Simple BBQ Brisket Sandwich Recipe

It's barbecue season all summer long, but even when you don't have access to a grill or don't feel like going to the trouble of heating and cleaning yours, you can still have delicious BBQ brisket sandwiches. These BBQ brisket sandwiches, which come to you from private practice registered dietician and recipe developer Kristen Carli, are made with slices of brisket that are rubbed with a mildly spicy dry rub made from brown sugar, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. They are then smothered in a homemade barbecue sauce made from ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar before slow cooking for five glorious, do-whatever-you-want hours. 

The brisket slices are served on sweet Hawaiian rolls — the kind you can pick up at the supermarket in the bread aisle, with a nice, cooling helping of homemade coleslaw. "This is a classic recipe that is perfect for a backyard summer BBQ or [for a] potluck [any time of year]," Carli says. And don't skip out on the coleslaw — its cooling crunch is essential to the sandwich!

Gather your ingredients to prepare these BBQ brisket sandwiches

To make these BBQ brisket sandwiches, you're going to need to pick up three pounds of brisket from the supermarket. For the brisket dry rub, you'll need 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. For the barbecue sauce, you'll need 1 ½ cups of ketchup, ¼ cup of yellow mustard, ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 8 tablespoons of brown sugar (for a total of 9 tablespoons of brown sugar). For the coleslaw, you'll need 10 ounces of thinly shredded cabbage (or angel hair coleslaw, as pictured), and ¼ cup of coleslaw dressing. To make them into sandwiches, you'll need a package of 12 sweet Hawaiian rolls. 

If you like a bit of smoky flavor in your barbecued brisket, that can easily be arranged, according to Carli. Simply add in 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke.

Prepare the brisket with this sweet and savory spice rub

In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, the paprika, the cumin, the salt, the pepper, and the cayenne pepper until thoroughly combined. Then, rub the mixture all over the brisket. But here is one thing to consider before you do so. Brisket usually comes from the store with a large, thick fat pad on it. You can trim that fat pad off of it with a sharp chef's knife, but you do not have to if you do not want to. On the one hand, the fat will help flavor and tenderize the brisket as it cooks. On the other hand, it's still beef fat, so if you don't care one way or the other, you might as well reduce the amount that ends up cooking into your brisket.

Whip up a quick bowl of homemade barbecue sauce using just a few ingredients

In a medium-sized bowl (big enough to hold all of the barbecue sauce ingredients with ample room for stirring so that you don't end up with splashes on your counter), place the ketchup, the remaining 8 tablespoons of brown sugar, the mustard, the apple cider vinegar, and the Worcestershire sauce. Then, using a whisk, combine these ingredients thoroughly. If you are partial to a smoky barbecued brisket sandwich, then now would be the time to add in those 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke that were referred to above.

Assemble the brisket and the barbecue sauce in the vessel of a slow cooker, and cook

The next step is the most complicated, and it's barely complicated, so that should tell you a lot about how easy this recipe for BBQ brisket sandwiches actually is. First, pour the BBQ sauce that you've made into your slow cooker. Then, add the dry-rubbed brisket. Turn the brisket over a few times to coat it thoroughly with the barbecue sauce. Cover the slow cooker with its lid, and set it to high for five hours. See, that wasn't really all that complicated!

Mix up your homemade coleslaw using just two ingredients

This is the part where you make the coleslaw for your BBQ brisket sandwiches. As Carli points out, this is an important step because the coleslaw's crunchy texture and mild sweetness present a satisfying contrast to the warm and well-seasoned slow-cooked meat. To make your coleslaw, simply toss together the cabbage and the coleslaw dressing. And since it's going to be five hours until the slow cooker has done its tenderizing magic on your brisket, the flavor of the coleslaw dressing will have plenty of time to permeate into the cabbage shreds. Place the coleslaw in the fridge until you're ready to serve your BBQ brisket sandwiches.

It's time to assemble your BBQ brisket sandwiches

When the timer for your slow cooker goes off, open the lid, and using a pair of tongs, transfer the cooked brisket (which should be considerably reduced in size now thanks to the rendering of its flavorful fat) to a cutting board that is large enough to accommodate it. Using a sharp chef's knife that feels somewhat heavy in your hand, slice the brisket into the thickness of your choice. Carli prefers it thick. Some people prefer a nice pile of thin slices. The choice is yours. Serve the brisket slices on the Hawaiian rolls with coleslaw — and enjoy!

Simple BBQ Brisket Sandwich Recipe
5 from 30 ratings
Even when you don't have access to a grill or don't feel like going to the trouble of heating and cleaning yours, you can still enjoy BBQ brisket sandwiches.
Prep Time
Cook Time
plate of brisket
Total time: 5 hours, 8 minutes
  • 9 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds brisket
  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 10 ounces angel hair cabbage
  • ¼ cup coleslaw dressing
  • 12 Hawaiian rolls
Optional Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  1. In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, the paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mix to combine.
  2. Rub the seasoning mixture onto the brisket's surface. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the ketchup, remaining 8 tablespoons of brown sugar, mustard, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce to make the BBQ sauce. Use a whisk to combine thoroughly.
  4. Pour the BBQ sauce into a large slow cooker. Then, add the dry-rubbed brisket. Turn over a few times to coat the brisket in BBQ sauce.
  5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid. Set to high for 5 hours.
  6. While the brisket is cooking, make your coleslaw by tossing together the cabbage and the coleslaw dressing.
  7. When the timer goes off, remove the brisket with tongs, place on a large cutting board, and slice.
  8. Serve on Hawaiian rolls with coleslaw.
Calories per Serving 304
Total Fat 15.5 g
Saturated Fat 5.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 58.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 26.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
Total Sugars 8.5 g
Sodium 400.6 mg
Protein 14.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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