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Brisket. In 17 years of interfaith marriage, no two syllables have struck greater fear into my holiday heart. I have pulverized almonds into flour for macaroons. I have tracked down back-country aquaculturists to source ingredients for gefilte fish. But when it comes to trying to live up to Passover standards set by generations of brisket-savvy in-laws, um, no thank you. This shiksa’s not meshugana.

You know who else has brisket issues? Modern Daily Knitting’s very own Kay Gardiner. In fact, Kay recently wrote to me about her Passover travails of following an arduous Gourmet recipe that required braising in equal parts wine and culinary orthodoxy, which in turn yielded so much fat that it slimed her seder kitchen into something out of George Orwell’s memoir about working in Paris restaurants.

At the heart of Kay’s missive was a revelation about a simple and Whole 30-compliant brisket prepared in—wait for it—a slow cooker! Let me paraphrase Kay’s correspondence.

“Carrington, I found a recipe in a paleo cookbook that calls for pork roast, bacon, garlic, and Hawaiian salt. I made a few changes. I substituted brisket for pork and 86-ed the bacon, garlic and Hawaiian salt. Instead, I rubbed the brisket with paprika and pink salt from Trader Joe’s.”

So, to be clear, the only thing Kay’s brisket shares with its inspiration is that both recipes call for some type of meat in a slow cooker. I’m reminded of when my dad reminisced about an axe that had been passed down through his family. Each generation had replaced the blade and the handle, but it was the same old axe. Dad loved a good metaphor. I don’t think he ever actually had an axe.

In any case, Kay swore that brisket + paprika + salt + slow cooker = Passover blessing. No browning, vegetable-chopping, grease-skimming, locusts or lice.

So I broke my brisket fast, slathered a fat-laced slab of beef with salt and smoked paprika, and hit the Low button on the Hamilton Beach. Then, in a last minute spasm of extravagance beyond Kay’s prescription, I shaved an onion across a mandolin, topped the meat with the paper-thin rings, and walked away.

Come dinner time, I lifted the lid and, lo and behold, Kay was right. Without the hassle of pan-searing, without a lick of braising liquid—nary a drop of broth, glug of olive oil, or swig of Manischewitz, just the sweet sweat of a glassy onion—the brisket basted itself into an elegant one-pot-no-muss-no-fuss slow cooker triumph that is so easy, so game-changing, and so gonna be on my holiday table.

Here’s the recipe. Are you ready? If you blink you’ll miss it.




Smoked paprika


Onions, sliced

Rub brisket generously with salt and paprika and place in bottom of slow cooker. Top with sliced onions. Cook on Low until done. (A 1.75-pound brisket cooked in 4 hours in my Hamilton Beach, but larger cuts of meat will take longer.) Slice across the grain and serve on a platter. Ladle with onions and liquid from the cooker.


Remember: Slow Cooker Odyssey is a never-ending conversation in The Lounge. Looking for ideas? Made something brilliant? Scamper over here.

About The Author

Carrington Fox has been many things: art history major, MBA, food critic for the Nashville Scene, novelist, raiser of sons, chickens, and general joy. At the moment, she is a middle-aged mom in construction school, chronicling her experience at Build Me Up, Buttercup. She and her husband David are both fifth-generation Nashvillians.


  • My daughter made briskit in just that way last year for Passover and it was delicious. Her grandmother would have been aghast, both by the simplicity, and by the fact that the meat came from Costco, but each generation gets to choose their own path. For my part, I was glad not to have 14 people at my house for dinner!

  • I have to laugh. I just cooked my first brisket in a slow cooker. I did the paprika and salt, but threw in a little BBQ sauce. It was a huge brisket, so 8 hours later I pulled it out and slice for sandwiches. Great. And it meant I had more knitting time!

    • Yes, I was tempted to add BBQ sauce, as much as to use up the reservoir of sauce in my fridge as to add the sweet & smoky flavor. My family would like that, so I might add next time to mix things up,

  • I love brisket, but I never make it. I will have to now.

  • Excited to try something new in my fairly new crock pot!

  • what is the term for brisket that a grocery would know. I know pork shoulder, pork loin, is brisket beef? or Pork? I thought Jewish people did not do pork, but maybe that is orthodox?

    I totally missed this in home ec. I also don’t think there were a lot of Jewish kids saying hey! I am Jewish this is a corn beef sandwich. Where does corn beef come from and can you slow cook it? can you get corn beef meat from a brisket?

    I am truly not being stupid, obnoxious or rude. I am just uninformed.

    • Brisket is a cut of beef from the front/chest area of the animal. It’s a bit fatty and rich which is why you can slow cook it dry and get very tender meat.

