Sous Vide Beef Brisket (on a Boat)

Ok, so this recipe isn’t specific to a boat, but it works for all those who long for a delicious ‘smoked’ brisket and live in small apartments (or elsewhere) and don’t have access to a smoker or a grill. Is it close to a classic smoked BBQ brisket? Well, it won’t make you a pitmaster, but I’ll just say that several Texans said it was the best brisket they ever had! Hearing that made a Canadian sailor smile 🙂

The secret – besides the spice rub and the sous vide – is to finish the brisket in the oven at high heat in order to create that beautiful bark or crust. As for the spice rub, the optimal mix of kosher salt and cracked or coarsely ground black pepper (according to several pitmasters) is 1:1 by weight. In my recipe below, I’ve also included volume measurements as I found out that many people don’t have a kitchen scale. However, be aware that the volume measurements are for coarse kosher salt, not fine salt! For the spice rub, I also like to add ancho chili powder as it brings a nice level of flavor to the brisket without being too spicy. Finally, if you want to have that classic pink smoke ring, use Prague Powder no. 1, although that’s optional. The brisket will taste just the same without it.

I’ve been using sous vide for a long time, and it’s a great way to turn out some beautiful and unique dishes. With short ribs or a brisket, depending on the temperature and time, you can easily achieve results just like conventional cooking, or unique flavors and textures that simply cannot be replicated in an oven, a smoker or on a grill. For example, by cooking at a low temperature (135°F) for 48-72 hours (yes, you read that right!), short ribs or a brisket  can take on the texture of a delicious NY strip steak. On the other hand, at a higher temperature (155°F) and a shorter cooking time of around 24 hours, the tough muscle fibers and connective tissue breaks down and you get that traditional fall apart with a fork goodness!

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Sous Vide Beef Brisket (on a Boat)
Serves 6-8 


  • 5 lb brisket
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) coarse kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Prague Powder no. 1 (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke, evenly divided
  • 1/3 cup molasses


  1. In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients (black pepper, kosher salt, ancho chili powder and Prague Powder) together. Pat the brisket dry with a paper towel and cut in two crosswise. Glaze the briskets with half the molasses then, using half of the dry rub, generously coat all sides of both briskets.
  2. Add each brisket to a vacuum bag*, add a few drops of liquid smoke to each bag and seal (I find adding a folded paper towel to each vacuum bag helps to prevent liquid from being pulled into the sealing area.)
  3. Using a sous vide immersion circulator, heat a water bath to 155°F. Add the two vacuum sealed briskets to the water bath, ensuring that they are fully submerged. Cover the container with aluminum foil (or ping pong balls) to reduce evaporation and cook for 24-30 hours.
  4. After 24 hours, remove the briskets from the water bath and let rest for an hour to allow them to cool to room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove briskets from the sealed bags and pat dry with a paper towel. Reserve the cooked liquid.
  6. Using a brush, glaze the briskets with molasses, then coat with the remaining dry rub mixture. Place brisket, fat side up, on a baking (wire) rack in a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes. Turn the heat up to 400°F and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes. To serve, thinly slice the briskets against the grain.
  8. The reserved liquid from the sous vide bag and the rimmed baking sheet can be reduced down and added to a BBQ sauce or used to make an ancho chili or your own sauce.
  9. Can be served with potato salad (my favorite!) and coleslaw, rice and beans or in sandwiches. Bon Appetit!

* Here’s a pro tip when working with vacuum bags for sous vide cooking: Turning the open edge of the bag out and down before filling, keeps the sealed edge clean for a good seal.



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