles in this general area. To see a diagram or know the name of this specific cut of meat in your part of the world check here for more detailed information.
Unless you purchase the entire brisket you have a choice between the flat cut and point cut. You can easily see the difference when looking at both of them.
Both are fabulous, flavorful and so tender if cooked long and slow to break down the connective tissue and muscle. This is not a cut of beef that I believe should be cooked quickly or at high temperatures. In most cases you end up with a tough, hard, piece of meat and that would be a shame.
If given a choice between the two you have to decide based on what you want to do with it. If you need the end result to shred for sandwiches, choose the Point Cut. If you want nice slices pick the Flat Cut.
Point Cut Beef Brisket
The point cut looks like a chunk of beef with a narrow or pointy end. It has a lot of fat marbled through it and when cooked is so tender and juicy.
This cut is more difficult to find generally and is best used for making sandwiches or shredding. It just doesn't look as nice or slice as easy as the Flat Cut Beef Brisket and there is usually so much ore fat.
The amount of fat is not ideal for a slow cooker because your sauce can end up so greasy. The extra fat has no where else to go. This cut is better suited for a grill or cooked up on a rack in a smoker.
Flat Cut Beef Brisket
The flat cut is just like the name suggests, flat. It is so much leaner with a flat, fat layer on one side, referred to as the fat cap, and is perfect for making this cut of beef super moist. The fat cap dissolves and melts away while cooking which adds even more flavor to the sauce that accompanies this beef brisket.
Do your best to buy a beef brisket with a nice fat cap on it, you can always trim it and make it a thinner layer if you feel its necessary, I never do.
I prefer this cut and it is the one I used for this recipe and video.
This is the more common beef brisket. If you want to be able to slice the end result this cut is definitely the way to go! This is also the cut most frequently used to make corned beef.
This cut of beef will hold its shape after an extremely long cooking time, unlike other cuts of beef which just fall apart.
How do you cook Beef Brisket in a Slow Cooker?
In my opinion, beef brisket is ideally cooked in a slow cooker. It definitely requires a slow cook.
Use a leaner flat cut brisket, instead of a fattier point cut, which is perfect for a grill where the fat can drip away from the meat. In a slow cooker the excess fat has no where to go except inside the sauce which will inevitably make it greasy.
First, you want to poke holes all over your beef brisket, on both sides. Next, take the spice rub, and, using your hands, rub the spice mixture all over. Wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
No need to marinate when you use your slow cooker!
Some cook their brisket in beer or broth. Some just barbecue sauce. This recipe is full of onions and flavor.
Cooking time will vary. Some briskets take longer to break down. It will all depend on where you buy your meat and its quality.
If you want, you can cook your brisket on HIGH for 5-6 hours or on LOW for 9-11 hours. I know that seems like such a long time but for this cut of meat it is just what it needs. Frankly the slower you cook this meat the better.
If possible, consider making your brisket the day before. Remove the entire slow cooker metal or ceramic insert or basket and refrigerate it with the brisket and all the juices for up to 2 days.
Not only does the flavor improve, it becomes even more tender and makes dinner the next day son easy! When you ready to serve it, simply skim off the hardened fat and cook on low for 1-2 hours or until heated all the way through.
If you would like brown your beef brisket just set your oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for up to 10 minutes or throw it on your grill for a few minutes. I never do.
If you want to reduce the sauce either pour the contents out of the slow cooker, in to a saucepan on your stove and simmer until thickened or you can turn on the element on your slow cooker and simmer there until the sauce is reduced. I never need to.
After cooking this meat all day this beef will still hold together and can be sliced and served with mashed potatoes or shredded and used in sandwiches. Two meals in one. I love it!
How do you make Beef Brisket tender?
In order to end up with a tender Beef Brisket you will need to use your slow cooker. It will be so juicy and totally tender, every time!
What size Beef Brisket should I buy?
For this recipe I use a 4-5 pound flat cut beef brisket. If you have a larger cut, no need to worry, you can always double up the ingredients if need be. If your cut is smaller you can easily cut the recipe in half and adjust your cooking tie accordingly. I have never had to adjust anything.
You should also know that your beef brisket will shrink while cooking by almost fifty percent. Sometimes a little less. I usually decide how big of a brisket to buy estimating that each person will eat about ½ a pound and some extra for sandwiches the next day! For example a raw five pound brisket cooked will weigh somewhere between 2 ½ and 3 pounds.
How long do you cook Beef Brisket in the oven?
