Top 10 Brisket Marinade Recipes for Lip-Smacking Barbecue

A flavorful marinade can take your brisket over the top

To get the most out of a smoked brisket, you want to layer the flavor and the first step is choosing a good marinade. By marinating the brisket, you add flavor and tenderize the meat at the same time. To help you find the best marinade for your brisket, we're going to explore the most popular recipes that are sure to impress.

4  Essential Tips for Marinating Your Brisket

A good brisket marinade should have a healthy dose of acid. This can be anything from vinegar to wine to citrus juice. The...MORE acidic element of these marinades carries flavors into meat, more than you can see. The acid also breaks down the tough fibers of brisket, helping make it as tender as possible.

Plan on marinating your brisket for more than one hour per pound, but no more than two hours per pound. Most brisket will require marinating overnight, so plan ahead.

Since brisket is a large cut of meat, a one-gallon zip-top bag won't do the trick. Try a large baking dish or a non-reactive (not metal) pot to hold the brisket and marinade.

It is also important that the marinade reaches the entire surface of the brisket. For this reason, you'll find it best to periodically turn the brisket in the marinade to keep it evenly coated.

  • 01 of 10
    cookbookman17/Flickr

    This flavorful brisket marinade uses red wine as the acid to tenderize the meat. It's a perfect combination because the bold flavors of a good red wine add to the beefy flavor of the brisket. Pair that with mustard, horseradish, cayenne, onion, and garlic and you're on the way to an excellent meal.

    While you can use red cooking wine, it's not your best option. Yet, if you do, be sure to skip the salt in the marinade since cooking wine already contains plenty of it.

  • 02 of 10

    Red wine vinegar takes over as the acid in this simple brisket marinade. Building on that, it adds Worcestershire sauce for some extra beefy flavor and brown sugar for sweetness. 

    The rest of the recipe requires common ingredients, including garlic, olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. If you're looking for a marinade that's full of flavor and gives you the best odds for creating perfect barbecue brisket, this is the recipe you need.

  • 03 of 10
    Smoked brisket
    sweetyedie/Twenty20

    It may surprise you, but cola makes a fantastic marinade for beef and brisket, in particular. Cola has a great deal of acid to tenderize the meat and it also adds a nice, sweet flavor.

    You'll also be happy to know that this marinade recipe requires just five ingredients. Beyond the cola, you'll need olive oil, Worcestershire sauce garlic, and salt. It's incredibly easy and perfect for the smoker. This brisket has a balance of flavor that will have everyone's mouth watering.

  • 04 of 10
    Easy Brisket Marinade
    Easy Brisket Marinade. John Madden/Getty Images

    A recipe that is just as easy, but not as sweet, this brisket marinade returns to red wine for the acid. Among its five ingredients, you'll need soy sauce, a stalk of celery, and a couple cloves of garlic.

    The beauty here really is in the simplicity. As the brisket marinades, the wine penetrates the meat, tenderizing and flavoring it as it goes deeper. The savory contrast from the soy and vegetables add depth to the meat's flavor, resulting in a brisket with a complex flavor.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Beef brisket marinade
    StockFood/Getty Images

    This is a rich and savory marinade that brings a classic flavor to brisket. If you have yet to discover the joy of cooking with Guinness Stout, here's your chance.

    The beer is acidic and will carry its rich flavors into the meat. When combined with the flavors of garlic, onion, shallots, and mustard, it's the perfect flavor profile for beef. For a whole brisket, you will probably want to double this recipe.

  • 06 of 10

    If you want to add a specific flavor to your smoked brisket, this is a great marinade to start with. Not only does it have the power of vinegar (both white and apple cider), but it adds cilantro, cumin, and lime juice to give it a great Latin flavor.

    This marinade is so tasty that we even recommend saving it. You can warm it up and drizzle it over the cooked brisket or use it to give a side dish of rice a kick of flavor.

  • 07 of 10

    Any type of alcohol is perfect for a marinade. Alcohol seeps deep into the meat, bringing flavors with it. This marinade recipe works perfectly with brisket because it has all the flavors you want for beef.

    The bourbon gives a bite to the flavor while the mustard and Worcestershire sauce give it a great beefy flavor. Adding brown sugar brings in the sweetness you want with barbecue brisket. This is a thick marinade, so slather it over the surface, wrap it up, and let the magic happen.

  • 08 of 10
    Roasted garlic cloves
    Christina Schmidhofer/Getty Images

    This is one of the best marinades for any kind of beef. Particularly good for brisket, the marinade has a strong, but not overpowering garlic flavor. The garlic is roasted, which gives it a great smoky flavor base even before the brisket hits the smoker.

    The marinade gets its acid from orange juice, which helps give the brisket a sweet flavor. Don't worry about it tasting like oranges, though. During the long smoke time, the orange flavor mellows to the point where you can barely taste it.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    The key ingredient in this marinade is achiote paste, a popular seasoning in Mexican cuisine. It can be found in many grocery stores or you can make it from scratch with a few spices.

    The achiote paste gives this marinade a great Southwestern flavor. Red wine vinegar acts as the acid and cumin, garlic, and crushed red pepper build up its intriguing flavor with a natural smokiness. For a truly unique barbecue brisket, this is one you won't want to miss.

  • 10 of 10
    Short Cut Brisket Marinade
    Short Cut Brisket Marinade. nicolesy/Getty Images

    For the most intriguing smoked brisket, give this sangria marinade a try. It plays off the popular wine punch, featuring a Zinfandel wine with a hint of orange from triple sec and fresh zest. To contrast those flavors, you'll add garlic, onion, and chilies.

    This is a terrific recipe that requires a shorter marinade than most. If you have only a couple hours before the brisket needs to get on the smoker, this is a quick option and it's certainly not boring.