Pulled firecracker brisket

Pulled firecracker brisket

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(48 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 6 hrs, 45 mins


Serves 8

Bake beef brisket until meltingly tender in a sweet, smoky sauce, with a gentle chilli kick - serve in warm wraps or on baked potatoes

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal599
  • fat36g
  • saturates3g
  • carbs23g
  • sugars21g
  • fibre2g
  • protein45g
  • salt0.4g
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  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2-2½ kg piece beef brisket, rolled (ask the butcher to do this for you)
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper or 1 tsp chilli flakes (omit if you want to reduce heat)
  • 1½ tbsp treacle
  • 50ml red wine vinegar, plus 2 tbsp
  • 75g soft light brown sugar, plus 2 tbsp
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4-6 bay leaves
  • 2-4 fat red chillies, pierced a few times with a small sharp knife
  • 500ml carton passata
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • soured cream, to serve


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, deep roasting tin (one that can go on the hob) or in your largest flameproof casserole dish. Season the beef well and sear in the tin until nicely browned all over. Lift out and put on a plate or board. Add another 1 tbsp oil and the onions to the tin and sweat for 8-10 mins until really soft. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the paprika, mustard powder, cinnamon, cayenne or chilli, treacle, 2 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar and the remaining oil. Brush all over the meat, reserving about 2 tbsp for later. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.

  2. Add the garlic, bay leaves and chillies to the softened onions, stir around the pan for 1-2 mins, then pour in the passata, Worcestershire sauce, remaining vinegar and sugar. Season the sauce, give a good stir, then put the brisket on top. Wrap the tin tightly in a few sheets of foil, or cover with a lid, and bake for 6 hrs, turning once or twice during cooking, until really tender.

  3. Uncover the dish, give the sauce around the meat a little stir and brush the remaining spice paste over the meat. Can be made a day ahead up to this point – cool then chill the meat and sauce; remove from the fridge and scoop off any fat from the sauce before reheating. Increase the temperature to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook for a further 20 mins (or 40 mins from cold, covered for 20 mins) until the meat is dark and sticky. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 15 mins.

  4. To serve, skim any fat off the surface of the sauce, shred the meat with 2 forks, discarding any butcher’s string as you go, and toss the meat through the sauce, discarding the bay leaves and chillies. Pile into warm flatbreads and serve with Charred sweetcorn salsa (see 'Goes well with') and a dollop of soured cream.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Simon Bourke's picture
Simon Bourke
17th May, 2020
Used brisket. Marinated the beef in the spice mixture for 2 hours. Browned the meat and then followed recipe. Made it a little chili hot, so removed beef to rest, then reduced sauce with some sour cream. Lovely. Worked well with charred sweercorn salsa
31st Dec, 2019
I have made this recipe a couple of times and the sweetcorn salsa goes very well with it. When i first made it there was a suggestion recipe for Cheesy flatbreads to go with it and they were excellent. They seem no longer available on GF which is disappointing.
15th Jul, 2017
I have made this a few times now and it's my new favourite way to cook brisket. I have plastic "bear claws" I use to pull pork, but this recipe is so meltingly tender I don't need them and simply pull gently with my fingers. I only use two tablespoons of sugar and rather than discard the onions I use a stick blender to whizz them into the sauce, which makes it lovely and thick and rich - you can add a little water if it's too thick. I always use as big a cut of brisket as I can fit in my big casserole and freeze leftovers in bags.
17th Apr, 2016
I ran out of time so only gave it 6 hours in the slow cooker, so probably my own fault that it wasn't falling apart the way 'pulled' meat should be. I also used a different cut of beef. Tasted fine, nice with a jacket potato. Not overly impressed, but will try again when I have more time.
30th Oct, 2019
Time & cut are really important. That's what has gone wrong here not the recipe. If I used the spices on a roast chicken I wouldn't expect the same result and therefore wouldn't bother to even comment.
17th Mar, 2016
First genuinely successful pulled beef I've cooked. My joint was 1.2 kg and I gave it 7 hours. Used way less sugar than the recipe and still sweet enough. Lovely tender brisket, and great for leftovers the next day.
31st Jan, 2016
Lovely brisket but it wasn't really 'pulled' after 6 hours with a 1.3kg piece. Still delicious though
5th Dec, 2014
Fantastic! I made 1,6 kg of beef for only 2 people and it disappeared in 2 days! I plan to make it again and again. Thank GF!
17th Nov, 2014
Made this 2 days ahead of event and then wrapped in foil to reheat - which took a while since it was rolled. served in soft baps with a tangy coleslaw which offset the sweetness - which personally I liked!
11th Nov, 2014
This went down a storm, I served it with the sweet potato chips, avocado and corn salad and wraps. I would add more chilli next time.


24th May, 2019
How long would this need in a slow cooker?
goodfoodteam's picture
27th May, 2019
Thanks for your question. We haven't tested this in the slow cooker so can't give exact instructions but would suggest that you might need to add additional liquid, around 200ml of stock. Cook for 8 hours on Low or until really tender, then continue from step 3 in the oven.
23rd Jul, 2016
I've Cooked this dish a few times, mostly cooking and eating the same day but then tried cooking then chilling and finishing off the day after. I wouldn't recommend doing it this way as it took a lot longer than suggested to heat through again and was no where near as good as.
25th Apr, 2016
Another great way to fix a brisket is to season it well with: salt, paprika, cumin, garlic powder or salt, onion powder, and pepper. Pour a bottle of liquid smoke over it and soak it in an ovenproof pan for 12 hours then just place it in your oven and cook. You don't need to remove it from the juices because you are going to cook it in the liquid. If you can, turn it over after about 6 hours of soaking to get it good and soaked through.