There are several different low-and-slow cooking methods for beef brisket. You can use a smoker, grill, oven or even a slow cooker large enough to hold the entire beef cut. The goal of low and slow cooking is to use low temperatures for longer periods of time to evenly cook the meat inside without drying it out.
However, brisket cuts tend to have little fat marbling within and even the low and slow method of cooking can leave you with a dry brisket if you aren't careful. During the slow cooking process, try one or more of the methods below for keeping the brisket moist.
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Brisket comes from the lower breast of a steer and is a tough cut of meat, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. You can make tender brisket in the oven or in a smoker, but cooking brisket in a slow cooker has its perks.
Cooking brisket low and slow allows the connective tissues to slowly dissolve, resulting in meat that is exceptionally tender and easily pulls apart with a fork.
In a slow cooker, brisket is cooked in a liquid of any kind, including chicken stock, red wine and beer, adding juicy flavor to your brisket.
Slow Cooker Brisket Recipe
Things You'll Need
Non-stick cooking spray
Large frying pan (for searing)
Olive oil (or another cooking oil)
Aromatics (such as onions and garlic)
Cooking liquid (water, stock, wine or beer)
1. Season the Meat
Season your brisket generously by rubbing it with salt and pepper.
2. Prepare the Brisket
If necessary cut the brisket in half so it will fit inside your slow cooker. Coat the insert of the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
If your slow cooker can't fit the brisket in a single layer, it is OK to lay one piece on top of the other. However, you will need to switch them about halfway through so that both brisket pieces can be submerged in the cooking liquid.
3. Sear the Sides
Coat a large skillet with olive oil or canola oil and place over medium-high heat. Sear the brisket in the hot oil on all sides, until it's well-browned. Use metal tongs to turn the brisket in the pan.
4. Add Some Aromatics
Add any aromatics of your choice to the slow cooker, such as sliced onions or minced garlic and shallots, to add more flavor to the brisket.
5. Pour in the Liquid
Place the brisket in the slow cooker and add enough liquid to come about halfway up the brisket.
The liquid creates steam, which helps cooks your slow cooker brisket and lock in moisture, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. You can use water, chicken stock or beef stock.
You can also combine the stock with tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, wine, beer and even cola soda to create a variety of flavorful combinations.
6. Cover and Cook
Cover the slow cooker and cook the brisket on low heat for 6 to 8 hours, or on high heat for about 5 hours. The low-heat method will give you a more tender brisket.
7. Cut and Serve
Check the internal temperature of your beef brisket before serving. The minimum safe temperature for beef is 145 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Transfer the cooked brisket to a cutting board carefully, using large serving forks.
Always let slow cooker brisket rest for about 15 minutes before serving. You can either use forks to shred the brisket and serve it pulled, or slice it thinly using a sharp chef's knife.
Create your own sauce by pouring the remaining cooking liquid in a saucepan, bringing it to a simmer and reducing it until slightly thickened. Pour it over your brisket before serving.
How to Slow-Cook Brisket in a Smoker or Grill
Things You'll Need
1. Set Up the Smoker or Grill
Set up the cooking environment for moist heat. For a smoker or grill, this means laying charcoal or using flames on one side, perhaps the left, and laying a water pan on the other.
Position a water/drip pan under roasts in the oven. Add 1 cup of water to the slow cooker.
2. Add the Brisket
Position the brisket with the fat side up, so that as the fat melts in the cooking process, it bastes the meat.
3. Wrap Brisket in Bacon
Wrap the brisket in bacon adding more fat to the meat to melt and baste the brisket during cooking.
4. Make Your Dry Rub
Massage a dry rub of black pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder into the surface of the meat to create a crust. The crust becomes more than a flavor addition, it creates a moisture seal.
Dry rubs are made to taste. A basic dry rub includes one part of salt, one part of pepper, two parts of paprika, two parts of onion powder and two parts of garlic powder.
5. Wrap Brisket in Foil
Wrap the brisket in aluminum foil if you are unable to use a water drip pan. This keeps all moisture escaping from the meat to remain close in the cooking process and baste the meat.
6. Sear the Brisket
Sear the brisket at a higher temperature for 20 minutes to brown the outer layer and lock in juices. If you are cooking a brisket at 250 degrees F, start the brisket at 350 degrees F, or brown it in a skillet at medium heat before putting it in the smoker, grill, oven or cooker.
Don't check the brisket doneness by slicing it with a knife — this breaks any moisture seal and allows juices to escape. Instead, check the doneness by inserting a meat thermometer.