Brisket

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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a slab of brisket before being cooked for babies starting solids

When can babies eat brisket?

Brisket may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. At this stage in their lives, babies—particularly breastfed babies— need lots of iron, protein, and zinc on a regular basis. Brisket (along with other cuts of beef and red meat like bison and lamb) deliver plenty of these essential nutrients. An added bonus: tough cuts of meat like brisket are relatively simple to prepare in advance in a pressure cooker or slow cooker, plus the flavor deepens over time. Read on for age-appropriate serving ideas! 

Amelia, 6 months, tastes brisket for the first time.
Max, 12 months, eats minced brisket in polenta.

Is brisket healthy for babies?

Absolutely. Beef offers essential nutrients that help your baby grow: B vitamins, iron, selenium, zinc, and more. The meat is also packed with protein and both saturated and polyunsaturated fats, which your baby needs for brain, heart, and vision health.1 But keep in mind that the nutritional benefits differ depending on where and how the animal was raised. 

Meat from animals that consume a natural diet of grasses and wild plants growing in a pasture offers more healthy fats (including omega-3 fatty acids) and nutrients like vitamin E, flavonoids, and carotenoids, which our bodies convert to vitamin A.2 They also contain fewer antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides than meat from animals raised on commodity crops in feedlots.

The challenge for American consumers is that the U.S. federal government does not have a regulatory framework to standardize the labeling of beef and other animal products. When you see a package of “grass-fed” beef, do you imagine a bucolic image of cows roaming in a green pasture under sunny skies? Think again: packages labeled “grass-fed” beef could easily come from an animal that was fed grass (or more likely, hay) on a packed feedlot. The same is true for “pasture-raised” beef—there is no federal definition or regulatory monitoring to standardize the marketing term, so the animal may have spent just a portion of its life on a pasture. Products simply labeled “beef” or “natural beef” on the package most likely came from cattle raised on a feedlot, fed commodity crops, and may contain antibiotics.

When shopping for beef, look for producers with trustworthy farming and animal husbandry practices and pay attention to labels to better understand how the animal was raised. 

★Tip: Second place wins in the brisket game! Seek out the “second cut” or “point cut” of brisket rather than the “first cut” or “flat cut” of meat. Second cut is typically marbled with more fat, which is helpful for growing babies and the cooking process. Fat keeps the meat moist and tender as it roasts! 

Is brisket a choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Chunks of meat can be difficult for babies to chew and swallow, and while brisket can be pulled, finely chopped, minced, or shredded in a way that makes it easy for babies to eat, there is still a risk of choking. Always stay close to your baby and watch them closely during mealtime.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Is brisket a common allergen?

No, though in theory, one could be allergic to any food. As with introducing any new food, start off with a small amount and gradually increase portion sizes over time.

How do you prepare brisket for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: Serve strips of brisket that are approximately the width and length of two adult fingers placed next to one another. Your baby will mostly just suck and munch on the meat. If a too-big piece breaks off in your baby’s mouth, give your baby a chance to work it forward before intervening. You can also coach your baby to spit out food by sticking out your tongue and saying “BLAH” dramatically to model the behavior. 

9 to 12 months old: Serve minced or shredded brisket on its own or mixed into other foods. Minced brisket can be folded into easy-to-scoop food, such as mashed plantains, potatoes or soft grain dishes like polenta. Let your baby get messy by scooping with hands and if desired, offer a pre-loaded spoon to start to introduce utensils.

12 to 24 months old: Continue with minced or shredded brisket, and as you feel comfortable, begin to offer bite-size pieces as a finger food or to eat with a fork. 

For more information on how to cut food for your baby’s age, hop over to our section on Food Sizes & Shapes.

★Save Money: Before you serve the meal, set aside two or three portions of brisket to freeze in individual containers. Brisket freezes exceptionally well and can be chopped and folded into other foods like plantains, polenta, potatoes and rice to stretch the meals.