      I think you can get a brisket at pretty much any meat counter in the country, because it’s one of the most popular cuts for BBQ.

      Corned beef is brisket that has been brined/cured before cooking, which gives it a salty, spiced taste. It is beloved of the Irish and Jewish peoples equally.

  • The brisket recipe I have used for years has never, ever failed me, and I get asked for it whenever someone joins us for a Seder or Chanukah dinner. Not that you asked, but here it is (just in case). Sarah Moulton is the source (actually, it’s her husband Bill Adler, who’s an amazing writer, archivist, and all-around great guy).

    For the braised brisket:
    10 – 12 cloves garlic
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    One 4- to 5-pound beef brisket
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 large onions, thinly sliced
    3 cups dry red wine
    1/4 cup tomato paste
    2 bay leaves, preferably Turkish
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 quart chicken broth

    To make the brisket, preheat the oven to 325°F. Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the garlic, bring back to a boil, and cook rapidly until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a bowl of ice water. Peel when cool enough to handle.
    Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large shallow dish or large platter. Add the brisket and turn to coat on all sides. Shake off the excess. Heat the oil in a large covered casserole or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the brisket and cook, turning often, until well browned, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate or platter and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Stir in the onions and the peeled garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir to pick up any browned bits on the bottom of the casserole. Stir in the tomato paste and add the bay leaves and thyme. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook rapidly, stirring often, until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Pour in the stock and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the brisket. Cover tightly with a piece of foil, then cover the pot with the lid. Transfer to the lower third of the oven and cook until a fork comes out easily when pierced, 3 to 4 hours.

    • PS: sorry for the double post, but I skip boiling the garlic, and just use it raw. The long braise in the oven cooks the living daylights out of it.

      • I make an almost identical braised briskest, from a recipe in Gourmet from 25 years ago. I’m making one today, because I needed 2 briskets and I only have one slow cooker! The advantage of the slow braise is the delicious sauce you get, but now that I’ve learned the slow cooker way, with no coating-with-flour, no browning, no chopping, no skimming, no straining–it’s my go-to.

        My niece laughed to learn that I only have one slow cooker. Where we come from (Omaha), everyone has 2 or 3. And I had to use it over the weekend for 24 hour chicken soup.

  • I don’t know from brisket, but right at this moment I have a 3-1/2 pound beef rump roast in the crock pot, topped with two cans cream of mushroom soup, one packet of onion soup mix, and a soup can of red wine. Yeah, that’s a lot of processed food but the gravy is to die for.

  • I don’t know much about cooking but I do know that my late mother made the best brisket in the world. Her secret was onions and more onions with litle more than salt and pepper, cooked in the oven. She left the fat behind. It can’t be Jewish style brisket without onions and lots of them.

  • I have never made a brisket but this is my kind of cooking. Bonus: I recently bought smoked paprika by accident and had yet to come up with a way to use it. Dingdingdingding!

  • IT’s cooking as I type and smellin” good

  • My grandma made Brisket with orange juice, chili sauce, and grape jelly, but I am unsure of the proportions.

    The first time my brother needed a hatchet for something, my dad brought his out of the shed, placed it reverently into my brother’s hands, and said, “This is the very same hatchet that George Washington used to chop down the cherry tree.” He paused to let this sink in. “The blade has been replaced four times and the handle twice, but there it is, the same hatchet.”

    • Yes! Dads, man.

  • Okay, so I bought my first brisket. Now, a serious question: when you say “Rub brisket generously with salt and paprika” do you mean “sprinkle equal parts of salt and paprika over the meat and then rub it in”? Or do you mean “take a handful of salt and paprika and rub it into the meat”? I get the rubbing in part, but am not sure about how to achieve generosity of salt and paprika.
    If this is like asking someone what needle to use to get gauge, sorry! I’m a newby brisketer and I don’t want to ruin this chunk of meat. Thank you!

    • There’s a rule of thumb that suggests ¾ tsp of medium-coarse salt for every lb of meat, or half as much fine salt

      • Thank you thank you! Embarking on new adventure in crocking 🙂

    • Hahahahaha! I just sprinkled with salt, then shook on enough smoked paprika to make both sides red. No massaging necessary. It’s a pretty forgiving formula. I tend to err on side of low-salt.

  • Does the brisket go into the slow cooker fat side up? (When I cook it in the oven, tt’s fat side up, but i thought I should check…)

    • Yes, fat side up

  • I used your recipe today – Easter Sunday- for a big piece of beef about 1.75kgs, that’s about 3.5lbs. Just paprika, no salt. Nothing else. In the slow cooker for about 8 hours. Perfect. Wonderful gravy. All the family were delighted. Thank you for such a good idea.

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