Carnitas-Style Slow Cooker Brisket

This carnitas-style slow cooker brisket is divine.  I think brisket is always delicious and there are many ways to make it, but this is special.  I have a bunch of recipes for brisket that I love and use often, but this time I wanted to try something a bit different, and boy, did I find a good one.  This lovely recipe is not mine: it is from Feed Me Phoebe, a great gluten-free food blog I like. I have adapted the recipe only slightly, but the original recipe be seen here.

Despite only a few simple ingredients, this brisket is rich, flavorful, and satisfying either straight-up, as I served it here, or shredded and used as a taco filling. I liked this brisket recipe so much, that I made it for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, back in September.  And at my potato-loving son’s request, we had it with latkes, proving how versatile this recipe can be.

slow cooker brisket spices

Cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, cinnamon and garlic make up a dynamic carnitas-style seasoning that just works.  The addition of hard cider not only helps tenderize this cut of beef but also adds earthiness and a slight sweetness.


Brisket, for those that don’t know, is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of either beef or veal; it is one of the nine “primal cuts” of beef. Because of the structural make-up of the brisket itself, which contains a lot of connective tissue, tenderizing and cooking a brisket is absolutely essential.  This is where a lot of home cooks make mistakes, and I have done so many times myself.  With this in mind, long, slow cook times help, and so does something acidic, like hard cider.

Hard cider is a fermented apple juice, which is lightly effervescent, tart, yeasty and dry. Hard cider is a great tenderizer in this recipe, and a bit different from what you typically see.  If you are unfamiliar with hard cider, be sure to try some before cooking all of it; it rather good. One of my favorite simple cocktails is actually a Snakebite, which is hard cider mixed with a good lager beer–absolutely delicious.  Mission Trail makes a great hand crafted hard cider that I like, but there are numerous brands out there so no need to use this one, feel free to experiment.  This is a great dinner option for a cold weekend night and for groups big and small.

hard cider for brisket

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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