Onion-braised grass-fed beef brisket recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Onion-braised grass-fed beef brisket recipe


grass-fed braised beef brisket|pamela salzman

Let me come right out and say that I don’t like to promote the consumption of too much beef for several reasons.  In our house we eat beef about three times per month, and when I make it I plan for about 3-4 ounces per person.   Furthermore, I only purchase GRASS-FED beef.  Call me old-fashioned, but I am a firm believer that if you are going to eat animal protein, then it should be an animal that was raised in a natural environment with a diet that is also native to that species.  With respect to cows, that means cows that graze in pastures eating GRASS.  There is plenty of research supporting the notion that grass-fed beef – compared to its confined feedlot counterpart – is lower in fat and contains cancer preventive, fat-burning properties.  Grass-fed beef also contains higher amounts of Omega-3 fats and is generally raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones.  It is almost like making a choice between eating a fit and happy animal which has eaten a health food diet, and eating a stressed out, overweight animal which was fed fast food its whole life.  If you need more convincing, please read Michael Pollan’s fantastic book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

There’s also the heavy environmental impact of raising cattle, which is less severe with grass-fed beef, but still a discouraging consideration.  That said …

Beef is a very warming food, more appropriate for the colder months, and it becomes even more warming when cooked with onions.  Brisket is a very tough cut that needs long, slow braising to help tenderize it.  If you like your brisket so soft that you don’t need a knife to cut it, this recipe will not disappoint.  The meat shreds easily and melts in your mouth.  Best of all, the house will be filled with a wonderful, warm aroma.  But do plan ahead since cooking this the day before helps to develop the mélange of flavors.  Really, the only way you can screw this up is by letting it dry out.  Lastly, be aware that brisket shrinks tremendously once it has cooked.  A 6-pound brisket fed a class of 12 women with enough for two of my kiddies to enjoy it as an after-school snack.

4.3 from 3 reviews
onion-braised grass-fed beef brisket recipe
Serves: 8-12
  • 1 5-to-6-pound grass-fed beef brisket, preferably first cut
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt plus more for seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 3 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 5 cups or 3 pounds)
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 medium tomatoes, if in season, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup red wine (or use all water)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a dutch oven or other heavy baking pan large enough to hold brisket, heat 1 tablespoon oil in oven 10 minutes. Pat brisket dry and season well with salt (I used about 4 teaspoons) and pepper on the top and bottom. Roast brisket in pan, uncovered, 30 minutes.
  3. While brisket is roasting, in a large heavy skillet cook onions in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden. Reduce heat to moderate and cook onions, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if necessary, until deep golden, about 20 minutes more. Stir in garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper and cook 1 minute. Stir in water and wine and bring to a boil. Spoon onion mixture and chopped tomatoes over brisket and bake, tightly covered, 3 ½ hours, or until brisket is tender. (Check pan every hour and if necessary, add more water.) Remove brisket from oven and let cool in onion mixture 1 hour.
  4. Remove brisket from pan, scraping onion mixture back into pan, and chill, wrapped in foil, overnight. Spoon onion mixture into a 1-quart measure and chill, covered, overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Discard fat from onion mixture and transfer to a blender. Add enough water to the blender to measure 3 cups total. Blend until smooth.
  6. Slice the brisket against the grain as thick or thin as you prefer. In a large ovenproof skillet heat gravy until hot, add brisket and heat in oven 30 minutes. Or you can continue to heat on the stove, covered until heated through.

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  1. I made this twice and both times were AMAZING. I bought my first brisket at the grocery store, and the second I pre-ordered at a local butcher shop and was able to get a larger, nicer cut this way. Served it with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts once and roasted potatoes and green beans the other time.

    The first time, I made it in the slow cooker, the second time, I made it in the oven. While I liked it in the slow cooker, I think the oven-cooked one was a little better. But, wow, the onion-gravy on this makes the whole dish. Lovely!!

    • Doralyn, I am sure many people appreciate your menu pairings and your feedback re: slow cooker vs oven. Thank you for taking the time to share :).

  2. Hello , After initial searing of the brisket at 375 degrees , do I continue cooking the brisket at 375 or lower the temperature ?

    • continue at 375

  3. If using jarred tomatoes, how much would you use?
    Thank you!

    • use a standard container – either 14-15 ounce can or a 18-ounce jar. Drain them.

  4. Hi! I made this brisket today. For Monday. Do you suggest I freeze the meat until Monday? Or keep in the fridge? Thanks!!

    • It’s probably fine until Monday. I generally prefer to make it 1-2 days in advance. If you freeze it now, you’ll have to defrost it in the fridge starting Sunday night.

      • We just had this for Hannukah dinner tonight and it was beyond amazing. I made a little mistake though. I accidentally roasted it uncovered for the first hour, so it lost some liquid, but it also caramelized quite a bit. I added another half cup of red wine and 1.5 cups of chicken broth and covered it for the remainder of the cooking time and it was sensational. I also cooked it an extra hour because I wasn’t sure if it was tender enough. This is definitely a keeper!! Thank you!

        • Amazing! Glad you enjoyed it, Cindy. Happy Holidays.

