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Onion-Braised Beef Brisket

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This beef brisket is cooked on top of a massive heap of onions, which slowly caramelize and make a flavorful French onion soup-like gravy.

Onion-Braised Beef Brisket

This beef brisket recipe comes from the late Nach Waxman, owner of the beloved New York City cookbook shop Kitchen Arts & Letters. It was originally published in The Silver Palette New Basics Cookbook in 1989, and apparently, it is the world’s most Googled brisket recipe. The recipe is surprisingly simple. Unlike all other briskets I’ve made, there’s no wine, stock, or bottled sauces added. Instead, the brisket is cooked on top of a massive heap of onions, which slowly caramelize and release their juices, making a flavorful French onion soup-like braising liquid all their own.

I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipe over the years, but you can find the original version here. Go ahead and make it ahead of time; it tastes even better the next day. I typically serve this recipe (or this similar Moroccan-inspired brisket) for the Jewish holidays, in addition to classics like matzo ball soup, challah, macaroons, and more. If you’re making this brisket for Passover, you can replace the flour in the recipe with matzo meal.

What You’ll Need To Make Onion-Braised Beef Brisket

brisket ingredients
Butchers typically sell two types of brisket: flat cut and point cut. These two pieces together make up a full brisket, a large slab of muscle from the cow’s chest. The point cut has more marbling, while the flat cut (also called first cut or center cut) is lean but topped with a thick fat cap. This recipe calls for a first-cut/flat-cut brisket. Don’t let your butcher trim all the fat off! A small fat cap bastes the meat, adding flavor and keeping it from getting dry and tough.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by seasoning the meat with lots of kosher salt and pepper.

seasoning the brisket with salt and pepper

Dust both sides with flour.

dusting the brisket with flour

Heat the oil in a heavy flameproof roasting pan or ovenproof enameled cast iron pot until shimmering, then sear the brisket on both sides until brown and crusty in spots.

searing the brisket on the stovetop

Transfer the meat to a platter, then add the onions to the pan.

adding the onions to the roasting pan

Cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until softened and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

browned onions

Place the brisket back in the pan on top of the onions and spread the tomato paste on top. Scatter the carrots and garlic around the edges.

brushing the brisket the tomato paste

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil or a lid, and bake for 1-1/2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Using an electric or sharp knife, slice the beef into 1/8 – 1/4-inch thick slices against the grain. It’s much easier to cut at this point than it is at the end.

slicing the brisket

Place the slices back in the pan on an angle, so that the top edge of each slice is showing. Baste the meat with the pan juices.

arranging the brisket back in the pan

Cook for a few more hours, until the meat is tender.

fully cooked brisket right out of the oven

You can serve it right away, but it’s better to refrigerate it overnight and reheat it the next day. It also freezes well.

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Onion-Braised Beef Brisket

This beef brisket is cooked on top of a massive heap of onions, which slowly caramelize and make a flavorful French onion soup-like gravy.

Servings: Serves 8 to 10
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Total Time: 4 Hours


  • 1 5-6 pound first-cut (or flat-cut) beef brisket, trimmed so a thin layer of fat remains in some spots (do not over trim!)
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (okay to substitute matzo cake meal for Passover)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced into large chunks on a diagonal
  • Handful fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)


