This perfectly cooked, restaurant-quality slow cooker beef brisket is appetizingly spiced, succulent, and melt-in-the-mouth tender, smothered in a flavor-packed homemade BBQ sauce. A crowd-pleasing protein for your next family dinner!
If there’s just one recipe you try using brisket, make this slow cooker beef brisket with BBQ sauce! After rubbing the meat with a Texas-style rub, it’s loaded into a slow cooker with homemade BBQ sauce and left to simmer all day, making perfect juicy, melt-in-the-mouth crockpot beef brisket in time for dinner.
Slow-cooking beef brisket in crock pot is probably the easiest and best way to cook brisket (along with my homemade corned beef). There are just 10 minutes of prep, then set it and forget it in the crockpot, cooking low and slow to perfection.
When it’s ready, enjoy the BBQ beef brisket with mashed potato and veggies (like green beans or sprouts), or pile it high in sandwiches or rolls to make sliders with coleslaw, potato salad, and creamed corn. Leftovers store well, too!
What to look for when buying brisket
Brisket is an inexpensive, boneless cut of beef from the lower chest area of the cow that has a lot of connective tissue and needs to be cooked low and slow to become tender. Unlike other slow-cooking beef cuts, brisket is unique in that it can cook for hours and become beautifully tender, yet keep its shape and remain sliceable.
There are three main types of brisket cuts: whole, flat, or point cut (deckle). Flat cut is the brisket nearest to the ribcage that is leaner and primarily muscle. The point cut contains less muscle and more fat for a more flavorful cut (it’s also cheaper). You can use either cut of meat for this BBQ crockpot beef brisket recipe.
When buying a brisket, look out for:
- The grade of meat. This indicates quality in terms of juiciness, tenderness, and flavor. Prime is best, though Choice is good enough for this recipe. Skip Select.
- Meat that feels firm, not spongy, with a dark purple-ish color.
- Avoid cuts that have excess liquid within the packaging.
- A moderate layer of fat (glossy white) is a good thing to keep the meat juicy.
- Even thickness that doesn’t taper much (which can lead to uneven cooking).
If you can’t get brisket, the next best substitute would be chuck roast.
What ingredients are needed to make slow cooker beef brisket?
- Beef brisket: You can use fresh or frozen (and fully thawed).
- The meat rub: Turn to your spice cupboard to make the most delicious meat rub to season a brisket combining: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar, cumin, coriander powder, dried oregano, mustard powder, and black pepper.
The BBQ sauce
Take this BBQ beef brisket recipe to the next level with this homemade BBQ sauce for brisket. It’s sweet, sticky, tangy, and delicious!
- Ketchup: You can use store-bought or homemade ketchup.
- Sweeteners: This barbecue sauce combines brown sugar, honey, and extra molasses for tons of rich and delicious depth. If needed, use only brown sugar, but you’ll miss out on flavor complexity.
- Worcestershire sauce: Will add tangy, umami depth.
- Vinegar: I prefer white wine vinegar, but regular white vinegar also works.
- Seasonings: To add depth to the BBQ brisket, I use a simple combination of pantry-friendly smoked paprika, mustard powder, and black pepper. Optionally, add spice with chili powder/cayenne pepper.
- Oil: Use a neutral cooking oil, like vegetable or canola.
Alternatively, use high-quality store-bought BBQ sauce.
How to make slow cooker beef brisket
Season the Brisket: First, use paper towels to pat the beef dry.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all the meat rub ingredients and mix well. Then, use your hands to rub it liberally all over the meat.
Prepare the BBQ Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small or medium saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar completely dissolves.
Taste and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking.
Slow Cook the Brisket: Spread a thin layer of the BBQ sauce across the bottom of the slow cooker and place the seasoned meat.
Then, pour the remaining sauce over the top and cook for 8-10 hours on LOW (or 4 1/2-6 hours on HIGH).
To check the meat is ready, it should be fork tender, easily twisting in the meat, and no longer pink. If you have a thermometer, the internal temperature should be about 195-215ºF/90-102ºC.
The BBQ sauce should thicken during the cooking process. If it’s still too thin and you don’t plan to caramelize the meat, return the sauce to a saucepan for a few minutes to thicken and reduce.
