Tender Lemon-Parsley Brisket

There’s no shortage of braised brisket recipes out there, each claiming to be the tastiest way to coax a tough piece of meat into a tender, melt-in-your-mouth meal. Most of these recipes are very good, but they also tend to be very similar. The meat cooks in some blend of wine/tomatoes/broth (and often, a sweet sauce of some sort from a jar) and then emerges hours later smothered in a thick, rich coating.

This recipe for Lemon-Parsley Brisket gives brisket a makeover, changing the flavor entirely. Lemon is so often used with fish and poultry that it might seem like an odd choice for a big chunk of red meat. It turns out to be the perfect accent though, adding a light, zesty flavor to every bite. Combine the lemon – both its juice and zest – with a generous amount of garlic and loads of fresh, bright green parsley and you’ll experience brisket in an entirely new way. Sure, it’s still a hearty roast with layers of crispy, fatty, tender meat, but the overall flavor is light and fresh.

During the long cooking time, leeks literally melt into a silky sauce spiked with lemon juice and thickened by fat dripping off the roast. When you serve the brisket, spoon this sauce over slices of the tender meat. Garnish liberally with parsley and keep an extra lemon nearby. Chances are you’ll find yourself wanting to grate even more lemon zest on top.

Servings: 8-10


  • 1 4-5 pound brisket
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice from three lemons
  • 2 to 3 cups of water
  • 4 to 6 leeks, dark green top removed, light green and white part cut in half, then sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley


Finely chop garlic cloves on a cutting board and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the salt on top. Using the flat side of a large knife, mash and grind the cloves until they turn into a paste (the salt creates friction that helps a paste form). Mix the garlic paste in a bowl with the remaining salt, pepper and lemon zest.

Vigorously rub half of this mixture all over the brisket.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large ovenproof cast-iron pot or other heavy pot with a lid, heat olive oil. Sear brisket on each side until nicely browned, but not so long that the garlic begins to burn. Remove the meat.

Add lemon juice and water to the pot and bring to a boil. Use a spoon to loosen the bits of meat and garlic stuck to the bottom.

Spread the remaining garlic paste evenly on top of the meat and place the brisket back in the pot. The liquid should cover the meat halfway, if it doesn’t, add a little more water.

Add the leeks to the liquid around the meat. Cover the pot tightly (if you don’t have a lid, use foil) and cook for 2 to 3 hours in the oven, or until the meat is very tender.

Remove the lid, sprinkle parsley all over, and cook for 15 more minutes without the lid.

The brisket can be eaten immediately but is also fantastic the next day. Make sure to slice the roast against the grain. When served, top with the sauce around the meat, more fresh parsley, lemon zest and sea salt to taste.

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39 thoughts on “Tender Lemon-Parsley Brisket”

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  1. This sounds delicious! I’m off to find a piece of brisket in the freezer.

  2. Oh my God, my mouth is watering..I’m off to the butcher on Monday to buy and cook my first ever brisket. Woohoooo….

  3. Wow! This looks amazing and is going on my list of Must Make dishes. I so happen to be making my first Primal meal from the Primal Blueprint cookbook that is also Brisket – with red wine, garlic, rosemary and balsamic vinegar! So looking forward to having that (the kids have already eaten and LOVED IT!!)

    1. I don’t see why not, and coconut oil would be an even better choice as it can take the higher cooking temps and not oxidize the way olive oil would.

      Personally, I originally questioned why olive oil was even recommended for this recipe — I personally don’t think olive oil would be a good option —just MVHO

      1. Coconut oil is a great option, if you want your food to taste like a Bounty bar. Ghee would work nicely whilst not oxidising or tropically flavouring your meal.

    1. Ever cooked Osso Bucco with loads of lemon parsley and celery and tomato.. it has a wonderful zesty flavour.

      Marinated lamb or chicken with lemon juice , oregano salt pepper olive oil and garlic is also yummy either pan fried or on skewers and bbq’d and served with thick greek yoghurt with cummin salt and garlic. I have to stop this or I will eat my arm.

    2. I have been using this combo on butterflied legs of lamb for years-BBQ-ed. easiest, quickest and tastiest way to make a bulk amount of lamb. If you have lemon thyme or even normal thyme throw it into your marinade. The lemon cuts through the fat so be generous!.Now… must try it on beef

      1. Hey Helen, I forgot about the thyme.. you are right…doh! Its the mad cow… haven’t found the primal cure for that yet… 😀

  4. I reread the recipe a couple of times and I am a bit confused.Why did you pre-heat the oven and not use it? All the instructions seem to be stove top directions. Are you putting the meat in the oven after adding the leeks? I’m thinking that this may be a great slow cooker recipe.
    I do vaca frita (it’s a Cuban dish)with brisket and it involves marinating the cooked shredded beef in sour orange over night. It’s really good too.

