This easy Slow Cooker Beef Brisket is ultra tender and bursting with flavor! Melt-in-your-mouth brisket slathered with a sticky, sweet apricot bourbon glaze. Set it and forget it in the crock pot, then be prepared to fall head over heels in love with this beef! It’s so simple to prepare and perfect for weeknight dinners, BBQs and summer entertaining!
Continue to read on for tips! And, don’t miss the step by step photos and video below for how to make this crock pot beef brisket recipe!
Updated: This post was originally published in April 2015. I took new photos, changed the written post below, and tweaked the recipe. Plus, I added a recipe video to show you how easy this beef brisket is to make!
Hi-ya, friends! Let’s talk Easter. Have you made plans yet?!
If you are anything like me, you haven’t exactly made concrete plans, but you have thought about what you would like to serve (or eat).
If you know me personally, then you know I do not like ham. Maybe it’s the texture. Or, maybe it’s the fact that it has to be candy coated to be palatable and appealing to the tastebuds. Either way, it’s just not my thing.
So, with Easter fast approaching, I knew I had to share my family favorite holiday main that never ever lets me down. And, no offense to ham, but it’s got absolutely nothing on this meltingly tender beauty!
Easy Slow Cooker Brisket recipe
Ultra tender, flavor packed, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket rubbed with sweet and savory seasonings, then braised in a delectable mixture of bourbon and beer, and slathered with a sticky, sweet, boozy apricot bourbon glaze. Essentially, it’s a delicious symphony of sweet, smokey and savory flavors!
This brisket has a moist interior and a perfectly caramelized glazed exterior. It’s so unbelievably fork tender that it melts in your mouth like butter! And, it will get rave reviews from even the pickiest of eaters!
And, thanks to the trusty crock pot or slow cooker, this beef is ridiculously simple and hands off to prepare! It’s perfect for both easy weeknight dinners and summer picnics, potlucks and barbecues!
Basically, this beef brisket is epic! And, you absolutely, positively need this recipe in your life!
What is beef brisket?
Brisket is a cut of beef from the lower chest or breast of cattle, directly between the foreshank and the plate.
Since the brisket muscles support about 60% of the body weight of cattle, this cut of beef is normally tough and requires low, slow cooking to tenderize the connective tissue. You can cook brisket on the stovetop, in the oven or on the grill. However, a slow cooker or crock pot makes cooking a beef brisket a breeze since it requires very little attention and is very hands off!
Unlike other cuts of beef that fall apart and shred, such as short ribs or chuck roast, brisket will retain its shape even after hours of slow cooking. A perfectly cooked brisket will be extremely fork tender, yet still sliceable at the same time.
Which cut is best?
Because a full beef brisket is very large, butchers will trim it into two distinct cuts – the flat cut (the first cut) and the deckle point cut (the second cut).
The flat cut, commonly known as the thin cut, is the leaner, thinner cut of brisket. It’s also the cut more readily available at grocery stores. This recipe for this slow cooker brisket utilizes the flat cut.
It is important to remember, since the flat cut is leaner, you need to leave a thin layer of fat on one side of the meat surface. The fat protects the beef and ensures it will remain moist and tender when cooked. So, whatever you do, don’t trim ALL the fat from your brisket.
(Check out the recipe video below to see how much fat should remain on your cut of brisket.)
How to season brisket?
There are numerous ways to season a brisket! Popular methods can include anything from pickle juice or mustard to spices and liquid smoke. However, the base of any brisket seasoning or rub should include ground black pepper and lots of salt. Any additives should accentuate the beef’s rich flavor and the overall rub should be well rounded.
If you are looking to keep things simple, you can season your brisket with equal parts of coarse ground pepper and kosher salt – a mixture referred to as a Dalmatian rub in by pit masters across Texas.
The seasoning ingredients used for this brisket help you achieve a beautifully flavored brisket that pairs perfectly with the apricot glaze!
- Brown Sugar
- Kosher Salt
- Smoked Paprika
- Ground Cumin
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Coarse Ground Pepper
When should I season my brisket?
While not required, I recommend seasoning your brisket at least 6 hours in advance. Seasoning your brisket and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight allows the brisket to develop deeper flavor. The result is a juicy, delicious brisket.
To season in advance: Apply the rub mixture to the brisket and use your hands to massage the seasonings into the beef. Flip the brisket over and repeat with seasoning and massaging. Wrap the brisket up tight and store in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours. Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.
How to make beef brisket in the slow cooker?
This brisket recipe is incredibly easy to prepare! Simply set it and forget it in the crock pot or slow cooker, and then be prepared to devour the most tender, succulent, flavor-packed brisket of your life!
(Scroll down for the detailed measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.)
- Make the Rub: Combine all the rub ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Stir together well.
- Prepare Brisket: Score the fat on top of the brisket with a paring knife. Massage the rub thoroughly onto all sides of the brisket. Optional, but recommended: If time permits, transfer the brisket into a large baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes up to 24 hours.
- Prepare braising liquid: Combine the sugar, garlic, stout, bourbon, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and seasonings in a slow cooker. Whisk to combine. Add the rubbed brisket to the slow cooker, fat-side facing up.
