Main dish Tex-Mex

Dr Pepper pulled brisket

Dr Pepper pulled brisket DSC6941

The first time I recall having brisket, it wasn’t the smoked hunk of beef that many people associate with Texas. No, instead it was an oven brisket prepared by my grandmother. While normally our pot roasts were made with chuck along with lots of potatoes and carrots, this roast of brisket had been slowly cooked in a tomato-based sauce. It was tender, juicy, and delicious.

Recently, a friend in New York was lamenting that their briskets never tasted anything like the briskets they ate at home. I asked what was the problem and he said that he didn’t have a yard and therefore he didn’t have a smoker, and without those two things his brisket wasn’t as he wanted it to be.

Being in the same situation I know how he feels, yet there are plenty of oven briskets being made in Texas, too, so it’s never been that much of an issue for me. As long as you can reconcile that the two slabs of beef will not taste the same, then you can appreciate the unsung glories of a brisket not cooked outside on a smoker but instead slowly roasted in an oven.

Dr Pepper pulled brisket | Homesick Texan

While I’m a fan of thick, juicy slices of brisket served with mashed potatoes, sometimes when I make a brisket in the oven, I’ll shred the beef and then use it in tacos, enchiladas, or nachos. I have several different ways that I like to prepare brisket, though I recently slowly cooked my brisket in a smoky, sweet sauce made from Dr Pepper and chipotle chiles and it turned out superb.

There’s a famous oven brisket recipe that’s made from Coca-Cola, onion-soup mix, and chili sauce. My pulled brisket is a take on that, yet I’ve made my sauce with Dr Pepper instead of Coke, and used real onions, along with some garlic, molasses, ketchup, spices, and chipotle chiles for added heat.

While I was starting a bit more from scratch with this recipe, it’s not difficult. First I made the Dr Pepper sauce, which is simply throwing a bunch of things into a blender. Then I placed the brisket in a roasting pan, covered it in the sauce, tightly covered the pan, and let it hang out in a low oven for a few hours.

After a couple of hours, an inviting aroma took over my entire home. It took tons of will power not to open the oven and take a peek, but I continued to busy myself with other things as the brisket slowly cooked and became tender in both its own juices and that Dr Pepper sauce.

When I finally pulled the brisket out of the oven, I let it rest while reducing the pan juices. Then I shredded the brisket with two forks, poured in the reduced pan juices and let the two mingle together to create a spicy, savory, and juicy plate of pulled beef. (That said, if I’d been more inclined to serve this Dr Pepper brisket in a more traditional sliced manner, I’d would have let it rest overnight in the refrigerator before slicing, and then served it with the pan juices on the side.)

If you make this, know that the mountain of pulled brisket will be staggeringly delicious. To serve it, I like to slip mine into fresh tortillas and top with onions, jalapeños, and cilantro for a smoky, sweet Tex-Mex take on the classic chopped beef sandwich. Though you can also use the pulled beef in enchiladas, on nachos, on buttery Texas toast, in queso, in enchiladas, or on a bun. It’s an easy-going protein that is happy just about anywhere you introduce it.

Dr Pepper pulled brisket | Homesick Texan

Like most meat-eating Texans, I am a huge fan of smoked brisket. There are plenty of reasons why this glorious piece has received so much praise. But at the same time, I am not opposed to eating brisket cooked in the oven. For most people, it’s a lot more accessible, and yes, while it doesn’t taste the same what comes off the smoker, it’s still a royally delicious way to cook beef.