  1. Set an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Season the brisket on both sides with the salt and pepper. Lightly dust the brisket with the flour, then shake and turn to coat evenly. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy flameproof roasting pan or ovenproof enameled cast-iron pot just large enough to hold the brisket and carrots snugly. Add the brisket to the pan and sear on both sides until crusty brown areas appear on the surface, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer the brisket to a platter, then add the onions to the pot and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the onions are softened and golden brown, about 15 minutes. (If browned bits stick to the bottom of the pan and start to burn, add a few tablespoons of water and scrape with a wooden spoon to release them.)
  4. Turn off the heat and place the brisket, fatty side up, and any accumulated juices on top of the onions. Spread the tomato paste evenly over the brisket, then scatter the garlic and carrots around the edges of the pot. Cover the pot very tightly with aluminum foil (preferably heavy-duty or two layers) or a lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.
  5. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and, using an electric or very sharp knife, slice the meat across the grain into approximately ⅛ - ¼-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. Cover the pot tightly and return to the oven.
  6. Lower the heat to 325°F and cook the brisket until it is fork-tender, 1¾ to 2½ hours, or longer if necessary. The brisket is ready to serve with its juices, but it is even better the second day. (Note: If the sauce seems greasy, transfer the meat and vegetables to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce into a bowl and let sit until the fat rises to the top. Using a small ladle, spoon out the fat. Pour the skimmed gravy back over the meat.)
  7. Note: Nutritional information was calculated for a 5-pound brisket.
  8. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The brisket can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated. Reheat the brisket in a 300°F oven until hot, about 45 minutes. The brisket also freezes well for up to 2 months; defrost in the refrigerator 2 days ahead of time.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (10 servings)
  • Calories: 726
  • Fat: 55 g
  • Saturated fat: 21 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 42 g
  • Sodium: 844 mg
  • Cholesterol: 213 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Oh dear Jenn, I hope you can help me salvage my 7lb brisket. I failed to recover it after slicing.
    🥴 I know, I know! Just burning the candle at both ends and cooking when I should have called it a day already but I wanted to make it ahead of time.🤷🏻‍♀️

    Anyway, I now have next to no gravy and only grease. Is there a solution? Beef broth/tomato paste maybe? And what quantities? The first time I made this it was heavenly. We even purchased a 17” cast iron pan to accommodate a larger cut this time.

    You are my go to for all recipes, always superb!
    Thank you.

    • — Yvonne on October 2, 2023
    • Reply
    • Oh no! I don’t think tomato paste is really necessary, but I’d add a few cups of beef broth to the pan. Hope it works out!

      • — Jenn on October 3, 2023
      • Reply
  • I’ve made this recipe several times, and it turns out tender and delicious every time. I love the make ahead directions. Reheats beautifully. Made it tonight for Rosh Hashanah. Looking forward to sharing this recipe with our family.

    • — CZ on September 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • Assistance needed perfecting the reheat!

    I am not a chef and decided to cook brisket for the first time yesterday for the holiday, to be eaten the following day. I followed the instructions exactly and it came out delicious right out of the oven! Fell right off my fork and was so tender and flavorful. Very proud.

    Then when I reheated it for dinner tonight, it was much tougher. The flavor was still there, but the meat was noticeably firm. Any tips on how to improve the reheat outcome? I thought it gets better overnight ?

    • — Lindsay on September 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Lindsay, That’s a head-scratcher as it shouldn’t get tougher after reheating. How long did you reheat it for? Was it covered or uncovered?

      • — Jenn on September 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • My wife thinks the brisket needs more liquid she is afraid it will dry out during the reheat. What do you suggest. It’s for tonight’s Rosh Hashanah.

    Thank you

    • — Paul dunetz on September 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Paul, If you think it needs more liquid, beef or chicken broth would both be good options. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • We were a bit disappointed in the brisket. It wasn’t as moist or tender as expected. The flavor was good, especially with the onions but couldn’t get past the tough meat. Plus it didn’t much liquid compared to your pic. I followed directions and cooked it for 3 1/2 hours but probably wouldn’t make this again.

    • — Kim on September 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Sorry! one more question! if we want more gravy – could we add some beef broth or any other liquids? and if so, how much? thank you!!

    • — Andrea on September 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrea, You could add a few cups of broth. If the gravy is thin, you can always thicken it with a cornstarch slurry.

      • — Jenn on September 14, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi! Going to try to make this tomorrow for Rosh Hashanah! Do you have to take out the meat after 1 1/2 hours to slice it? Or can you just leave it whole for the entire 3-4 hours? Also, can I make this in a Dutch oven? or a foil roasting pan? I don’t have a heavy duty roasting pan.

    • — Andrea on September 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrea, I do think it’s best to slice it midway, but it’s not absolutely necessary. You can make it in a Dutch oven if it will fit, a foil roasting pan, or a baking dish. Hope it turns out well and Happy New Year!

      • — Jenn on September 14, 2023
      • Reply
      • You’re the best Jenn! Thank you for helping to create so many happy yummy homes! Happy New Year!!

        • — Andrea on September 15, 2023
        • Reply
  • Hi ! Love your cookbooks and recipes! Thank you! Regarding the onions – could you estimate approximately how many cups of the sliced onions are used?

