This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please visit the disclosures and privacy policy page.
Feb 8, 2015

Slow Cooker Barbecued Beef Brisket

This slow cooker barbecued beef brisket is so pull-apart tender and totally flavorful. It's a fabulous recipe for recreating the slow roasted and smoked flavor without a smoker. 

The slow cooker is the perfect vehicle for preparing brisket. This cut of beef was made for "low and slow." The results are super tender and "melt-in-your-mouth" delicious. 

This may look like an "ugly buggly" pile of beef, but it's sooooo tasty. There are 16 ingredients in this brisket, but don't let that stop you from making it. It is completely loaded with flavor. 

Ingredients in this barbecue beef brisket:

One of my favorite secret ingredients in this dish is canned chipotles in adobo. Whenever I open a can of this magical stuff, I blend it with a stick blender, and keep the mixture in the fridge. It's so good in scrambled eggs, quesadillas, guacamole, and even Bloody Marys.

For the rub you will need dark brown sugar, the chipotles, ground cumin, sweet paprika, and salt and pepper. 

For the slow cooker mixture, you will need onions, tomato paste, garlic, vegetable oil, chili powder, water, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and liquid smoke. 

Liquid smoke? It's actually a natural ingredient (depending on the brand, so check the label) produced by capturing the smoke and steam from burning wood, purifying it, and concentrating it into a liquid. You can find it in the barbecue sauce section of your grocery store. 

It has a pretty long shelf life and a little bit goes a long way. 

While I've made this brisket before in a 7 quart slow cooker (which, sadly, went kaput), I used my recently purchased 6 quart slow cooker this time and it came out perfect.

You could also use the slow cooker function if you have a 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot, or convert the recipe to pressure cook if you like. 

How to Make Slow Cooker Barbecued Beef Brisket:

First, coat the meat with a spice rub and then refrigerate it for several hours, preferably overnight. 

Next, stir together some onions, tomato paste, garlic, vegetable oil, chili powder, and chipotles, and microwave everything until the onions are tender. 

After that, add this mixture, the beef, and some water to the slow cooker and cook the beef for 9 to 10 hours. 

When the beef is done, transfer it to a cutting board and then stir the ketchup, apple cider, vinegar, and liquid smoke into the sauce. 

Finally, slice the beef and spoon the sauce over the top. 

Recipe Variations:

If you don't have time, you can skip the overnight rest with the rub. It won't be quite the same, but the dish is still delicious. 

You can also cook the brisket on high for about six hours to save time. 

If you are planning to make this brisket for a large group, I recommend making it in advance and reheating it for your guests. It's even better the next day, and they will never suspect that they are having "leftovers." 

You can reheat it in the sauce in the microwave or in a pot on the stove, and then use the "keep warm" function of your slow cooker. 

I served this brisket with garlic mashed potatoes and a kale, broccoli, and cabbage salad with a poppy seed dressing. 

This beef would also be amazing over noodles or rice along with a creamed spinach gratin or a balsamic and ginger carrots side dish

There's also a delicious asparagus, pea, and leek stir-fry that would be perfect with the rice and the beef. 

This is a revised post, originally published in February, 2015 and completely updated in June of 2022. 

If you try this recipe, please let me know! 

Slow Cooker Barbecued Beef Brisket

Serves 8


1/2 C dark brown sugar
3 T minced canned chipotle chile in adobo, divided
1 T ground cumin
1 T sweet paprika
Salt and pepper
1 five pound beef brisket, trimmed
2 onions, minced
2 T tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T vegetable oil
1 T chili powder
1/2 C water
1/4 C ketchup
1 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp liquid smoke


  1. Combine the brown sugar, 2 T of the chipotles, the cumin, paprika, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tsp of pepper. 
  2. Prick the brisket all over with a fork. 
  3. Rub the brisket with the sugar mixture, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate the meat for 8 to 24 hours. 
  4. Unwrap the meat and place it in a 6 to 7 quart slow cooker. 
  5. In a medium bowl, mix the onions, tomato paste, garlic, oil, chili powder, and 1 T of the chipotles. 
  6. Place the bowl in a microwave, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. 
  7. Add the water to the slow cooker. Cover, and cook for 9 to 10 hours on low. 
  8. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, cover with foil, and let it rest for about 30 minutes. 
  9. Skim the fat off the top of the braising liquid, add the ketchup, vinegar, and liquid smoke. Whisk and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  10. Slice the brisket and place it on a serving platter. 
  11. Spoon the sauce over the meat, and serve. 
This meat makes great leftovers too. 

Slightly adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution.

Would you like to comment?

  1. This is a gorgeous slice of meat. I need to get some brisket to cook, STAT!

  2. Love it! I've been using my crockpot tons lately, with the freezing cold weather out and all. Nothing better than coming home to a ready-made meal that is hot. Brisket hits home!

  3. i don t have a slow-cooker anymore but I love brisket cooked low and slow... I use the oven at 275 F but my recipe is not nearly as amazing as yours, which shall be pinned ASAP!

  4. Woo boy! This was one of those posts that says "Make me NOW!" So I did. Last night's dinner (with some cheese grits) and today's lunch and I even left some for the hubs (but just a little). Awesome, awesome recipe. The brisket is fall-apart tender with just the right amount of heat. A smidge on the sweet side for me–although it's really not sweet-sweet–so I'd cut the brown sugar and up the vinegar next time, but that's just a personal preference. Seriously fab recipe. Thanks!

  5. These sounds amazing. I don't think your picture is ugly bubbly at all, it makes it look DELICIOUS!


I would love to hear from you!