SLOW COOKER BEEF BRISKET WITH BBQ SAUCE
- 1.5 – 2 kg / 3 – 4 lb beef brisket (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (or a neutral oil like vegetable, canola)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 3/4 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups / 375 ml ketchup
- 1/2 cup / 110g brown sugar , packed
- 2 tsp EACH black pepper , onion powder, mustard powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste re: spiciness)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Place Rub in a bowl and mix to combine.
Rub all over brisket with your hands. If time permits, leave for 30 minutes – 24 hours in the fridge, but I rarely do this.
Combine BBQ Sauce ingredients in a slow cooker. Mix then add the brisket – squish it in if needed, like I did (see video).
Slow cook in slow cooker for 8 hours (1.5 kg / 3 lb) to 10 hours (2 kg / 4 lb). (Note 2 for other methods)
Remove brisket onto a tray.
Pour liquid in slow cooker into a saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium high heat and reduce until it thickens to a syrup consistency (it thickens more as it cools).
Meanwhile, drizzle brisket with oil then roast in a 200C/390F oven for 15 minutes until brown spots appear. Remove then baste generously with Sauce, then return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove and baste again, then return to oven for 5 – 10 minutes until it caramelises and looks like the photos.
BBQ OPTION instead of oven – fantastic chargrilled flavour: Brush grills with oil, then preheat BBQ to medium high. Place beef on the grills and leave until browned, then turn the beef over and brown the other side. Baste the beef generously and turn, then baste again. Do this repeatedly until there is a nice caramelised glaze on the brisket, then remove.
TO SERVE: Slice brisket thinly across the grain and serve with remaining BBQ Sauce. This is terrific served as a meal with sides or piled high onto rolls with Coleslaw as sliders. See Note 3 for more ideas.
1. This recipe will work on any slow cooking cut of beef but it works best with brisket because it holds its shape once slow cooked until tender, so it can be sliced. Other slow cooking cuts of beef like chuck beef, gravy beef (an Australian stewing cut) and short ribs have more connective tissues running through them so they fall apart after slow cooking so they can’t be sliced. You could use a chuck beef roast that is tied together, but the pieces will fall apart more when sliced.
This recipe would also work for Bolar Blade roast but it’s a leaner and thicker cut so just be aware it will be a bit drier on the inside. Still fall apart, and once smothered with the BBQ sauce, it’s fantastic. But less moist in the middle of the beef.
AUSTRALIA: I get my brisket from the butcher, it is still relatively undiscovered so it is cheaper than steak but a bit more expensive than chuck. If you can, ask the butcher to give you the THICK end of the brisket. A reader has told me that Woolies also now sells rolled brisket which I have not seen myself yet so can’t comment (will update when I am back in Sydney and check it out). My initial concern is that if it is rolled, then they are probably using the thinner end and the reader also said there is a lot of fat on it. Harris Farms also sells brisket but they are small pieces, and I am told Aldi recently sold it too. See notes below for adjusted cook times.
2a). The cook times provided yields a tender brisket that is sliceable but tender so the slices tear easily, as demonstrated in the video.Don’t stress too much about cook time – brisket is a cut of beef that holds together pretty well even cooked to the point of being shreddable. So even a 1.5kg / 3 lb brisket slow cooked for 10 hours should still be sliceable. Brisket that isn’t tender is tough and chewy but if you pull it out too early, don’t worry, just keep cooking!
SLOW COOKER on HIGH: Same recipe, 4.5 hours for 1.5 kg / 3 lb or 5 hours for 2 kg / 4 lb. Follow same directions.
PRESSURE COOKER: Same recipe, 1 hr 15 minutes for 1.5 kg / 3 lb or 1 hr 30 minutes for 2 kg / 4 lb. Follow same directions.
OVEN: Put the Sauce ingredients in a roasting pan, add 2 cups water. Mix, add beef, cover with lid or double layer of foil. Bake 160C/320F for 4 hours, then uncovered for 30 minutes, checking every now and then to ensure the liquid doesn’t reduce down beyond a BBQ Sauce consistency (add water if it does). By this time, the brisket should be tender – check on edge with fork. Remove brisket, scrape sauce into a saucepan (easier to control consistency). Return brisket into roasting pan, turn heat up to 180C/350F. Simmer sauce over medium heat until thickens into a syrup consistency then slather onto beef. Roast beef, basting once or twice as required, until the surface caramelises per photo (time depends on how thick your sauce is).
2b) DIFFERENT SIZES: For a 800g – 1 kg / 1.6 – 2 lb piece of brisket, I would still slow cook for 7 to 8 hours on low because the cook time is more about brisket width rather than length.
For a 2.5 – 3 kg / 5 – 6 kg brisket, I would slow cook for 10 hours on low.
3. How to serve brisket: Brisket is terrific served as a meal with sides or used in sliders. This is a Southern Style dish so I would use sides like Homemade Southern Style Baked Beans, Corn Bread (my favourite are these Corn Bread Muffins) or Corn Casserole, and a salad (Coleslaw and/or Potato Salad would be classic pairings!). Browse all my Salads for other ideas!
For Sliders, I use soft rolls (brioche buns are pictured in the post) with Coleslaw.
4. MAKE AHEAD: Slow cook the brisket but do not bake, then transfer into a storage container with the cooking liquid (don’t reduce it down) and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, transfer brisket only into a baking dish and cover. Bake at 180C/350F for 20 minutes or until warmed through. Then turn up oven to 200C/390F, remove cover and proceed with recipe to brown and baste the brisket surface. Transfer sauce into saucepan and warm – you may not need to reduce. Use for basting per recipe.
5. SERVINGS: I usually budget for 250g/8oz of raw meat per head, to err on the side of caution. This shrinks to about 200g / 6.5 oz per head once cooked. That’s a generous pile on rolls!
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming a 2 kg / 4 lb beef brisket with some fat on the surface (i.e. not trimmed of all fat), 10 servings, assuming all the sauce is consumed.