Packed full of BBQ flavour, this slow cooker BBQ brisket cooks all day until it’s juicy and tender. It can be shredded or sliced and serve with your favourite BBQ sides or used to fill tacos or sandwiches.
Why you’ll love it
Slow cooker BBQ beef brisket (aka crockpot brisket) is a wonderful way to get a hearty and flavour-filled dinner on the table with minimal effort. Brisket is quite a lean cut of beef but is still loaded with beefy flavour.
- Dump and go – get on with your day while it slow cooks to perfection.
- Bold Texan BBQ flavour – from the combination of BBQ spice rub and BBQ sauce.
- Crowd pleaser – it’s not only easy to make for a crowd but everyone will love it too.
- So easy – even an inexperienced cook can easily master this.
- Meal prep winner – since prep takes very little time.
Slow cooking the meat over hours not only creates a juicy and tender meat, it also gives it all day to infuse and develop flavour. It’s why I love slow cooking so much.
Ingredients you’ll need
What is brisket? Brisket is a relatively lean cut of beef that comes from the lower breast or chest of the cow. It’s a tough cut of meat but tenderises beautifully when cooked slowly over many hours. Since it’s tough, it’s not a cut you would eat rare, it must be well done.
The meat itself is quite lean, although it does have a layer of fat (or fat cap) on the outside. The fat doesn’t run through the meat though. I tend to cut off some of the fat, leaving just enough to keep it juicy and flavourful.
Brisket is the cut used most often when making pastrami and corned beef. It’s also a classic cut for Texan-style smoked meat.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Brisket: While there is no other cut quite like it, you could swap it here for beef ribs or maybe a cut like chuck.
For the brisket spice rub
- Paprika: I use sweet or mild paprika as I’m not a fan of smoky flavour but feel free to use smoked paprika if you are.
- Onion powder
- Mustard powder: You could use Dijon mustard, American mustard or hot English mustard in it’s place but it will need to be brushed over the meat first.
- Garlic powder: You can use fresh garlic too but I love using powdered here so that it blends nicely into the spice rub.
- Dried chilli flakes: If you don’t want to use chilli flakes, you could also use just a little cayenne pepper or some chili powder (keep in mind that chilli powders are a blend that vary the world over so have a little taste first).
For the brisket BBQ sauce
- Tomato sauce / ketchup: What we call tomato sauce in Australia, aka ketchup, is the base of BBQ sauce.
- Brown sugar: BBQ sauce is classically sweet so don’t skip the brown sugar.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar adds balance and tang to the BBQ sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce: A fun one to pronounce, Worcestershire sauce is a fermented condiment originating from Worcestershire in England. It delivers tang, umami and depth of flavour. Being from an English family I can confidently tell you the correct way to pronounce this is not how it’s spelt – instead it’s ‘woosh-ter-shr’. So much easier right.
- Honey: Honey adds a little flavour complexity whilst adding sweetness at the same time. You can swap this for maple syrup too.
How to make slow cooker BBQ brisket
This recipe is just so easy to make. It takes about 10-15 minutes of actual effort on your behalf and the slow cooker and oven do the rest. While you get on about your day, this slow cooker brisket will fill your house with the most wonderful aroma.
Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
- Prep the brisket: If the fat cap on your brisket is very thick, carefully slice away roughly 70-80% of it. You only need a small portion to keep the meat moist and tender and you’ll be adding some of the cooking juices to the BBQ sauce at the end, which you don’t want to be all fat.
- The brisket spice rub: Mix together the spice rub spices in a small bowl (photo 1).
- The brisket BBQ sauce: In a separate small bowl or jug, combine a little of the spice mix with the sauce ingredients and stir well (photo 2).
- Cook the brisket: Add just a tablespoon of water to the slow cooker bowl then place the brisket down on top. Drizzle over a little oil followed by half the spice rub (photo 3) and give it a good rub all over. Flip and repeat on the other side. Pour half a cup of BBQ sauce over the top, spread it over, then cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- To finish: Once the meat is soft and tender and pulls away easily with a fork, transfer the brisket to a baking tray lined with foil. Add half a cup of the cooking liquid to the BBQ sauce, then brush a little BBQ sauce over the top of the brisket (photo 5). Place under a broiler / overhead grill for 4-5 minutes. Repeat for a second layer and then it’s ready to serve.
This barbecue sauce can be used as is. For even more flavour you can add another cup of the cooking liquid to it and then cook and reduce a little on the stove. I most often just serve it as is though and it’s a good BBQ sauce.
How to serve brisket
While tender enough to be shredded, brisket holds together enough to be sliced as well, so you can choose what best suits the way you’re going to serve it.
What to serve with brisket
Slow cooker BBQ brisket matches well with a vast array of side dishes.
Of course, you could also stuff it into a soft bread roll or brioche bun with coleslaw or avocado for delicious BBQ brisket sandwiches.
Brisket can be a large cut of meat, but luckily leftovers are easily sorted.
Store your slow cooker BBQ brisket in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days. You can use it for sandwiches one day, tacos the next … the list goes on.
It freezes well too so freeze it for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
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Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket
- 1.8 kg beef brisket
BRISKET SPICE RUB
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 3 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons mustard powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
FOR THE BRISKET BBQ SAUCE
- 1 cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (notes 1)
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce (notes 1)
- 1 tablespoon honey (notes 1)
- Slow cooker
- Small bowl and jug
- Pastry brush
- Trim the brisket of the largest portions of fat (no need to remove it all, but around 70% is good).
- Pour a tablespoon of water into your slow cooker / crock pot casserole dish then gently place the brisket in.
- THE BRISKET SPICE RUB: Combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl.
- THE BRISKET BBQ SAUCE: Transfer 4 ½ teaspoons of the spice mix to a jug, then add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire and honey. Mix well to combine. This is your BBQ sauce.
- Pour 1 teaspoon of oil over the brisket, then add half the remaining spice mix. Rub it in well all over, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Flip and repeat on the other side with the rest of the spices.
- Take ½ cup of the BBQ sauce and pour it over the top of the brisket. Spread it around with a spoon and set the rest aside for later.
- Cook the brisket on low for 8-10 hours until until fork tender (a fork easily pulls pieces off).
- Once the brisket is ready, preheat the overhead grill / broiler to high.
- Add ½ cup of the slow cooker juices to the BBQ sauce in the jug and give it a good mix.
- Place the brisket on a baking tray lined with foil. Brush some of the sauce over the top and grill / broil for 4-5 minutes. Repeat with a second coating until sticky.
- Let it rest for 10-15 minutes, tented with foil.
- Carve the brisket into slices and serve.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons worldwide).
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