- Cover and slow cook on LOW until the brisket is very tender to touch but still holds its shape, about 7 ½ – 8 ½ hours.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small sauce pot, whisk together the preserves, bourbon and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes or until reduced to a glaze-like consistency. Remove from heat. Reserve ¼ cup of the glaze for serving. Set both aside.
- Glaze brisket: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. When brisket is done braising, remove it from slow cooker and transfer it to a large baking dish. Brush the top of the brisket with the glaze. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove brisket from the oven, brush it again with glaze, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until caramelized on top.
- Serve: Remove brisket from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing the brisket thinly against the grain. Serve with the reserved glaze on the side. Enjoy!
How to make brisket in the crock pot or slow cooker step by step photos:
When is my brisket done slow cooking?
Properly cooked brisket should be extremely fork tender, yet also sliceable at the same time. While other slow cooked cuts of meat, such a pulled pork, should fall-apart and shred easily, brisket is not a type of pulled meat.
How to tell when brisket is done:
- Sight test: Brisket is done cooking when the edges can easily be shredded, however the meat retains its shape. If you use a pair of tongs to hold up the beef, it should be hyper-flexible and bend in the middle, but not break apart.
- Temperature: You can use an instant-read thermometer to test brisket for doneness. Brisket is should be cooked to an internal temperature between 195 and 215°F, depending on the cut. I recommend you start checking for doneness when the internal temperature reaches 195°F when measured in the thickest part of the beef.
- Probe test: The ‘probe test’ is a great way to test brisket if you don’t have a thermometer. Poke the beef with a knife, the tines of a fork, or another sharp object. If there is little to no resistance when poked, your brisket is done cooking.
A three-pound beef brisket will take approximately 8 hours in a slow cooker on low heat, or 5 hours in the oven preheated to 325°F. I don’t recommend cooking a brisket on high heat as that will make the meat tougher.
Can you overcook brisket?
You can in fact overcook a beef brisket. While you can shred or use your fingers to pull-apart a slice of brisket, it isn’t a type of pulled meat, and it shouldn’t be treated like one. If you leave your brisket unattended or cook it for too long, the meat can go from fork-tender to incredibly mushy and unappetizing.
Why is my slow cooked brisket tough?
While brisket is a tough cut of meat, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a tender, juicy slice of lean brisket!
Beef brisket contains a lot of connective tissue, called collagen, which can make it tough and chewy. Brisket needs to be properly cooked in order to break down the collagen and turn it into gelatin.
To avoid tough and chewy brisket:
- Cooking time: Make sure you cook your brisket for the proper length of time. If your brisket is tough, chances are it needs more time to cook and become tender.
- Heat: Cook brisket over low heat. If you cook the beef quickly over high heat you will end up with tough, dry meat.
- Rest: It is imperative you let the meat sit for a little bit before you cut into it. Resting brisket allows the juices to thicken slightly and helps the meat to retain its moisture. Cutting into the meat too early will result in dry beef. To rest the brisket, tent it very loosely with aluminum foil. There should still be some degree of air flow under the foil.
- Slice: For a tender texture you must slice brisket against rather than parallel to the grain! (See below)
How to slice beef brisket?
While cooking brisket low and slow (over low heat for a lengthy amount of time) is important, slicing the cooked brisket against the grain is also imperative to ensure tender texture.
In order to slice brisket against the grain, you simply need to look for the direction of the grain (which way the muscle fibers are running), and then slice across (or against) them, rather than parallel to them.
How much beef brisket per person?
How much brisket to purchase to feed “x” amount of people is always important when feeding a crowd!
The amount of brisket to purchase will depend on a few factors:
- Trimmed brisket: If you are purchasing a trimmed brisket, meaning a brisket that has been removed of excess fat, butchers generally recommend ½ pound per person.
- Untrimmed brisket: However, if you are purchasing a brisket that has NOT been trimmed, you will want to up that amount to ¾ pound per person.
Personally, I always err on the side of caution and purchase about ¾ pound trimmed brisket per person or 1 pound untrimmed brisket per person.
Leftovers of this Slow Cooker Beef Brisket happen to taste absolutely delicious on their own, but they also make great sandwiches! Or, you can add it to pizzas, potatoes, omelets, fried rice, whatever!
What to serve with brisket?
You can slice the brisket and serve it as a hearty main with any barbecue or southern side. Or, pile the meat high on burger buns for a delicious sandwich! Or, as one lovely reader mentioned, use the brisket as a substitute for corned beef in reuben sandwiches!
Side dishes to pair with your brisket:
- Sweet and Spicy Coleslaw
- Creamed Corn
- Green Beans
- Collard Greens
- Sauteed Mushrooms
- Corn on the Cob
- BBQ Baked Beans
- Pasta Salad
- Potato Salad
- Mac n’ Cheese or Healthy Mac
- Mashed Potatoes (pictured below)
- Hush Puppies
What can I do with brisket?
Leftovers – you either love them or hate them! It can be a challenge to repurpose brisket leftovers. And, while I happen to love eating leftover brisket cold, straight from the fridge, I know that’s not everyone’s style. However, you can easily transform last nights brisket into a brand new meal!
