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Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce is a mouthwatering dish that delivers tender, smoky flavors without the need for a smoker. This recipe combines a well-marbled beef brisket with a savory rub and a rich homemade BBQ sauce, slow-cooked to perfection for hours, resulting in a deliciously satisfying meal that’s sure to please.

A beef brisket brushed with homemade bbq sauce on a wooden board garnish with parsley.

What is brisket?

Beef brisket is a tough cut of meat that comes from the chest area or the breast of a cow. This cut of meat needs to be cooked slowly and low to break down a lot of connective tissue, so it will become fork-tender.

It is the perfect cut of meat for preparing in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. It’s quick and easy to prepare to pop it in your slow cooker. Let it do most of that tenderizing for you.

Then, finish it off with some love in the oven (or on the grill if you want to get fancy) to get that caramelized crust everyone loves. Succulent and a little bit sticky, this is what BBQ is all about!

Ingredient Notes

Some ingredients will be used in both the rub and again for the sauce. It may seem redundant, but believe me, it isn’t! This recipe has been perfected to give you maximum flavor!

Labeled ingredients needed to make slow cooker beef brisket with bbq sauce.

Spice Rub Ingredients

  • Brown Sugar: Most great BBQ Rubs add brown sugar to create the perfect balance of sweetness to the complimenting spices below.
  • Paprika: You can use regular paprika for a mild smoky flavor or smoked paprika for a more intense smokiness.
  • Cumin: Add a warm earth flavor to the rub.
  • Salt and Pepper: These are essential for seasoning the brisket.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Add a slight spice to the brisket rub. It’s not overly spicy, but you can omit or adjust it based on your liking.

Barbecue Sauce Ingredients

  • Ketchup: Choose a good-quality ketchup, as it forms the base of your BBQ sauce.
  • Yellow Mustard: Yellow mustard adds a tangy and slightly spicy element to the sauce.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: It provides acidity and tanginess to the sauce. While I highly recommend it, you can substitute it with white vinegar if needed.
  • Garlic Minced: Fresh garlic offers a more pronounced garlic flavor, but you can use garlic powder as a substitute if you’re in a hurry.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce adds depth and umami to the sauce. If you don’t have it, you can use soy sauce as an alternative.
  • Brown Sugar: Just like in the rub, brown sugar adds sweetness to the sauce; while not overly sweet, it balances out the tangy notes.
  • Onion Powder: This enhances the overall flavor and blends in smoothly.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to control the spiciness of your sauce. If you like it hotter, add more; for a milder sauce, reduce the amount.
  • Black Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper will impart a robust flavor to your sauce. Adjust it to your taste.

How to Make Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce in the Slow Cooker

Step 1 | Mix Spice Rub Blend and Cover Beef Brisket

To make this delicious slow cooker beef brisket with BBQ sauce, start by removing the brisket from the refrigerator. Then, mix the spice rub ingredients in a bowl.

Once combined, generously rub this mixture all over the brisket using your hands. Yes, use those hands! It’s the best way to get that flavor on the brisket! Let it set for 30 minutes to get those flavors infused.

You can also do this up to 1 day in advance.

Add spices to a bowl and then combining together to rub on beef brisket.

Step 2 | Add Sauce Ingredients and Brisket Into Slow Cooker & Cook

While those spices are soaking into the Brisket, measure out your BBQ sauce spices, ketchup, mustard, and apple cider vinegar so they are ready to go into the slow cooker and make this meat magical!

Place on the lid, set your slow cooker to low heat and let the magic happen.

Adding spices to slow cooker, mixing and then pressing the beef brisket into to sauce.

While the brisket is cooking, you can daydream about the mouthwatering meal to come.

Look at this gorgeous Brisket after cooking low and slow until moist and tender.

Beef brisket in crock pot after cooking all day.

Step 3 | Remove Brisket, Add to Sheet Pan, and Drizzle with Drippings

When the cooking time is up, carefully remove the tender brisket from the slow cooker and place it on a baking tray.

Don’t forget to drizzle a few tablespoons of those flavorful pan drippings over the brisket to make it even more irresistible. I usually reserve about 1/2 cup to 1 cup, depending on how much juice you get. There is usually plenty. Use the rest for the BBQ Sauce.

Then let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the BBQ sauce.

Drippings to make bbq sauce removed to a sauce pan, brisket added to baking tray, and drippings being spooned over the brisket before going into the oven.

Step 4 | Simmer BBQ Sauce Until Thickens

Now, let’s give that sauce a little extra attention. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a saucepan and simmer it over medium-high heat until it thickens up to a saucy consistency. This step is crucial for that finger-licking BBQ flavor.

Step 5 | Cooking in Oven to Caramalize

Pop the brisket into a preheated 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 5 to 10 minutes until it starts to brown a bit. This will help with that bark-like crispiness.

