3-Day Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

It takes 3 days to make this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket, but it’s only 20 minutes of hands on time! It’s the ultimate make-ahead meal for dinner and parties.

It takes 3 days to make this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket, but it's only 20 minutes of hands on time! It's the ultimate make-ahead meal for dinner and parties.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking I’m crazy. Who spends THREE DAYS making beef brisket?

Well, YOU do, if you want to outshine your local barbecue joint with tender, juicy, saucy, and flavorful brisket.

It takes 3 days to make this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket, but it's only 20 minutes of hands on time! It's the ultimate make-ahead meal for dinner and parties.

If you read my intro, you’re already wise to the fact that this 3-day beef brisket doesn’t actually require a whole of effort on your part. But you definitely get all the credit!

People will be raving, I promise.

Warning: This is not a brainless slow cooker recipe where you just throw everything in to a crock pot and forget about it.  Although it doesn’t take much work, it definitely takes planning. The marinade and the crock pot do most of the heavy lifting; you’re just there to supervise.

So when I complain to my husband that it takes three days to make this brisket, and he should really be more excited about eating it, he rolls his eyes and says, “but how much work did you personally put into this over the three days?”  Yeah, not much.

It takes 3 days to make this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket, but it's only 20 minutes of hands on time! It's the ultimate make-ahead meal for dinner and parties.

Here’s the beef brisket breakdown:

Day 1: Marinade overnight

Day 2: Slow Cooker for 10 – 12 hours, then chill overnight

Day 3: Slice the cold meat, add sauce, and reheat.  Devour.

You are still not convinced that this is worth all the trouble, I can tell.  Have you ever heard of a smokehouse or a barbecue restaurant bragging about their famous 20-minute ribs?  NO!  Because these things take time. And time can be a very beautiful thing.

Knowing that you will eat the brisket on the third day allows you to plan ahead for a party, a football game, or even just a special Sunday lunch.  Want to eat it on Saturday?  Start it Thursday night.

If you need it right away on Day 3, you can heat it in the oven.  Otherwise, toss it back in your slow cooker to simmer until go-time.  It’s not exactly taxing work, and one bite of the saucy brisket will sell you forever.

It takes 3 days to make this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket, but it's only 20 minutes of hands on time! It's the ultimate make-ahead meal for dinner and parties.

Tips for Success

Brisket: Well-stocked grocery stores will likely have brisket, but it’s not always sitting out and available.  I usually have to ask a butcher for help. He will trim a piece just for me in the size I specify.  So if you don’t see it, don’t despair.  Just ask.

Slow Cooker: I definitely recommend LOW and SLOW for this recipe. But, you could certainly crank it up to HIGH and slow cook it for half the time.

Sauce: Use whatever homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce you prefer. If I’m going the store-bought route, Sweet Baby Ray’s is a favorite.

Serving: I love brisket on sweet, soft rolls or grilled Texas toast perfect for sopping up extra sauce. Prepared coleslaw makes a great topping if you’re into that. If you like the crunch of coleslaw but don’t want the extra calories, just shred some purple cabbage and scallions for a light, easy topping fix. It tastes great!

Serve my 3-Day Barbecue Brisket with all your favorite barbecue-joint side dishes, such as potato salad and baked beans. ENJOY!

Save this 3-Day Slow Cooker Beef Brisket to your “Main Dishes” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

3-Day Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

Yield: 12 servings

Cook Time: 3 days

Total Time: 3 days

It takes 3 days to make this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket, but it's only 20 minutes of hands on time! It's the ultimate make-ahead meal for dinner and parties.


  • 1 (4 to 4 ½ pound) beef brisket
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
  • 12 ounces light beer, lager, or ale
  • 2 cup purchased barbecue sauce
  • Texas toast or rolls, for serving, optional
  • Red cabbage and scallions or prepared coleslaw, for serving, optional


  1. Day 1: Trim fat cap on top of brisket to 1/8” thickness (do not remove). In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, garlic powder, salt, mustard, and liquid smoke.
  2. Rub all over the brisket. Place in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or in a dish with a cover. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Day 2: In the bottom of a slow cooker, layer the sliced onions evenly. Add beer and place the coated brisket on top. Cover and heat on low for 10 to 12 hours.
  4. Remove the brisket from the slow cooker and place in a shallow pan with a cover. Reserving the beef juices, strain the onions and discard. Pour the juices over the brisket in the pan and cover. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. Day 3: Preheat oven to 375ºF. Remove and discard any hardened fat. Remove the brisket to a cutting board and slice thinly (1/8”) against the grain while the meat is still cold.
  6. Place sliced meat in a baking dish and cover with 2 cups barbecue sauce. Cover with foil and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until heated through. Or, place brisket and barbecue sauce in a slow cooker and heat on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
  1. I recommend cooking the brisket on LOW for 10 to 12 hours. However, if you need it done faster, you can certainly cook it on HIGH or 5 to 6 hours and it will still be delicious.

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  1. Hi, I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on replacing the barbeque sauce with something else, as I’m not a big fan of barbeque sauce. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Hi Ralph! Thank you for stopping by! A really good beef brisket doesn’t need barbecue sauce at all, so you could simply just leave it off without a problem. My brother has a real, proper smoker in his backyard and when he did a brisket recently, none of us wanted to spoil it with sauce and just ate it plain. I think my slow cooker version is equally good on its own. If you are still interested in a sauce, though, I feel like a gravy would be good, and you will have more than enough beef broth left in your slow cooker that you could turn into a gravy. It would completely change the dish, but if you like gravy, I’m sure it’d be delicious. I was thinking about some other fruity sauce condiments I know of, but they might be too close to barbecue sauce. In any case, if it were me, I’d just eat the brisket plain. It will certainly not be dry. Best of luck to you! Thanks again for your support.

    • I think I will try that. Thanks a lot for getting back to me. I appreciate that!

  2. This sounds really good Meggan! I have a pork BBQ recipe I do and every beef recipe I try makes me a little unhappy with the final result. I’d love to give this one a go! And I’m NOT scared of 3 days of prep. :) 

  3. Hi Megan
    Now starting day 2 of the beef brisket and I have a question. The brisket is in the slow cooker for 10 hours and then it will be refrigerated overnight in the juices. After that are the juices discarded?
    Very excited about this brisket.

    • Hi Julie, I’m so excited FOR you! I hope you love the brisket as much as I do. The beef juices can either be discarded or strained away from the onions and used as beef broth. It’s really great beef broth! I should update the recipe to say that, sorry about that. Thanks for your comment!

  4. This looks like a wonderful brisket recipe!!  I often cook with buffalo which is a lot drier than beef so I am excited to try this method out and see if it works.  

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