My Grandpa's Brisket Recipe Is Simple, Classic, and Legendary (2024)

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Sophia F. Gottfried

Sophia F. Gottfried

Sophia F. Gottfried is a writer based in New Jersey.


updated May 16, 2023

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My Grandpa's Brisket Recipe Is Simple, Classic, and Legendary (1)

This simple, slow-cooked brisket is tender and rich, with plenty of juice to drizzle over roasted potatoes.

Serves6 to 8 Prep20 minutesCook3 hours

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My Grandpa's Brisket Recipe Is Simple, Classic, and Legendary (2)

Now we’re cooking!” exclaims my father, peering into a worn Dutch oven. We’ve been slow-cooking, simmering, and skimming its contents, our first attempt at a brisket, for two days straight. Now Dad’s admiring our handiwork so closely that the garlic- and paprika-scented steam fogs up his glasses, obscuring the blue eyes he’s passed onto me.

I’m not so sure the brisket looks right: Did we overcook it? Can you even overcook a brisket, a cut known for being super tough? (Yes, I’ve since learned, you definitely can.) A staple dish in many Jewish families, brisket was something we’d never actually made at home. We’re not religious and rarely hosted extended family for holidays. Though they are tender and rich, with plenty of juice to drizzle over roasted potatoes, we barely ever ate red meat — our household was more of the organic-everything, no-junk-food sort.

Getting to Know Samuel “Red” Fischler

But a few summers ago, while attacking attic clutter, we stumbled upon the recipe in a box of my grandfather’s things. All my life I heard stories about my father’s father — the infamous Samuel “Red” Fischler — but I never met him, as he died at age 66, three years before I was born.

Like my father and me, Red loved to cook and entertain, but he didn’t write his creations down. Occasionally Dad insisted, and Red would dictate, then add modifications and notes into the margins. Standing there, holding the yellowed index card in my hands, reading his scribbles, the fact that the three of us would never share a meal really hit me. It’s a powerful thing to see the handwriting of someone you’ve lost, or someone you wish you’d known. Even more so when that handwriting resembles your own.Instead of packing the recipe back into the box of his letters, military records, and drawings, I brought it down to the kitchen.

I never shy away from a cooking challenge, especially when taking it on with my dad, an excellent home cook. But, really, I wanted to make this brisket because everyone who knew Red — family, friends, even his second ex-wife — has told me we would’ve gotten on famously. I’ve always felt that invisible connection, too.

Red (a nickname he earned for his fiery hair) drove a cherry-colored Cadillac, with a license plate that said RED 33, all over New York City. He placed outlandish bets and took epic trips to Miami, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. And the man really knew how to eat, and how to feed a crowd. Before sushi restaurants proliferated in New York in the late ’80s and ’90s, Red had his own set of chopsticks at a joint in midtown, where he’d sit at the bar and eat sashimi from one end to the other. He once hosted a three-day-long party to celebrate the U.S. bicentennial, teaming up with a chef friend to keep a steady stream of guests fed for 72 hours. Years earlier, he went through a phase of hanging high-end salamis from the ceiling of the family’s modest Brooklyn apartment, aging them to his liking.

Trying Red’s Brisket Recipe

Good food, and sharing it with those I love, has always been my great joy, too. So there was no question. The Jewish New Year was coming up, and not only would we be celebrating, but we would also be having Red’s brisket.

The recipe, like many of the best ones, is fairly simple, but it’s time-consuming. While we sizzled onions and browned the meat, we played Bruce Springsteen and Burning Spear on the record player and broke out a bottle of red wine. As the house filled up with the scent of onions, stock, and garlic, I asked more probing questions about Red. Was living and eating large his way of compensating for a Depression-era childhood, sometimes only having bread with mustard to eat? Or the 13 months he spent in a German Prisoner of War camp during WWII, leaving him haunted and 50 pounds lighter when he was finally freed? My dad didn’t have the answers. But he assured me: Although Red wasn’t the greatest parent or partner, he would have spoiled his only granddaughter.

Our Rosh Hashanah dinner wasn’t the type of blowout Red himself might have thrown, with a full house and copious amounts of booze, but the brisket sure tasted good. It was tender and rich, with plenty of juice to drizzle over roasted potatoes — and not overcooked! I like to think he would have been thrilled to see us cooking his recipe shoulder-to-shoulder, choosing to celebrate life’s good fortunes rather than dwell on the bad hands. We’ve made the brisket every year since, because, even without him here, it binds us together.

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Red’s Brisket

This simple, slow-cooked brisket is tender and rich, with plenty of juice to drizzle over roasted potatoes.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 3 hours

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 4

    medium yellow onions

  • 4 cloves


  • 2

    large carrots

  • 1

    (3 1/2 to 4-pound) brisket, preferably first or flat cut

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 3 cups

    chicken broth or stock

  • 2 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground white pepper


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Meanwhile, cut 4 medium yellow onions into thick slices or large chunks, coarsely chop 4 cloves garlic, and peel and slice 2 large carrots crosswise into 2-inch pieces.

  2. Season 1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) brisket with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Sprinkle all over with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and gently rub it onto the brisket to evenly coat.

  3. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. (Cut the brisket into half if needed to fit into the pot.) Add the brisket in batches if needed and sear until lightly browned on both sides, 5 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  4. Add the onions to the pot and cook until beginning to soften, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock.

