Coca Cola Brisket

This Coca Cola brisket is unbelievably easy to make. Just toss it and the marinade in the oven or the slow cooker, forget about them for a while and come back later for a heartachingly tender braised brisket. You’re welcome. 

This heartachingly tender Coca Cola brisket recipe, a Southern classic, draws on just four ingredients—including, natch, a can of Coca Cola. We can assure you that we’re hearing from everyone that the braised brisket that results is way more than the sum of its parts. Although we’ve witnessed about as many different ways to tweak this as there are cooks who’ve made it. Some folks first coat the beef with a dry rub. Or swap ketchup or barbecue sauce for the chili sauce. Others toss a heap of sliced onions in the pan. Or strew chopped carrots, potatoes, or sweet potatoes around the brisket. Many first marinate the brisket overnight in a couple cans of Coke before draining and proceeding with a new can of Coke. Lots slather the final roast with barbecue sauce and return it to the oven, uncovered, for a few minutes. We could go on. That said, while you’re welcome to make this recipe your own, many folks—including our recipe testers whose comments are found below—are quite fond of it simply as is.Renee Schettler Rossi

*Kosher-For-Passover Coke

If you’re being observant for Passover, you’ll want to be mindful of seeking out kosher-for-Passover Coke. But we bet you already knew that.

Coca Cola Brisket

A plate of shredded Coca-Cola brisket with a fork resting in the meat.
This Coca Cola brisket is unbelievably easy to make. Just toss it and the marinade in the oven or the slow cooker, forget about them for a while and come back later for a heartachingly tender braised brisket. You’re welcome. 
Sara Roahen and John T. Edge

Prep 15 mins
Cook 3 hrs 10 mins
Total 3 hrs 25 mins
Entrees
Southern
8 to 12 servings
5 / 22 votes
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Equipment

  • Faith and a slow cooker

Ingredients 

  • 4 to 6 pounds beef brisket visible fat untrimmed
  • One (12-ounce) can Coca-Cola*
  • 1 envelope dried onion soup mix (yes, seriously)
  • 1 cup bottled chili sauce, such as Heinz (may substitute ketchup or as as reader Ryan suggests: ketchup mixed with hot sauce)

Directions
 

  • To make the Coca Cola Brisket in your slow cooker, see the Slow Cooker Variation below.

    To make the Coca Cola Brisket on the stovetop, preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
  • Pat the brisket dry with paper towels. Place the brisket in a nonreactive roasting pan or a glass baking dish just large enough to snugly fit the brisket.
  • Mix the Coke, chili sauce, and dried onion soup mix in a bowl and pour it over the brisket. Cover the baking dish or roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Roast the brisket until tender, about 30 minutes per pound (so figure 2 to 3 hours total, depending on the size of your brisket).
  • Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, skim the fat from the surface of the pan juices and discard. Pour the defatted pan juices into a gravy boat or, if a thicker consistency is desired, pour the juices into a saucepan and simmer until reduced slightly.
  • Trim any visible fat from the brisket, then thinly slice it against the grain. Pile the slices of brisket on a platter and pass the warm pan juices on the side.
Print RecipeBuy the The SFA Community Cookbook cookbook

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Notes

Slow Cooker Variation

This four-ingredient braised brisket recipe just got even simpler. Place the brisket in the slow cooker. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the brisket. Cook on low for 9 hours. Transfer the meat to a cutting board to rest. Skim any fat from the surface of the sauce. If a thicker sauce is desired, pour the sauce into a saucepan and simmer until reduced to the desired consistency. Slice or shred the brisket and serve with the sauce.
[Editor’s Note: Bear in mind, no two slow cookers are exactly alike, just as no two cooks are exactly alike. This slow-cooker approach worked really, really well for us, although if you have a different slow-cooker cooking technique you want to try by all means, do so. And, natch, we’d love if you’d share it with us in a comment below.] Curious to hear more about working magic with your slow cooker? Peruse our entire selection of slow cooker recipes.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Until I bought the ingredients for this Coca Cola brisket recipe, I’d never bought a packet of onion soup mix in my entire life. This recipe seemed so improbable. It’s one of those things I just never would have made if it hadn’t been sent to me to test. But there it was, and it seemed like it would be easy, if nothing else. I was really surprised that this turned out to be a solid brisket recipe. In the finished dish, I could not discern the Coke, the chili sauce, or the soup mix. Thank goodness. I ended up with a tender brisket in a mysterious, savory sauce. When I took the brisket out, I let it rest for a few minutes, and I put all the liquid into a gravy separator. I used the degreased liquid as a sauce to spoon over the brisket. It was thin, but tasty. This is one of those recipes that challenges all your assumptions about what can make good food. We’re told to avoid processed food, eat with the seasons, and so on, and that is, for the most part, what I do. Coke and soup mix are season-less and as processed as you can get. But don’t let that scare you away. Your guests will never know.

This Coca Cola brisket is an easy, delicious summer or winter dish that will end up as a great do-over in sandwiches or cold off the plate. One bowl to mix it all up, then into the oven it goes. I did line the baking dish with the foil so there was no clean-up. After it was done, I ran the brisket under the broiler to crisp up the fat layer that I hadn’t trimmed off, per the instructions. I put it in the pan fat side up with a scattering of chopped green onion that a friendly neighbor had delivered fresh from her garden. I reduced the liquid by half and passed it at the table for those who wanted some sauce. I found that it added a dimension that’s different from the usual brisket marinades I’m accustomed to eating.

