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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

This Brisket Has a Secret Ingredient

By Momma Chef

I’ll never forget the first time I enjoyed this marvelous dish. It was a holiday, and Aunt Gloria made brisket for our family party. It was a hit, particularly with cousin Amy, who was nine-and-a-half months (!) pregnant, and with me, who was four months along.

The following morning, I woke up craving the brisket for breakfast. Fortunately, my aunt had made so much of it that I knew there were plenty of leftovers. My mouth was watering and my baby was kicking in anticipation of enjoying another round of the ambrosial beef. Needless to say, I was none too happy to find out that my husband and my cousin Joey had scarfed down the entire two pounds as a 4 a.m. “snack” during a marathon video gaming session. That was 17 years ago, and I’ve almost forgiven them.

In any case, I adopted Aunt Gloria’s recipe, making a few minor changes so it fit more easily into my busy lifestyle. Are you surprised that her secret ingredient is a can of Coca-Cola? The sugar in the soda tenderizes the meat and adds wonderful sweetness (so do not use Diet Coke).

While the brisket may take a couple hours to cook, it only takes five minutes to get it in the oven or slow cooker, and then you can step away and enjoy the tantalizing aromas coming from your kitchen. Just make sure to hide the leftovers. 

Easiest (and Best) Old-Fashioned Brisket


• 1 3- to 4-pound beef brisket

• 1 1-ounce envelope onion soup mix (my favorite is Lipton)

• 1 12-ounce bottle Heinz Chili Sauce

• 2 cups ketchup

• 1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms, optional

• 1 8-ounce can Coca-Cola


1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Place brisket in disposable pan or slow cooker.

3. Sprinkle onion soup mix over brisket, and top with chili sauce and ketchup.

4. Add mushrooms, pour Coca-Cola over everything, and add 1⁄2 cup water.

5. Bake brisket covered in oven for 4 hours or in slow cooker on low for 6 hours, until the meat is very tender.

6. Remove brisket from oven or slow cooker. Let come to room temperature before slicing, about 30 minutes.

7. Cut brisket against the grain before serving. 

Serves: 6-8

Karen Nochimowski is the author of 6-Minute Dinners (& More!), a newly released cookbook filled with more than 100 simple recipes with six or fewer ingredients, including nut-free and allergy-friendly options. Gloria Estefan, Alex Borstein, Katie Couric, Howie Mandel, Margaret Cho, Barbara Corcoran, and many others have written testimonials for it. Karen also started and runs Momma Chef’s Soup Kitchen and Momma Chef’s Little Free Pantries. Part of the proceeds from the cookbook will go towards feeding those facing food insecurity.