Slow Cooker Honey Barbecue Brisket

Slow Cooker Honey Barbecue Brisket

The scent of barbecue brings a flood of memories rushing back to me… memories of family and friends, some now departed, and the fun we had at my great uncle’s cattle ranch in the rolling hills of San Luis Obispo, CA. I have farmers on both sides of my family, and my childhood was full of Santa Maria-style barbecue cookouts. Uncle Dennis and his friends would stand over a huge iron oak-filled fire pit, slowly smoking the meat till it was tender and perfectly done. Aunt Pauline would make vats of ranch beans and salad. She’d spread French bread with copious amounts of garlic butter. Just before the meal, Uncle Dennis would throw the bread onto the fire pit till it soaked up the smoky oak flavor and grill marks were seared in. With the scent of garlic bread and barbecue in the air, we’d dig into the feast.

I miss those sunny afternoons. I miss sitting with my family and chatting about this, that and the other thing. I miss my Aunt Pauline and her sister, my Grandma Carolyn. What a blessing to grow up in a small town, surrounded by a loving family. Simple pleasures. Now that I live in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, I appreciate it all the more.

While I grew up adoring those barbecue cookouts, my diet has changed quite a bit over the years. Now I eat flexitarian style, meaning the majority of my nutrition comes from vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. That said, once in a while my family craves meat. Every month or two we indulge in some organic steak or brisket. Sadly I don’t have a giant iron oak-filled fire pit in my back yard, so this has become one of my go-to recipes for preparing barbecue-style beef brisket. The slow cooker keeps the meat from drying out, and it requires very little effort… just set it up in the morning and let it slowly cook all day long. The meat cooks up meltingly tender. The longer you cook it, the more it takes on the consistency of tender chipped beef, which I love. The idea originally came from a friend who recommended that I slow cook a brisket smothered in barbecue sauce. Over time, I’ve added some seasonings to the method to enhance the flavor. This recipe has been perfected over time; it was one of the first recipes I ever posted on my blog, but I am resharing it today because the modifications take it from good to awesome. It couldn’t be easier. Stick it in the slow cooker in the morning, and by the time you get home you’ll be minutes away from a hearty and satisfying meal. Serve with mashed potatoes or a baked potato and a salad on the side. You can also pile the beef onto hamburger buns and make barbecue beef sandwiches.

This brisket will fill your home with the scent of barbecue, so be prepared. I actually love the smell… it reminds me of afternoon cookouts, my small town childhood and the love of my family. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Note: this recipe is gluten free if you use a certified GF honey barbecue sauce.

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Slow Cooker Honey Barbecue Brisket

Ingredients

  • 1 brisket, 5 lbs., first cut
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (use 1/2 tsp for more heat)
  • 1 1/2 cups honey barbecue sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

You will also need

  • Large slow cooker, 6-7 quart capacity
Total Time: 12 Hours
Servings: 6-8
Kosher Key: Meat
  • Sprinkle brisket with salt and pepper. Mix the onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Dry rub both sides of the brisket with the seasoning mixture.
  • Stir together the honey barbecue sauce and brown sugar.
  • Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the seasoned brisket, fatty side up, into the slow cooker. Don't worry if it's a little big for the cooker, the brisket will shrink as it cooks. Cover the top o the brisket with the remaining sauce.
  • Cover the slow cooker and set heat to low for 9 hours, or until fork tender.
  • When the brisket is cooked, remove it carefully from the slow cooker and place it on a cutting board.
  • Pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a large bowl and let it cool.
  • Slice off the fat cap from the top of the brisket and discard.
  • Flip the brisket over so the leaner side faces upward. You'll be able to see the direction of the meat grain better on this side. Slice the brisket against the grain, at a slight diagonal, creating thin slices of meat.
  • Skim the fat that has risen to the top of the sauce in the large bowl. It will appear lighter in color than the sauce, like droplets of oil on the surface. Skim as much fat as you can.
  • In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and 1 tbsp of water till completely smooth. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the bowl of sauce and stir to combine.
  • Pour half of the sauce back into the slow cooker. Layer the slices of brisket meat on top of the sauce. Pour the remaining sauce over the brisket.
  • Turn slow cooker to high for about 1 hour, till the meat and sauce are heated through and the sauce begins to bubble and thicken. Keep on warm setting till ready to serve.
  • Note: the longer you cook this brisket, the more it will take on the texture of shredded or "chipped" beef. If you'd like for the meat to retain its sliced shape, no need to return the meat to the slow cooker. You can reduce the sauce quickly in a saucepan on the stovetop, then pour it over the slices in a casserole dish before serving. The leftovers make great BBQ beef sandwiches.

