Tender Braised Brisket with Carmelized Onions and Tomatoes

Brisket is a little like meatloaf, in the sense that it’s a simple, unglamorous comfort food that everyone claims to have the best recipe for. The recipes all turn out to be pretty much the same, with minor variations, and they all lead to the same place: a hearty, gut-warming meal that will have you licking your plate at the end.

Brisket is a cut of beef that comes from the breast section. It’s relatively thin and relatively tough, which means that long, slow cooking is the best approach. Many people favor slow grilling for brisket with a crispy coating and smoky flavor. This time of year, however, we favor braising because it requires very little effort and warms our house up with a savory, meaty aroma. The magic of slow-cooking never ceases to amaze, as the transformation brisket undergoes from a relatively inexpensive cut of meat to a meal that literally melts in your mouth is truly astonishing. In an oven, this transformation takes place in about 2 1/2 hours for a two-pound cut of brisket. In a slow cooker on high heat, about twice that.

In addition to the long cooking time, there are a few other techniques that guarantee tender brisket. Look for a cut of brisket that has a nice layer of fat on the top; it keeps the meat moist and juicy while cooking and can always be trimmed away right before eating if it’s too fatty for your taste. You’ll also want to surround, but not totally immerse, the brisket in some sort of liquid as it cooks, which is what differentiates braising from roasting (no liquid) and stewing (more liquid). Broth, wine or a combination of the two, works well for this. Keep a lid on the brisket while it cooks and resist peeking in on it – at least for the first two hours.

Here’s our version of the “best” (or at least pretty darn good) braised brisket out there.


4 Servings

  • 2 pounds beef brisket
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 white or yellow onions, sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • One 28-ounce can diced or whole tomatoes or 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes with juice
  • 1-2 cups beef stock


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season brisket with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, add oil to either a Dutch oven or a skillet. Brown the brisket on each side, 8-10 minutes total. Set the meat aside.

Turn heat down to medium. Add onions and celery to the same skillet and sauté until nicely browned, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and vinegar and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pot. Add dried parsley, tomato and stock and bring to a simmer.

Return brisket to the Dutch oven, or transfer everything into an oven-proof dish that is large enough to hold the meat and vegetables. (You can also transfer the ingredients into a slow cooker at this point, instead of using the oven).

Braise in the oven, covered with a lid or tight foil, for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender enough that it easily pulls apart with a fork.

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36 thoughts on “Tender Braised Brisket with Carmelized Onions and Tomatoes”

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  1. By far this recipe is total money. I like it because it keeps it simple, with no fuss. Put it into a slow cooker, and your family will go nuts when they get home from school/work and smell that beauty as they walk in the door!

  2. I would like to know where in the country brisket is cheap. In my NOTW (NJ), brisket, “corned” or not, is fairly expensive. A 2lb. brisket would run me around $15 – no joke. I was at Wegman’s today and looked for one because hubby was thinking it would be a great meal to slow cook while we indulge in football tomorrow. Shop-rite briskets were no less expensive; SR and Wegman’s are the only supermarkets near me that carry brisket year round.

    I will try this recipe tomorrow with some venison neck meat we have in the freezer. Its not quite brisket, but neck cuts require the same type of cooking and will likely be just as tasty (if not as fatty; pity, because I rather like fatty).

    1. I got a 3 lb brisket today for $10 in WA. It was at a base commissary though 😉

  3. I’m a huge fan of slow cooker recipes, so this is right up my alley. Brownie points for the awesome presentation. You sure know how to make food look irresistible.

  4. This is a great recipe, tasty and easy to make.

    I cook brisket often as it’s usually the cheapest cut at my local butcher. For some reason I’ve never thought of cooking it in large pieces like this, or with tomoato. Just cooked this in the oven, took just two hours to cook until it melts in your mouth. Add some chilli powder for an extra kick though 🙂

  5. Oh, yum! I’ve never tried to do a brisket myself, but I’ll have to now.

  6. Another great brisket recipe is to marinate it overnight is a plastic bag with approx 1 large bottle of crystal hot sauce. Remove from sauce the next day and roast in oven for 6-8 hours or until very tender. Let cool completely then thinly slice. Rewarm/ put in crock pot with cooking juices and beef broth.

    The crystal hot sauce gives great flavor and contrary to what some might think very little heat.

    This is a party staple around our house!

  7. I made this last night and it was easy, cheap ($7.98 for 2lbs.) and tasted great.

    This recipe (w/ vinegar and acidic tomato) is also really really good at completely dissolving the seasoning on my cast iron skillet. Ugh. Next time, I’ll make it in a casserole dish.

  8. I made it last night as well. Luckily I don’t own a cast iron skillet, and had to transfer from a regular pan to a pyrex baking dish. Worked great!

    This recipe was awesome as well. Definitely leave the fat cap on the brisket. I left it fat-side up in the oven so all that beautiful fat can fall stream down over the meat and also mingle better with the sauce.

  9. My brother-in-law is from Texas and is a huge brisket guy. He is in the Navy and now he lives with us in VA. He said in texas the same brisket he gets here for around $40.00 is only $15.00 in Texas. If you can find it around here (norfolk VA) its around $9.99 per lb were in TX its only $3.99 per lb. Corned beef is the same way. I have also found that in a more poorer neighborhood things like wings, ox tail, and calf livers are more expensive, when they are way cheaper in a more uppity neighborhood. So since i live in between the two, when I buy the those kinds of meats i go to the poorer neighborhood markets.

  10. This recipe ROCKS! I made it the other night and served it with smashed parsnips….so good we are making it again later this week!

  11. I made this last night … it was excellent. I made it with cauliflower rice. Even my kids loved it. Thanks for posting.

  12. YUM!! made this a few days ago, and have been chowing on leftovers ever since! i love it when i’m excited for leftovers! 🙂

  13. Not bad for a California brisket recipe.

    If you disagree, ask a Texan how to prepare Tri-tip.

    As usual, you’ll find the best preparations are regional. Brisket without peppers – yes the seeds included – is pretty much a chipped beef sandwich – middle of the road. Time is on your side – soak the meat in flavor!

  14. Did all the ingredents and prep directions the same. I did change the cooking temp/time. I cooked at 250 degrees for 6 hours, removed meat and let it rest in tented foil for 30 mins and then puréed the veggies to make a gravy. Awesome recipe!!! Everything turned out well and I will do this again.