The Shabbat Table: The hunt for the best (Passover) brisket

Tim Hoggarth FLICKR

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Passover is quickly approaching and as usual, there has been much interest among my readers who are in search of the best brisket recipe. In my Facebook group, Norene’s Kitchen!, there are threads galore, with cooks asking questions about which is the absolutely best recipe, the best brisket prices, helpful cooking tips, slicing methods, plus freezing and reheating advice. Some cooks prefer to stick with their tried and true favourites, while others are looking for something different for Passover.

So many questions, so many recipes! My favourite brisket story is about the mystery lady who phoned me with her brisket questions. (She told my assistant that she “knows” me, but refused to tell us her name!)

Mystery Lady: “I have all of your cookbooks. You wrote in some of your recipes that you cook your brisket at 325°F, at other times you call for 350°F, and even cook them at 300°F. And what about the right cooking time? Sometimes you call for 45 minutes per pound, while other times you say to allow 1 hour per pound. Why?”


I explained that it depended on the recipe (e.g., if sweet ingredients such as cola, honey or jam are added, the weight of the brisket, whether it was a first or second cut, or even which ingredients I had on hand when I developed that particular recipe). “Not to worry,” I assured her. When in doubt, just follow my recipe!”

Mystery Lady: “Okay, but I have another problem. Your recipe calls for a 4 pound brisket, but mine weighs 8 pounds.” I advised her to cut the brisket in half, and then use 45 minutes per pound as her cooking guide, for a total of 3 hours.

Mystery Lady: “Actually, I have 2 briskets, one weighs 5 pounds and the other one weighs 3 pounds.”

Me: “It won’t matter. Rub them lovingly with the seasoning and talk sweetly to them. Cook them for 3 hours in total – they’ll be delicious.”

The moral of this story is ‘Love me Tender!’ If you cook your briskets with love, they will turn out tender and tasty!

Here are a few of my favourite brisket recipes for your cooking and eating pleasure, along with some excellent tips for success. If you ask me which recipe is my favourite, I would reply: “Trying to choose my favourite recipe for brisket is like trying to choose my favourite child (or grandchild). I love them all! Enjoy!


Recipe reproduced from The Silver Platter, by Daniella Silver with me, Norene Gilletz, with permission from ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications.

Meat | Passover | Gluten-free | Freezes well | Yields 8-10 servings 

1 beef brisket (4-5 lb /1.8-2.3 kg)

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp onion powder

1 Tbsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 large onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 can (6 oz/170 g) tomato paste

2 Tbsp honey

3 bay leaves

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup dry red wine or water

  1. Coat a large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add brisket; sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Rub brisket with spices to coat on all sides.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onions for 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in parsley, tomato paste, honey, bay leaves, vinegar, and wine. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool.
  3. Pour sauce over, around, and under the brisket. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight, turning occasionally.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake, covered, for 3-31⁄2 hours or until meat is fork-tender. Calculate 45 minutes per pound to determine the cooking time. Discard bay leaves. Let cool.
  5. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Discard hardened fat from gravy. Trim excess fat from brisket. Slice against the grain to desired thickness.
  6. Reheat, covered, in pan gravy at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.

Norene’s Notes:

  • Slow Cooker Method: Season brisket and prepare sauce as above; add to slow cooker insert coated with nonstick cooking spray. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Place insert into slow cooker; cook on on low for 8-10 hours.
  • Ask your butcher to cut a very large brisket (8 lb/3.6 kg) in half. Total cooking time will be the same as for one 4 lb/1.8 kg brisket.
  • Brisket should be cooked “low and slow,” with lots of onions. The internal temperature should not rise above 180°F on a meat thermometer; after it reaches 200°F, the brisket will become dry.


Adapted from The New Food Processor Bible (Whitecap)

Love it tender? You’ll love this tried-and-true family favorite! It’s excellent any time of year and is always a hit for the holidays.

5 to 6 lbs. brisket, well trimmed

2 or 3 cloves garlic

1 small onion, halved

2 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup cola

3 Tbsp ketchup

2 to 3 tsp salt (to taste)

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place brisket in large, sprayed roasting pan.
  2. Insert Steel Blade in food processor. Process garlic and onion until minced. Add remaining ingredients and process a few seconds longer to blend. Pour over brisket, making sure to cover all surfaces. Cover pan with aluminum foil.
  3. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. Baste occasionally.
  4. Bake, covered, in preheated 300°F oven for 5 hours, until very tender (about 1 hour per pound). When cool, refrigerate. Brisket will slice better the next day. Remove hardened fat and discard.

Keeps 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheats and/or freezes well.

Slow Cooker Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in sprayed slow cooker insert and marinate up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Place insert in slow cooker and cook, covered, on Low for 10 to 12 hours.


Adapted from Healthy Helpings/MealLeaniYumm!

Brisket is quite high in fat, so serve it on special occasions. Cola makes the meat very tender.

3 onions, sliced

4 1/2 to 5 lb. beef brisket, well trimmed

4 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt & pepper, to taste

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tbsp. paprika

1/4 cup apricot jam

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 cup diet cola

  1. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Place onions in pan; place brisket on top of onions. Rub meat on all sides with garlic, seasonings, jam and lemon juice. Pour cola over and around brisket. Marinate for an hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Cook covered. Allow 45 minutes per lb. as the cooking time, until meat is fork tender. Uncover meat for the last hour and baste it occasionally.
  3. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate overnight, if possible. Discard the hardened fat that congeals on the surface. Slice brisket thinly across the grain, trimming away any fat. Reheat slices in the defatted pan juice

Yield: 12 servings. Reheats and/or freezes well.

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of twelve cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www or email her at [email protected].