How to repurpose slow cooked brisket:
- Eggs and Omelettes: Use chopped brisket, shredded cheese, peppers and onions as a filling for omelettes. Or, top huevos rancheros with hearty brisket!
- Hash: Beef hash is a great way to use up brisket! Chop the beef up, add in some caramelized onions and garlic and you’ll have a breakfast fit for a king!
- Toast: Beef-up your avocado toast by sprinkling on some chopped tomatoes and diced brisket!
- Salad: Looking to turn brisket into a healthier meal? Make a brisket salad! Toss leafy greens with your favorite veggies and toasted nuts; then load on some sliced brisket and drizzle with a bit of balsamic dressing.
- Sandwiches: This is probably the most obvious way to use up leftovers. Thinly sliced brisket is delicious piled on a artisan bun! Or, try stuffing it in a hoagie with caramelized peppers, onions and plenty of melty cheese!
- Pizza: Rich beef brisket is the perfect addition to a BBQ pizza! Or, try this New York-style brisket pizza!
- Baked Potato: Fully loaded baked potatoes are life! Top a salt-crusted baked potato with brisket, cheese and your choice of fixings for a next level ‘tater!
- Quesadilla: A childhood classic reinvented! Smother the brisket in BBQ sauce, then add a little red onion and pepper jack cheese! Top it with salsa and sour cream for a fiesta!
- Tacos or Burritos: Beefy taco or burrito? Sign me up! Pile leftover brisket, salsa, a little slaw and a creamy sauce into a charred corn tortilla and call it a day!
Trust me, friends, this slow cooker brisket is nothing short of magnificent!
Save the ham for next year and add this brisket to your Easter table! Or, you can just make this for dinner tonight, because it is so worth it!
Until next time, cheers – to meaty mains!
Looking for more beef recipes?
If you love this dish, try one of these delicious beef recipes next:
How to make Easy Slow Cooker Brisket recipe and video👇
Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
- ¼ Cup PLUS 1 TBS Light Brown Sugar - packed & divided
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp EACH: Smoked Paprika, Ground Cumin, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon
- 1 3-4 pound Flat-cut Brisket - fat cap trimmed to 1/3-1/6’’
- 2 cloves Garlic – minced
- 1 (12 ounce) Bottle Stout
- ½ Cup Bourbon
- 1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 TBS Soy Sauce
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- ½ tsp EACH: Celery Salt & Dried Thyme
- 1 ¼ cup Apricot Preserves
- ½ Cup Bourbon
- 1 TBS Soy Sauce
- Make the Rub: Combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar with remaining rub ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Prepare Brisket: Score the fat on top of the brisket with a paring knife. Massage the rub thoroughly onto ALL sides of the brisket, being sure to rub into the slits on the fat side. OPTIONAL: If time permits, transfer the brisket into a large baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes-24 hours.
- To braise brisket in the slow cooker: Combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar, garlic, stout, bourbon, Worcestershire, soy sauce, onion powder, celery salt and thyme in a slow cooker. Whisk to combine. Add the rubbed brisket to the slow cooker, fatty side facing up, squishing the brisket in if needed.
- Cover and slow cook on LOW until the brisket is very tender to touch but still holds its shape, about 7 ½ -8 ½ hours (assuming you used a 3 pound brisket, if you used a 4 pound brisket cook 9 ½ - 10 ½ hours on LOW). I do not recommend cooking the brisket on HIGH.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small sauce pot, whisk together the preserves, bourbon and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes or until reduced to a glaze-like consistency (glaze will continue to thicken as it stands). Remove from heat and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Reserve ¼ cup of the glaze for serving. Set both aside.
- Glaze Brisket: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, When brisket is done braising, remove it from slow cooker and transfer it to a large baking dish. Brush the top of the brisket with the glaze. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove brisket from the oven, brush it again with glaze, and return it to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until caramelized on top.
- To serve: Remove brisket from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing the brisket thinly against the grain. Serve with the reserved glaze on the side. Enjoy!
- Read the Recipe all the way through first. Optional, but recommended, let the brisket marinate in the rub for at least 30 minutes.
- For a crispier finish: You can finish the brisket in the oven (broil) or on the grill!
- Slicing: Make sure you slice your brisket AGAINST the grain to ensure tender texture! To do this, look for the direction of the grain (which way the muscle fibers are running), and then slice across (or against) them, rather than parallel to them
- Feeding a crowd? You will need 1/2 pound of TRIMMED brisket per person, or 3/4 pound of UNTRIMMED brisket per person.
- To Make the Brisket in Advance:
1. Follow instructions on recipe through cooking in slow cooker. Strain and transfer the cooking liquid to a container and store in the refrigerator.
2. Refrigerate the cooked brisket overnight, covered in the refrigerator.
3. When ready to cook, remove the brisket from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
4. Pour half of the cooking liquid onto brisket. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook until brisket is warmed throughout, about 30 minutes.
5. Continue with recipe as directed, making the glaze, coating the brisket and finishing it in the oven.
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