If you prefer to bake your brisket in the oven, I highly recommend marinating it in a liquid or a rub, Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Place the beef brisket into a roasting pan with liquid (water, broth, beer or barbecue sauce) and cook, covered, for at least 6 hours if not longer.
How long do you cook Beef Brisket in an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker?
Yes you can but I don't recommend it. The problem is with the fat. When slow cooked the fat cap on a flat cut brisket virtually disappears. When using an instant pot to cook flat cut beef brisket the fat cap will not disappear and if you trim too much off of it your beef brisket won't be moist and tender. If you are using the point cut the fat has no where to go and I find it greasy, just like in a slow cooker.
Maybe that is just me. If you don't mind trimming the fat off of your cooked meat this flat cut beef brisket will still taste great. Here is how you do it.
Trim the excess fat off of flat cut brisket if desired.
If required, cut your brisket into smaller pieces to fit inside your instant pot.
Set your instant pot to SAUTE and sear your beef brisket on all sides, until browned. Set aside beef brisket.
Spread onion mixture and then sprinkle thyme and bay leaves all over.
Place seared brisket on top and cover brisket with remaining onion mixture.
Change the setting on your instant pot to MEAT/STEW or PRESSURE COOK and set your timer to 90 minutes if your brisket is between 4 and 5 pounds. If your brisket is smaller, between 2 and 3 pounds, set your timer to 60 minutes. Lastly, if your brisket is between 6 and 7 pounds set your timer to 110 to 120 minutes.
Once cooked allow the pressure to release naturally for about 15 minutes. Then do your quick release.
Remove your beef brisket from your instant pot and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
If you need or want to reduce the sauce left in your instant pot turn the setting to SAUTE for between 5 and 10 minutes.
Ingredients for Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
- beef brisket, flat cut, 4-5 pounds
- vegetable oil
- brown sugar
- tomato paste
- fresh garlic
- chicken broth
- red wine vinegar
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- thyme leaves
- bay leaves
How do you cook Beef Brisket?
The much leaner flat cut brisket is the cut that is best suited for using a slow cooker and this recipe.
In a large skillet, over medium high heat, pour oil until shimmering or a drop of water flicked in it dances. Add onions, brown sugar and salt. Stir and cook until your onions are tender.
Make a hole in the center of your onions. Add tomato paste and stir until blended.
Sprinkle flour all over the top of onion mixture and cook until color from tomato paste darkens.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Stir in broth and cook until sauce thickens.
Off heat, stir in ¼ cup vinegar and transfer mixture to bowl.
Combine salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne in bowl. Sliced, tender brisket is cooked in the slow cooker to perfection then sliced and piled high on a soft roll. Top with coleslaw and extra sauce for the perfect summer meal
Using fork, prick brisket all over.
Rub spice mixture over brisket and wrap tightly in plastic.
Cover bowl with onion mixture with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate brisket and bowl with onion mixture overnight.
The next morning, add ⅓ of onion mixture to slow-cooker. Add thyme and bay leaves. You now have the option to sear your Beef Brisket. I never do. I find this dish delicious and no one ever notices a difference so I don't bother anymore. If you want to sear yours remove the plastic wrap and bake it on 425 degrees for 30 minutes or sear the brisket on all sides in a hot pan, with some oil that is hot enough that if you flick a drop of water in it it dances. Then place it on top of the onions, thyme and bay leaves.
If you have chosen not to sear, place your unwrapped brisket, fat side up, on top of the onions, thyme and bay leaves. Spread remaining onion mixture over brisket. Set slow cooker to low, cover, and cook until brisket is fork-tender, 9 to 10 hours (or cook on high for 5 to 6 hours). Turn cooker off and allow brisket to rest for 30 minutes.
Transfer brisket to cutting board, cut across grain into ½-inch slices, and transfer to serving platter. Tent with foil. Pour sauce into large skillet, discard herbs, and simmer over high heat until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Skim fat, add remaining vinegar, then pour half of sauce over brisket. Serve with remaining sauce on side.
I slice the beef on the first night and serve sandwiches the next!
Sliced, tender brisket is cooked in the slow cooker to perfection then sliced and piled high on a soft roll. Top with coleslaw and extra sauce for the perfect summer meal
These sandwiches couldn’t be easier. Brisket is simmered in BBQ sauce in a slow cooker then topped with coleslaw for a restaurant-style meal right at home.
At this point, you can serve as is, or I like to remove the brisket to a foil lined baking sheet and smother all over with our homemade barbecue sauce and broil for 5-10 minutes, until slightly caramelized which enhances the savory meaty flavor.
