You will be blown away by these BBQ Beef Brisket Buns from the second you sink your teeth into the soft brioche bun and taste the smoky delicious brisket and crunchy quick pickle.
We’ve all had pulled pork buns before, but have you ever tried a beef brisket bun? It’s so much more incredible, especially after slow cooking the brisket to perfection and slathering on the delicious homemade bbq sauce.
We started making these at home after ordering brisket buns at Smokestak in London, where they make the most amazing brisket you’ll ever taste. The incredibly tender smoky meat is rolled up on top of a super buttery roll and topped with a bit of bbq sauce, quick pickle and sliced pickled red peppers.
That sandwich is a thing of beauty. You can try our version of it right here.
How to Make Beef Brisket Buns
Brisket is often cooked low and slow on a fire pit or smoker, but not all of us have that option. That’s why we’re giving three different methods for cooking the brisket, so you can use the method that suits you. We’ll give instructions for smoker, oven, and Instant Pot. You can also buy the brisket for these buns, rather than making it yourself, but make sure you find a great source or smoked brisket that’s tender and moist.
Step 1: Apply a Wet Rub
No matter how you cook it, the brisket needs a dry rub. For this recipe, I use our homemade dry rub. It’s one of our most popular recipes. It’s so good. You can use any dry rub you have or like. For a 1.5 lb brisket, I use about 2 tablespoons of dry rub, mixed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to make a wet rub. The wet rub allows the seasoning to infiltrate all of the nooks and it helps with browning and sealing in the flavor.
Generously slather your brisket with wet rub and let is sit for at least 5 minutes. You can also marinate the meat in the wet rub overnight, if you wish. It’s not necessary.
Step 2: Sear the Brisket (Oven or Instant Pot Only)
For cooking in the oven or Instant Pot, sear the brisket on all sides. This will give the meat a nice browned and flavorful crust.
For the Instant Pot, I sear the brisket directly in the Instant Pot on saute mode in olive oil. Once it’s browned, about 3 minutes per side, remove it from the pot and turn off the machine.
Be aware that the rub will begin to burn on the bottom of the Instant Pot if you take too long with this step. It should just take about 6 minutes. If the rub is starting to burn on the bottom, remove the brisket and add more oil to the pot.
Step 3: Cook the Brisket
Instant Pot Method
Make sure you’ve turned off saute mode. There will be some browned bits on the bottom of the Instant Pot from searing the brisket. Adding beef broth to the pot will help you loosen that. Just whisk well to get up all that flavor.
Add BBQ sauce and diced onions to the pot (I use this homemade bourbon BBQ sauce). Then submerge the brisket in the pot. Close the lid and set it to pressure cook (or manual, depending on which version you have) for 75 minutes.
After the time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally. This will take 15-20 minutes. When you open up the pot, you’ll be greeted with a heavenly piece of meat that is fall apart tender and ready to be devoured.
Add the beef broth to the pot in which you seared the beef and whisk up the browned bits. Add BBQ sauce and diced onions to the pot (I use this homemade bourbon BBQ sauce). Submerge the brisket in the pot and cover it with a lid. Cook in the oven on 300°F for 3 hours. Turn the brisket over and cook for an additional 2 hours, or until the meat is falling apart and super tender.
Preheat the smoker to 250°F with both lump charcoal and wood. Fruit wood gives it a nice sweet flavor. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature as it cooks. It will take a number of hours to reach 165°F. How long depends on the size of the brisket you’re cooking. Once it reaches 165°F, take it out and wrap the brisket in butcher paper. Return it to the smoker and continue smoking until the temp reaches 195°F.
You’ll need to check the temperature once it gets close to being done. To make sure it’s tender, don’t pull it until the temperature probe slides easily into the center of the meat. That’s how you know all the connective tissue has broken down. Remove the meat from the smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Making the Pickles
You can use store bought pickles, if you want to. It will save some time. Otherwise, follow this method to make quick pickles while you wait for the brisket to cook.
Mix the vinegar, water and sugar in a sealable container. Add the cucumbers and chilis and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Making the Brisket Buns
When the brisket is done and rested, slice it against the grain into 1/2″ thick slices. Butter and toast the buns. Place a slice or two of the brisket on the bun. Drizzle with BBQ sauce. Top with the quick pickle and red chilis. Serve warm.
Which Cut of Brisket to Buy
There are two different cuts of brisket you can buy. If you’re lucky enough to have a choice, you can pick the flat cut or the point cut. The flat cut is much leaner, and is often trimmed of fat. The point cut has a nice layer of fat or fat cap on it.
My preferred cut is the point cut because I’m a firm believer that all that fat leads to incredible flavor. The more fat on the meat, the juicier and and more scrumptious the meat will be.
The bulk of the fat on a brisket is in a thick layer on top. As you cook it, that fat renders and some sinks into the meat. You can then choose to leave the rest on, or trim it off before you serve it.
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BBQ Beef Brisket Buns
- 3 lb beef brisket
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 3/4 cup BBQ sauce
- 1 onion sliced
For the rub
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
For the buns
- 4 brioche buns
- 2 tbsp butter softened
- 1 small cucumber very thinly sliced
- 3 small red chilis thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp BBQ Sauce
Oven Method (see post for Instant Pot and Smoker instructions)
- Take the brisket out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Pat dry and lay flat. Trim down the fat cap, if there is any.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Mix the rub ingredients together in a bowl. Rub evenly on all sides of the meat.
- Heat cooking oil in an oven-safe pot over high heat. Sear the brisket to brown on both sides. Remove the brisket to a plate.
- Add the beef broth and BBQ sauce to the pot. Whisk to remove the browned bits from the bottom. Return the brisket to the pot. Scatter the onions on top. Cover the pot with a lid or tin foil. Cook for 3 hours. Turn the brisket over and cook for an additional 2 hours, or until the meat is falling apart and super tender.
- Meanwhile, combine the water, vinegar and sugar in a sealable glass jar or container. Add the sliced cucumbers and red chilis. Refrigerator until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.
- Butter the buns and toast until browned. Add a slice or two of the brisket on top. Drizzle on the BBQ sauce. Top with pickles.
🥧 If you’re interested in more great recipes, I share all my favorite Instant Pot recipes over at A Pressure Cooker Kitchen, air fryer recipes at Air Fry Anytime, and cocktails and drinks at Savored Sips. Check it out today!
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.