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Wine you'd be happy to drink (Recipe: Grandma's beef brisket in the slow cooker) {gluten-free}

Grandma's beef brisket

Question: Why should you cook with wine you'd be happy to drink? Answer: So you can drink the leftover wine!

That's a good reason -- a great reason -- but it's not the only reason.

When you apply heat to wine, the alcohol and water evaporate, leaving behind the flavor of the grapes, a bit of acidity, and the natural sugars in the fruit. Never, ever, ever use cooking wine, which is bumped up with excess salt, artificial flavoring agents and food coloring. When that combination is concentrated by heating, you'll be left with a nasty, salty, technicolor taste. (The one exception is Chinese shao hsing wine.)

In cooking, wine features in marinades, as a primary cooking liquid, as a deglazing medium for sauces, and as a flavoring for dishes like risotto. This isn't the time to use an expensive bottle; a good, drinkable wine under $10 will be perfect. And if, like me, you cook with wine but don't drink, or if you're not wine savvy (am I the only one who chooses wine by how much I like the art on the label?), start by matching red wine to meat, and white wine to chicken and fish. For more specific guidance, bring your recipe with you when you go wine shopping; it's not the recipe title, but the specific ingredients (especially spices) that will help your wine merchant choose a wine for the dish.

Beef brisket

Grandma's beef brisket in the slow cooker

I have a 6-1/2 quart slow cooker; if yours is smaller, halve the recipe. Serves 8.


4-5 lb beef brisket, in two pieces, well trimmed of visible fat
Seasoned salt (I use Penzeys 4/S Seasoned Salt)
2 enormous yellow onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 bay leaf
12-15 black peppercorns
1 bottle dry red wine


Rub the meat liberally with seasoned salt on all sides, and brown in a hot frying pan (do not add any oil or fat to the pan). Place half of the sliced onions in the bottom of a 6-1/2 quart slow cooker. Add the browned meat, then the remaining ingredients. Add water to fill the slow cooker, leaving an inch at the top. Cook on low for 9 hours.

Remove meat from the liquid and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Be sure to slice against the grain. Cooked brisket can be frozen in a container with some of the cooking liquid.

More slow cooker brisket:
Slow cooker Southwestern beef brisket, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker beef brisket with pomegranate molasses gravy, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker barbecue beef brisket, from A Family Feast

Fall-apart-tender beef brisket, just like my grandmother would have made if she'd had a crockpot! ThePerfectPantry.com

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love my slow cooker. Just toss in fruit, almost any kind will work, set it to low and cook until the fruit just melts into a wonderful spread for your toast. Will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.

I stumbled onto this site while searching cooking blogs... I have remained faithful to this site because of the quality of the recipes and one of our most favorite things

The Perfect Pantry


The Siloti Family

You always provide such wonderful, detailed information -- appreciate your site so much.

I haven't met a slow cooker recipe I didn't like. I'll have to give this brisket a try. I love your Saturday Pantries and keep telling myself I have to clean mine so I can send it to you.

There is a chinese way of slowly poaching brisket for a long time in a clear broth and daikon radish. Then eat with soy/fresh chilli dipping sauce.

It's a cold autumn day, and now I'm thinking brisket. I can almost smell it right now. The aroma of this recipe cooking for 9 hours would drive me absolutely wild.

This looks delicious, and I totally agree that using a decent wine makes a big difference. I don't use my slow cooker nearly enough, but I like to use bison meat instead of beef when I do. I also have a recipe for slow cooker tortilla soup that I do like to make.

I love the photos in this post! Looks like you could eat it right off the screen. I've cooked corned beef in the slow cooker many times, but never brisket prepared like this.

I don't think my mother ever made brisket or at least I can't remember it. I've tried to make it myself a few times and it turned out OK. We have an award winning BBQ place about 5 miles from us that makes excellent BBQ brisket, especially good on loaded baked potatoes.

Mmmmm, Brisket.
This is gonna happen soon. After the Chicken Marsala again!

I usually buy the small bottles of wine (singles like they sell on airplanes) for cooking. This way I don't have to worry about wasting and I don't spend too much -- usually $1.50 per bottle (as opposed to my standard wine which would be $2.50 for the same volume).

First I must say I found it informative about the comment on cooking wine and I will never buy it again. I actually make brisket different then my mother did. I like sweet & sour using brown sugar, ketchup & lemon juice. She was more traditional with tomato sauce, onions & water.

Ah, remembering Sunday dinners of my youth. Perhaps its time to revisit the tradition. Thanks

Yes, it is the perfect time to pull out those slow cooker recipes!

I make a Chianti Braised Short Rib recipe in the slow cooker and it is so melt in your mouth.

