This beef brisket recipe shows up on my table for just about every Jewish holiday, especially Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover.
To me a great beef brisket like this one is the perfect Jewish holiday food—it’s inspired by Ashkenazi traditions, but with a dose of heady Sephardic flavors thrown in. It always gets rave reviews.
Is brisket a distinctly Jewish food?
Growing up, I thought brisket was a strictly Jewish food, like matzoh or gefilte fish. I never heard of anyone eating it any time other than on Jewish holidays.
I was surprised to learn that the Irish, too, are famous for their brisket (uh, hello, corned beef AKA corned beef brisket?) Which is especially funny because I am also half Irish.
What cut is beef brisket?
Beef brisket is a tough cut of meat that is made tender by slow cooking. It is the cut of meat that comes from the lower chest of the cow. The whole brisket is very large, but it is usually split into two pieces.
The first is the “flat cut,” which is thinner and a bit better for slicing. The second is the “deckle point,” which is thicker and more often used as a pot roast.
The flat cut is ideal for this recipe, but you can make it with the deckle point if that is what you have. You may want to special order the flat cut to ensure that you have the perfect brisket for this recipe.
Why is brisket the chosen meat?
Brisket is an inexpensive cut of meat because it is tougher than other cuts of beef. But if Jewish cooks know how to do anything, it’s how to take a less-than-premium ingredient and turn it into something delicious.
Long, moist cooking methods like braising or pressure cooking turn a good brisket into a juicy, flavorful, and festive main dish for a holiday meal.
Brisket is popular on every Jewish holiday. On Shabbat (which comes every Friday), it’s often stewed with vegetables and potatoes.
For Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year which comes in the Fall), it might be combined with root vegetables like sweet potatoes and dried summer fruits.
This delicious Jewish-style brisket recipe is a festive main dish that’s perfect for holidays like Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah. The meat is braised with a mixture of dried fruits, aromatics, and spices that give it a North African twist. It’s super flavorful and goes extremely well with my famous Potato Latkes.
And of course, many Jewish families enjoy brisket for Passover for good reason. It makes a hearty meal for a crowd and can be made kosher for Passover.
And don’t forget that leftover brisket is great to have on hand for post-holiday meals. You can keep cooked brisket in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What are Jewish brisket recipes like?
Many Jewish brisket recipes include barbecue sauce, tomato paste, tomato sauce, ketchup, garlic powder, chili powder, brown sugar, and/or liquid smoke.
Eastern European Jews often cook brisket it a tangy sweet and sour sauce made with ketchup or tomato sauce.
The best brisket is one that is braised slowly in a very flavorful mixture of spices and other seasonings. Using BBQ sauce is a great shortcut, but this juicy beef brisket with dried fruits is really something special, making it ideal for holiday meals. This one has become a favorite family recipe.
What ingredients do you need?
The ingredient list may look a bit long at first glance, but don’t worry. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.
- Olive oil
- Sweet onions
- Several cloves garlic
- Dried apricots
- A couple of large carrots
- Fresh ginger
- Red wine
- Beef broth
- Cilantro or parsley
- Black pepper
How do you make it?
This Jewish beef brisket recipe is not difficult to make, but it does require several steps that take place on two consecutive days. The key to getting tender brisket is to first braise it at low heat for several hours.
- Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear it on the outside.
- Make a paste with the dried fruits and spices. Spread this spice rub over the meat.
- Saute onions and carrots in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat (or in the Instant Pot).
- Add the meat, wine, broth, and more diced dried fruit, scraping up all the browned bits in the bottom of the pot after you add the liquids.
- Braise the meat in the Dutch oven in the oven for 2 1/2 hours (or in a slow cooker for 8 hours or the Instant Pot or pressure cooker for 90 minutes).
- Let cool, chill overnight.
- On the second day, slice brisket into thin slices and return the slices to the pot with the sauce.
- Reheat in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes (or in the slow cooker for 60 to 90 minutes or in the Instant Pot for 20 minutes).