Whip up your barbecue sauce and pour half of it all over your beef — you’re going to use the remaining half for later when basting! Let it cook low and slow for 8 to 10 hours.
Lastly, for crispy, charred edges, you’re going to broil or grill it in the oven to caramelize the edges and create a beautiful crust on the meat. I love mixing the pan juices leftover in the slow cooker bowl into the remaining barbecue sauce to baste the brisket in for the ultimate flavour!
Slow Cooker Brisket is coated in a spice mix and slow cooked with beer. It’s so tender and juicy. Cut it into slices and serve it with an easy 2-ingredient sauce. There’s no easier way to make a brisket.
I use Guinness for the beer but you can use whatever you like. Just stay away from beers that are too hoppy or bitter.
To make an easy sauce for the brisket, I mix equal parts of the cooking liquid with jarred bbq sauce.
You could use wine or beer instead of the beef stock. Think of this recipe as a starting point for experimentation, or just a good, basic pot roast brisket.
Tips for making Beef Brisket
- I always cook the meat with the fat cap on top so the fat melts through the meat. You should too!
- Brisket is never supposed to be pink. Pink means it is under cooked and your beef will be extremely tough. There is no such thing as a tender, rare, slice like there is with most other cuts of beef. The exception is pastrami and corned beef. Their brining solution is what makes them pink.
- There is no other cut of beef with the same cooking qualities as beef brisket. You can overcook your brisket and the meat will still slice!
- If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below!
- After your beef brisket is cooked, this is when I remove the entire slow cooker metal or ceramic insert and refrigerate it with the brisket and all the juices for 1-2 days. Not only does the flavor improve, it becomes even more tender and makes prep the next day a snap. When ready to serve, simply skim off the hardened fat then cook on low for 1-2 hours until warmed through.
- When you return home to the tender, juicy brisket, it’s important to allow the meat to rest on a cutting board for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- When it’s time to dig in, be sure to cut the beef against the grain as thinly as possible. This yields the best beef brisket recipe every single time!
- Upon serving, the meat is cut across the grain, helping it become fall-apart tender
More Slow Cooker Beef Recipes
What To Serve With Best Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
So now you have your main course selected. All that remains is to choose a side dish or two to go with it. Check out the list that Ken and I created and I'm sure that you'll find something on it that will speak to your heart and tastebuds!
Best Slow Cooker Beef Brisket Video
The Best Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 large onions about 2 pounds, halved and sliced ½-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons garlic minced
- 2 ½ cups chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar plus 1 teaspoon
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 beef brisket 4-5-pound flat-cut, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
- 7 bay leaves
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook onions, brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt until onions are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and flour and cook until darkened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth and cook until sauce thickens, about 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in ¼ cup vinegar and transfer mixture to bowl.
- Combine ½ teaspoon salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne in bowl. Using fork, prick brisket all over. Rub spice mixture over brisket and wrap tightly in plastic. Cover bowl with onion mixture with plastic wrap. Refrigerate brisket and bowl with onion mixture overnight.
- The next morning, add ⅓ of onion mixture to slow-cooker. Add thyme and bay leaves. You now have the option to sear your Beef Brisket. I never do. I find this dish delicious and no one ever notices a difference so I don't bother anymore. If you want to sear yours remove the plastic wrap and bake it on 425 degrees for 30 minutes or sear the brisket on all sides in a hot pan, with some oil that is hot enough that if you flick a drop of water in it it dances. Then place it on top of the onions, thyme and bay leaves.
- If you have chosen not to sear, place your unwrapped brisket, fat side up, on top of the onions, thyme and bay leaves. Spread remaining onion mixture over brisket. Set slow cooker to low, cover, and cook until brisket is fork-tender, 9 to 10 hours (or cook on high for 5 to 6 hours). Turn cooker off and allow brisket to rest for 30 minutes.
- Transfer brisket to cutting board, cut across grain into ½-inch slices, and transfer to serving platter. Tent with foil. Pour sauce into large skillet, discard herbs, and simmer over high heat until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Skim fat, add remaining vinegar, then pour half of sauce over brisket. Serve with remaining sauce on side.
- The leaner flat-cut brisket is the better choice for this recipe. The thicker point cut is much fattier-a good thing on the grill, where the excess fat can drip away, but a disadvantage in a slow cooker, where the fat can make the sauce greasy. If you end up with an especially thick piece of brisket, extend the cooking time to 11 hours.