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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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3-Day Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
Yield: 12 servings
Cook Time: 3 days
Total Time: 3 days
- 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
- 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.
- Rub all over the brisket. Place in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or in a dish with a cover. Refrigerate overnight.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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