Feeding Friends: Slow Cooker Brisket

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

A few weeks ago my friend Sarah and I put our heads together to throw our first ever Only Child Party. The evening was conceived as both an electrifying social experiment, and an opportunity to get an incredibly random group of people together for dinner. It may or may not have also been an excuse to write a witty email and get attention and praise.

There were a few things that could be improved upon for next time. First, in one of my emails I promised that there would be an “official center of attention” marked with masking tape in Sarah’s living room. Unfortunately, we were running a little behind on dinner and did not leave ample time for crafts.

If I had it to do all over again (which I most likely will, come the holiday season), I would have gone to Party City and purchased a unicorn poster to have over the center of attention, as well as a Hollywood star for the floor. Sarah also wanted to buy #1 candles and name tags that said “ask me about…” so that she could write ME on all of them.

slow cooker brisket recipe Try this easy beef brisket slow cooker recipe

Despite these failures in ambiance, the food was something that we definitely did right. So what do you serve a room full of so many selfish people, you might ask?

We ended up landing on a taco buffet full of many different fillings and condiments, so that no one would have to sacrifice their individuality at dinner. Luckily all the coping mechanisms we learned at liberal arts schools paid off and we managed to collaborate on all the offerings. We even coaxed a few guests into sharing some extra dishes with us. My friend Sophie, who works at a sustainable seafood company, brought some beautiful wild shrimp that we sautéed with garlic and lime juice. Sarah made a vegetarian black bean filling. And I made the meat.

This is the best brisket recipe for slow cookers This is an easy and simple brisket slow cooker recipe

Selfishly, I knew I didn’t have much time that day to cook, so I chose to make something low and slow that I could just leave alone in the oven. I usually grab a pork shoulder for this. But there seemed to be a high percentage of only children attending who grew up on the Upper West Side, so I thought brisket might be more their speed.

Learn how to make brisket in a slow cooker with this easy recipe I used similar seasonings as this carnitas recipes and browned the brisket cubes on the stove. You’ve all been asking for slow cooker recipes, so I adapted this one to suit the counter-top technique. Either way you make it, pulled slow cooker brisket makes for an unbeatable taco filling. So good, if you’re an only child like me, you may not want to share.



Slow Cooker Brisket

Slow Cooker Brisket

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours

Serving Size: 6-8

Slow Cooker Brisket


  • 3 pounds brisket
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • One 12-ounce bottle hard cider
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed


  1. Trim the fat cap off the brisket, leaving just 1/3 inch. Cut into 3-inch cubes.
  2. Add the brisket to the slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients and 2 teaspoons salt.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove to a bowl and shred. Return to the slow cooker and keep warm until ready to eat.
  4. Serve alongside taco fixings or as a topping for Mexican brown rice.
  5. To make in the oven:
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Place a large Dutch oven over high heat.
  8. Trim the fat cap off the brisket, leaving just 1/3 inch. Cut into 3-inch cubes. Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Sear the brisket fat-side down until nicely browned, about 2 minutes on the first side. Brown the brisket on the additional sides, about 1 minutes per. Remove to a plate. Add the cider and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cumin, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt. Return the beef to the pot, fat-side up. Pour in enough water to come at least 2/3's of the way up the beef.
  9. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours, until tender. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 1 to 1.5 hours, until nearly falling apart. Shred with two forks and keep in the marinade until ready to eat.



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31 Responses to Feeding Friends: Slow Cooker Brisket

  1. Frankie says:

    OMG Mexican brisket! Te amo.

  2. As an only child and a brisket lover, I’m loving this post!

  3. Steph says:

    Would it be wrong to say that I might consider selling my siblings (at least temporarily) for a taco filled with this brisket?

  4. msiauw says:

    Wanna try tis for our meal n my kiddo.
    Do I need to brown the brisket before put it in t h e slow cooker?

    • Hi there! Sorry for the delayed response! You don’t need to brown it, but with meat, it always helps to. Most people use slow cookers to just toss it all in and forget about it, so I didn’t include browning in the instructions, like I did with the stove top version. It’s up to you what you have time and patience for :) Enjoy!

  5. Twee says:

    Can I make this with a pressure cooker? Do you think it will taste the same?

    • Hi Twee – sorry for the delayed response! I don’t own a pressure cooker, so I can’t say for sure, but I’d imagine it would work great! You would know better than I would about how much liquid to put in the pot. That would be the only modification.

  6. Ara says:

    Hi! I live in Mexico and was wondering two things, do you happen to know the name for brisket in spanish? And if I dont have cider what can I sustitute it with?

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  8. Kagordon says:

    This sounds delish and easy to do. Any idea how many people or tacos this would serve?

    • Glad you like the sound of it! Just updated the recipe to include serving size. To answer your question, generally I average about 1/2 pound of protein per person, so it would serve 6 as the main event, and probably would stretch to about 8 as part of a taco buffet. There’s only so much you can fit in a tortilla :)

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  16. Will Dekorte says:

    Hi Phoebe,

    We had this last night, was truly incredible!

    Greetings from Dublin, Ireland.


    PS: I love your site :)

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  18. Mandy says:

    I know this is an older post but I just made this in my slow cooker last night and thought I’d share how it turned out! First of all this is delicious and the brisket came out so tender and flavorful – my boyfriend and I were just eating it with out hands instead of putting it away in the fridge after dinner. I love all the cumin and cinnamon flavor that came through! I added a roughly chopped onion to the slow cooker when I started it which I think made it a little sweeter, but the apple cider-soaked onions mixed into the brisket are awesome and give it a great fall flavor.
    I think this might work best if you sear the brisket on the stove, first, though…I didn’t and the fat on top of the brisket cubes didn’t break down as much as I would have liked and I ended up going through each piece of meat and cutting it off before shredding. The slow cooker also didn’t reduce the liquid down like if this was done in the oven, so there was a ton of spice-laden, cidery goodness leftover after shredding. Since I didn’t sear the brisket a lot of kinda gross fat was in it, but I strained the liquid and added it back into the shredded meat – delicious!
    Sorry, I know this was long but thought it might be helpful to anyone trying this in the slow cooker. It will definitely be something that I make again but next time, searing the meat first. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Thanks so much for the feedback Mandy! Definitely will add a note about searing the meat. I find that this is always a best practice with the slow cooker, but many people don’t like to spend the time, as it defeats the purpose of just throwing everything into the machine and letting it do its thing. Really appreciate you taking the time to comment! And glad you liked the flavors :) xxoxo

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