    • — Chris on September 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Chris, So glad you enjoy the recipes! I’m guessing 10 to 12 cups.

      • — Jenn on September 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is the first recipe review I’ve ever bothered to write. Hands down the best and simplest brisket recipe, period. The first time that I’ve followed a recipe to a T and continue to do so because it’s simply flawless. The brisket comes out perfect each and every time.

    • — A H on August 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • Extraordinary. I had only the point cut and used vidalia onions because they are easier on my stomach, but otherwise made it exactly as directed.
    We will make sandwiches with the leftovers for our Memorial Day picnic.

    • — Vera on May 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Tried this recipe for the first time!
    Best brisket recipe ever!
    Will not cook it any other way!

    • — Maryann on April 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I was hesitant about making a brisket, but was tempted when I saw your recipe. So, I went ahead and followed your detailed steps/photos. It was perfect! I also made your delicious Potatoes Au Gratin and French String Beans with Shallots. Thank you for such wonderful recipes!

    • — Carol on April 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • The best brisket recipe I’ve ever used! And I’ve been making briskets for 30 years.

    • — Francis on April 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • I have made many briskets, but this is by far the best recipe ever. It is so moist and tender. I added some small potatoes when I sliced the meat, and they turned out so full of flavor from the juices. My family loved this and will be so happy when I make it again.

    • — Elaine Smith on April 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Just curious… do you also salt the carrots and onions? Or the only salt and pepper is added to the beef?

    • — Badeeza on April 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Badeeza, no need to add salt to the carrots and onions. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2023
      • Reply
      • I have what may be a silly question, but here goes. Im inviting my parents for Sunday dinner and want to make this on Saturday. I don’t know that my Creuset is big enough, so I’m planning to use my All-Clad Stainless Roaster. How would you store it overnight?

        • — Paige on April 19, 2023
        • Reply
        • Hi Paige, I assume you’re asking that question as you won’t be able to fit the roaster in your fridge? If so, you can transfer everything into a 9 x 13-inch pyrex to refrigerate and reheat. Hope you all enjoy on Sunday!

          • — Jenn on April 19, 2023
          • Reply
          • Thank you Jenn! I was actually wondering if I could put the whole roaster in the fridge as it is from the oven so as not to break the meat slices moving everything around. I’ve never held food in my All Clad in the fridge, but it sounds like I can from your response. So easy!

            Thanks for the tips. I’ve really enjoyed your cookbooks – everything just works!

            • — Paige on April 19, 2023
          • Yep, you can put the whole roasting pan in the fridge. And so glad you like the recipes! 🙂

            • — Jenn on April 20, 2023
  • Oh my goodness! I just made this brisket and it is amazing! It was so moist I cut it with a fork. Can’t say enough good things about it.

    • — Patty on April 7, 2023
    • Reply
  • Subbing chuck roast for brisket because they only have 7+ lbs cuts at my grocery store & that’s too much for my husband & I. Any idea on the cook time? It’s about 3 lbs.

    I plan on following all the steps exactly as written. I can post a follow up if you’d like.

    • — P on April 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi P, I’d follow the guidance from this recipe. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 7, 2023
      • Reply
  • HI- I followed the recipe up through slicing the brisket and planned to continue cooking it tomorrow. The beef is SO tough that it’s difficult to chew. I’m considering starting again tomorrow because I don’t know what I did wrong. And I’m thinking that cooking it more tomorrow will only make it worse 🙁 Help!!

    • — Amy C Day on April 5, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Amy, At the point that you slice it, you’ve cooked it less than halfway, so it makes sense that it’s not tender yet. Once you take it out of the oven the second time around, hopefully, it will be a lot more tender. That said, every once in a while, you can come across a tough cut of brisket. Please, LMK how it comes out!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen!
    Is there a a different cut of meat I could use for this? 7lbs of brisket is a lot for just my husband & I. We live in an RV & have a tiny convection oven/microwave so it wouldn’t even fit if I tried…

    • — P on April 5, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi P, While chuck may work here, you’ll get the best results with brisket. If it’s just two of you, I’d either recommend buying a smaller brisket or freezing the leftovers (it freezes well)!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn-

    Not sure if you saw my comment but I can’t find it now. I took out the sliced brisket from the oven that I cooked for 2 hours (after slicing) and it seems a little tough. I let it fully cool and now in refrigerator. Is there anything I can do to make it more tender?