Recipe: Braised Brisket for Babies

This is a big batch recipe to feed the whole family for dinner with plenty of leftovers for future mealtimes! It’s easy to prepare but it takes time, so be sure to plan ahead. Got frozen meat? Make sure to defrost in the fridge at least one night before you plan to cook. Start by picking a cooking vessel, then proceed as directed below.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds second-cut brisket
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large celery stalk
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium carrot
  • 16 ounces chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Directions

Pressure Cooker (2.5 hours)

  1. Wash the meat and pat it dry. Assess the pot to determine if the meat will lay flat in one piece. If not, cut the brisket into sections to make it fit. Use the sauté function the brown the meat on all sides, around 15 minutes total.
  2. While the meat is browning, peel and destem the carrots, garlic, and onions, then finely dice along with the celery.
  3. Remove the browned meat to a large plate. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, and onions to the pot, then place the brisket on top. Add the tomatoes with their juices along with the herbs, spices, and stock. Cover and lock the lid. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour and 30 minutes. (It takes about 15 minutes for the machine to reach high pressure.)
  4. When the pressure cooking is finished, let the steam release manually for 15 minutes, then use the valve to release any remaining steam.
  5. Unlock and remove the lid. Transfer the meat to a large bowl or cutting board.
  6. Decide how you want to serve the brisket: pulled or sliced. For pulled brisket, use two forks to shred the meat, discarding any fatty chunks. For sliced, simply use a sharp knife to cut the meat into your desired shape.
  7. Place the meat on a deep serving plate. Transfer enough sauce from the pot to moisten the meat, but not submerge it, then serve. Cool leftovers before storing the fridge or freezer.

 

Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker (10 hours)

  1. If using an oven, preheat to 225 degrees. Wash the meat and pat it dry. Assess the pot of your Dutch oven or slow cooker to determine if the meat will lay flat in one piece. If not, cut the brisket into sections to make it fit.Add the oil to the pot and warm over medium heat. Add the brisket and brown on both sides, around 15 minutes total.
  2. While the meat is browning, peel and destem the carrots, garlic, and onions, then finely dice along with the celery.
  3. Remove the browned meat to a large plate or platter and set aside. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, and onions to the pan, and sauté until soft over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices along with the herbs, spices, and stock.
  4. Place the brisket on top of the vegetables, then cover the pot. If you don’t have a lid for your Dutch oven, place a sheet of parchment paper over the pot, then wrap the top of the pot tightly with aluminum foil. For slow cookers, set to cook on the low setting. For Dutch ovens, transfer the pot to the oven. Cook overnight or at least 8 hours. Your kitchen will smell amazing!

Slow Cooker

Turn off the slow cooker or remove the pot from the oven. Uncover and let sit until the meat has cooled slightly. Transfer the meat to a large bowl or cutting board.Decide how you want to serve the brisket: pulled or sliced. For pulled brisket, use two forks to shred the meat, discarding any fatty chunks. For sliced, simply use a sharp knife to cut the meat into your desired shape. Remove any fatty gristle before serving to babies.Place the meat on a deep serving plate. Transfer enough sauce from the pot to moisten the meat, but not submerge it, then serve. Cool leftovers before storing the fridge or freezer.

Flavor Pairings

Beef is so versatile! You can adapt the above braised brisket recipe by experimenting with ingredients to suit your family’s taste. Like heat? Add chili paste or fresh hot peppers to the braising liquid before cooking. Want a richer dish? Braise the meat in beef stock. Want to test new flavors? Try different spice combinations. Coriander, cumin, and paprika all work well.

  1. Pighin, D., Pazos, A., Chamorro, V., Paschetta, F.,Cunzolo, S. et al. (2016). A Contribution of Beef to Human Health: A Review of the Role of the Animal Production Systems. The Scientific World Journal. doi: 10.1155/2016/8681491. Retrieved May 3, 2020
  2. Pighin, D., Pazos, A., Chamorro, V., Paschetta, F.,Cunzolo, S. et al. (2016). A Contribution of Beef to Human Health: A Review of the Role of the Animal Production Systems. The Scientific World Journal. doi: 10.1155/2016/8681491. Retrieved May 3, 2020