Comments (88)Post a Comment

  1. Thank you for this delicious and easy recipe! It was great to just put everything into the crock pot and have an delicious home cooked meal when we got home.

    I used a chipotle pepper bbq sauce and added additional chipotle pepper flakes to give it a kick.

  2. Thank you, Tori, for posting this information. It is informative and interesting and important, and the recipes look delicious. I look forward to preparing some of your dishes for my family this holiday season, and your blog has become an enormous resource for me. Keep up the good work!

    Eve

  3. I made this for my husband tonight and he loved it. I am a vegetarian so I will have to take his word. And he better like it bc he has to eat it a few more times! I made my own BBQ sauce from the neelys recipe and added honey. I didn’t even taste the sauce preheat bc the sauce contains worcestershire sauce. So I have to totally rely on my family’s critique. Thank you!

  4. Wow. I’ve never even considered doing biscuit in a crock pot, I’ve always used a smoker. I’ll have to give that a shot.

  5. I love brisket, but the traditionalist in me thinks its a shanda to ruin it with anything other than onions, broth and spices (paprika and pepper). Sweet brisket…hmm… I’m not sold.

    1. Hi Glenda– I’ve never made this particular brisket in the oven, but it will probably work. However, you will need to cook low and slow to produce tender results (all brisket should be cooked low and slow). I would cook it at 300 degrees for 5-7 hours. It will take about 1 hour per pound of meat. Brisket is ready when it flakes tenderly when pierced with a fork. You can let it cook even longer for a soft, shredded texture. The only thing I would be concerned about is the amount of liquid… slow cookers tend to keep things more moist than the dry heat of an oven. I would check it every hour or so to make sure it’s not looking too dry. If it does, add water to the pan to keep it from drying out. Use a first cut brisket, not super lean, so there is enough fat to keep things moist. At the end of cooking, strain the fat and reduce the sauce on the stove with cornstarch. Good luck!

    2. Use one of those oven roasting bags to cook the brisket in if you don’t have a slow cooker. Works like a charm!

  6. My cousin makes the best brisket on Pesach but its such a hard and long process
    As a novice cook I know I could do this
    Now I have a reason to go by a slow cooker. Not something my Mom used. Thanks can’t wait to make. Could u cook some veggies in the pot with the meat?

    1. Don’t EVER quick cook brisket in the oven. Brisket is a tough, fatty cut and must be slow cooked to saturate the meat with emulsified fat and juices from the cut. The minimum amount of time for an oven roast is 6 hours at 250-275. For the best, most tender brisket ever go 8-10 hours (great to do overnight) @ 225-250. Use a 5-7 lb brisket and dry rub it with whatever rub you prefer. Then, place it fat pad side up in a shallow roasting pan and cover with foil. I guarantee you will never want it any other way after that, though this crockpot recipe gives it a run for the money.

    1. Hi Jen! Deckle will work, but it will produce a LOT of excess fat while it cooks, which means you’ll have to skim quite a bit from the sauce. I’ve never tried it with a roast, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work as long as it’s covered in sauce. Keep an eye to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Don’t fear the brisket cut here, as the recipe is really written for brisket and it will produce an awesome, tender result every time. Enjoy!

  7. Made this but my meat is a little dry. Used kosher meat but my butcher trimmed it and he knows I don’t like fat so maybe he took too much off lol

    1. Hi Joyce! Yes, you don’t want to trim all the fat on the brisket, it helps to keep the brisket moist and tender when cooking. First cut brisket is already trimmed, so I don’t trim any of the fat. You can take off most of the fat after cooking, as illustrated in the step-by-step pictures. Next time, leave the fat and trim it after the cooking process, you’ll have a much better result!

  8. Just when I thought it was time to pack up the slow cooker, you publish this great recipe. I see bbq beef sandwiches in my family’s future.

    I love both your blogs especially the recent one on Hearst Castle! I love the Central Coast, too.

    Thanks, Tori!

  9. How would you adapt this recipe for Shabbat lunch if it was started on the Friday before sundown?
    It would be great to serve the bbq brisket on challah rolls!