  5. Delicious and I followed your recipe to a T (included the “optional” tomatoes!

    • Yum! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Hi Pamela! I’m so excited to be making this recipe for Passover tomorrow night. Do you know if I’d use the same oven temperature for convection? I can turn my convection on or off and wondered if it would turn out better in convection? Thank you for your help.

    • I don’t think it will turn out better using convection. But if you do convection, lower the temperature by 25 degrees.

  7. If I were going to make a 9 lb brisket would I double the sauce ingredients? Thanks!

    • That’s a huge brisket! Are you getting that in two pieces? If so, you might be doing this in two baking dishes. Yes, double the onions and sauce regardless. You might end up with too make gravy, but it’s better than not having enough. The rest can be used on spaghetti squash or over mashed potatoes the next day. 🙂

  8. Hi Pamela, can this recipe be frozen ahead of time? If so, in the sauce? And how far in advance? Thank you!

    • Yes, this freezes very well. You can freeze it a couple of different ways:
      brisket wrapped and sauce separate
      brisket sliced in sauce
      Up to 2 months in advance 🙂

      • I have 2 questions:
        Can you use canned tomatoes
        I didn’t understand the directions with the fat the next day – remove the fat and blend it with water? Is this the gravy?plrase explain. Just started following you. Love your recipes!!

        • Sure, you can use canned tomatoes, but I prefer glass-jarred tomatoes. 🙂
          The next day, scrape the fat off the top – it will be somewhat firm. Throw the fat out. Blend what is left, i.e. all the onions and pan juices minus the fat. This will be the gravy once it is blended. Let me know if that doesn’t make sense!

          • Yes!! Thank you so much! I have usually made 2 different brisket recipes at the holidays but this Passover I’m going to try yours! I will post a photo and comment once I make it. Happy Holidays to you and your family

            • It’s wonderful and such a help to have it made the day before. Happy holidays!

  9. Amazing brisket I would say after hour 2 in the oven to check it more often. After adding two more cups of broth I left to do house chores for an hour and came back to the sauce being burnt! I made a new sauce quickly but would have much rather had this braised sauce! Will make it again monitoring it more.

    • Hmmmm, sounds like your oven runs hot! Unless you used the convection setting rather than the standard…? Let me know. Otherwise, next time start with more liquid and as you said, monitor the pan more often.

    • Do you wrap brisket in tinfoil and leave it in the refrigerator over night? Then once sliced and you made the sauce put back in oven for 30 minutes? Thank you!

      • Yes to all!

  10. I feel silly. I misread the recipe. Roast the brisket in the oven for 30 min., not sear on the stovetop. Thanks!

    • Not at all! Just an FYI, I made it the other day with beef broth instead of water, and it was even better! I’m going to adjust the recipe now. 🙂

  11. Hi, this looks amazing, but I’m wondering if you really meant to sear it for 30. min or 3 min. in the pan before baking? Thank you so much!

  12. Looks so yummy. Since we are kosher what would you sub for the ghee?

    • There’s no ghee in this recipe! 🙂 Just olive oil.

  13. Hello! If I wanted half the recipe, would the cooking time be exactly half as well? Thanks!

    • Excellent question, but no. You still need to cook it for 3 hours. You would use a smaller roasting pan though.

  14. Where do you buy your grass fed beef?

    • At Whole Foods and my local farmers market.

  15. This looks so great!! Very similar to how my mom makes it.. If i make it in the am, refrigerate.. then reheat as per your instructions an hour before dinner, do you think that will turn out as good as making it the day before?

    • I think it will be delicious. Go for it.

  16. Never even made brisket before… is this possible in the slow cooker? how would i go about making it…speaking to the novice cook 🙂 thanks… could make for company.

    • I think it would be perfect in the slow cooker! But I would still sear the brisket in a hot pan, transfer it to the slow cooker. Cook the onions in a pan and cut the liquids in half and pour all that on top of the brisket. Cook on LOW 9-10 hours or HIGH 5-7 hours. I personally think in tastes better if you make it the day before and it slices more easily cold. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  17. I am going to use your recipe to make a brisket for Rosh Hashana on Wednesday night. However, my family prefers the brisket a little on the sweet side. Would you recommend maple syrup or brown sugar? If so, where would you add it to the recipe? Thanks.

    • I am sure brown sugar or maple syrup would work fine. I would add it with the water and wine. I bet you could add an apricot jam, just as well. But it is important that you don’t allow that liquid to evaporate otherwise the sugars will burn. If you can do it, make this the day before. I think it tastes better and it gives you a little break the day of your holiday dinner!

  18. The brisket looks delicious, but can I ask how you made the potatoes? they look so pretty

    • I’m glad you asked! Cut baby potatoes in half and coat with a combo of melted ghee and olive oil. I probably used two tablespoons of each. Dump all of it onto a baking sheet. Take a flat-leaf parsley leaf and press it onto the cut side of the potato and carefully arrange the potato cut side down onto the baking sheet. After you’ve done all of them, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes.

  19. We are definitely NOT red meat eaters in our house but this dish is right up there with our favorites now! It’s actually a great company dish since most of the preparation is the day before. It is really very moist and flavorful. We loved it the day after!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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