Enjoy reading your recipes and love peeking into other pantries.

Thanks for your attention to detail in your recipes.

Yummo - want to poke the screen with a big ole' fork! I would love a cookbook - thanks for the opportunity, and the recipe! :D

oh yes, leftover wine is the best as a starting base for a sauce in the crockpot or even the plain old sautee pan. nice red wine makes the best pot roast doesn't it? And the smell throughout the house.

I have never had brisket before, growing up with Thai parents, I'm not even sure my mom knows what a slow cooker is. But one of my friends gave me one sometime after college, and on Saturday night, I throw mushrooms, rice, chicken, maybe some fish sauce all in the pot with a ton of water and on Sunday morning, I call it congee. Not traditional in any sense of the word, but it tastes pretty good.

Yum, this looks great. Thanks.

I need to start learning to cook with wine. Sofar i have not tried yet, but when i will i'll take your advise and have nice wine that im happy to drink too ;)

Looks delish. I love the way wine offers a certain depth to recipes. It's always a win win to have some leftover wine in the fridge!

As a recent retiree I find I used my slow-cooker even more than I did when I was working. This brisket recipe sounds great.

My ex-boyfriend's dad's partner (Tom) made the best brisket ever! He was like a male Martha Stewart and over the few years I developed a really great relationship with him. He's actually a big reason I went to culinary school. Sadly, when that ex-boyfriend and I broke up, he didn't want Tom and I to keep in touch, so I may never know how he made that incredible beef brisket. =(

It sounds better than what I think of as the traditional kosher brisket recipe: brisket wrapped in foil with Lipton's Onion Soup Mix & I forget what else. A can of DelMonte tomato sauce at the end was optional. Stringy meat guaranteed (some people thought the strings made it kosher).

MMm, I love brisket. Traditional brisket prep around in these parts (Texas) means firing up the smoker, but I love the ease of this recipe! As long as it's fall-apart tender, I'm there!

I use my slow cooker to cook up the tougher cuts of venison. My husband hunts, and by using the slow cooker, I can turn lean, tough venison into a tender meat with great au jus. Thanks for the giveaway.

I've never had much luck with crock pot meals. Even something as simple as a stew taste better to me slow cooked on the stove.

Brisket must be slow smoked over mesquite coals. But then again I'm Texan.

I think I read it from Julia Child. Never cook with wine you won't drink. Yummy brisket!

This brisket looks fantastic. Cooking with wine makes me think of one of the worst mistakes I ever made using wine. My first attempt was cooking turkey legs in some apple wine given to me by my father-in-law. I had no idea that wine and crockpots aren't a match made in heaven; in addition the wine was home made and less than drinkable!

I really need a slow cooker. The brisket looks wonderful! And of course I'd love a cookbook. :)

I've never made a brisket and I must remedy this. Your recipe looks fantastic!

I always turn to this site when I need information on any ingredients and I always get my answers. Love this site.

I have always wanted to try a wonderful brisket recipe in the crock-pot. This one will be it. Planning to make it in the next week or so. I would love to win a cookbook; thank you for the opportunity. I love following your blog!

My mother always slow-cooked brisket in a low oven using her mother's aluminum pot. It has a domed lid with "bubble" dents inside which accumulate the evaporated moisture, which then bastes the meat. The pot is now mine and will be handed down to my granddaughter.

Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

This sounds delicious and more sophisticated than the brisket of my youth. My dad used to make brisket on Sundays when it was cold. He'd get up early and put it in a low oven. We'd go to church, come home, and have the brisket with green beans and Sister Schubert's rolls.

I've actually never made a brisket before... but it seems like something I really ought to try.

mmm..perfect for a winter-ish sunday!!!!

No slow cooker here, but I bet trying this in a soapstone pot on the wood burning stove would produce the same results. What do you think? Is your garnish what's left of the onions after slowcooking or your cranberry pear chutney?

I would love a new (to me) cookbook!

I'm particularly fond of my Italian beef recipe for the slow cooker. It's perfect with sauteed onions and red peppers.

Another favorite is beef stroganoff. I haven't strayed very far from the mushroom and onion soup version, but it's still tasty!

Thank you for the cookbook opportunity! I can't help but collect them!

i pick wine by the label too! i almost picked up some from cupcake vineyards today but I thought my boyfiend would laugh at me!

I don't use my crock pot as much now that I am retired. I like to make my apple butter in it, and sometimes have 2 or 3 going to get my year's worth made plus some giftable jars.
Now I do make a killer roast and I use a Burgundy in it. I just don't make it in the crock pot. I use a cast iron dutch oven.