It’s now time to caramelize the sauce on the brisket. Once you have taken it out of the oven and that BBQ sauce has already thickened, brush on some sauce and cook for another 5 minutes.

Thicken drippings into a BBQ sauce and then baking into brisket.

Remove it from the oven and flip it over. Then mop this side with BBQ sauce and repeat cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it’s beautifully caramelized. This is how you finish forming that nice bark on the outside.

Brisket turned over on baking sheet and mopping bbq sauce on the other side before baking again.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also achieve this caramelization on a medium-high-heat BBQ grill (see tips below).

A whole slow cooked beef brisket with bbq sauce on a wooden cutting board.

Finally, it’s time to savor your masterpiece. Slice the brisket thinly against the grain, and serve it up with that luscious BBQ sauce you worked so hard to perfect. Enjoy every tender, flavorful bite!

Even after cooking all day, you will notice that this cut of meat will still hold together and can be sliced nicely, but it’s tender enough to be shredded if you like it.

Sliced slow cooker beef brisket placed back in the crock pot after being sliced.

Tips

  • Choose the Right Brisket: Select a well-marbled beef brisket for the best results. The fat in the meat will help keep it moist and flavorful during the long cooking process. If you can, ask your butcher for recommendations on the best cut.
  • Low and Slow: Opt for the low heat setting on your slow cooker for the most tender and flavorful results. Cooking on low for 8 to 10 hours makes the meat incredibly tender and develops rich flavors.
  • The BBQ Sauce is fairly smooth; however, if you want, you can use a food processor or blender to get it completely smooth.
  • Caramelization for Flavor: If you have the time, consider the additional step of browning or caramelizing the brisket in the oven or on a grill after slow cooking. This will add a delicious crust and depth of flavor to the meat.
  • Don’t Skip Resting: Allow the cooked brisket to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing it. This helps the juices redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it juicy.

Variations and Substitutions

  • What other cut of meat is similar to Beef Brisket? Really, there isn’t another cut that is the same or similar to a brisket. But the best substitute would be a chuck roast, as you would use for your favorite pot roast. This roast would result in more shredded beef but would still be delicious. You will have to cook it for a shorter period of time to get somewhat of a slice or chunks.

Pressure Cooker Method

Using the same recipe, add 1 cup of water to the inner pot if using an Instant Pot. Cook time is as follows.

  • 3 pounds = 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 4 pounds = 1 hour 30 minutes

Natural release for 15 to 20 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe to simmer sauce and caramelize the crust.

To Finish Crock Pot Brisket on Grill

Adding the chargrilled flavor is a great way to finish this in lieu of the oven-baked version. To do this, brush the grill with oil and preheat to medium heat. Place the slow-cooked brisket on the grill and leave until browned. Turn to brown on the other side. Baste or brush with the BBQ sauce and turn over. Allow that side to caramelize while basting again, and turn to repeat caramelization. Remove, rest, slice, and enjoy.

Sliced BBQ beef brisket with sauce drizzled on top.

FAQs

Can you shred BBQ beef brisket?

Yes, if you would like to shred it, you can. You may want to remove any additional fat left after cooking before you shred it. I typically slice my brisket after caramelizing it in the oven. I also like to chop them into chunks and dunk them into reserved juices or BBQ sauce.

What is the best way to slice brisket?

Slicing the brisket thinly across the grain will result in a nice tender bite!

How much brisket do you need per person?

You can budget about 8 ounces of raw meat per person. That will give you about 6 to 6.5 ounces of meat after being cooked, as the meat will shrink as it cooks.

Is there another name for brisket?

There really isn’t another name for the cut of meat. But there are different ways to prepare a beef brisket. You can find it prepared as corn beef in the grocery stores or pastrami in your deli.

Make ahead, storage, and freezing

Make Ahead: Slow cook the brisket, keep it in cooking liquids, and store it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Then reheat covered in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes until warmed through. Then remove the cover and proceed with the recipe to simmer BBQ sauce, brown, and caramelize.

Storage: Let the crockpot brisket cool completely. Cover with foil or plastic wrap, or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Freeze Leftovers: If you have leftover brisket, it freezes well. Wrap it tightly in freezer-safe wrap and place it in a freezer bag. Store it in the freezer for future enjoyment. Just be sure to label it with the date so you can keep track of freshness.

What to make with Barbecue Brisket

Slice it and enjoy over some mashed potatoes and serve with green beans or corn on the cob (or your favorite side dish) for one meal. 

Then, the next day, turn leftovers into brisket sandwiches or sliders with a nice creamy coleslaw and some baked beans for another meal. Those sandwiches are amazing over Garlic Texas Toast, too!

Enjoying game day at home? It’s delicious, loaded with all your favorite toppings over french fries or tots for loaded BBQ Beef Brisket fries. And if that’s your thing, you may also like my Andouille Pimento Cheese Fries!

