Instant Pot Brisket: Fast and Flavorful for the Jewish Holidays

This Instant Pot Brisket recipe uses the same ingredients as my mom’s tried and true brisket that I published in 2011, it just takes less time! I even include a technique to pre-slice the meat just like my mom taught me. You can serve this brisket on Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, or any time some old-fashioned comfort food hits the spot.

Instant Pot Brisket: Same Ingredients, New Method

Instant Pot Brisket on white plate with carrots and potatoes and a YUM napkin and fork

Sandy’s Sweet and Sour Brisket is my mom’s variation on a classic Jewish brisket recipe you’ll find in almost every community cookbook or grandma’s recipe box. The braising liquid is beer, whole berry cranberry sauce, and ketchup. Lots of sliced onions round out the flavor.

Braising vs. Instant Pot Pressure Cooking

Since 2012, I have been the family brisket maker. In December 2017, my husband bought me an Instant Pot and yes, I was a bit skeptical.

Instant Pot Brisket photo showing comparison of chuck roast braised vs pressure cook in the Instant PotOne day, we felt ambitious and cut a chuck roast in half, cooking half in a traditional braise in my Le Creuset pan (also a gift from my husband) and the other half in the Instant Pot. Both tasted outstanding – perhaps the Le Creuset version had a slight bit more depth of flavor but we agreed we would have been proud to serve either version.

Now I am sold on the value of cooking with pressure. It’s fast and results in marvelous flavor. I don’t cook in the Instant Pot all the time – I use different techniques including braising, slow cooking, grilling, and pan-searing. But when I use it, the results are excellent.

Everything Old is New Again

For this instant pot brisket recipe, I wanted to see how simple it could be to convert an existing recipe so I followed my mom’s proportions exactly — 12 ounces of dark beer, 1 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce, and 1/2 cup of ketchup.

Instant Pot Brisket photo showing the braising liquid on a spoon on top of the measuring cup

When you make this instant pot brisket, you can experiment with other beers, whatever cranberry sauce you prefer (I made my own to control the added sugar but I’ve often used canned), and for fun I tried my friend Erika’s Not Ketchup Date Dipping Sauce instead of regular ketchup. But standard ketchup works just fine. This amount of liquid resulted in a lot of gravy but seemed to work out nicely. You can probably cut back on the liquid but I’m not sure why you would want to!

Instant Pot Brisket Recipe Tips and Tricks

Brisket is a tough and inexpensive cut of beef – but cooked properly it delivers wonderful flavor and becomes quite tender.

Tips for working with brisket:

Easiest way to buy a piece of brisket is at a meat counter where they have it pre-trimmed or can trim it for you. You want the piece to have an almost even thickness and it should have a layer of fat on one side.

Instant Pot Brisket photo show brisket uncooked with fat side up

If you choose, like I did, to buy a gigantic one at Costco, you will pay much less per pound but you will need to trim it. You’ll have to cut off some pieces that are similar in thickness so it cooks evenly under pressure. Trimming it yourself is a very economical way to go. Just count on an extra 20 minutes or so to prepare the meat. Or prepare it another time, portioning out what you will use for the instant pot.

Instant Pot Brisket showing trimmed side of uncooked brisket on a cutting board

Notice the grain of the meat – it is absolutely crucial with brisket to slice it across the grain and not with the grain. If you slice it with the grain it will be tough and fall apart – even if you have cooked it properly. You can easily see the grain when you look at the side of the meat without the fat layer.

Instant Pot Brisket slicing cooked meat on board to show grain

Take the time to sear the meat before you cook it – it was really easy to do on sauté mode and your instant pot brisket will be even more flavorful with this step.

Instant Pot Brisket seared meat on cutting board

I include instructions for adding in carrots and potatoes at the end of the cooking process. At the same time, I slice the brisket. Then I put the vegetables and meat back in for another very short cycle. My mom taught me about pre-slicing the meat before it’s completely done. It’s genius. It’s easier to cut than when it’s fall-apart tender and if you are making it ahead and chill or freeze it, it is so easy to reheat and it’s ready to serve.

Instant Pot Brisket sliced and back in pot with carrots and potatoes

I always make my brisket ahead of time by a day or two or sometimes longer in which case I freeze it. Whatever fat is in the gravy will firm up, rise to the top, and you can discard it. You’re left with just wonderfully rich gravy.

Instant Pot Brisket beauty shot of two slices with carrots and potatoes on a white plate with a fork

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Instant Pot Brisket on white plate with carrots and potatoes and a YUM napkin and fork
5 from 9 votes
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Instant Pot Brisket – Sandy’s Sweet and Sour Recipe in Half the Time

A tried and true classic - sweet and sour brisket - updated for the Instant Pot or any pressure cooker. This dish is perfect for Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, or any Jewish holiday or occasion where comfort food is the perfect dish.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Jewish Holiday Cooking
Keyword Brisket, Instant Pot
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 22 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 52 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 571 kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces dark beer but any will do
  • 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce canned or homemade
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 4-5 lb brisket cut in smaller pieces to fit IP if needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces baby carrots or sliced carrots optional
  • 12 small red, white, or fingerling potatoes optional

