The Best Way To Cook Corned Beef Explained In 5 Easy Steps

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Corned beef brisket is pickled and brined to perfection, elevating what was once a food preservation technique to a gourmet cooking method. 

If you’ve never tried this dish, you may be wondering what roasted, marbled beef has to do with corn. The answer is nothing. While this dish does contain vegetables—carrots, potatoes, and cabbage—there are no corn kernels here. 

The name is a reference to the curing technique once used to preserve beef, in which people covered raw meat in large corn-sized grains of salt. If you were painting a picture in your mind of a meal served up with a buttery side of corn, think again. Imagine, instead, tender reddish meat that’s salty, spicy, sour, and sweet. (A buttery side of corn is still an option, though.) This dish has all of its flavor bases covered. 

Brining this roast requires up to 10 days, so make sure you plan this meal ahead of time. Although it takes several hours to cook, this recipe has little prep time. If you’re patient enough to make a corned beef roast, you’ll be rewarded with delicious corned beef to reheat for the rest of the week. 

How to make corned beef

Preparation time: 15 minutes + brining time (several days, be sure to plan ahead)

Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Servings: 8

Ingredients

For the brining solution

  • 1 gallon of cold water

  • 1 cup kosher salt 

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar

  • ⅓ cup pickling spices (traditional recipes include a mix of cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds, allspice, bay leaves, and black peppercorns, but you can easily purchase a ready-made seasoning packet and save yourself some time)

  • 2 teaspoons pink curing salt

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

For the meat

  • 5 pounds beef brisket

  • 4 cups beef broth

  • 1 tablespoon pickling spices

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch rounds

  • 1 pound of halved small red potatoes

  • 1 head green cabbage, cored and cut into four pieces 

Preparation instructions 

  1. Start several days ahead by making the brine. Brine is a curing, pickling liquid that helps meat stay soft during a variety of cooking processes. Add the water, kosher salt, brown sugar, pickling spices, pink salt, and garlic to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Make sure you have enough water to cover the whole roast. Then, bring the heat down to a simmer. Cook until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved. Finally, remove the pot from the heat and let the liquid cool.

  2. Place the brisket in a large freezer bag or clean plastic container with a lid, and pour the cold brining solution over the meat. You can store the meat this way for up to 10 days, turning the meat in the liquid at the halfway point. We recommend following the entire 10-day brining suggestion. You should turn the meat once, on day five, and remove the meat from the liquid on day 10. 

  3. There are several ways to make this dish, but no best way. You can use a slow cooker or an Instant Pot, but we’re going to show you a method that makes use of traditional kitchen equipment that you likely already have on hand: a Dutch oven. Place the brined meat in a Dutch-oven-style pot and sprinkle with the pickling spices. Then, add the beef broth, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. 

  4. Bring the mixture to a boil on the stovetop, and then reduce the temperature to low heat and cover. Cook for roughly 3 ½ hours more. If it all evaporates or absorbs, you can add some water, but resist doing this unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

Chef’s tip: If you prefer to make this recipe in the oven, you may do so by following the same instructions, but after boiling, cover the pot and move it to an oven preheated to 350°F and cook for 3 ½-4 hours. 

  1. Once the meat has finished cooking, let it cool to a safe eating temperature. Slice the beef across the grain to get that classic corned-beef texture and avoid stringy cuts.  

Recipe adapted from Kevin Is Cooking.

Karen Hermann – stock.adobe.com

Nutritional values per serving

Calories: 418

Fat: 13 grams

Saturated Fat: 4 grams

Cholesterol: 105 milligrams 

Carbohydrates: 35 grams 

Protein: 39 grams 

Sodium: 1059 milligrams 

Fiber: 5 grams 

Sugar: 18 grams 

Iron: 5 milligrams

FAQs

How do I make Instant Pot corned beef? 

To make the best corned beef in an Instant Pot, follow the brining instructions given above and then place the meat on a rack in the machine. The fat side of the beef should be facing up. As in the traditional recipe, sprinkle the meat with one tablespoon of the seasoning for corned beef and pour in the broth. Seal the lid of the Instant Pot tightly before cooking on high heat for 90 minutes. Be sure to use the natural pressure release setting. Then, remove the meat (but leave the liquid behind the pot) and add in the vegetables. Close tightly and cook on high heat for 3 minutes on the quick pressure release setting. Cut and serve as you would regular corned beef. 

How do I cook corned beef in a slow cooker? 

You can make corned beef in a Crockpot by placing the meat directly in the pot, sprinkling with the seasoning, covering with your cooking liquid (ideally beef broth), and cooking it “low and slow” for up to 10 hours. If you’re in a rush, you can turn the heat up to high and cook for half the time. Whatever cooking heat you choose, be sure to add in the carrot and potatoes at the halfway point so that they don’t get too soft. The cabbage needs even less time to cook, and should be added when you have only two hours left on the clock, no matter the total cooking time or temp.

chas53 – stock.adobe.com

How long to cook corned beef?

This depends greatly on the cooking method. Traditional Dutch oven methods take 3-4 hours while slow cooker corned beef recipes take much longer. The size of the roast, too, will affect how long it takes to cook.

What is the best cut of corned beef?

Brisket is widely considered the best cut for this dish. This cut of beef is from the chest region of the animal and starts off quite tough. However, through brining and slow cooking, this cut becomes fork tender.  
Time to start that brining solution. Order all the spices you need through Gopuff and you’ll have them at your door before you can say “brisket.” Prepare to get one step closer to perfecting your roasting techniques.

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