Braised beef brisket is a slowly cooked beef roast entree that makes an amazing holiday meal or weeknight dinner. People are always asking for the recipe!
For this entree, the meat is cooked slowly until it’s incredibly tender. Then, the braising liquid is reduced to create a rich and savory sauce! It’s a perfect make-ahead meal for dinner, especially during the holiday season.
The first time I encountered this dish was when my grandmother (of Maryland Crab Cake and Pistachio Cake fame) prepared it for the Jewish holidays. Unlike the crab cakes and pistachio cake, I didn’t get my hands on her recipe for Jewish brisket before she passed away.
With this recipe, I wanted to create something that, while still appropriate for the holidays, would have a sauce similar to the French sauces we prepared at culinary school. It’s the perfect meal for any time of year.
I also have a recipe for steak tips with mushrooms and creamy blue cheese sauce that will blow you away.
You can also see my full archive of beef recipes here!
Braised Beef Brisket Recipe
What is Braising?
Braising refers to a wet-cooking method commonly used for tougher cuts of meat, although many ingredients can be braised, including poultry, fish, and vegetables.
The meat is slowly cooked at low heat, in a tightly covered pan. Typically, the meat is browned before the liquid is added, which helps to build flavor.
- Beef Brisket – You’ll need one that’s about 4-5 lbs.
- Grapeseed Oil – This can be substituted with any neutral flavored, high heat oil.
- Onions– Yellow or white may be used.
- Canned Crushed Tomatoes
- White Wine Vinegar– If you don’t have wine vinegar on hand, regular white vinegar will be fine.
- Orange Juice
- Brown Sugar– Dark brown sugar adds a deeper molasses flavor, but light brown sugar will work as well.
- Stock – I recommend using homemade chicken stock, which has a more gelatinous texture than store bought. It creates a richer, more flavorful sauce. If you use a store brand, make sure to buy low-sodium. Feel free to use beef or vegetable stock if you prefer.
- Red Wine– Use any dry red wine that you enjoy drinking. If you need to avoid alcohol, use extra stock instead.
- Thyme– Fresh thyme is the best option, but dry will also work.
- Unsalted Butter – This can be substituted with heavy cream.
How to Make Delicious Braised Beef
Step 1: Trim the Brisket
Remove the thick layer of fat, which can be unpleasant to eat. You can use a chef’s knife to do this, but I find it easier to get the job done with a boning knife, which can easily maneuver around the fat.
Step 2: Brown the Meat
I like to brown and braise meat in my Dutch oven, which is a good size and an excellent conductor of heat. The beef brisket needs to be cut in half crosswise to fit, but that will be the case with most pans.
Step 3: Cook The Vegetables
You’ll likely need to deglaze the pan with water periodically, as brown bits form on the bottom. Adding a few tablespoons of water helps detach these bits (also known as fond), so you can scrape them up with a spatula and stir them into the veggies.
This adds flavor and prevents the fond from burning. I use my favorite spatula for this.
Step 4: Add the Liquid
The liquid should not completely cover the meat, but I like to move the pieces around a bit to ensure that the sauce gets in between the two pieces.
Step 5: Braise the Brisket
Cover and cook in a 300 degree F. oven for 3 hours. Be careful not to over cook it. The first time I prepared this recipe, I let it cook for 4 hours. The results were delicious, but the meat fell apart and couldn’t be sliced. It was more of a stew than a roast.
Step 6: Strain The Sauce
It will be tempting to leave the onions, carrots and celery in the sauce instead of straining them. You can technically leave them, but they’ll have lost most of their flavor and texture at this point. (Taste one and you’ll see what I mean).
If you want vegetables in the final sauce, I recommend sautéing fresh onions, carrots and celery, then adding those in at the end.
Step 7: Reduce the Sauce
If any fat has risen to the surface (see above), skim it off and discard it. Lay a sheet of paper towel flat against the fat so it comes right off without wasting much sauce. You can also use a spoon or ladle.
Simmer the sauce until it’s reduced by around 1/3, give or take. This will make it thicker, and the flavor will be richer.
Step 8: Slice the Brisket
While the sauce is reducing, slice the meat against the grain. See the lines going through the un-cut side of the beef brisket? You want to slice in the opposite direction.
Step 8: Finish the Sauce
Whisk in a bit of butter or heavy cream (I prefer butter). Don’t skip this step! It adds shine and a little additional richness.