    • — Suzanne on April 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Suzanne, hopefully, once you put it back in the oven and let it cook a bit longer (to get it hot enough to serve), it will be more tender. Every once in a while, though, you’ll get a cut of brisket, that’s just more tough. Fingers crossed that that’s not the case here!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2023
      • Reply
  • How would you adjust the cooking time if I made two 2 1/2 – 3 lb briskets? Would I lay them side by side or stack one on top of the other? Thank you for all your fabulous recipes.

    • — Ruth on April 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Ruth, The two separate pieces may take slightly less time, but the difference will be minimal so I wouldn’t worry about it (and I would lay them side-by-side). Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • I’m usually not into stews or roasts, but this was really delicious! I even forgot to put salt and it actually didn’t even need the salt. I also used chuck roast because I didn’t have brisket and it worked out great! Definitely a keeper!

    • — Val on April 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jenn I’m cooking a 7 lb brisket for passover. I need to adapt your recipe for the brisket. Any suggestions? Should I add the carrots after I slice it?
    Thanks Ken

    • — kenneth h shaffer on April 3, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Kenneth, a 7-lb brisket may take a bit longer, but I’d check it for tenderness at the time the recipe specifies (and I’d put the carrots in the roasting pan according to the recipe). Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on April 3, 2023
      • Reply
      • Jenn, Thanks for the reply. When I sliced the brisket after 1.5 hours cooking I lost alot of juices to the cutting board. What do you think about cooking it whole, refrigerating over night and slicing the next morning?

        • — kenneth h shaffer on April 6, 2023
        • Reply
        • You’re right in that juices will be released from beef if you cut it while it’s still hot, but because you’re cooking it using a very slow method, you don’t lose the juiciness. That said, if you’d prefer to fully cook it before slicing, you can, but cold brisket is much harder to slice.

          • — Jenn on April 6, 2023
          • Reply
  • Hi, Would this work with a 2.5 lb pork brisket?

    • — Lynne on March 31, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Lynne, I think it would, though the cooking time is likely different. (You’ll know it’s done when it’s fork-tender.)

      • — Jenn on April 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • Jenn, after wrestling w/a huge brisket that barely fit in a broiler pan, I bought a 16” cast iron skillet specifically for this, we LOVED the recipe that much!

    Another fabulous winner, thank you!

    • — Yvonne Greenwood on March 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • My father was born in Berlin, Germany and came to England in 1938 as a refugee. He always cooked brisket this way but did not add salt to the beef because kosher meat is already salted. Slice the meat, then put it back in the gravy, when it is half cooked. That way you get nice slices when it is fully cooked. We serve it over anything that will absorb the gravy! Cous cous is great, rice, mashed any kind of root vegetables.

    • — Jacqueline Hassan on March 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi, Has anyone used a tinfoil pan for this recipe? I’ve made it twice , once in a Le Creuset heavy roaster and another time in a dark pan. Taste was incredible but had very little gravy. I’m thinking it’s the pans?… Cuz it’s not the meat. ( Could be the cook 🙂

    • — Renee on March 29, 2023
    • Reply
    • I just did, and it was delicious and has plenty of juice. Only thing I did differently was browning the brisket and cooking the onions in a large sauté pan. I had to cook the onions in 2 batches.

      • — Danielle on June 11, 2023
      • Reply
  • I found a metal pan the just fits the meat but there would be no room for the vegetables. Can I brown it in the metal , cook the onions and then transfer to a larger Pyrex for the remainder of the time in the oven?

    • — Ava Kitz on March 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep that will work!

      • — Jenn on March 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • RE overnight refrigerator storage: I place the meat and veg in one container … and the sauce in another. The next day, the sauce container has the solid fat that has risen to the top. What’s your recommendation for dealing with the fat? Skimming it all off and disposing of it? Using some of it when re-heating the meat and vegetables? Thank you.

    • — Francis on March 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Francis, I would skim some but not all of it off. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 23, 2023
      • Reply

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