Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

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No smoker is required for my best Slow Cooker Beef Brisket recipe. Swap your usual pot roast recipe for this tender and easy brisket dinner idea that can be made any time of year.

Slow cooker beef brisket slices on toast on a metal serving platter.


 

New to the brisket circuit? Don’t let this cut of beef intimidate you. It may be a sizable piece of protein, but with this easy bbq brisket recipe in your repertoire, you’ll discover that the fall-apart-tender, restaurant-quality brisket of your dreams is totally within your reach. And no, you don’t need a smoker! (Although if you are seeking a smoked beef recipe, don’t miss my Smoked Tri-Tip. It’s outstanding and a cinch to make.)

A crock pot, a simple spice rub, and some time are all that stand between you and a blue ribbon-worthy brisket. No large skillet required!

For this Slow Cooker Brisket, you can set and forget the meat as you go about your day. Then just before serving, finish the brisket with a brush of homemade bbq sauce (like this Sweet Baby ray’s copycat recipe) and a quick shift under the broiler to caramelize that sweet-savory coating.

The hardest part about making beef brisket in the slow cooker is actually waiting for it to be done. Ten hours seems like an eternity when something smells this good. But that’s how long it takes to get the sturdy piece of beef to melt-in-your-mouth tender and become buttery and oh-so craveable.

I like to make a brisket sandwich with thick grilled Texas toast, but you can eat it however you like.

Recipe ingredients

Slow cooker beef brisket ingredients, labeled.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Beef brisket: There are two components that make up a brisket cut of meat. The flat cut of brisket is larger, evenly shaped, and rectangular. One side will have a layer of fat. This cut is ideal for slow cooking and slicing. The point or deckle cut of brisket is more marbled and has an irregular shape that is pointed at one end. This cut is better for shredding into tacos and sandwiches. Ask your butcher for your preferred style based on your desired use. (I often opt for flat-cut brisket for this recipe.)

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, liquid smoke, and kosher salt. Rub all over brisket. Place in a gallon-sized zipper-top plastic bag or in a dish with a cover. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight. Transfer brisket to slow cooker.
A beef brisket in a slow cooker.
  1. Cover and heat on HIGH heat for 8 to 10 hours. Preheat oven broiler on HIGH. Remove brisket from slow cooker and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Brush brisket with barbecue sauce on all sides.
A slow cooker beef brisket on a metal foil lined pan.
  1. Broil until sauce is sticky and bubbly, about 1 to 2 minutes.
A cooked slow cooker beef brisket on a metal foil lined pan.
  1. Remove brisket to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Slice brisket thinly across the grain. Serve on grilled Texas toast or soft rolls with coleslaw or red cabbage and scallions, if desired.
Slow cooker beef brisket slices on toast on a metal serving platter.
Slow cooker beef brisket served on Texas toast with coleslaw and homemade barbecue sauce.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Slow Cooker Brisket recipe makes enough for 8 generous entree-sized servings.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: Rub the brisket with the spices and liquid smoke up to a day in advance. Longer resting time means deeper flavor!
  • Freezer: Freeze the cooled leftover brisket in freezer-safe containers. Label, date, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Customize your spice blend: Use raw garlic cloves instead of garlic powder or add onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper bay leaves, paprika whatever sounds ideal for your crockpot brisket.
  • Favorite sides for BBQ brisket: Pile your plate high with the Best Macaroni Salad, Easy Potato Salad, Cornbread, Corn on the Cob, and Slow Cooker Baked Beans.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is brisket?

The brisket cut comes from the breastbone of the cow, right in front. Because it works to hold up the animal’s substantial weight, it’s a strong muscle with a lot of connective tissue. Brisket isn’t a cut that you can quickly sear on the grill; it’s too tough. All that connective tissue needs time to cook down and tenderize. A low and slow cooking method yields deeply flavorful, fork-tender meat that holds its shape well for slicing and serving.

What is the difference between brisket and corned beef?

Corned beef is a beef recipe that can be made from the brisket cut. Corned beef is brisket that has been cured with salt and spices, which gives the meat a vibrant pink color and a dose of sour, spicy, and salty flavor.

How much brisket per person should I allocate?

Brisket shrinks a lot during cooking; to the tune of 40 to 50 percent. This means that if you buy a 5-pound piece of brisket, as I recommend for this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket recipe, you’ll end up with about 2 ½ to 3 pounds of cooked brisket. So how much brisket should you buy? Generally, butchers recommend buying about ½ pound per person, uncooked weight. But try to buy at least 2 pounds over your calculated amount, in case guests prefer larger portions or in case you want leftovers. (Which you definitely do.)

What are the best leftover brisket recipes?

Reheating the brisket for another round is never a bad idea. However, if you’d like to remix the recipe into something new, here are some of my favorite ways to use leftover beef brisket:
Sandwiches. Stuff slices or shredded brisket between two pieces of grilled Texas toast alongside barbecue sauce and pickles.
Brisket burgers. Treat chopped brisket like a burger, bun, and all, and dress it up with your favorite condiments.
Tacos. Fill flour or corn tortillas with shredded brisket, shredded cabbage, and a wedge of creamy avocado.
Beef brisket chili. Dice up leftover brisket to substitute for stew meat or ground beef in your favorite chili recipe.