    1. Where it says “cook for 2 to 3 hours” I think it means in the oven. You’re right, this would make a great slow cooker recipe. I don’t have a slow cooker (yet) so I’ll do a dish like this for 6 to 7 hours in the oven at 200 degrees. Works great! I’m going to try this recipe with some beef shanks I have in the freezer.

    2. Good observation, Theresa — however apparently there seems to be a correction posted at a later time that stipulates:

      “Add the leeks to the liquid around the meat. Cover the pot tightly (if you don’t have a lid, use foil) and cook for 2 to 3 hours in the oven, or until the meat is very tender.”

      But I’m questioning if 2-3 hours is going to be enough to render a really tender piece of meat – I like your crock pot idea personally!

      1. I’m trying it in a crockpot right now, after searing it (I’m using beef short ribs, which I coincidentally was thawing when this was posted). I’m using beef stock instead of water. It smells awesome, can’t wait for it to be done (just in time to sit down and enjoy tonight’s “Game of Thrones,” I hope – talk about people living primal!)

  5. Thanks for the reminder about using lemon. I’ve been over doing it with the tomato/garlic, but will do lemon more often. I culture lemons a la Nourishing Traditions and they last forever in the fridge – will use them up with slow cooking cuts of beef.

  6. In my humble experience you can add to just about anything and you will not regret it. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  7. Yikes, meant to say you can add lemon juice to just about anything!

  8. I often make a beef casserole using red wine, and sage, and it is finished with what I believe the Italians call a gremolata, which is finely chopped garlic, grated lemon zest, salt and pepper and chopped parsley. This is mixed together, and sprinkled over the dish at serving and lifts it to a whole new level. It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe, it would be on his website, it’s surprising how many of his receipes, with a few tweaks, fit in, and he has some amazing flavour combinations. I am going to check my butcher out next week, and get a brisket to try this, it’s the right time of year for a comfort food such as this, thanks team!

  9. Conveniently, I’d just bought some brisket at the farmers market this morning!

    Browned and put it in the slow cooker, let’s see how this turns out! Six hours to go…

    1. I just bought a grass-fed brisket at the farmers’s market this morning, too. This looks like a nice change of pace from the usual tomato-based versions we’ve tried.

  10. Any suggestions for how this could be made in a crockpot (after the searing, etc)? With summer coming – and no a/c – I’d love to get an idea on if/how. Thanks! Can’t wait to try it.

    1. Oops. Answer posted to my question – as I was posting it. Great timing

  11. I’m making this right now. My pot was too small so I put half of the brisket in the crock pot and half in a pot in the oven. I’m going to do a taste test later tonight. Thanks for the great recipe to help me on my primal journey. It’s been three weeks now and I have never felt better.

    1. Meg, which method won in the taste test? How long did you cook the half in the crock pot

  12. I made this recipe today. It was very easy to make and DELICIOUS! My husband keeps talking about taking it for his lunches this week. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll get to eat much of it. 🙂

  13. In regards to adapting this for crock pot / slow cooker, most recipes out there for Big Chunks of Meat seem to call for about 7 hours on low or 5 hours on high. Does that seem right to people?

  14. I’m not even sure what a brisket is. Could you use a chuck roast instead? What is the difference?

  15. I got confused and cooked my on top of the stove–and it turned out tough! I wonder why…?

  16. Omg, omg, omg — just made this tonight and it was fantastic! I followed the recipe pretty much as written and cooked it in the oven. However, since I occasionally have the attention span of a gerbil, I forgot to check the time and ended up cooking it close to an extra hour. But still absolutely delicious–the sauce reduced a LOT and carmelized for an even more intense flavor. We were so hungry we skipped the last 15 minute/parsley bit and just dug in–the hoped for leftovers are but a faded dream. Yum!

  17. This is in my oven now. I used whole pepper corns — I don’t know if I should have ground them.

    Also? Slicing those leeks would have been easier if I’d had the green tops to hold them by. I was (and still am… where is he?) watching a two-year-old at the time, so I wasn’t reading ahead very far.

    I’m very excited to try it.

  18. Made this weekend, used my parents as guinea pigs 🙂 It turned out delicious. I followed it exactly except for using Chuck Roast instead of brisket. It was delicious and easy and not the same as all the tomato based oven slow roasted meals I usually cook. Thanks for another great recipe. I will probably try using onions in the future, less annoying to clean and cheaper than leeks!

  19. I made this tonight, only I used a pot roast instead- because thats what I had on hand. DELICIOUS. I will make this again and again.

  20. This is really good. Made it last night. Used a kilo of brisket (2 lbs) but used the same amount of lemon, garlic etc. Used an oven dish and covered the top with 3 layers of foil.

  21. Again, another great recipe! The lemon was such a great flavor for the brisket and I liked this much better than the brisket I made with beer recently.