- Serve hot.
What’s the secret to cooking brisket?
There are actually two secrets to making delicious beef brisket. The first is seasoning. This meat needs a lot of seasonings—salt, pepper, and other flavors—to make it shine.
The second secret is time. Brisket first needs to braise for hours on low heat. And then it needs to be chilled, sliced, and braised again in the sauce.
That’s right, this is a two-day recipe, but it requires relatively little effort. You absolutely must season, sear, and braise it on day 1. Let it chill overnight in the refrigerator, in its own sauce. The next day, slice it, put the slices back in the sauce, and cook it again.
In fact, I have to warn you that the sauce will not taste good after you’ve braised it the first day. I know you won’t believe me and you will try it yourself (I do it every time I make it!).
But just know that when you taste it on day 1 and the sauce is bitter and thoroughly unpleasant, there is no need to panic. Trust me on this. The next day, you’ll slice it and reheat it in the sauce, and something magical will happen. I promise. The final result is divine.
It may seem like a lot of effort, but when you eat it, you’ll understand. The meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender and permeated with the rich, sweet, earthy flavors of the sauce.
Can you cook brisket in the slow cooker or Instant Pot?
If you’re looking for an easy way to prepare your brisket, you’re in luck. You can cook this beef brisket recipe in either the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
For the slow cooker, follow the instructions up through adding the beef broth on the stovetop, then transfer everything, including the extra dried apricots and prunes, to the slow cooker.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for at least 8 hours. Cool, refrigerate overnight, and then slice the meat and reheat it in the sauce in the slow cooker on low for about 2 hours.
To cook it in the Instant Pot or another electric pressure cooker, follow the instructions as written through the step of adding the beef stock, only do it in the pressure cooker rather than on the stovetop.
For the braising step, cover the pot, turn the valve to the sealing position, and pressure cook for 90 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
The next day, slice the meat and return it to the pressure cooker with the sauce. Cover, turn the valve to the sealing position, and pressure cook for 20 minutes.
round out your jewish holiday menu
For menu ideas, check out 55+ Best Rosh Hashanah Recipes and 29+ Best Hanukkah Recipes. Latkes are the perfect side, especially for Hanukkah. Roasted Beet Salad with Harrisa Dressing and Fattoush Salad are other great holiday dishes. So is this Heavenly Chicken Recipe.
More Jewish holiday recipes you’ll love
- Honey Cake
- Honey Cookies
- Lemon Coconut Macaroons
- Jewish Beef Brisket
- Meat-Filled Borekas or Pastelicos
- Passover Orange Sponge Cake
- Passover Potato, Tomato, and Olive Stew
- Kreplach with Beef Filling
- Sufganiyot or Jelly Donuts for Hanukkah
- Potato Latkes for Hanukkah
- Classic Chopped Liver
- Vegetarian Chopped Liver
- Check out all of my Jewish Recipes!
Brisket with Apricots, Prunes, and North African Spices
- 1 3- to 4- pound flat-cut beef brisket3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional for seasoning the meat
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus additional for seasoning the meat
- 2 onions diced
- 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 6 garlic cloves
- 4 ounces dried apricots about 2/3 cup, divided
- 4 ounces pitted prunes about 2/3 cup, divided
- 3 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 cups beef broth
- Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
- Season the meat all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large, oven-safe Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and cook until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the 1/2 cup of the apricots dried apricots, 1/2 cup of the prunes, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and the remaining salt and pepper in a food processor and process to a chunky puree.
- Spread the puree on the meat, covering it as much as possible.
- When the onions and carrots are softened, add the wine to the pot and cook, scraping up any browned bits, for about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef broth.
- Quarter the remaining dried apricots and prunes and add them to the pot.
- Add the meat to the pot, cover, and bake in the oven, basting every 30 to 60 minutes, for about 2 1/2 hours.
- Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, remove the meat from the sauce and slice it thinly. Return the slices to the sauce.
- Reheat the meat in the sauce in a 350ºF oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Serve hot.