    1. Hi Jenny, I’ve never done it that way before, but it will probably be ok if you have it on the “warm” setting after the initial 9 hour cook period. Make sure you get a fattier cut of brisket (don’t trim it too much), and I would check it periodically to make sure it’s not getting dry or over-cooked. Try to put it in the cooker as late as possible on Friday before sundown, and if it starts looking dry or overcooked add some water to the cooker. Different slow cookers have different heat settings, and some warm settings will be hotter than others, which is why I suggest keeping an eye on it. In my cooker it would be fine, but your cooker might have a hotter warm setting. Enjoy!

  10. Brisket was fantastic! Cooked it the day before, refrigerated it and removed the fat. Then made some extra Honey BBQ sauce and had it on the keep warm function on crockpot from Friday evening till it was served Saturday lunch. Served it with Kaiser rolls I’d made and it was a hit! THANKS!

  11. I just tried this for our Memorial Day dinner. Wowie! It was incredible. I don’t have a slow cooker so I put the 4 lb brisket in the oven at 325 for four hours in my Creuset dutch oven. Turned out perfectly, didn’t have to worry about moisture at all. Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

  12. How can you talk about Santa Maria BBQ and leave out the biggest side dish? Pinkito beans… Not ranch style. For shame!

  13. Given ranch beans are a general category, we just should let people know about pinkitos, special for Santa Maria.

    1. I always cook this on low because brisket should really be cooked low and slow for best results. Technically it can be cooked on high, but the meat will not turn out as tender. If you try it let me know how it works for you.

    2. NO!!! Don’t ever cook a brisket on high!! Fast and high heat cannot break down the muscle as well as low and slow cooking. You will never get as tender as when you use low and slow. Trust me, I ran a BBQ joint for 3 years…low and slow is the way to go.

  14. Sounds great except I am from South Africa and do not get Honey Barbeque sauce here. Can someone give me an alternative recipe for the sauce.

  15. I’d like to try this for Rosh Hoshana and thought about setting up the slow cooker to do its thing overnight. What about reheating several hours later that day? Any advice? I’m thinking of pairing it with saffron rice (because the BBQ sauce will already have sweetness) along with carrots roasted in the oven with olive oil and garlic. And challah, of course, with raisins.

  16. This is great! I’ve got it back in the slow cooker now. I used a sweet and spicy bbq sauce for a kick and added dried cranberries for some fruity goodness.

  17. Hi Tori,
    I’ve made this before and it’s fabulous! Do you think that I could make this with corned beef as I have one in my freezer?

    1. Hi Jenny– you know, I’ve never tried it myself, but I don’t think corned beef would work well here. Something about the saltiness of the corned beef and the spices might clash with the barbecue brisket… I think it all might be a little “too much.” Know what I mean? I could be wrong though.

  18. Hi Tori!
    I owe you a hundred thanks! I’ve been stressing about a Rosh Hashana menu for WEEKS and stumbled across your site about 3 weeks ago. Well, I’ve been visiting multiple times daily ever since! You were speaking to ME when you said a slow-cooker recipe was good for keeping the oven free for all those hours- so I took the plunge and did my first attempt at brisket. I was preparing for a lot of company, so I did 3 of these very briskets over the past weeks. (confession: they didn’t all make it to the Rosh Hashana table. My husband and I had to sample each one as it was ready…) They were AMAZING. I also did a small challa-baking demo before yom tov and everyone LOVED your woven challa look. So professional looking yet comes out great even on the first try! So, thank you. Mostly for the guilty pleasure I get every time I type in ‘the shiksa’ on my homescreen :)
    Oh, and wouldn’t you know, one of our guests commented that the brisket seemed much like her own- and we discovered she’s a TheShiksa junkie too!
    Wishing you a fantastic, healthy, sweet new year!

    1. Hi Jenny, as far as I know all corned beef has been salt-cured even if it is not in a brine when you buy it. The salty flavor of the corned beef may clash with the sauce– but I really can’t say for certain because I haven’t tried it myself. If you do try it, let us know how it turns out!

    2. Well Tori you were correct! The corned beef seasoning did not work well with the sauce at all. So now I will only use brisket as it is such a stellar recipe. Hope you enjoyed the chaggim!

    1. Hi Carolyn– first off, when you slice the brisket, you want to make sure you do so against the natural grain of the meat. If you cut with the grain, you’ll end up with a lot of stringiness. Also you may want to cook it for slightly less time next time– it may have been overcooked a bit (different slow cookers cook at different temperatures), which can lead to stringiness.

  19. Wow – when we got home after work our two German Sheppards had gotten up on the counter, flipped the top off the slow cooker had eaten the whole 4 1/2 lb. brisket. There was a huge mess all over the kitchen floor!!! Both dogs were licking their chops and paws and didn’t show slightest amount of guilt. It was so funny we couldn’t get mad at them. Locking the doggy door next time !

