Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket
This slow cooker beef brisket is incredibly easy, cooks itself, and full of flavor thanks to the simple homemade barbecue sauce!
How do you brisket? I’ve only had honest-to-goodness smoked brisket once and it was so incredibly melt-in-your-mouth tender… I fell in love. That was years ago, and then recently we were at my in-laws for lunch and they had brisket sandwiches made with pre-cooked brisket that was sold with Jack Daniels sauce. My husband loved it and suggested that I try my hand at brisket sometime. I immediately put it on the list!
We don’t have a smoker, and I’m not a grill master, so when I started looking for recipes, I immediately gravitated to all of the slow cooker versions. Thanks to a nifty little trick, this perfectly mimics a smoked or grilled version, and the quick homemade sauce was delicious!
Since brisket is typically cooked “dry”, this recipe has you place the brisket on top of an overturned loaf pan inside the slow cooker so that it’s elevated and not cooking in the released juices. It was fall-apart tender out of the slow cooker, and turning the juices into a quick homemade barbecue sauce that can be served alongside the brisket was delicious.
I made this for Sunday dinner last week and everyone loved it… they were impressed that it was made totally in the slow cooker. I adore my slow cooker and bust it out whenever I can!
One year ago: The Whole30: I DID IT! My Experience and Results
Five years ago: Oil and Vinegar Coleslaw
Six years ago: Quiche Lorraine Pizza
Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket
For the Spice Rub and Brisket:
- ½ cup (110 g) dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 4 to 5-pound brisket roast, fat trimmed to ¼-inch thick and scored lightly
For the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup (125 ml) water
- ¼ cup (60 g) ketchup
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) liquid smoke
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Prepare the Rub and Brisket: In a medium bowl, stir together the dark brown sugar, chipotle chiles, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Rub the sugar mixture all over brisket. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- Prepare the Sauce: Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, chipotle chiles, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Pile the onion mixture in the middle of a 6-quart slow cooker and top with an inverted loaf pan (you can use a metal loaf pan or stack two disposable aluminum loaf pans). Pour the water around the loaf pan. Place the brisket, fat-side-up, on top of the loaf pan. Cover, and cook until a fork inserted into the brisket can be removed with no resistance, 7 to 8 hours on high or 10 to 12 hours on low.
- Transfer the brisket to a 9x13-inch baking dish, cover with foil, and let rest for 30 minutes. Remove the loaf pan from slow cooker and pour the onion mixture and accumulated juices into a large bowl and skim the fat. You should have about 2 cups defatted juices; if you have less, add water to make 2 cups.)
- Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, slice thinly across grain, and return to the baking dish. Pour 1 cup of reserved defatted juices over the sliced brisket. Whisk the ketchup, vinegar, and liquid smoke into the remaining juices, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing the sauce at the table.
Did you make this recipe?
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the recipe looks amazing. I was just wondering if I could cook it in a pressure cooker? and if yes, how long will it take in the pressure cooker?
Hi Barrio, I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I am not sure!
Where did you find Liquid Smoke? I searched couple of Giant Eagles and Target in the Pittsburgh area. Thank you!
Hi Mary Anne, Just at Giant Eagle – I *think* it was in the baking aisle by all of the spices. Either there or with the condiments near the Tabasco sauces. I hope that helps!
This turned out really well. Thanks for the great recipe.
Hello, are the onions covered by the roasting pan and is the brisket sitting on top to keep it dry?
Hi Myriam, Yes, and yes! :)
This looks very yummy!
Re skimming fat, ages ago I tried a Fat Separator, but it didn’t work too well for me…probably operator error!! So, after putting pan juices in a separate saucepan, I drop in several ice cubes, wait a few minutes and easily remove the fat which has congealed. The ice that melts has never diluted the juices enough to matter. Will have to try this method with this brisket recipe which sounds delicious!
Hi Linda, Such a neat trick! Definitely going to try it, thanks for sharing!
I forgot to say, to keep the meat separate from the juice if storing overnight–it just seems to sop it up and you won’t have juice left for gravy!
I cook brisket in the oven all the time…so if you don’t have a slow cooker…
Season meat and brown on stove top or in oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes fat side up. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300. Add chicken/beef broth to 1/2 way up meat. Slice an onion over the top and some garlic, cover TIGHTLY with foil and bake for 2-3 hours for a 4-5 lb brisket. Remove from the juice and defat it. I like to wrap meat and refrigerate overnight to make slicing smooth and not shredded. Thicken juices and serve with gravy. You can season just like MIchelle did–we just always had this and it is very beefy tasting and makes a great sandwich or a dinner with mashed potatoes.
Michelle, I have a question. Does your family like reallly spicy food? 3 Tbsp chiles in adobo seems like a lot!
Hi Ellen, Thanks for the suggestions!! Our family is pretty split on spicy foods – about half like spicy and half will tolerate a little kick. However, this brisket didn’t come out very spicy – just has a really nice, smoky flavor.
Oh My Goodness!
How about this BEB menu:
Seven Layer Salad
Best-Ever Potato Salad
Spicy Bread (from yesterday)
No-Bake Butterfinger Pie
Git in my belly!
THANK YOU, BEB…
Looks fabulous! Any suggestions for adapting it to be cooked in a dutch oven? A slow cooker is on my wish list, but I don’t have one yet, and this recipe looks too good to wait for!
Hi Liz, You could try the same method in your Dutch oven, but put it in the oven. I’m not sure how it would turn out, but worth a try! The recipe says to cook on high in the slow cooker for 7 to 8 hours – that’s usually around 250 degrees. I can’t imagine you’d want to run your oven that long, so you might want to crank it up to 300 or 325 and try around 4 hours to start? Not sure how that might affect the meat though.
Hi Michelle – Have you tried an Instant Pot yet. I just purchased one from Amazon on Prime Day. Still just looking at it though. Some say that meat texture is better in a pressure cooker and not so good from a crock pot. Please, tell me what you think. Love your 3 boys. Always look forward to Friday’s post.
Hi Julie, I haven’t gotten one yet, but my aunt loves hers! I haven’t had meat from it, so I couldn’t tell you how they compare. I will say that I love most meat cooked in the slow cooker – I think it turns out very tender.
What type of slow cooker do you have? I have a somewhat simple model that has a high, low and warm setting. Not sure if that would work well with a pan in the center–or big enough. Do I understand correctly the onion mixture cooks tucked under the alum. pans?
Hi Cheryl, I have the 6-Quart Programmable Crock-Pot (without the dipper thing). And yes, the onion mixture cooks underneath the loaf pan. You could always buy small disposable loaf pans if yours is too large for your slow cooker.
I will not buy a fatty brisket. I only buy the market trimmed briskets. There will still be some fat but not those with so much fat on them. Going to save this and try it when I see a lean brisket.
Agreed! No fatty briskets in my house!
Do you have a secret, or efficient way to skim fat off the juices? I am never very successful no matter what the protein or what gizmo I do or do not use. Very frustrating!! This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it.
I bet you could use a gravy separator to defat the juices. I use it to defat my turkey juices at Thanksgiving, and it works like a charm. Just be sure to let the juices sit for a minute allowing the fat to collect at the top, then slowly pour the juice being sure to stop just as the collected fat reaches the bottom of the pour spout.
Michelle, this looks like a really interesting recipe. Who would have ever thought to use inverted loaf pans?! I’m for sure placing this on my Sunday Dinner list of those recipes I want to try.
Hi Marla, I’m with you, I hate skimming fat! I just purchased the OXO Fat Separator because this recipe was like the third in a short amount of time that I had to skim fat and it’s such a miserable job! I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll report back when I do!