Beef brisket is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, but yields delicious results. It requires a long cooking time at a low temperature, but the wait is worth it for this tender, boldly flavored beef. Here's how to cook brisket for the best results, plus a few of our favorite beef brisket recipes.
Beef brisket is a cut from the breast section of the animal. It is usually sold boneless. Because brisket is a tough cut of meat, it's best when braised (that is, simmered in a small amount of liquid), either in the oven, the slow cooker, or on the stove top.
Two different cuts of brisket are available. Unless the recipe specifies one or the other, either may be used in recipes calling for boneless beef brisket:
Most briskets you buy will have a layer of fat on the surface. Before preparing brisket, trim this away using a sharp slicing knife. If needed, slice the brisket into two pieces to fit into your Dutch oven or slow cooker. Unless otherwise specified, you do not need to brown the brisket before cooking.
It might take a little extra time to prepare, but there's no occasion that isn't improved by smoked brisket. This recipe produces brisket sandwiches, but you can serve smoked brisket any way you like.
1. Place 1 to 2 cups wood chips and enough water to cover them in a container; let soak for at least 1 hour before grilling. Soaking the wood in apple juice, beer, or even wine will add another layer of flavor, if desired. Drain before using. Sprinkle dry rub evenly over both sides of brisket; rub in with your fingers. To make the brisket rub, combine 1/2 cup paprika, 1/3 cup ground black pepper, 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup chili powder, 1/4 cup ground cumin, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper.
2. For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Fill pan with 1 inch of hot water. Add wood chunks to coals. Test for medium-low heat above drip pan. Place brisket, fat-side down, on grill rack over pan. Cover and smoke for 4 to 5 hours or until brisket reaches 185 degrees F or 190 degrees F and is tender, turning once halfway through smoking. Add additional coals and water as needed to maintain temperature and moisture. Do not add more wood after the first 2 hours of smoking.
3. For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect cooking. Add wood chunks according to manufacturer's directions. Place brisket on a rack in a roasting pan; place pan on a grill rack over burner that is turned off. Add 1 inch of water to a drip pan; set pan on grill rack directly over heat. Cover and smoke as directed.
4. Remove brisket from grill. Cover with foil and let stand for 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, prepare brisket barbecue sauce. In a large saucepan cook 1 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon hot oil over medium heat about 8 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in one 14.5-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained and cut up; 2/3 cup white vinegar; 1/4 cup orange juice; 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard; 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar; 1 tablespoon molasses; 2 teaspoons salt; 1 teaspoon liquid smoke; 1/2 teaspoon paprika; 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper; and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally; cool slightly. Transfer sauce, half at a time, to a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.
6. To serve, thinly slice brisket across the grain. Serve brisket on rolls with sauce.
Slow cooker brisket is ideal for serving tender, juicy slices of meat. In this preparation, the cooking liquid becomes a smoky barbecue sauce to serve alongside the brisket.
1. Prep the Veggies and Sauce
2. Slow-Cook the Brisket
In this oven-barbecued beef brisket, the meat braises in a chili-spiced liquid in the oven. No special equipment is needed—all you need is a baking pan.
1. Prep the Cooking Liquid
In a small bowl stir together 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon instant beef bouillon granules, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 2 minced garlic cloves.
2. Bake the Brisket
This skillet-braised, company-ready recipe is flavored with vodka, vermouth, and a quick brisket rub, and garnished with green olives. No wonder it's called "Martini Brisket." If you wish to make an alcohol-free version, the spirits may be omitted.
1. Prep the Brisket and Cooking Liquid
2. Cook Brisket on the Stove Top
3. Finish the Sauce
How to Store Leftover Brisket
Divide leftover cooked brisket into small portions and place in shallow airtight containers. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze (in freezer containers) for up to 2 months.
Grab your fork and knife, it's time to taste-test our best beef brisket recipe! Try out these favorite brisket recipes, then decide for yourself which one can't be beat.