For caramelized brisket (optional): If you want more of a browned, crisp, caramelized top to make the best brisket recipe, transfer it from the slow cooker (without the sauce) to a large baking dish, brush it with oil, and bake in the oven at 390ºF/200ºC for 15 minutes or until brown spots start appearing.
Generously baste with the BBQ sauce and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Repeat that step and bake for 5-10 minutes until caramelized (refer to the image for how it should look).
Alternatively, you can do this step using a BBQ, basting and grilling until it has a caramelized glaze/crust.
Slice the Brisket: Finally, leave the brisket to rest for at least 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle and distribute.
Then, use a long sharp knife to slice the meat against the grain into thin slices. Alternatively, you can use two forks to shred the tender brisket.
How To store brisket?
Allow the crock pot beef brisket to cool, then store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. The meat will also freeze well.
Should you freeze cooked brisket whole or sliced?
I prefer to freeze cooked meat in slices or portions, so it’s easier to thaw and reheat just the amount you need each time. Whole brisket takes much longer to thaw and reheat (especially evenly and without drying out).
To freeze sliced or shredded brisket, either divide it into portions OR lay slices across a tray to flash freeze until solid first (to avoid all sticking), then transfer to freezer bags. Freeze for up to 3 months, thawing it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
How to reheat beef brisket keeping it juicy?
First, leave it to come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Then, transfer the brisket to a baking dish and cover it with beef broth or beef stock (or BBQ sauce). Tightly cover the dish with aluminum foil and reheat at 325ºF/165ºC until hot (15-20 minutes).
More meaty recipes
- Meatloaf with the Best Sticky Glaze
- Perfectly Braised Lamb Shanks
- The Best Ever Homemade Chili
- Wendy’s Chili Copycat Recipe
If you try this slow cooker brisket recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
The Perfect Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
- 3.3 lb beef brisket
- Crock-Pot or another slow cooker
Season the Brisket
- Use paper towels to pat the beef dry.
- Combine all the meat rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Then, use your hands to rub it liberally all over the meat.
Prepare the BBQ Sauce
- Combine all the ingredients in a small or medium saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar completely dissolves.Taste and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking.
Slow Cook the Brisket
- Spread a thin layer of the BBQ sauce across the bottom of the slow cooker and add the seasoned meat. Pour the remaining sauce over it.
- Cook for 8-10 hours on LOW (or 4 1/2-6 hours on HIGH).When the meat is ready, it should be fork tender, easily twisting in the meat, and no longer pink. If you have a thermometer, the internal temperature should be 195-215ºF/90-102ºC.The BBQ sauce should thicken during the cooking process. If it’s still too thin and you don’t plan to caramelize the meat, return the sauce to a saucepan for a few minutes to thicken and reduce.
For Caramelised Brisket (Optional)
- If you want more of a browned, crisp, caramelized top, remove it from the slow cooker (without the sauce) to a large baking dish, brush it with oil, and bake in the oven at 390ºF/200ºC for 15 minutes or until brown spots start appearing.
- Generously baste with the BBQ sauce and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Repeat that step and bake for a final 5-10 minutes until caramelized (refer to the image on the post for how it should look).
Slice the Brisket
- Leave the brisket to rest for at least 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle and distribute.
- Use a long sharp knife to slice the meat against the grain into thin slices. Alternatively, you can use two forks to shred the meat.
- No need to brown the beef: While it makes a difference in many recipes, it isn’t the case when learning how to cook beef brisket.
- Don’t trim the fat: This helps to keep the meat moist while cooking and can optionally be removed AFTER the meat has cooked.
- Tweak the sauce: To make it sweeter (brown sugar/honey), tangier (vinegar), spicy (add chili/cayenne pepper), or even smoky (add some liquid smoke), etc.
- Slice against the grain: Otherwise, you’ll end up with chewy slices.
- How to shred brisket: Use two forks to pull the meat apart and shred it.
- The cooking time: The size and thickness of the meat will affect the cooking time. I.e., a brisket around 2lb will take 7-8 hours, 3lb will take closer to 8 hours, 4lb will take closer to 10 hours, and 5-6lb will take 10-12 hours.
- Leftovers: Keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.