This Instant Pot Brisket is the ultimate recipe to make tender and flavorful beef brisket that rivals the low and slow pit BBQ we all love.
Despite what I used to think, you don’t need a low and slow BBQ pit to make amazing brisket at home. In fact, all you need is an Instant Pot and about a quarter of the time needed to cook it on the barbecue or in the oven. Not kidding.
The Instant Pot is an incredible tool in the kitchen for making dishes that usually take a long time. In the pressure cooker, you can drastically cut down the cooking time for dishes like this tender beef brisket.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot yet (go directly to Amazon and order one!), you really should consider it. We have a free Instant Pot starter guide when you join our mailing list. You can also check out our Instant Pot page for more information.
The best thing about beef brisket is that it can be used for so many dishes. I always make a large piece and use it throughout the week for lunches and additions to dinner. It makes amazing sandwiches!
How to Buy Brisket
Which Cut 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 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.
The choice is up to you. If you don’t like cooking all that fat, stick with a piece that is more trimmed.
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I’m super impressed with the quality of the meat from ButcherBox and won’t go back to purchasing meat at the grocery. Plus, it’s way easier to have it delivered to your door.
What Size to Buy
Brisket can be cut from small to very large pieces. For 2-4 people, a 2 pound brisket is just right. It won’t leave a lot of left overs though, so we always go for a 3 pound brisket for 2 people. Then we can make more meals from it.
It’s possible to cook up to a 4 pound brisket in a 6 qt Instant Pot. Any larger than that and it doesn’t fit well in the pot. You could go larger if you have an 8-quart IP.
How To Cook Brisket in the Instant Pot
Brisket is often cooked low and slow on a fire pit or in the oven, but not all of us have that option. I’ve been living in an apartment for many years. I can’t even remember the last time we were able to cook on a grill outside. Such a bummer.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t cook brisket if you don’t have a pit bbq. I did use to think that, but that was before I found a great recipe that was foolproof, like this one is. Now I know it’s possible.
Instant Pot Brisket is best when a super flavorful wet rub has been applied and the exterior is browned before cooking. So don’t skip those steps.
Apply a Wet Rub
I am a firm believer in dry rub for meat. I put it on almost all the meats I make. If you’ve tried our super popular oven-baked baby back ribs, you’ve already tried our homemade dry rub. It’s one of our most popular recipes. It’s so good.
For this brisket, I use the same homemade dry rub. For a 3 lb brisket, I use half of the amount called for in that recipe, but I also add olive oil to it to make it a “wet rub”. The wet rub allows the seasoning to infiltrate all of the nooks and it helps with the browning.
Generously slather on the wet rub to coat the brisket. Then let is sit for about 5 minutes.
Sear the Brisket
Start by searing the brisket on all sides. This will give the meat a nice browned and flavorful crust.
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.
As soon as the pork is mostly browned, turn off saute mode. It will remain hot enough to finish the sear.
Pressure Cook the Brisket
There will be some browned bits on the bottom of the pot from searing the brisket. Adding liquid in the form of beef broth to the pot will help you loosen that. Don’t do this while saute mode is still on. It’s very hot and the liquid will steam up immediately and can burn your arm if you’re not careful.
Add the broth and scrape the bits up with a spatula. This adds great flavor to the meat as it cooks.
Add the BBQ sauce (I use this homemade bourbon BBQ sauce) and the diced onions to the pot. Then set the brisket back into the pot, nestling it in among the sauce.
Close the Instant Pot and set it to pressure cook (or manual, depending on which version you have). It will take 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.
Complete the Dish
Take the brisket carefully out of the pot so that it doesn’t fall apart. Slice it against the grain into 1/2″ thick slices to serve.
You can also use the sauce from the pot as a gravy. Just be aware that the sauce is likely to be quite fatty, especially if your piece of brisket had a fat cap.
You’ll want to strain off the fat from the sauce before thickening it. I usually find that once I skim the fat, it takes about 5 minutes on saute mode to thicken the sauce into a nice gravy.
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Instant Pot Beef Brisket
- 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
- Take the brisket out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Pat dry and lay flat. Cut binding strings and trim down the fat cap, if there is any.
- Mix the rub ingredients together in a bowl. Rub evenly on all sides of the meat.
- Turn on the saute mode on the Instant Pot. Add the cooking oil. When the pot is hot, add the brisket and brown on both sides, around 4 minutes per side. After 8 minutes turn off the Instant Pot. Remove the brisket to a plate.
- Add the BBQ sauce and beef broth. Whisk together, removing the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the brisket to the pot. Scatter the onions on top.
- Close the lid and set the vent to sealing. Set to 75 minutes on high pressure. Once the time is up, allow a natural pressure release for 15 minutes.
- Remove the meat from the pot. Strain any excess oil from the top of the sauce. Turn on the saute mode and allow the sauce to thicken, whisking occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- If desired, brown the top of the brisket under the broiler for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with the sauce.
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