Favorite sides for brisket

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Slow cooker beef brisket slices on toast on a metal serving platter.

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

No smoker is required for my best Slow Cooker Beef Brisket recipe. Swap your usual pot roast recipe for this tender and easy brisket dinner idea that can be made any time of year.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 578
5 from 17 votes

Ingredients 

For the rub:

For the brisket:

  • 5 pounds beef brisket (see note 1)
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce
  • Texas toast or rolls, for serving, optional
  • coleslaw or red cabbage and scallions, for serving, optional

Instructions 

To make the dry rub:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, liquid smoke, and salt. Rub all over brisket. 
  • Place in a gallon-sized zipper-top plastic bag or in a dish with a cover. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

To make the brisket:

  • Transfer brisket to slow cooker. Cover and heat on HIGH for 8 to 10 hours.
  • Preheat broiler on HIGH. Remove brisket from slow cooker and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Brush brisket with barbecue sauce on all sides. Broil until sauce is sticky and bubbly, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Remove brisket to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Slice brisket thinly across the grain. Serve on grilled Texas toast or soft rolls coleslaw or red cabbage and scallions, if desired.

Notes

  1. Beef brisket: There are two components that make up a brisket cut. The flat cut of brisket is larger, evenly shaped, and rectangular. One side will have a layer of fat. This cut is ideal for slow cooking and slicing. The point or deckle cut of brisket is more marbled and has an irregular shape that is pointed at one end. This cut is better for shredding into tacos and sandwiches. Ask your butcher for your preferred style based on your desired use. (I often opt for flat cut brisket for this recipe.)
  2. Yield: This Slow Cooker Brisket recipe makes enough for 8 generous entree-sized servings.
  3. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 578kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 59gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 176mgSodium: 1266mgPotassium: 1129mgFiber: 1gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 164IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 6mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. Hi, still learning about preparing brisket. I thought the slow cooker needed to be on low? Also, does the fatty side go down or face up? I’m thinking the fatty side is facing up so the juices drip down into the brisket, is that correct?

    1. Hi Karlin, which side the fat goes in is up to you, some recommend having the fat side down since the heat comes from the bottom of the slow cooker, some fat side up so the fat melts into the meat. I do my brisket on high, but again you can do it on low. Depending on the size of the brisket and the model of slow cooker you are using, it might take longer. What’s great is this cut is versatile and flavorful, so you’ll still end up with a delicious brisket at the end. Please write if you have anymore questions! – Meggan

  2. Hi getting the brisket ready tonight and will be putting in the Crock-Pot tomorrow morning … My question is .. Do I put the brisket in by itself? Or do I add any water or broth while it sits in the Crock-Pot?

    1. Hi Emilie! I hope I’m in time to help! You’ll put just the brisket into the Crock-Pot, no extra cooking liquids required. The fat from the brisket will melt as it cooks. I hope you love it! Please write back and let me know how it turns out! – Meggan

  3. I notice that you say to cook the brisket on high in the slow cooker I just want to make sure that this is not a typo error as I thought it had to be cooked low and slowly?

    1. Hi there Sheri, no typo! Although it is cooked on high, it still cooks 8 – 10 hours which is pretty slow! Hope you enjoy. – Meggan

  4. I discovered your site on google. This was the first time making brisket and it was so wonderful. I will be back.5 stars

  5. I don’t know if you still answer the comments, but I have spent the last three days looking for a way to cook a flat top 2 lb. brisket I bought recently. I don’t have a grill or smoker and the heat has been too brutal to use the oven. This recipe sounds perfect; I have the meat marinating with your dry rub overnight and will put it in the slow cooker tomorrow. My question is related to the reader who does not like bbq sauce. If one does not use tbe bbq sauce is the meat cooked without added liquid in the slow cooker? I’ve cooked a pork tenderloin that way (ie a dry rub over all sides placed in crock pot on low for 4 to 5 hours for 1.5 lbs of pork. and it turned out exactly as I had hoped. I basically made pulled pork and could add bbq sauce later if desired or make enchiladas or quesadillas. I didn’t add a single drop of liquid to the crock pot while cooking and wonder if beef brisket can be done the same way?

    1. Hi Sheri, thanks for your question! Yes, a brisket can be done the same way. The fat will melt and provide more than enough cooking liquid. The barbecue sauce is added at the end, long after the meat is cooked, and honestly is totally optional. So you should be fine! I hope that you find this method works really well for you. I think that it will. I appreciate your support and good luck! Thanks. -Meggan

  6. Hi! This looks amazing!! Do you have any idea how I could make it in an Instant Pot instead of a slow cooker? Thank you so much! :)

    1. Hi Traci! YES! At least I think so. Looks like you’d use the Manual setting for 50 minutes on your Instant pot. After 20 minutes of natural release, cover the valve with a dishcloth and turn the valve to quick release. When the red button (float valve) on the lid goes down, the lid is safe to open. Does this make sense? Please let me know. Thank you!

  7. 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.  

  8. 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.
    Thanks
    Julie

    1. 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!

  9. 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. :) 5 stars

  10. 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.

    1. 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.