Instructions

  1. Combine beer, ketchup, and cranberry sauce in a medium bowl and set aside.
    Instant Pot Brisket photo showing the braising liquid on a spoon on top of the measuring cup
  2. Set the instant pot on sauté mode “high” and add the olive oil. Salt and pepper the brisket and brown it on both sides - about three minutes per side. Remove brisket.
    Instant Pot Brisket finger pressing saute mode on IP
  3. Turn sauté down to “normal” and add sliced onions to pan. Brown the onions, stirring frequently for about 3-5 minutes.
    Instant Pot Brisket onions after being sauteed in the IP
  4. Place brisket on onions – layering it as needed, then pour beer mixture over brisket. Close the lid and turn it on to “pressure cook” for 60 minutes.
    Instant Pot Brisket pouring liquid over seared brisket and sauteed onions
  5. When 60 minutes is up, let it natural pressure release (NPR) for 10 minutes, then let it quick release for about four minutes or until the silver knob goes down.
    Instant Pot Brisket showing 60 minute setting at high pressure
  6. At this point, the meat should be almost tender. Remove and slice it across the grain (crucial to cut against the grain or it will be tough to chew even if it is cooked properly)
    Instant Pot Brisket slicing cooked meat on board to show grain
  7. If you are adding carrots and potatoes, add them into the pot, then put the meat back on top of the vegetables. If any of the meat is thinner and seems done, just slice it and don’t put it back in. Put the instant pot on for two minutes of “pressure cook”. When it’s done, let it NPR again for 10 minutes, then quick release and it should be ready to go.

    Instant Pot Brisket sliced and back in pot with carrots and potatoes
  8. You can now either serve the brisket immediately or let it cool uncovered for about half an hour and refrigerate it to eat up to two days later. You can also freeze the brisket for later use. If I’m not eating it right away, I like to put it in a pan that I can use to heat it back up. I line up the slices of meat, add in the veggies and put some of the juice back in. If there is a lot of extra gravy, store it separately – it’s perfect to put out on the table when you serve the meat.

 

 

Instant Pot Brisket is a miracle! This recipe uses my mom's tried and true braising recipe but cuts the cooking time in half using the instant pot pressure cook option. All the flavor in half the time. #instantpot #brisket #Jewishholidays #RoshHashanah #Hanukkah

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20 Responses to Instant Pot Brisket: Fast and Flavorful for the Jewish Holidays

  1. Doug September 9, 2018 at 2:38 pm #

    I can vouch for this recipe. It is very yummy and indistinguishable from the oven roasted version.

    • Beth Lee September 9, 2018 at 3:27 pm #

      And that is a very high compliment coming from someone who bows to the braising pot!

  2. Jenni September 9, 2018 at 3:15 pm #

    I am loving the sound of the braising liquid–beer, cranberry sauce and ketchup. I can imagine how they all blend together and lend flavor to the meat. Wonderful!

    • Beth Lee September 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm #

      Yes it’s a simple combination and also flexible. Some people don’t drink beer on Passover cuz of the wheat – so you can switch it up to some beef or chicken broth, for example.

  3. Sandi September 9, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

    I love how quick this is…I bet that your mom would love this new version of her recipe 🙂

    • Beth Lee September 9, 2018 at 3:54 pm #

      We shall find out tonight!!!

  4. Hope September 9, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

    My mouth was watering The Who, time I read this.
    I don’t have an Instant Pot. Can this be made in a Slow cooker?

    Shana Tovah!
    Xo

    • Beth Lee September 10, 2018 at 9:05 am #

      Shana Tovah to you too! I think it would work in the slow cooker as well. And of course a traditional braise. In the slow cooker, I would still sear it first amd saute onions stove top for the added flavor. Depending on size of brisket – maybe high for 6 hours, then slice before it’s falling apart and put it back in to finish and soak the flavor into each piece. You can’t really overcook brisket but it’s easiest to cut right before it’s done so it doesn’t fall apart.

  5. Laura September 10, 2018 at 9:01 am #

    This is pretty awesome! We always smoke our brisket and that takes 12-hours to cook on the grill. I can’t wait to try your version.

    • Beth Lee September 10, 2018 at 9:06 am #

      Smoked brisket is fantastic! But when you don’t have the luxury of 12 hours – this is great!

  6. Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy September 10, 2018 at 1:52 pm #

    This brisket sounds amazing. This is a fabulous guide for converting a beloved family brisket recipes for the IP. Brisket takes so long to cook in the oven, so using the IP sounds like the way to go.

    • Beth Lee September 10, 2018 at 2:49 pm #

      I was so happy with the flavor and the texture of the veggies. We used about 4.5 pounds of brisket but I think I could have snuck another pound in there. We have a 6 quart. It’s nice to have options when time is at a premium.

  7. Renee Goerger September 10, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

    I give this recipe 5 stars for taste and ease. Nice recipe. My family loves is!!

  8. Christina September 10, 2018 at 6:00 pm #

    What a great recipe! I love using my Instant Pot!

    • Beth Lee September 10, 2018 at 6:44 pm #

      What’s your favorite Instant Pot dinner? And thanks for stopping by Christina.

  9. Rebecca Hubbell September 18, 2018 at 9:19 am #

    Brisket is one of my favorite comfort foods and I love this instant pot version!

    • Beth Lee September 18, 2018 at 11:20 am #

      Thanks Rebecca! It is a wonderful comfort food and boy do I love the leftovers!

  10. April September 18, 2018 at 9:41 am #

    I love a good brisket….takes me back to my childhood. I’m really looking forward to trying one in my IP!

    • Beth Lee September 18, 2018 at 11:22 am #

      It’s a real flavor memory isn’t it? Love that I can retain the flavor but the IP cuts the time to cook. Tradition meets “pressure”. 🙂

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