I don't have a slow cooker, and my grandma didn't make brisket. Seems like I have a new challenge on my hands.

I use my slow cooker all the time - I'm not sure I can choose one favourite! I do love cooking a whole chicken in it - tuck fresh herbs, garlic, lemon inside, cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low. It aint pretty, but you shouldn't really eat the skin anyway, right? You end up with this amazingly tender, flavourful meat that's great in all kinds of things - sandwiches, curries, fried rice, wraps with hummus and parsley..

I wish I had a grandma to cook me brisket! I've been meaning to try it in the slow cooker - thanks for the nudge!

I have never made brisket...but I made corned beef in the slow cooker before. It was nothing special. I love making apple sauce/apple butter in my slow cooker. It makes the house smell A-MA-ZING!!!

Mmm, that does look tasty!
I love my slow cooker for making stocks and bringing milk gently up to temperature for yogurt and cheese making.
But recently I have been using it (my little one) for steel cut oats, they cook while we are sleeping and are done when we wake! I love that. Add some fruit, milk and (for me) maple syrup and we have a delicious and healthy breakie.

This year Im definitely going to treat myself to a slow cooker. I say that every year, but this time I mean it HAHA

btw, its awesome to see so many fantastic responses

on the subject of recipe books,for the singles that frequent PP, cooking for one by j. Jones is half decent

Brisket is a cut of meat that is hard to find where I live. What would a good substitute be?
This roast is so timely for the colder weather.

I've never eaten anything out of a slow cooker. Just not tradition here, but I'm way curious to try! Thanks for a try at this giveaway! :-)

I definitely want to try this brisket and make it my favorite recipe!!! But in all honesty, I have this awesome mac and cheese recipe fort he slow cooker that is awesome. Guaranteed not to give you a grainy cheese sauce every single time!

You know, I've never made brisket! But the recipe sounds great, especially since I don't drink much wine, but cook with it. The time always comes when I have an opened bottle that's been hanging around for a while that has to be used up, and this sounds good.

As for favorite recipe, that's hard to say. I'm embarrassed to admit I got my first slow cooker in the 70's when they were first popular (I still use it!), but I don't cook with it as often as I ought. There is a chicken-thigh-and-orange-juice recipe I like, though.

It was just yesterday when my mom cooked a beef brisket for a family gathering of about 15 people. here in switzerland the beef is often larded, which is probably done to make it juicier. My favourite part of eating beef this way is picking out the lard pieces before eating the meat ;-). it is always a very nice thing to eat, especially when you like your meat well done and on the dry side, like me.

I can't take it!! The delicious recipes and succulent photos are DRIVING ME WILD!I may have to seek counseling...but in the mean time I will be making beef brisket this week. And doing it in my slow cooker while I work during the day - which never even occurred to me before. I always reserved brisket for "special occasion Sundays" with the grill or oven.

Thanks again!!

Oh, this looks good. My family's brisket recipe is an "orange" brisket--it uses tomato sauce, carrots, and ketchup (sounds gross, but is actually really good) as the gravy/cooking liquid. I wonder if I can swing it in the slow cooker, though? Must try that soon../

I love using my slow cooker! thanks for the yummy looking recipe... I can't wait to give it a try

I would love a new cookbook!! My favorite slow-cooker recipe is a ham/potato/corn chowder recipe. It's an easy 'dump' recipe!

I have never cooked a brisket before. For some reason I have always been nervous about even trying to cook one. I think I'm feeling inspired! I do use my slow cooker a lot. My favorite thing to cook is chili. I simmer a pot roast over night and use that as my chili meat. Its good stuff!

Our favorite crockpot recipe is this steak and blue cheese roll-up recipe:


So very good! I typically serve it with a side of roasted broccoli and a loaded baked potato. Yum!

I've never tried brisket in a slowcooker. This recipe sounds easy and looks delicious. As soon as I'm well, I'm off to the store for the beef brisket and bottle of wine!

My friend Paul just told me about this site and I'm loving it already. I have a crock pot brisket recipe I've made and passed along many times. This one is a bit different though, so I'm happy to find a new one. I use my crock pot a lot. I really enjoy being able to throw everything in and forget it. It leaves plenty of time for tennis....

Love my slow cooker, but have never cooked brisket in it - apparently my mistake!
Favorite recipe would have to be apple butter - delish.

I noticed a few comments from fellow Texans who think as I do... brisket is slowly smoked over mesquite or oak coals, then sliced and served with BBQ sauce on the side, thank you. I like to cook beef tips in the crock pot, and serve them over noodles.

