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A platter of sliced brisket, covered with onions and tomatoes, on a wood table

Instant Pot Holiday Brisket and Onions

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings of brisket 1x


Instant Pot Holiday Brisket and Onions. My take on a traditional Jewish brisket, sped up in a pressure cooker.


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 4 pound beef brisket (flat cut)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth (preferably homemade, or store-bought low sodium, or use water)
  • 15oz can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Cut the brisket into pieces and brown on one side: Cut the brisket crosswise into 4 equal pieces, each about 2 inches across. Sprinkle the brisket with the 2 teaspoons of salt and the black pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker over Sauté mode adjusted to high until the oil is shimmering. (Use Medium-High heat with a stovetop PC.) Set the cut pieces of brisket in the pressure cooker and sear on one side, about 4 minutes. (Do this in 2 batches if the brisket pieces won’t fit in a single layer in the bottom of the pot.) Move the seared pieces of brisket to a bowl.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic: Add the sliced onions and garlic to the pot, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt. Sauté, stirring often, and scraping the bottom of the pot with a flat-edged wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits of beef or onion. Cook until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Everything in the pot: Pour in the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure none of the onions are sticking. Add the brisket in a loose single layer, scooping some of the onions on top of the meat. Don’t pack the brisket in too tight; we want the water to circulate around the brisket to help cook it. If the brisket pieces don’t fit in a loose single layer, add a second layer crosswise to the first layer, like you’re building a house with Lincoln Logs. Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and add the bay leaves.
  4. Pressure Cook for 60 minutes with a Natural Release: Lock the lid, then pressure cook at high pressure for 60 minutes in an Instant Pot or other electric PC (use Manual or Pressure Cook mode in an Instant Pot), or for 50 minutes in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 minutes more. (If you're in a hurry, you can quick release any remaining pressure after 15 minutes). Unlock the lid, opening it away from you – the steam is hot. Test the brisket with a fork – it should be easy to poke a fork through the thickest part of the thickest piece. If it’s not done, lock the lid and cook for another ten minutes at high pressure.
  5. Strain, slice, and serve: Carefully lift the pieces of beef out of the cooker and transfer to a carving board. Discard the bay leaves. Scoop as much of the onions and tomatoes out of the pot as you can with a slotted spoon, and save them in a bowl. Strain the liquid in the pot into a fat separator, add the strained onions and tomatoes to the bowl. Slice the brisket into ½-inch thick slices and fan them out on a platter. Spread the onions and tomatoes over the brisket, and drizzle with a little of the defatted sauce. Serve, passing the rest of the defatted sauce at the table.


Doubling the recipe – you should be able to fit twice as much beef in the pot – just cut it into 8 pieces instead of 4, making sure to cut the brisket into 2-inch wide pieces. Cook for the same amount of time; cooking time is determined by the width of each piece of brisket, and how long each piece takes to cook, not how many pieces there are in the pot.

Cutting against the grain is key to this recipe. Brisket has long muscle fibers. If you cut with the grain of the beef, you get long, stringy pieces of beef. Cutting across the grain cuts those muscle fibers into short strands, resulting in tender beef.

Leftover brisket is amazing. Brisket sandwiches, brisket tacos, brisket omelettes… Leftover brisket freezes well, covered with the cooking liquid.


6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot 6-Quart Pressure Cooker)

Flat edged wooden spoon

Slotted Spoon

Fat separator

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot Holiday Brisket and Onions, Pressure Cooker Holiday Brisket and Onions