Recipe Notes + FAQ
How to Trim Beef
The beef roast has a thick layer of fat attached, and you want to remove almost all of it. It’s completely fine to leave a thin layer of fat attached, but some people prefer removing all of it. Up to you! For step-by-step photo instructions on how to do this, I recommend checking out this tutorial from Hey Grill Hey.
Can this recipe be made ahead of time?
Braising beef is a great meal to make ahead. In fact, it might even taste better the next day, after the flavors have a chance to mingle. You can even freeze it.
Make-Ahead Instructions: After finishing the recipe, place the brisket and sauce into a roasting pan or oven-safe casserole dish. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving, skim any fat that has risen to the top, cover the pan with foil, and reheat in a 300 degree F oven until heated through. It takes around 30-45 minutes.
Freezing Instructions: The meal can be frozen for up to 3 months. Place the meat and sauce in a large resealable freezer bag (or two) and remove as much air as possible before freezing.
To reheat, defrost it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Transfer to a roasting pan, cover with foil, and reheat in a 300 degree F oven until heated through, around 30-45 minutes.
Tips For The Best Braised Beef
- You don’t want the meat to be completely falling apart, so don’t braise for much longer than 3 hours. If you braised for 4 hours, you mind wind up with brisket stew. It will still taste delicious, but you won’t get those nice slices.
- After braising, the meat will be very tender but not completely falling apart. However, you want to be careful when removing it from the hot braising liquid because it could still break up a bit and splash back into the pot. I hold a cutting board directly against my Dutch oven while transferring the meat so it doesn’t have to be moved far.
Braised Beef Brisket
- 4-5 pound beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or any neutral-flavored, high-heat oil)
- 2 medium yellow onions chopped
- 1 1/4 cup celery chopped (about 3 celery ribs)
- 1 1/4 cup carrots peeled and chopped (1-2 carrots, depending on size)
- 4-5 medium garlic cloves minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (approximately 1 orange)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 2 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium)
- 1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (heavy cream may be substituted)
- Place an oven rack on the center shelf and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high to high heat. Season the brisket generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Depending on the size of your brisket and pan, you might need to cut the brisket in half (I did).
- Have a small cup of water nearby. Add a thin coating of oil to the pan. When the pan is barely starting to smoke, add the brisket and sear on both sides until brown, around 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the other half of the brisket if searing two pieces, adding more oil to the pan as needed. If the brown bits on the bottom of the pan look like they might burn after searing the first piece, deglaze the pan with a couple tablespoons of water before adding the remaining brisket, scraping up the brown bits with a spatula. Use kitchen tongs to transfer the meat to a large plate or cutting board. Adjust the heat to medium-low.
- Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pan along with a pinch of salt. Stir, scraping the brown glaze from the bottom of the pan so it coats the vegetables. Cook for 2-3 minutes, deglazing the pan with 1-2 tablespoons of water if needed. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Puree the tomatoes, vinegar, orange juice, and brown sugar in a blender (you can also whisk them in a large bowl, just make sure the brown sugar doesn't clump).
- Add the brisket back to the pan, along with the blender mixture, chicken stock, red wine and thyme. Stack the brisket as needed, moving the pieces around a bit so the sauce is covering them as much as possible (it's fine if the meat sticks out a bit). Turn the heat to high and bring the liquid to almost a boil, then cover the pot, and place in the oven.
- Cook the brisket for 3 hours (up to 3 1/2 hours), then remove the pot from the oven and set the top aside. Let it cool for several minutes, then use kitchen tongs carefully transfer the meat to a large cutting board (see notes).
- Place a colander or fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Strain the sauce, then use a spatula to lightly press on the solids, which will extract more of the flavorful liquid. Discard the solids (see notes).
- Wipe down the cooking pot to remove any stuck vegetable bits. Add the sauce back to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer over medium or medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by around 1/3, around 20 minutes.
- While the sauce is reducing, slice the brisket against the grain into thin slices. Place in a serving dish.
- Remove from the heat. If there's any fat visible on top of the sauce, use a spoon or paper towel to remove it. Then whisk in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste (I used around 1/4 teaspoon of each). How much you need will vary depending on how thoroughly the meat was seasoned before searing.
- Pour the sauce over the brisket and serve!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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