Thursday, May 5, 2011

Slow Cooker Brisket Tacos

I haven't found very many slow cooker recipes that I really like. I think after all those ingredients sit together in the crock pot all day, they just wind up tasting all the same and you can't tell one ingredient from the next. This recipe sounded good because it's supposed to be all one thing and all one taste. When you make tacos out of it though, you can add fresh ingredients and flavors that contrast with the slow cooked brisket. Rachael Ray says (yes, I am a fan) to always sear your meat when using a slow cooker and to add fresh ingredients before serving. This recipe follows both of those tips and I liked it so I think she's right. The meat had great flavor and was super tender. Plus, it made a ton so we had some to save for the freezer. Great deal when you can get a brisket on sale. I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. She does a great job explaining the recipe so you may want to check out her version too.

Time: about 15 minutes to prep plus 10 hours in the Crock Pot
Serves: 6-8

  • 3 pound beef brisket
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion (size of a baseball)
  • 1 TBSP chili powder*
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo [Read: 1 or 2 from a can, not one or two cans - these suckers are hot!]*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup molasses*
  1. Slice your onion in half, then peel it and slice each half into thin rings.
  2. Smash your garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife and peel off the skins. No need to chop.
  3. Season your brisket on both sides with salt and pepper. Use a lot of salt and pepper - probably 4-5 tsp of each.

  4. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high. 
  5. Add the 2 TBSP vegetable or canola oil and heat about 3 minutes - just until its beginning to smoke. 
  6. Add the whole brisket and cook for about 5 minutes.
  7. Flip it over and cook for another 5 minutes. It should be browned on both sides.

  8. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker and leave the skillet on the heat.
  9. Add onions and garlic to the skillet, followed by chili powder and cumin.

  10. Stir all of this together for a minute or so, then add the 1/4 cup of cider vinegar.
  11. Turn the burner to high and boil until the liquid is almost gone, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Be sure not to get too close here - inhaling vinegar is no fun.
  12. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket in the slow cooker. 
  13. Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves, and molasses.


  1. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours.
  2. When it's done, open the slow cooker and shred the meat apart with a fork.
  3. Serve on a corn or flour tortilla with toppings of your choice. We went with raw onion, cilantro and white crumbly Mexican cheese (Cotija or Queso Fresco) 
Don’t have a slow cooker? Fear not. Per Smitten Kitchen and Mr. Pearson (??) you can make this in a Dutch oven in the oven at 350°F for 3 hours.


*Chili powder - There are so many different kinds of chili powder out there. I know this from several years of competing against Chris in our annual birthday chili cook-off. We agree that Gebhardt's is the best. It's on the spice aisle, as you'd expect, but is sometimes hiding on it's own. Since Gebhardt's only makes chili powder, the packaging won't look like the other spices. Here's a pic so you'll recognize the label. 

*Chipotles en Adobo - You'll find these on the international aisle with all of the Mexican food. There will be several options - just pick the cheapest one. Here is one brand I've used before.

*Molasses - You'll find this on the baking aisle. I've always bought "Gradma's Molasses" but I'm sure any other brand will work just as well. 


  1. I'm totally making this tomorrow! Looks SO good. Mmmmmm...

  2. thanks guys - enjoy!
    just realized this post was just in time for Cinco de Mayo :)