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How to Make Brisket

Updated March 18, 2020
Many people think of brisket as the kind of thing that isn’t worth the effort to make. But those people don’t know what they’re missing out on.

Many people think of brisket as taking way too long to cook. The old microwave shortcut really an option, unless you actually like eating cardboard.

Relax! Learning how to make a brisket isn’t hard and you can totally skip the microwave. Chefs will tell you that because beef brisket comes from the foreshank of the cow, it tends to be a tough cut of meat—meaning, it needs slow cooking times at low oven temperatures.

Brisket Tips

To make this tough cut of meat tender, follow these tips:

  • Cuts: You can buy brisket trimmed of fat, but the better choice is cuts with fat. Fat helps keep the beef from drying out when baking.
  • Browning: If you plan on baking, grilling or even smoking the brisket, brown it on all sides in some oil first.
  • Flour: Lightly dust the brisket before browning for a more stew-like result in the gravy juices.
  • Marinades: Brisket flavor is enhanced through overnight marinating.
  • Rubs: Rubs with spices made from onion and garlic powder with salt, pepper and some liquid smoke also enhance flavor if refrigerated overnight.
  • Cooking Temperatures: Cook in 275ºF oven, one hour per pound of meat.
  • Cover: Brisket juices and flavors work best when the beef is covered with a lid or heavy-duty foil—take the foil or lid off the last hour of cooking if you want a nice crispy outside.

Brisket Ideas

A beef brisket works well in all sorts of combos such as stews full of onions, celery and carrots—a little cornstarch or flour and some beef stock make delicious gravy. Simmering brisket in a favorite barbecue sauce or your own homemade sauce offers rich flavor.

Briskets can be grilled or cooked in a smoker as well—just make sure the beef is cooked through and follow the per-pound cooking times above.

A large brisket can take hours to cook and while the flavor is worth the wait, a pressure cooker can shorten cooking times. Just make sure to cover the beef with ample liquid so the brisket doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pressure cooker.

Slow-cooker recipes for brisket work just as nice, whether it’s a brisket corned beef meal with yummy horseradish sauce or a simple BBQ slow cooked brisket.

Cutting the Brisket

leftover beer brisket sandwiches

Cutting the brisket requires a good sharp meat knife. Cut the meat across the grain, not with the grain. The thinner the slices the better, and if you find the meat a touch tough, simply cut the slices thinner.

Because briskets cooked slowly can be fork tender, you can pull them apart much like you would pulled pork for sandwiches—or use the leftovers from a brisket dinner for a yummy lunch.

No home chef should ever be afraid of learning how to cook a brisket. The well-known toughness of briskets shouldn’t scare you away and with these tips, you’ll be a brisket master in no time!