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Brisket is one of our all-time favorite cuts. It’s an extremely versatile piece of beef that can be cooked in a variety of ways — from cooking brisket in the oven to smoking brisket.
We’ve run into many people that are intimidated by brisket because 1) they’ve heard it’s a tougher cut of beef or 2) they thought they had to have a smoker to make mouth-watering brisket.
It is correct that brisket is a tougher cut of beef since it comes from a muscle in the chest of the cow that’s heavily used. However, there is an easy solution for cooking it to make it tender — think low and slow (more on that later).
It’s not true that you have to own a smoker to make brisket. Don’t get us wrong, the thought of smoked brisket makes our mouths water. We’ll gladly be first in line to eat it! But, if you’re like us and don’t have a smoker (yet), it’s very doable to make mouth-watering, fall-apart tender brisket in the oven. If this is a new concept for you, keep reading and get ready to be impressed!
How to Cook Brisket
Brisket is a cut of beef from the chest of the steer, between the shoulder and forelegs. This muscle gets a workout every day, which means it has a lot of collagen and connective tissue.
By cooking brisket on a low heat for a long time, the connective tissues dissolve and the beef becomes tender. That’s why cooking it “low and slow” over many, many hours is essential.
Flat Cut vs. Point Cut
Brisket is made of two different muscles, which are separated by a thick layer of fat. There’s the flat (a.k.a. first cut, the leaner end) and the point (a.k.a. second cut, the fat end).
A whole brisket can weigh anywhere from about 5 to 20 pounds. Usually, grocery stores sell brisket as either the flat or point, not a whole brisket. If you want a whole brisket, you’ll need to go to a local butcher or a local farmer.
If you’re not ready to tackle a whole brisket yet, we recommend starting with either the flat or point cut. It’ll be a slightly smaller piece of beef, and will be easier to cook.
When cooking a whole brisket, remember that the flat and point cook differently — this is why cooking brisket can be so tricky! The flat is slightly leaner than the point and is easier to overcook. The point is very well-marbled and needs a longer cook time.
As a side note, an interesting fact that usually surprises people is that there is only one brisket per animal. When you purchase a quarter or half beef from Clover Meadows Beef, you are “cow-pooling” with others and splitting all the beef in the animal, including the brisket. This means with a quarter or half beef you won’t get a whole brisket. Instead, you’ll get amazing flat and point briskets that will melt-in-your-mouth.
Seasoning with salt is an important step for any piece of beef. When we cook a brisket in the oven, we always season with kosher salt and place it in the refrigerator 8-24 hours before cooking it. The salt helps break down the beef’s muscle protein, draws moisture to the surface of the meat, and ultimately has a hydrating effect. Bottom line — it makes the brisket juicier.
Remember, patience is a must when cooking brisket! It needs to cook for about 40 minutes per pound, and we recommend using a digital meat thermometer.
According to a study done by Cook’s Illustrated, “To achieve tender and juicy brisket in a reasonable amount of time (about 4 hours), the key is to hold the meat between 180 and 200 degrees.”
To make sure brisket hits the 180-200°F sweet spot, we like to use the Thermoworks Chef Alarm. It has a leave-in probe that lets us monitor how the brisket is cooking while it’s in the oven.
After removing the brisket from the oven, we always use the Thermapen MK4 and spot test it again. The ideal temperature is between 180-200°F.
Rest & Serve
Once the brisket has reached your desired temperature, pull it from the oven. Then, let it rest for at least 15 minutes before you cut and serve. Resting the meat lets the brisket’s fibers relax and widen so that juices redistribute throughout the cut of beef.
Easy, One-Skillet Beef Brisket in the Oven Recipe
There are lots of different brisket recipes you can make in the oven. Here’s on of our favorites because everything can be done in a cast iron skillet. It’s perfect for either a weeknight meal or dinner party.
Easy, One-Skillet Braised Beef Brisket in Oven
- 4-5 pound Beef Brisket
- 3 tsp Olive Oil
- 3 Yellow Onions, Sliced
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Canola Oil
- 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 cup Beef Broth (homemade if possible)
- 1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season brisket with kosher salt and pepper on both sides and set aside (See note below – if possible, season brisket with salt 8-24 hours in advance and let sit in refrigerator).
- Slice onions lengthwise, from root to stem.
- In a large cast iron skillet, add olive oil and coat bottom of skillet. Heat on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt and ½ tsp of sugar onto the onions, which will help caramelize the onions. When they begin to caramelize, remove onions from skillet.
- Add canola oil to cast iron skillet and brown beef brisket on both sides on a medium-high heat. About 5 minutes on each side. Remove beef brisket from skillet.
- Add garlic, beef broth, Liquid Smoke and Worcestershire sauce to cast iron skillet and stir well (or, you can use a large roasting pan if you don't want to cook the brisket in a cast iron skillet).
- Place beef brisket in cast iron skillet fat side up. Top with onions.
- Cover tightly with foil or a lid, and place into a 300-degree oven. Cook until brisket is 180-200°F and fork tender, approximately 40 minutes per pound.
- Transfer beef brisket to a cutting board, slice against the grain, and serve.
- If you have the time, season brisket with salt the day before and place in the refrigerator 8-24 hours before cooking it. The salt will help break down the beef’s muscle protein, draws moisture to the surface of the meat, and ultimately has a hydrating effect.
- When seasoning the brisket, be sure to use kosher salt because the large granules cling to the beef better than other types of salt.
- I like to use homemade beef broth. If you don’t have it available, store bought is OK too.
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Other Brisket Recipes You May Enjoy
- Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
- Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
- Texas BBQ Brisket (Instant Pot)
- Brisket Breakfast Tacos
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Have other questions about beef? Let us know! We’re here to help! Are you looking for other beef recipes or tips & tricks on cooking beef? Don’t miss our ebook — An Essential Guide to Beef: A Cattle Farm Shares How to Purchase & Prepare Beef.
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