Brisket is one of those classic beef dishes, not unlike a Top Sirloin steak, that satisfies the carnivore side of every eater. Cooking up a Brisket all to itself, especially in a home kitchen, is a challenge. The Instant Pot or one of its many similar competitors is a great option for making a tender, flavorful Brisket without having to resort to a smoker or a grill. There are a few tricks to getting the best results from this kind of pressure cooking. If you’re adventurous with your seasonings and give the meat a good sear at the right time, you’ll get delicious Brisket with a lot less work.
Table of Contents
Why Instant Pot Brisket?
Using an oven, smoker, or slow cooker to cook Brisket requires a commitment of 6 to 14 hours. Without this long wait, you’ll find the large piece of beef is either undercooked or tough. Since the Instant Pot uses pressure and controlled heat to speed up cooking without sacrificing flavor or texture, it’s a good choice to make Brisket a quicker weekday project. Depending on the model and its high pressure cooking mode, a 4 to 5 lb cut can cook in as little as 1.5 to 2 hours. That represents a dramatic reduction in cook time while still giving you control over the finished texture.
Setting everything up ensures good results. Depending on your pressure cooker model, it’s likely that the meat itself will take more time to prepare than the appliance.
Preparing the Instant Pot
You’ll use a few different modes of the Instant Pot to prepare the Brisket. Adding a little oil spray before starting the searing process aids in browning and prevents any chance of sticking as you get a good crust and color on the beef. Other than that, there isn’t much to do to prepare the Instant Pot since it’ll switch quickly between modes as needed without extensive pre-heating.
Preparing the Brisket
The Brisket itself needs a little more preparation before cooking begins. Depending on what you want to use the cooked meat for, you may need a few extras like onions and garlic to add flavor to the broth. Using the right seasoning on the meat also creates flavorful drippings that easily transform into gravy or barbecue sauce to finish off the meal.
To Marinate or Not to Marinate?
Since this cut of meat is somewhat fatty and has plenty of moisture that cooks out over time, it’s best not to marinate it. It’ll only add so much to the flavor while complicating the Instant Pot cooking process. Instead, consider adding a salt-based dry rub the night before you plan to cook so you get the best of both pre-seasoning and brining all at the same time.
Dry Rubs and Other Seasonings
Dry rubs are the traditional seasonings used on Brisket regardless of the cooking method. Any smoky or sweet barbecue rub will work, as will more basic grilling seasoning mixes based on garlic, salt, and pepper. Applying a salt-based rub the night before will help improve flavor and texture through the brining process.
Room Temperature Meat
As with grilling or oven roasting, take the Brisket out of the refrigerator at least half an hour to an hour before you plan to cook it. This allows the meat to come up to room temperature so it cooks more evenly and develops a deeper flavor in the Instant Pot.
Tips and Tricks for Perfection
You need an Instant Pot with a Saute or Fry function in order to complete this recipe. If your Instant Pot only has pressure cooking settings, you can use a cast iron pan on the stove to handle the searing before you move the Brisket to the other appliance. When adding sauce ingredients to the Instant Pot after the meat, lift the beef up with tongs or forks to ensure they circulate underneath as well for even cooking and flavoring.
How to Get the Best Flavor
Pressure cooking infuses the brisket with moisture, so you’ll need to add some kind of liquid ingredients. Most people go with a barbecue sauce theme since Brisket is widely used for old-fashioned open-pit smoking. Searing the meat first, either in the Instant Pot or in a pan, promotes browning and ensures a good flavor.
Sauce Options for Instant Pot Brisket
Barbecue sauce, either store-bought or homemade as in the recipe below, is the traditional option for dressing Brisket. When using the Instant Pot, some other options include:
- Au jus, a thin sauce made from the drippings of the meat and beef broth
- Teriyaki sauce, homemade or store-bought
- Red wine and beef broth, creating a rich flavor
- Beer and lime juice, adding a Mediterranean flair.
If you want to add a sauce like gravy or creamy horseradish at the end of cooking, try adding just water or beef broth to the Instant Pot when cooking the dry rub-covered Brisket.
Instant Pot Beef Brisket Recipe
Replicate the backyard barbecuing experience inside and in just a few hours with the help of the Instant Pot.
- 1 flat-cut Brisket, around 3 pounds
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- ½ tablespoon of chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine
- ½ cup beef broth
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1. Combine the Kosher salt and other dry seasonings into a rub. Take the Brisket out of the refrigerator about one hour before cooking and cover it with the rub.
2. Set the Instant Pot on Saute and let it warm up with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in it. Place the Brisket in and sear on one side for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and repeat until all the sides are browned.
3. Turn off saute and add the garlic and onion so they can warm without getting too brown. Pour in the red wine, beef broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it, then turn the device onto the High Pressure cooking setting. Cook for around 30 to 40 minutes per pound of Brisket, or for 1.5 to 2 hours in total.
4. Serve with the sauce poured over it or remove the sauce and thicken it by putting it through a food processor or blender with a few tablespoons of ketchup.
Don’t forget to let the meat rest for at least 15 to 30 minutes before serving so it’s as juicy and flavorful as possible.
The Instant Pot is also a great way for cooking Flank steak and other cuts of beef that can become tough. Explore your options for cooking even the larger pieces of meat inside your home to enjoy more savory flavor in the winter when it’s not comfortable to use the grill or smoker on the patio.
Instant Pot Beef Brisket
- 1 ~3lbs flat-cut brisket
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Combine the Kosher salt and other dry seasonings into a rub. Take the Brisket out of the refrigerator about one hour before cooking and cover it with the rub
- Set the Instant Pot on Saute and let it warm up with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in it. Place the Brisket in and sear on one side for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and repeat until all the sides are browned
- Turn off saute and add the garlic and onion so they can warm without getting too brown. Pour in the red wine, beef broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it, then turn the device onto the High Pressure cooking setting. Cook for around 30 to 40 minutes per pound of Brisket, or for 1.5 to 2 hours in total
- Serve with the sauce poured over it or remove the sauce and thicken it by putting it through a food processor or blender with a few tablespoons of ketchup