Dr Pepper pulled brisket DSC6941
4.91 from 11 votes

Dr Pepper pulled brisket

Cook Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 4 pound brisket, first cut
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup Dr Pepper, not diet, preferably made with cane sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Pinch of ground cloves


  1. Sprinkle the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper, place in a roasting pan fat side up, and allow to come to room temperature.
  2. To make the sauce, place in a blender or food processor the onion, garlic, chipotle chiles, 1/4 cup of the Dr Pepper, ketchup, mustard, molasses, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, and ground cloves. Puree until smooth, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Lift up the brisket and pour half the sauce into the bottom of the pan. Place the brisket, fat side up, on top of the sauce, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of Dr Pepper, then pour the rest of the sauce over the brisket.
  4. Cover the pan tightly with foil. Place the pan in the oven and cook 5 hours or one hour and fifteen minutes per pound. At this point, you’ll want to test it to see if it’s fork tender. To do this, remove the pan from the oven and carefully pull back the foil as a lot of steam will escape. If you can easily stick a fork into then it’s done. If not, continue to cook it covered until it is fork tender, checking it every 20 minutes.
  5. Once done, remove the pan from the oven, peel back the foil, and gently lift the brisket out of the pan into a large mixing bowl or baking dish, so when you shred it you won’t lose any juices. Allow the brisket to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, pour the pan juices from the roasting pan into a pot, turn the heat up to high and reduce in half, about 20 to 30 minutes. (If you have a splatter guard, I recommend using it. Also, I don’t strain the fat, but feel free to do this if you prefer.)
  7. Once the pan juices have reduced and the brisket has rested, shred the brisket in the large bowl with two forks. Pour the sauce over the brisket and toss well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also usually add another teaspoon or so of smoked paprika for an additional smoky burst.
  8. Serve the pulled brisket with warm tortillas and salsa for tacos. You can also put it on buns, use it for nachos, or throw some into a bowl of queso.
  1. Unknown

    Can you recommend a swap for the ketchup? Due to allergy concerns, i can't use it. Also, I can't tell you enough how much I love the new cookbook.

  2. George Cole

    At 4 lbs, I'm assuming you're cooking a flat (or 1st cut), right?

  3. Lisa Fain

    Unknown–You could try 8 ounces of tomato sauce. Also, thank you for the kind words about the new book. I'm so glad you're enjoying it!

  4. Lisa Fain

    George–Yes, I've updated the ingredients list. Thank you.

  5. You can call me Al

    One of the ways you can tell Lisa is the real deal: no period in Dr Pepper. Thank you!

  6. Lisa Fain

    Al–You're welcome. It drives me nuts when magazines and newspapers add the period!

  7. What do you mean when you refer to the brisket as "first cut?" I presume this means there is also "second cut," so what is that?

  8. Lisa Fain

    Janus–First cut is the flat portion of the brisket.

  9. Anonymous

    Dr Pepper made with cane sugar is quite the bargain nowadays at $36 a six pack on Amazon. I need to smuggle some back to Boston next time I'm back in Texas.

  10. Anonymous

    Lisa, I feel like such a bad Texan. I take pride in the fact I am a Texan… But, my dilemma is: I don't care for jalapeños. I do LOVE Tex-Mex cuisine, however. And chicken-fried steak. And barbecue. I love the picture of these tacos, but oh so many jalapeños. Am I alone? -Emily

  11. Lisa Fain

    Emily–I'm sure they would be just as good without the jalapeños.

  12. Do you think this recipe would translate well in the crockpot?

  13. I cannot wait to try this over the weekend. I have a brisket ready! One thing I found that works great for me when shredding pork/or brisket is to put it on a large jelly roll sheet, as it is low sided and I can really shred it easy and then poor the juice back in the pot. I can't wait to try your recipe. Your ribs are legendary in our home!

  14. Lisa Fain

    Laura–Absolutely. I'd just throw everything into the slow cooker and cook it all day.

  15. Lisa Fain

    Winnie–That's a great tip for shredding, thank you!

  16. Lisa,

    Those look like pretty thick tortillas. Can you tell me what you're using in the picture? They don't look like the thin regular style tortillas I can get here in rural East Kentucky.


  17. Lisa Fain

    Les–They're homemade tortillas.

  18. Lisa Fain

    Debra–No, it's two chile peppers not two cans!