  5. Return the brisket to the pot fat-side down and pour in any accumulated juices from the plate. Spread 2 tablespoons tomato paste evenly onto the brisket. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Add the garlic and carrots. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Remove the pot from the oven and uncover. Transfer the brisket to a clean cutting board. Cut the brisket across the grain into 1/8 to-1/4-inch thick slices. Return the slices to the pot (basically reassembling the brisket). Don’t skip this step: the juices get between the slices of brisket as it continues to cook, making it fork tender and not dry or chewy.

  7. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours more. Uncover and let the brisket cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

  8. When ready to serve, scrape off and discard the hardened fat from the surface. Cover and reheat in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The brisket should be made at least one and up to 2 days ahead of serving.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them.Kitchn Love Lettersis a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.

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My Grandpa's Brisket Recipe Is Simple, Classic, and Legendary (2024)


What is the secret to the perfect smoked brisket? ›

The secret to making a delicious brisket is smoking at a consistent temperature, cooking with indirect heat, and, most importantly, monitoring the brisket's internal temperature to determine when to wrap it and when it is done. It is critical to know when to wrap the brisket.

What is the best cooking method for brisket? ›

Braising and smoking are the most common. They're both effective ways to add great flavor to the meat as well as make it mouthwateringly tender. You can also steam beef brisket. Begin by searing it in a large pan or browning it in the oven.

How long does it take to cook a 15 lb brisket in the oven? ›

You could roast it at around 350° - 400°F for 45 - 60 minutes per pound. Of course, you might as well just throw it away because no one will be able to eat it. At 235F on average 1.5 hrs / lb. Some people do a high temp brisket at 350F it takes about 4 - 5 hrs.

Does brisket get more tender the longer you cook it? ›

The temperature of the meat begins to rise again -- which you want because brisket gets more tender the longer you cook it.

How to make the juiciest brisket? ›

Once seared, place brisket in foil pan, fat side up, and smoke, uncovered for 2 hours. Flip brisket and smoke for 1 hour. At this point, the juices inside are under a fair amount of pressure. It is important not to pierce the meat from this point until it is done.

What is the 3 2 1 rule for brisket? ›

Often used for other meats that require long, slow cooking on the barbecue, such as ribs, the 3-2-1 method essentially involves firstly smoking the meat as it is for three hours, wrapping it for the second two hours, and finally finishing the cooking unwrapped for the last hour.

How do you keep brisket moist when smoking? ›

Water: if you want to increase humidity, slow the cooking process to build more smoke flavor, or just want to keep the meat moist, you can just spritz with 100% water.

What do you soak a brisket in before smoking it? ›

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the boiling water. Add the ice, then let cool to room temperature. Place the brisket in the brine and cover. Transfer to the refrigerator to brine overnight.

How to cook brisket like a pro? ›

Add small pieces throughout the smoking process as wood burns away. Slow-smoke at a temperature of 250˚F, allowing about one hour of cooking time per pound of meat. So, if you have a 10-pound brisket, expect to smoke it for about 10 hours. Keep the fat side up so the juices can drip through the meat.

Should I sear brisket before baking? ›

It's actually possible to perfectly cook a brisket double wrapped in aluminum foil with some veggies and sauce over night in an oven set to 225 degrees F. Sear the brisket first. Sear the brisket all over to caramelize the meat and develop flavor before slow cooking it. Submerge the brisket in liquid and add aromatics.

Do you slow cook brisket fat side up or down? ›

Place the brisket fat-side down in the slow cooker, since the heat comes from below, and top the brisket with the vegetable mixture. You can trim the fat off once you are ready to slice (or shred) and serve.

Should brisket be wrapped in foil in oven? ›

Step 3: Cook Brisket in the Oven:

Double wrap the brisket in foil, then place it back on the baking sheet (or roasting pan). Roast the brisket in the preheated oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound of meat.

How many does a 15 lb brisket feed? ›

How to Tell How Much Brisket Per Person You Need. Considering everything from losing weight while cooking to trimming off all the extra fat from the surface, you would need around 1 pound per person. That means if you are cooking a whole brisket of 15 pounds, it is enough to feed about 15 guests.

How do you keep brisket moist and tender? ›

After two or four hours of cooking, you can lightly spray your brisket with water, hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, or apple juice. You can do this every 30 minutes or every hour, based on preference.

What is the fastest way to tenderize a brisket? ›

How to Tenderize a Tough Cut of Meat
  1. Pound it out. Pounding softens and tenderizes meat, making it easier to cut and eat. ...
  2. Use salt. ...
  3. Use an acidic marinade. ...
  4. Use kiwi, papaya, or pineapple. ...
  5. Score it. ...
  6. Slow cook it.
Jan 17, 2024

How do you keep brisket from getting tough? ›

The way to solve this is to cook to internal temperature of about 95C or 203f. But that is just a rough guide to tender brisket. If you cook it very low & slow, say anywhere from 220f to 240f, it will be close to tender at 91C or 196f. If you cook slightly higher & faster, it might not be ready until 207f or 97C.

What causes a brisket to be tough? ›

Insoluble collagen can only weaken and soften with prolonged exposure to heat; it won't break down into gelatin. Thus, while brisket has more collagen than chuck, the collagen in both these well-exercised cuts is mainly insoluble, so neither produces enough gelatin to create full-bodied juices.

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