What’s the Best Way to Cook Corned Beef?

Everything you need to know about how to cook corned beef and cabbage on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot and more.

Updated on February 28, 2024
Patrick's Day corned beef delicious fresh food.

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Patrick's Day corned beef delicious fresh food.

Photo by: Basya555/Getty Images

Basya555/Getty Images

By Heath Goldman and Emily Saladino for Food Network Kitchen

Heath Goldman and Emily Saladino are culinary editors at Food Network.

Corned beef and cabbage is a lovely dish that many people often enjoy around St. Patrick’s Day, but it can be served any time you want something hearty. There are many different ways to prepare it to create a melt-in-your-mouth tender, flavorful dish. In this guide to cooking corned beef and cabbage, we'll walk you through the best way to cook corned beef, what temperature to cook corned beef and how to use the Instant Pot or other equipment to speed up the process. We even included some of our favorite corned beef and cabbage recipes.

Where Did Corned Beef and Cabbage Come From?

While many people associate this dish with Ireland, corned beef and cabbage is an American invention, historians say. Generally, in Ireland, pork was the protein of choice. However, in the late 19th century, Irish immigrants to the United States began to embrace beef brisket, which was popular and often more affordable than the salted pork they had favored in Ireland. Plus, since pork had negative connotations to many 19th century Americans, some Irish immigrants wanted to align themselves with beef to avoid stigma. Dishes of slow-simmered beef were popular with many people in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it wasn't until the 1950s and 60s that corned beef and cabbage became associated with Ireland in the United States.

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 suggest cooking 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 cut and look for a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

How Long to Cook Corned Beef

How long you cook your corned beef depends on its size and your cooking method. The USDA recommends simmering corned beef on the stovetop for 1 hour per pound of meat. If you're cooking yours in the oven, plan for 3 to 3 1/2 hours for a 2 1/2- to 3-pound cut.

corned beef with a side of carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and onion.

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How to cook corned beef and cabbage at home

Photo by: Angelo DeSantis/Getty Images

Angelo DeSantis/Getty Images

The Best Way to Cook Corned Beef

If you want a traditional version and don't want to use special equipment, the best way to cook corned beef and cabbage is on the stovetop.

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.

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.

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?

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 each bite will be.

How to Cook the Cabbage

How you cook the cabbage for your corned beef and cabbage feast depends on your cooking method. If you're making this dish on the stovetop or in the oven, cook the beef and aromatics first. Next, place the fully cooked beef on a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Put your pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop, add the cabbage and other root vegetables to the cooking liquid and simmer until tender, approximately 20 minutes.

For slow cooker corned beef and cabbage, cook the cabbage last. Remove the meat and any root vegetables or aromatic from the cooker, then add the cabbage and cook on high for 20 minutes.

Similarly, if you're making corned beef and cabbage in the Instant Pot, remove your fully cooked beef and vegetables and any cooking liquid, then add approximately 2 cups of the cooking liquid back into the Instant Pot and cook the cabbage on high for about 4 minutes.

Recipes for Corned Beef and Cabbage

Whether you prefer to make it on the stovetop, in the oven or using an Instant Pot, corned beef and cabbage is a forgiving dish that encourages experimentation. Try adding new spices or aromatics, or switch up the types of cabbage or root vegetables in your pot. Here, a few of our favorite recipes for corned beef and cabbage.

Food Network Kitchen Step by Steps Beauty Corned Beef and Cabbage

The best way to cook corned beef and cabbage includes this slow-roasted oven method

Photo by: LUCY SCHAEFFER

LUCY SCHAEFFER

This recipe for corned beef and cabbage is so delicious, we'd like to eat it year-round. The cabbage and potatoes are cooked in the same pot as the brisket, so everything comes out perfectly tender and infused with flavor.

Food Network Kitchen’s Corned Beef and Cabbage, as seen on Food Network.

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How to cook corned beef and cabbage in the oven

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

This recipe gently braises the corned beef in the oven for a little less than four hours. The results are beautifully tender.

The best way to cook corned beef in a slow cooker

Photo by: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Brian Kennedy, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Depending on which cut of beef you buy, your corned beef will be either tender or extremely tender. Either way, this recipe is bound to have everyone asking for seconds.

Food Network Kitchen’s Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

The best way to cook corned beef in the instant pot

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Love a traditional St. Patrick's day dinner, but don't love how long it takes to make one? Here's an easy express route using your pressure cooker.

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