  19. TexasDeb

    This looks amazing – I'd love to try it but I don't recall seeing 4 lb briskets where I shop. Would this work at all on a smaller piece (which perhaps means my butcher is only carrying second cuts?).

  20. Lisa Fain

    TexasDeb–Yes, for a two-pound brisket, just divide the sauce recipe in half and reduce the cooking time to about 3 hours (or at least check it for doneness at that time).

  21. Anonymous

    Hi Lisa,
    Great recipe! I also suffer from lack of a backyard and outdoor smoker deprivation. You mentioned an oven-top smoker in your other brisket post, but I wanted to call your attention to the Emson indoor pressure smoker as another possible alternative. It is capable of cold and hot smoking using small wood chips. I haven't tried a brisket yet, but it's done a great job thus far on hot smoked wings, and cold smoking hamburgers and skirt steak for later cooking.

  22. Anonymous

    Any sub for Dr Pepper?

  23. Lisa Fain

    Anon–Thank you for letting me know!

    Anon–Root beer or Coca-Cola would probably work.

  24. Jan Abney

    I would love to PIN this on Pinterest. Do you have a way to PIN your recipes? Print button, too? Thank you! I can hardly wait to try this!

  25. Lisa Fain

    Jan–At the bottom of each post there's a green "Share This" button. Click on it and you should be able to pin on Pinterest.

  26. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I think I like oven roasted brisket almost as much as smoked – especially with Dr. Pepper!

  27. Thinking of using my dutch oven instead of roasting pan + foil. (Goes directly on the stove for juice reduction so one less pot to clean.) How tight a seal does this need? Should I put foil under the lid? Looking forward to this!

  28. Lisa Fain

    Rocky Mountain Woman–It's just as good!

  29. Lisa Fain

    KT–That's a great idea! If it has a good enough seal, you don't need foil, but if steam escapes I'd probably use both.

  30. Anonymous

    Lisa, Unknown here. The tomatoes in the ketchup are the problem-I should have been more specific.

  31. Lisa Fain

    Anon–If you can't have tomatoes then I can't really think of a substitute. You could try it without the ketchup though I'm not sure how it would taste since I haven't made it that way. A recipe not heavy on ketchup might be a better option for you.

  32. Anonymous

    I lived in or very very near Texas most of my life until I moved to the Netherlands (aka Holland). I made this recipe in a crockpot today using chuck roast (I recently figured out what cut chuck roast is here. I'll have to do some more research to find out what cut brisket is and if they even do the same cut here at all). This recipe was spot on! It "tasted just like home". While I was trying to sop up the sauce with my roasted potatos, I suddenly got a full on hankering for Texas Toast. I remembered a post you'd written about it earlier and reread it. I suspect it will be a few years before I can afford to go home to visit again, so I'm going to have to find a solution to the Texas Toast problem before I make this again. The meat and sauce were divine, but not having Texas Toast is like having an itch I can't scratch without a bunch of spare cash for a plane ticket!!!

  33. Anonymous

    I've just recently discovered the deliciousness of cooking a brisket in my oval slow cooker. Can't wait to try the Dr Pepper!

  34. I just made this brisket for Easter dinner yesterday — it was absolutely divine! Thanks for the great recipe, brisket tacos may be our new favorite meal!

  35. Anonymous

    Lisa – Congrats on your JBF Award!

  36. I made this for my mother's birthday. It was amazing. I used her dutch oven/bean pot, no foil and it was do moist. Who know brisket could be so good?

  37. Anonymous

    Hello, made this today in the slow cooker-it is amazing on it's own, but served in a baked sweet potato with a spoonful of the sauce, sprinkle of cheese & a dollop of sour cream…amazing! New favorite meal. Thank you.

  38. i want to make this night before and serve next day as tacos. should i shred when its done or closer to serving?

  39. Lisa Fain

    Unknown–It's easier to shred when it's done instead of later.

  40. How many hours in crock for 4#?

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