This special brisket is the recipe featured in our Passover edition of Cooking with Grandma. In the video, Irma Zigas shows her grandson Caleb how to make the California version of her brisket (by “California,” she means “quick cooking with prepackaged ingredients”). Irma developed this approach in the 1970s, when much of her time was spent protesting the Vietnam War and working for women’s causes. Irma and Caleb celebrate Passover every year with this brisket, though they do not keep kosher, so we can’t guarantee that this recipe is kosher. Irma also recommends making it days ahead and reheating it when you’re ready to serve it, so that you can spend more time with your guests.

What to buy: Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt is a seasoned salt mix that can be found in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt is a good substitute.

Irma uses Lipton Recipe Secrets onion soup mix in her recipe; it can be found in the soup aisle of most grocery stores.

Jellied cranberry sauce can be found in the canned vegetable aisle of most grocery stores.

Creamed horseradish sauce is prepared horseradish and can be found in most grocery stores.

  • Yield: 6 to 10 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 2 hrs 15 mins

Ingredients (9)

  • 1 (5- to 6- pound) beef brisket
  • Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt
  • 1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • Hungarian paprika
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 1 (16-ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine (optional)
  • Horseradish cream, for garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 350ºF. Rinse brisket and pat dry with paper towels. Season liberally on both sides with Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt and set aside.
  2. Spray a medium frying pan with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of paprika, cook until softened, and set aside.
  3. Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add brisket and brown thoroughly on both sides. Transfer brisket to a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle onion soup mix over top and add reserved onions, jellied cranberry sauce, and tomato paste. Fill the now-empty tomato paste can with water and add it to the dish. Wrap the brisket tightly with more heavy-duty aluminum foil and place it in a large aluminum pan or 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
  4. Bake the brisket until cooked through, about 1 to 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then thinly slice. (You can now place the brisket and cooking juices in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.) When ready to serve, remove the meat from the sauce with a slotted spoon and reserve. Place the sauce in a saucepan, add wine (if using), and bring to a boil. Reduce sauce until slightly thickened, add meat, and cook until just heated through. Serve with a green salad and creamed horseradish sauce.