What’s the Best Way to Cook Corned Beef?
How to cook stovetop corned beef plus three other easy techniques.
By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen
Heath is a culinary editor at Food Network.
Corned beef and cabbage is a lovely dish that many people often enjoy around St. Patrick’s Day. There are many different ways to prepare it so it’s melt-in-your-mouth-tender, flavorful and juicy. We walk you through the very best way to cook corned beef — on the stovetop — as well as three other ways you might prefer depending on the equipment you own and how much time you have.
How to Brine Your Own Corned Beef
Many people choose to buy already cured corned beef that’s ready to cook. However, if you wish to cure your own brisket, we’ve got you covered with an easy brining recipe here. It involves submerging a piece of brisket in salt water seasoned with lots of different spices. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to plan ahead, because corned beef takes 5 to 7 days to cure.
At What Temperature Is Corned Beef Done Cooking?
Most recipes ask you to cook your corned beef for hours on end, until the corned beef is quite tender. This means that your corned beef will usually always be quite cooked through by the time it reaches a point of tenderness. However, if you’d like to test doneness with an instant read thermometer, insert it into the thickest portion of the corned beef and look for a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
How to Cut Corned Beef
Slicing corned beef is no different than slicing a piece of steak: you want to thinly slice it against the grain. The surface of your cooked corned beef will have visible parallel lines running in one direction. Slice perpendicularly to those lines with a sharp chef’s knife or slicing knife. The thinner you slice the corned beef, the more tender it will be.
The Best Way to Cook Corned Beef: Stovetop Corned Beef and Cabbage
Corned beef cooked on the stovetop is the most classic preparation. If you don’t have any special equipment, this is the technique for you.
Place your corned beef brisket in a large pot or Dutch oven with a lid along with some aromatics like carrot chunks, celery stalks and a quartered onion. These vegetables will infuse the cooking liquid with flavor as the corned beef simmers away. Cover the corned beef with water. Add several tablespoons of pickling spices, or make your own blend with bay leaves, whole black peppercorns, mustard seeds, juniper berries, allspice berries and whole cloves.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer, cover and braise until very tender but not falling apart, about three hours for a three-pound brisket. A fork should easily pierce through the meat. Now you can remove the brisket, cover it in foil, strain out the spices and aromatics. Add new potatoes and green cabbage wedges to the cooking broth and simmer them until they’re cooked through.
Our recipe for corned beef and cabbage is so delicious, we'd like to eat it year-round. The whole spices included in the braising liquid are our secret ingredients (the tangy horseradish cream doesn't hurt, either!). Cabbage and potatoes are cooked in the same pot as the brisket, so everything comes out perfectly tender and infused with flavor.
How to Cook Corned Beef in the Oven
Oven-baked corned beef and cabbage has its benefits because you don’t have to worry about cooking over an open flame for hours or adjusting any heat levels.
To start, place your corned beef brisket in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid and cover the brisket with water. You’ll want to add several tablespoons of pickling spices, or DIY your own spice blend by adding bay leaves, black peppercorns, whole allspice berries and cloves. Bring this mixture to a boil, uncovered, and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
Then cover the Dutch oven with a lid and transfer the corned beef to a 300 degrees F oven. Braise the corned beef until it’s very tender when you pierce it with a paring knife, just under four hours for a three-pound piece of brisket.
Once the corned beef is done cooking, you can remove it and add small new potatoes and thick wedges of green cabbage to the cooking liquid. Simmer those ingredients on the stove until they’re tender.
Corned Beef In the Slow Cooker
Slow-cooking corned beef is an effective way to achieve tender results with minimal hands-on time. Simply turn on the slow cooker in the morning, then go about your day without worry, leaving the house if need be, while your meat magically tenderizes.
First, line the insert of a large slow cooker with small redskin potatoes and a bed of sliced aromatic vegetables, including carrots, onion, celery and thyme. The vegetables will infuse extra moisture into the brisket as it cooks and flavor the cooking liquid so it turns into beautiful stock that you can serve with the brisket.
Top the potatoes with a piece of corned beef brisket and add water, stock or stout beer to the slow cooker until it just covers the brisket. You’ll also want to dump in a couple tablespoons of pickling spice. Cover and cook on low until the meat and vegetables are tender, about eight hours.
At this point, it’s time add the cabbage. Cut half a small head of green cabbage into thick wedges, remove the lid of the slow cooker and arrange it on top of the brisket. Your slow cooker might feel crowded at this point, but that’s okay! There are lots of meat and veggies in it. Cover and continue to cook on low until the cabbage is soft and wilted, about one hour more.
To serve, toss the cabbage with some melted butter and season it with salt and pepper. Strain the cooking liquid to remove the veggies. Slice the brisket against the grain and plate it with the cabbage and a drizzle of cooking liquid.
Brisket comes in two different cuts: point and the leaner flat. Depending on which you get, your corned beef may be tender and sliceable (flat cut) or very tender and falling apart (point cut). If your meat isn't labeled, speak with the butcher about which variety your grocery store stocks.
Instant Pot Corned Beef
Love a traditional St. Patrick's brisket — but don't love how long it takes to make one? Here is the perfect solution: An easy express route to celebrating that uses your pressure cooker.
Place a four-pound beef brisket, one onion cut into wedges, a few cloves of garlic, some thyme, pickling spice and six cups of water into an Instant Pot. Seal and cook on high pressure for 85 minutes. Follow the manufacturer's guide for quick release, then remove the meat. Thinly slice the brisket across the grain and serve it — how easy is that?
Love a traditional St. Patrick's day dinner—but don't love how long it takes to make one? Here is the perfect solution: An easy express route to celebrating that uses your pressure cooker.