In reading this post I realize that I've never actually MADE brisket! I love it at the local BBQ restaurant, but I've just never tried it at home...but you're recipes makes me wanna try!
My favorite slow cooker recipe is plain and simple - pot roast. I love a good pot roast!

I just made brisket in the oven this weekend. I will have to try it in the slow cooker. I love making things in the slow cooker, that way I get all the work done early in the day when things aren't so hectic.

This recipe looks great. I might try it for our Football get together.

How I miss my grandma's pot roast. I should make this, but my husband and oldest son are both vegetarian, so I always find it hard to justify buying and making a beef dish. This changes now!

The French uses wine in their cooking a lot. The other reason I heard about using good wine for your food is 'If you don't like that bottle of wine (re taste), then your food won't taste good as well. Hence one should always uses a good wine for cooking food. :)

I don't really have a brisket recipe--sometimes I cook it in the crock pot (I like to add a tin of tomatoes, sage & some steak spice to the onion and bay leaf), sometimes I dry-rub spices on it and cook it on the barbecue. If I don't use tomato juice or chicken broth, I use wine whenever I need liquid.

My favorite wine-using recipe is a beef stew that uses wine to deglaze the pan. http://sprng.me/1tg3 When I need to stretch it, I add potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc.

My favorite slow cooker recipe is currently fig pudding. So easy, and fills the entire house with a lovely spicy aroma.

We would make something similar when I was growing up but not in the slow cooker. We used to eat it with horseradish root sauce.

That's some good looking brisket. Good tips about wine too. What do you think about cooking with a bottle of good wine that has been open in the fridge for awhile - may not be tempting to drink but could be good for cooking?

My favorite slow cooker recipe is vegetable beef soup. It's always good.

My aunt had a wonderful brisket recipe that baked in "Mop Sauce" that is vaguely like a barbecue sauce and perhaps was called that because it has a little bit of lots of different things in it from coffee to ketchup! We still make it occasionally, but it doesn't fit in the "healthy eating" category!

I have been hesitant to try crock cooking because of all the recipes calling for canned soup and processed foods...I would love to have someone recommend a good cookbook for slow cooking that uses REAL ingredients and that has tried and true recipes!

Being a veg, there's no easier way to do beans than in a slow cooker. Black bean soup is my current fave!

My only brisket story: My grandmother once cooked a brisket for dinner when I took my boyfriend to meet everyone. She had a dish of dark sauce on the table. He thought it was barbeque sauce for the brisket. Turned out it was applebutter for the bread. He was polite enough to eat the brisket anyway, without saying anything until we were home. I imagine it tasted quite odd.

I'm cooking this recipe now, using Fetzer Merlot. Didn't have the exact seasoned salt, but I am using Maldon smoked Sea Salt, paprika and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb. Can't wait to try this tonight. Wish me luck and delicious results! My husband can't wait for dinner. Thanks for this recipe.

My mom bought some brisket a few months ago. It was so hard. And took a long time to cook. I should have thought of putting that in a slow cooker.

I've always used the oven for my brisket and never tried it in a crockpot, I think a crockpot is a great idea! Plus the red wine and onions will add so much flavor to it.

In the photo, are those the onions from the recipe, or some delicious-looking chutney accompaniment? I've only been partial to pork ribs in the slow cooker (all else is vegetarian), but this looks very much worth a try!

I like your first reason best. :)
I remember hearing Lidia Bastianich say that years ago, and I have never forgotten it. And that brisket looks wonderfully tender.

The Onion-Braised Beef Brisket by Cooks Illustrated is wonderful. One of my favorites.

Just curious -- Which variety of Penzey's seasoned salt do you use? I noticed 3 varieties listed on the website. Thanks for the reply! :)

Everyone: Thanks for your great comments and slow cooker recipe ideas. The giveaway is closed now. Winners will be notified!

Watch for one more cookbook giveaway before the end of the year.

With this kind of food, Kosher wine would be the most appropriate, I think. And I know a little about wine industry and wine shops.

Brisket, when done right is hard to beat...wonderful beefy flavour and still moist.

hello - this recipe looks so nice for fall. I haven't seen less than a 10-lb brisket at the grocery store - do you ask them to cut yours in half?

I've only recently started cooking with wine and like you, I don't drink. I plan to try this brisket recipe very soon. My question is, once you open a bottle of wine, how long does it keep in the refrigerator?

Directions say "add water to fill the slow cooker". Is this really needed on top of a bottle of wine?

Lynh, yes, ask the butcher to cut it for you.

Mary, the wine will keep for a few days.

Judi, the goal is to have enough liquid in the cooker to keep the meat moist as it cooks. Depending on the actual dize of your cooker and the size of the meat, you might or might not need water in the addition to the wine.

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