  20. I made this tonight using some home made bbq sauce instead of the honey store bought sauce and it was OMG delicious! Thank you for the recipe. This is a new family favorite!

  21. I just got 6.5 quart my slow cooker and want to do this brisket recipe just for three people. I bought a 3 pound first cut brisket. How much time would this need to cook for? Any other adjustments? Thanks for your input!

    1. Hi Enid, I have never made that small a brisket with this recipe. My suggestion is to check it around 6 hours and continue checking till the meat is tender enough to flake with a fork. Enjoy!

  22. Made this today and it was soooo easy and delicious! I have been searching for a a recipe like this. Spent all of Saturday making one of Ina gartens recipes that got fabulous reviews and I would never make it again. Too much work little payoff. This recipe however motivates me to cook with a delicious result like this. There is nothing worse than spending the time and it doesn’t come out good. Can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow and am serving these sliders at my Hanukkah party. Yay!

    1. Hi Karen, thank you for the lovely note. So happy to hear you enjoyed this one! I test all of my recipes multiple times to ensure that they are excellent. The reward is hearing comments like yours. :)

  23. This was so fantastic! I made 6.5 lbs of brisket for 10 adults and not a trace of meat was left! So delicious! I may never make brisket in the oven again!

  24. Hi Tori, I have a 6lb brisket in the crockpot as I type this note, but I’m nervous because the meat doesn’t entirely fit in the slowcooker. So, I cut it halfway and shove both big slices in the crockpot. Is that okay? Will they shrink? I’m afraid that the whole thing won’t cook.

    1. Hi Nikki, the brisket will shrink as it cooks. Did you add a little more sauce (your brisket is a pound bigger than the recipe says)? I’d add 1/3 cup more sauce. Then check it after four hours, it should be shrinking up and fitting better. By the way I have 7 pounds of brisket in my very large slow cooker right this minute, making the same recipe you are!

  25. Tori,

    Ive been making a similar recipe without the sauce and just using a dry rub that is simply dry mustard, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder with NO liquid. Until I tried this I thought the former was the best brisket. This wins hands down. I cooked a 6lb brisket a week ago and had a party platter for 20+ of pastrami, corned beef, whitefish, bagels etc etc. The brisket was gone before my wife got a chance to even taste it. I even used an fairly inexpensive BJ’s brisket that had quite a bit of fat. Cooking a smaller one right now using first cut brisket and we’re not sharing this one. BTW, if you live near Oneonta NY you should try Brooks Barbecue Sauce right out of the bottle.
    Happy New Year!

  26. Tori,
    I came across your recipe and can’t wait to try it. We love Santa Maria BBQ and haven’t had it since we moved in 2008. This will be my first brisket … wish me luck. Thanks for the great recipe.
    Happy New Year!

  27. Tori,
    This brisket looks so delicious. It’s a recipe that I’ll definitely have to keep in mind for the upcoming summer. Yesterday I tried your honey apple challah and it was devoured by my family. Glad you put in the flexitarian bit because I wondered how you stayed in shape. Hope to see more flexitarian recipes and menus this year!

  28. I LOVE this recipe as does my husband and 4 young kids! I have used different cuts of meat for this recipe and have never been disappointed.

  29. Tori-
    Do you have a particular brand of honey bbq sauce that you use?
    I can’t wait to try this recipe!
    I always cook my brisket in my Le Creuset dutch oven. For people that don’t have a slow cooker this is definitely an option. I do 30 minutes at 350 without the lid and 3 hours covered at 325. I cool it overnight in the fridge and it slices easily the next day. I put it into a pyrex, pour the sauce over it, and reheat it at 325 for an hour or until we eat. It is a great meal to serve a group of people for dinner since all of the work is done ahead of time. My foolproof recipe:
    salt and pepper on the brisket
    1 bottle of Heinz chili sauce
    1 Tbs of molasses
    2 large sweet onions sliced

    After it cooks, remove the meat from the pot. Use an immersion blender in the pot and blend up all of the onions into the sauce. You can pour the sauce over the meat and refrigerate them overnight together or keep the sauce separate and skim off the fat in the morning.

    I have been making this recipe for years now and I can’t wait to try yours!

  30. This was absolutely delicious! Fun and easy to make. My husband tried one bite and said wow which makes me smile every time! My daughter loved it too.

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