Give it a Tex-Mex spin over tortilla chips for Brisket Nachos! Serve with salsa, refried beans, and homemade guac!

The ways to enjoy this beef brisket are really endless. Give me a shout and let me know how you enjoyed it!

Sliced beef brisket sandwich served with slaw and bbq sauce being drizzled over the top of the meat.

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A beef brisket brushed with homemade bbq sauce on a wooden board garnish with parsley.
Recipe
4.81 from 67 votes

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Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Nikki Lee
Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce is a mouthwatering dish that delivers tender, smoky flavors without the need for a smoker. This recipe combines a well-marbled beef brisket with a savory rub and a rich homemade BBQ sauce, slow-cooked to perfection for hours, resulting in a deliciously satisfying meal that's sure to please.
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Ingredients 

  • 3 to 4 pound beef brisket

Rub

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • tsp cayenne pepper

BBQ Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

Make Spice Rub and Prep Brisket

  • Remove the brisket from the refrigerator. Place Rub ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Then rub spices into brisket on all sides with hands. Let the brisket set out for at least 30 minutes for the rub to infuse. You can also do this 1 day ahead of time.

Add Sauce Ingredients and Brisket to Slow Cooker

  • Pour BBQ Sauce ingredients in the slow cooker. Mix then add the brisket and press brisket into sauce.
  • Place on the lid and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 4.5 to 5 hours.
  • Remove the brisket from slow cooker and place onto a baking tray. Drizzle a few tablespoons of pan drippings on the brisket. Let brisket rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Simmer BBQ Sauce to Thicken

  • Pour liquid from slow cooker into a sauce pan and simmer over medium high heat until it thickens to a sauce like consistency.

Caramelize in Oven

  • While the sauce is thickening: If you would like to crisp up the meat and form more of a crust, cook the slow-cooked brisket in a preheated 400℉ oven for 5 to 10 minutes until it begins to brown a bit.
  • Remove from oven and mop on the thickened BBQ sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat: Remove from the oven, turn the brisket over with tongs or meat forks, and mop on more BBQ sauce. Then cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until caramelized to your liking.
  • Let the beef brisket rest for 10 to 15 minutes so the juices redestribute. Then slice thinly across the grain and serve with BBQ Sauce.

Notes

Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce:
Using the same recipe, add 1 cup of water to the inner pot if using an Instant Pot. Cook time is as follows: 3 pounds for 1 hour 15 minutes or 4 pounds for 1 hour 30 minutes. Then, natural release for 15 to 20 minutes. Proceed with the recipe to make the sauce and caramelize.
Grilling: Adding the chargrilled flavor is a great way to finish this in lieu of the oven-baked version. To do this, brush the grill with oil and preheat to medium heat. Place the slow-cooked brisket on the grill and leave until browned. Turn to brown on the other side. Baste or brush with the BBQ sauce and turn over. Allow that side to caramelize while basting again, and turn to repeat caramelization. Remove, rest, and enjoy.
TIPS:
    • Choose the Right Brisket: Select a well-marbled beef brisket for the best results. The fat in the meat will help keep it moist and flavorful during the long cooking process. If you can, ask your butcher for recommendations on the best cut.
    • Low and Slow: Opt for the low heat setting on your slow cooker for the most tender and flavorful results. Cooking on low for 8 to 10 hours makes the meat incredibly tender and develops rich flavors.
    • The BBQ Sauce is fairly smooth; however, if you want, you can use a food processor or blender to get it completely smooth.
    • Caramelization for Flavor: If you have the time, consider the additional step of browning or caramelizing the brisket in the oven or on a grill after slow cooking. This will add a delicious crust and depth of flavor to the meat.
    • Don’t Skip Resting: Allow the cooked brisket to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing it. This helps the juices redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it juicy.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving Calories: 510kcal (26%) Carbohydrates: 19g (6%) Protein: 44g (88%) Fat: 28g (43%) Saturated Fat: 11g (69%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g Cholesterol: 160mg (53%) Sodium: 570mg (25%) Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugar: 15g (17%)

Nutritional Disclaimer

Soulfully Made is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

©️Soulfully Made

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The recipe was updated on November 14, 2023, with new pictures and more added helpful tips. The original recipe was published on November 8, 2017.

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47 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Have tried MANY brisket recipes. This is the best! The only brisket recipe I now make! The first time, I wish there was more sauce. I have been doubling sauce- perfect. I have not carmelized in oven, perfect without. I do make a day ahead , in the fridge the fat rises and I skim it off before reheating. Skipped this step the first time and thought sauce was a little greasy. If allowed, I would give 10 stars!!

    1. Thank you so much, Gail! I am thrilled to hear you love this so much! It really is a family favorite here in our home too.

  2. Excited to try this tomorrow! If I want to brown the brisket before placing it in the crockpot, so I do that after I season it? Thank you!