This Coca Cola brisket recipe really could not be any simpler—unless you make it in a slow cooker. After placing the brisket in my 6-quart slow cooker, I poured the sauce over the meat and set the cooker to low. Nine hours later, I had fork-tender, pull-apart brisket complete with sauce. While the meat rested, I skimmed the fat from the surface of the pan juice and poured the sauce into a saucepan. I then simmered it for 15 minutes, and it reduced nicely. I pulled the beef apart and added it to the sauce. It was slightly sweet with a savory depth that was amazingly delicious. We ate the leftovers in sandwiches the next day, and they were marvelous. This is perfect for dinner after a long workday, a game day party, or any occasion. Truly a spectacular and simple dish!

Originally published April 08, 2017

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Comments

    1. Barb, we hadn’t heard of using barbecue sauce when we tested this recipe so we can’t say if it works or not, but I asked some trusted home cooks I know if they’ve ever heard or tried of that and will let you know if I hear anything back that could be of use. In the meantime, if anyone else reading this has any information to share, we’re all ears!

  1. I have never made brisket before and I want to do this in my slow cooker. Fat side up or down? I don’t see that anywhere. Thanks!

          1. 5 stars
            I made this recipe exactly as given and it was fabulous! I wasn’t sure how the combination of flavors would be but they absolutely complement each other. My son, who at 25 is still incredibly picky, loved it! Thanks so much for the great recipe.

          2. You’re very welcome, Regina! Love to hear that your family likes the recipe. It’s a definite crowd pleaser. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  2. I’m planning on trying this recipe for Mother’s day; however, I’m going to try it in a pressure cooker. Any ideas on how I should adjust times for this? I’ll post how it goes after Sunday.

    1. Robert, while I don’t have a brisket recipe in my pressure cooker book, the America’s Test Kitchen book suggests 90 minutes on high pressure with natural release, which seems right to me. In general their times are pretty accurate. If you’ve used a pressure cooker, you know that there’s no evaporation, so you can start with much less liquid than you would for the oven version. Hope that helps!

    2. Robert, excellent choice in recipes and excellent question. I’ve shared your query with a pressure-cooking expert I know and one of us will be back in touch with you very shortly.

  3. I have made this recipe before but always used aluminum foil tightly wrapped (didn’t want to lose a drop of the sauce!) and baked it. If I put it in the slow cooker, will it still have the same amount of sauce as when I baked it? And will I be able to lift it out to slice? I always make this recipe 2 days ahead so the flavors can meld together.

    1. Karen, not to fear, we’ve made it many times in the slow cooker and it will turn out just as spectacularly as it does in the oven. Yes, you will have an ample amount of sauce in the slow cooker. And yes, the brisket will come out in a single hunk, just be certain to keep an eye on the timing and don’t be timid about sliding off the lid of the slow cooker and nudging the brisket with a fork now and then just to keep an eye on it.

      1. Thanks Renee. I’m going to try my slow cooker this year for Passover! One more question: how would I adjust the timing on the brisket based on size? I don’t know what size I’ll get (depends what I find at the store) so was curious on your best estimates so I don’t under or overcook it. And thanks, you also read my mind about lifting the lid (a big no-no) and checking on it.

        1. Hey Karen, good for you on giving the slow cooker a go! In terms of the sauce, because the lid fits snugly on a slow cooker, there is no evaporation, so you may actually end up with more sauce than you have in the past when you made the brisket in the oven. If that happens, you can always pour the sauce into a saucepan and simmer it, uncovered, until it’s reduced to the desired consistency. Be careful to not season the sauce with salt and pepper until after you reduce it, otherwise the seasoning, too, will be concentrated. As for the timing on the brisket, the heat is so low in the slow cooker that you don’t have to worry about overcooking it as much as if you were doing it in the oven. If you end up with a brisket that’s closer to 4 pounds, I would start to occasionally check it at 6 1/2 hours although I really don’t think it’s going to be anywhere near done until more like 7 1/2 hours at least. If you end up with a 6 pounder, then I wouldn’t check it until at least 8 hours. Best of luck and kindly let us know how it goes! Oh, and you know, we have other slow cooker recipes on the site, yes? In case you ever need them, you’ll find them here.

          1. 5 stars
            Well the brisket came out WONDERFUL from the slow cooker. And, to experiment, I recently cooked country style pork ribs in the slow cooker with the same ‘sauce’ ingredients and these too came out amazing! The combination of flavors is just ideal whether it’s for beef or pork!

          2. That’s MAGNIFICENT to hear, Karen! Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know! Am so pleased that this recipe has served you so well. And I love your spirit of innovation and that you used the sauce on ribs, too. Brilliant.

          3. 5 stars
            Based on Karen’s comment, I tried it on country ribs, too, in the slow cooker. I can attest that it came out delicious. Very tender and flavorful. The sauce is mysterious alchemy.

            I also like how YOU said not to be timid to slide the lid off and test how something is cooking in the crockpot. So many times I read, “OMG, don’t do it, the world will end, the dead will rise, cats and dogs living together, and your food will become garbage!” You shouldn’t lift the lid very much, but once isn’t going to ruin everything. It is possible to overcook and undercook in a crockpot.

          4. Lovely to know the ribs came out terrifically, Jim! Thanks so much for letting us know. And I am smiling at your response about sneaking the lid off from time to time. Love the way you expressed that! Clearly you and I are kindred souls.

  4. 5 stars
    This was amazing!!! The smell was something horrendous in the beginning hours of slow cooking this, but it was well worth it!! Easily one of the best things I have made in my crock pot ever! Thanks!

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