A beef brisket can be the most tender delicious meal around, but there’s nothing worse than brisket that’s dry or tough. You don’t have to have a smoker to cook a brisket. Here are four ways to cook a brisket just in time for St. Patrick’s day.
How to cook a brisket is going to depend on how much time you have and equipment you have available. In Texas, traditional brisket is smoked, but for Jewish holidays, it is more often cooked in the oven.
For St. Patrick’s day you might want to make corned beef brisket in an Instant Pot, or maybe you want to to be able to let it cook on its own without any fuss in a slow cooker and then cover it with mac & cheese or BBQ sauce.
Why you’ll love these 4 Different Ways to Cook Brisket
- A brisket is tender and juicy
- It will feed a crowd
- It makes great left overs
A brisket used to be a very inexpensive cut of meat, but in the last couple of years the price has gone up. It’s still economical but you’ll want to make sure you cook it perfectly. Here are some things to consider before you get started on a brisket.
What is brisket?
A brisket is a large tough cut of meat from the cow’s breast region. These muscles support the weight of the cow when its moving or standing which results in a substantial amount of connective tissue. It’s a very tough cut of beef made up of long muscle fibers tightly woven with connective tissue that has to be broken down while cooking.
In order to transform this cut of beef into a mouth watering dinner, it has to be cooked low and slow. This will break down the muscle fibers and as it cooks the collagen will break down melting into the meat causing it to be juicy.
Corned beef is a brisket that has been brined or cured in salt or sodium nitrate that gives it a distinct pink color. The brine is similar to what would be used to make pickles.
How to make brisket: selecting a brisket
There are two parts to a brisket the bottom half called the “flat” that does not have any fat on it and the top half called the “point” which has a layer of fat. When cooked as a whole, the fat will seep down into the bottom half. Most groceries are going to carry the bottom half. When choosing one, try to find a cut with a layer of fat called the “fat cap”. This will give it more flavor and help keep it moist.
Not sure how much meat you will need per person, I’ve created a planning guide so that no one goes hungry!
How to Cook a Brisket: 4 Ways
How to Cook a Brisket in a Smoker
If you’re looking for Texas style brisket then you’ll want to smoke it. While smoking a brisket is the most popular method, you’ll need a smoker and a lot of time. For a whole brisket, it can take 12-18 hours. Texas style brisket is not served with barbecue sauce.
How to Make Brisket in a Slow Cooker
This is the method that I use to cook a brisket. It’s almost completely hands off. Just put some beef broth with an onion and garlic in a crock pot along with the brisket with the fat-side up and let it cook for 6 hours. For this beef brisket recipe, a wine and tomato sauce is added to the brisket once it’s cooked and then it’s topped with Mac & Cheese.
Baked Mac & Cheese Casserole with Beef Brisket
How to Make Brisket in an Instant Pot
An instant pot is a great resource for making a brisket when you’re short on time, it only takes 2 hours to cook and you still get fork-tender beef perfect for slicing. Before slicing, remove and cover with aluminum foil to let it rest.
Corned Beef and Cabbage Made in the Instant Pot
More Ways to Cook Beef Brisket: In the Oven
You can also cook a brisket in the oven. You will cover it with a lid or foil and let it cook for about an 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound, just like Mrs. Maisel does in the first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. You can find a great recipe at Will Cook for Smiles. A Dutch oven works great for this cooking method.
Tips on Ways to Cook a Brisket
How to make brisket more tender
Brisket has a lot of connective tissue which if cooked quickly will make it tough. To avoid this cook it slowly with a little liquid and the connective tissue turns to gelatin making it tender.
When should you wrap a brisket in foil?
If you wrap a brisket in foil while it is hot, it will continue to cook in the foil. You should only wrap it in foil to store it once it has reached room temperature.
How do you know when brisket is done?
Officially, a brisket is safe to eat at the same temperature as a steak from 135º to 150º depending on how you like your steak. However, a brisket will be tough and awful at that temperature. In order to get a tender brisket, the internal temperature needs to be 195º to 200º.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can use the fork test. When you put a fork into the edge of a brisket you should be able to twist it and pull off a piece of meat. If it doesn’t come off easily, then let it cook some more.
What to serve with brisket
You can never go wrong by serving brisket with potatoes, carrots, cabbage and bread or rolls. For dessert, it’s chocolate all the way for me.
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes with Mascarpone Cheese
FAQs for Different Ways to Cook Brisket
If you’re new to cooking brisket, there are 2 ways to determine if your brisket is done.
#1 -There is no perfect number to share but you want to hit between 195-200 degrees internally. The brisket needs to have been at that temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes so that the tissues begin to break down and make it more tender and delicious to eat.
#3 – The fork test is put into a muscle and if it goes in without any resistance, then you know your brisket it done. You don’t want it to have to be forced in at all.
Yes, the connective tissues and fats will begin to break down after it reaches a minimum temperature of 195º-200º and really work to get that delicious meat you’re working for.
Yes, you can overcook brisket but it’s going to really take work to do that. One way to know if the brisket is overcooked is if it crumbles into pieces vs easily cutting into neat chunks to serve.
If you have a tough brisket, it sounds like you have undercooked it. You may have realized the brisket reached the desired temperature, but it needs to remain there for awhile, at least 30 minutes. Brisket is not a fast cooked piece of meat, so be patient.
Brisket can be shredded and can be served just like you would serve any roast of beef. Use two forks to shred it.
For a 3 lb brisket you will have about 10 servings.
Once it has rested, but while still hot, wrapt it tightly in aluminum foil and then wrap it in a towel and store it in a cooler. It will stay warm and moist for a couple of hours.
A whole brisket can weigh between 10-20 pounds but is sold in cuts of around 3 lbs. at the grocery. If you have a butcher, ask him to cut one that has about ½ an inch of fat on the top.
Yes, you can overcook it and it will become dry. The internal temperature should be 195º to 200º.
All four of these methods will give you a tender brisket. I prefer using a slow cooker because it is more hands off.
Any brisket should be cooked slowly but the amount of time depends on the method. If using an instant pot, then it will only take 1 ½ hours, a slow cooker will take 6 hours, and smoking it will take 12-18 hours.
Now all you have to do is figure out how much time you have and then choose how you’ll make the most tender and mouth watering brisket. Round it out with some delicious sides and you’ll have a feast for whatever size crowd you’re serving.
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Different Ways to Cook Brisket: Slow Cooker Brisket
- 2-3 lbs brisket
- 1 onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic smashed
- 3 cups beef broth divided
- Place onion and garlic in the bottom a slow cooker.
- Place brisket on top and cover with 2 cups of beef broth.
- Cook on high for 6 hours.
- Remove to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Shred with two forks or slice.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- The brisket will be done when it is fork tender or 135º to 150º depending on how rare you prefer.