Texas-Style Beef Brisket Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Slow-Cooker Brisket

Total Time
Prep: 25 min. + marinating Cook: 6-1/2 hours
This Texas-style slow-cooker brisket recipe will please any barbecue fan—no smoker or grill required.

Updated: Apr. 19, 2024

Texas-style brisket brings to mind thick slices of tender beef kissed with smoke, a perfect vehicle for sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. This slow-cooker brisket recipe gives you similar results, without having to spend hours stoking the fire of a smoker or grill.

This slow-cooked brisket marinates overnight in Worcestershire sauce and spices, then gets smothered in a homemade barbecue sauce that can be made with pantry staples. It’s one of those beef brisket recipes to keep handy for backyard picnics, holiday gatherings or football watching. Serve the meat with soft rolls and your favorite barbecue sides for a winning meal everyone will love.

What is beef brisket?

Brisket is a cut of beef that comes from the chest of the cow. Because these are well-used muscles, it contains a lot of connective tissue. As a result, it can be quite tough if not cooked correctly. Unlike with more tender cuts of beef, low and slow is the way to go with brisket. When cooked correctly, brisket is incredibly flavorful, juicy and tender.

Texas brisket is different from both corned beef and pastrami. Homemade corned beef is typically brisket that has been brined in a salt solution, then slow-cooked. Pastrami, on the other hand, is coated in spices, smoked and then steam-cooked. For this slow-cooked brisket recipe, you want to start with a fresh brisket, not a brined one.

Slow-Cooker Brisket Ingredients

  • Beef brisket: This slow-cooked brisket recipe calls for a 6-pound fresh beef brisket. Do not substitute in leaner cuts of beef. You can trim some of the fat from the brisket before cooking if you prefer, but do leave at least 1/4 inch of fat to keep the brisket tender and juicy.
  • Worcestershire sauce: This salty, umami-rich sauce forms the liquid base of the marinade.
  • Garlic: This allium is added to both the marinade and the barbecue sauce.
  • Spices: Chili powder, celery salt and ground black pepper make up the bulk of the marinade’s seasoning. Ground mustard and more chili powder go into the homemade barbecue sauce.
  • Liquid smoke: This is optional, but you’ll need it to replace the classic Texas-style barbecue flavor that comes from wood smoke. Learn how to use liquid smoke so it doesn’t overpower your recipes.
  • Beef broth: You’ll need liquid in the slow cooker to properly cook the brisket, but you don’t need to cover the brisket. You can use your favorite store-bought brand or make homemade beef broth. If all you have is chicken broth or water, go ahead and use it.
  • Bay leaf: This adds additional flavor to the cooking liquid.
  • Barbecue sauce: Onion, garlic, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, spices—nothing really compares to the flavor of homemade barbecue sauce. If you’re strapped for time, you can always substitute a jar of your favorite barbecue sauce (or one of our Test Kitchen’s picks for the best barbecue sauce).

Directions

Step 1: Season and marinate the brisket overnight

Combine the Worcestershire sauce, chilli powder, garlic, celery salt, pepper and liquid smoke in a shallow bowlTMB Studio

In a large bowl or shallow dish, combine the Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, garlic, celery salt, pepper and, if desired, liquid smoke.

Cut the brisket in halfTMB Studio

Cut the brisket in half, then add it to the bowl and turn it to coat. Cover and refrigerate it overnight.

Step 2: Slow-cook the brisket

Slow cook the brisket with broth and bay leavesTMB Studio

Transfer the beef to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Add the broth and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for six to eight hours, or until the meat is tender.

Editor’s Tip: When done, the internal temperature of your brisket should be 190° to 200°F. Use a digital thermometer to test for doneness; the ThermaPen One is our Test Kitchen’s favorite.

Step 3: Make the barbecue sauce

Make the barbecue sauce in a small saucepan TMB Studio

To make the sauce, in a small saucepan, saute the onion in oil until it’s tender. Add garlic and cook for one minute longer. Stir in the remaining ingredients, and heat them through.

Step 4: Flavor the barbecue sauce with cooking juices

Add the reserved juices to the barbecue sauceTMB Studio

Remove the brisket from the slow cooker and discard the bay leaves. Place 1 cup of the cooking juices in a measuring cup and use a spoon to skim the fat. Discard the remaining cooking juices. Add the reserved juices to the barbecue sauce.

Step 5: Cook the brisket with the sauce

Return the brisket to the cooker and add barbecue sauceTMB Studio

Return the brisket to the slow cooker and top with the sauce mixture. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Cut the beef in thin slices across the grainTMB Studio

Thinly slice the beef across the grain and serve it with the sauce.

Delicious Slow Cooker Brisket served in a plate with barbecue sauce, salad and beveragesTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Use your oven: If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook this recipe in your oven. After allowing the brisket to marinate overnight, place it in a Dutch oven with the beef broth and bay leaves. Cover and cook in a 250º oven for five to six hours (one hour per pound of beef), or until fork-tender.
  • Make it in a pressure cooker: If you’re short on time, the pressure cooker can be a great help. To cook beef brisket in less than two hours, try this pressure-cooker beef brisket in beer recipe.
  • Go for Thailand, not Texas: This Thai-style brisket recipe features the flavors of peanut butter, soy sauce and cilantro instead of barbecue sauce. It’s served over rice with sauteed vegetables.

How to Store Slow-Cooker Brisket

Leftover slow-cooked brisket can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for four to five days. Leftover brisket is great on slider buns, as a filling for tacos or enchilada, or as an ingredient in a decadent grilled cheese sandwich.

Can you make slow-cooker brisket ahead of time?

You can make this slow-cooker brisket recipe up four or five days before serving it, though it will be best if consumed within two days of cooking. Once cooked, let the meat cool completely, then set the brisket in an oven-safe baking dish and add the barbecue sauce. Cover the dish with a lid or storage wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to reheat it.

To reheat the brisket, first remove and discard any hardened fat. Place the brisket on a cutting board and slice against the grain. Return the brisket to the baking dish and spoon the barbecue sauce over the brisket. Cover the dish with foil and warm in a 350° oven for 45 to 60 minutes until it’s heated through. A thermometer inserted into the center of the meat should reach 165°.

Can you freeze slow-cooker brisket?

You can easily freeze slow-cooker brisket. Place individual portions of sliced brisket in freezer containers and top with barbecue sauce. Cool and freeze them for up to two or three months. Partially thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before reheating them. Transfer them to a covered saucepan and heat them through, gently stirring; add broth or water if necessary.

Slow-Cooker Brisket Tips

Slow Cooker Brisket served in a plate with barbecue sauce and saladTMB Studio

What cut of beef is best to substitute for brisket?

If you don’t have beef brisket, the next best substitute is a chuck roast. This cut of beef comes from the shoulder area and, like brisket, is a tough cut of meat that benefits from low and slow cooking.

Why is my slow-cooker brisket tough?

If your slow-cooker brisket is tough, it’s possible that there wasn’t enough liquid in the pot, or that the brisket wasn’t cooked long enough. Don’t trim all of the fat off the brisket before you put it in the slow cooker. Fat equals flavor, and it gives the meat natural moisture.

What can you serve with slow-cooker brisket?

You won’t go wrong with a classic meat-and-potatoes pairing. Try cheesy mashed potatoes or buttermilk mashed potatoes with your slow-cooker brisket. Brisket works well with creamy macaroni and cheese and baked beans; German potato salad would also hit the spot. For something a little lighter, try one of our green salads or coleslaws.

Watch how to Make Texas-Style Beef Brisket

Texas-Style Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket

Prep Time 25 min
Yield 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional
  • 1 fresh beef brisket (6 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • BARBECUE SAUCE:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

Directions

  1. In a large bowl or shallow dish, combine the Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, garlic, celery salt, pepper and, if desired, liquid smoke. Cut brisket in half; add to bowl and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Transfer beef to a 5- or 6-qt. slow cooker; add broth and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. For sauce, in a small saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the remaining ingredients; heat through.
  4. Remove brisket from the slow cooker; discard bay leaves. Place 1 cup cooking juices in a measuring cup; skim fat. Discard remaining juices. Add reserved juices to the barbecue sauce.
  5. Return brisket to the slow cooker; top with sauce mixture. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Thinly slice beef across the grain; serve with sauce.

Nutrition Facts

6 ounces cooked beef with 1/4 cup sauce: 381 calories, 12g fat (4g saturated fat), 96mg cholesterol, 548mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate (14g sugars, 1g fiber), 47g protein.

A friend had success with this recipe, so I tried it. When my husband told me how much he loved it, I knew I'd be making it often.—Vivian Warner, Elkhart, Kansas
Recipe Creator