How to Cook Corned Beef

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Learn how to cook Corned Beef, a traditional recipe that dates back years! Even if you’re not Irish, you should give it a try! This is a great recipe for St. Patrick’s day, or any day of the year.

How do you cook corned beef? First, place the brisket in a pot, fill it with water, and add the spice packet that came with the meat. Boil it alone to start and then simmer for 50 minutes per pound of meat. Finally, add some carrots and potatoes, cook it all together for 15 minutes, add cabbage, and cook for 15 more minutes. Take it off the heat, let the meat rest for 10 minutes, and you’re ready to dig into a delicious and piping hot classic Irish dish!

What is Corned Beef Exactly?

Corned beef is a juicy and flavorful meat dish that is made by slowly simmering brisket meat in a flavorful liquid until the meat is tender and cooked through. The word “corned” refers to the rock salt (large crystals of salt) that are used to cure the meat. By curing the meat, you get a world-class flavor in your food and a slightly pinkish color there as well. Curing also locks in a lot of moisture, so you can bet that your homemade corned beef will never be dry or tough.

Curing the meat is a lengthy process that requires salting the meat and letting it sit for hours to infuse it with flavor. You can skip this step altogether and still make perfect corned beef at home. Simply ask your butcher for brisket that has already been cured. This is most readily available from specialty butchers, but you can often find corned beef at grocery stores. It’s especially available around St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone wants to cook corned beef at home.

What Part of the Cow is Corned Beef From?

Corned beef is made from the cut of beef known as brisket. Brisket consists of meat from the chest of the cow. You can cook brisket in many different ways. However, the main difference between cooked brisket and corned beef is the salt-curing process corned beef goes through.

How Long is Unopened Corned Beef Good For?

If you don’t plan on cooking your corned beef the day you bought it, you don’t need to worry. Packaged corned beef will stay fresh in the fridge for 5-7 days according to the USDA. If you drain the liquid and seal the meat nice and tight, it can be put in the freezer for 1 month. Then transfer the frozen meat to the fridge the day before you want to prepare the dish to allow it to thaw completely.

How to Cook Corned Beef

Once you’ve acquired your pre-cured brisket to cook corned beef, here is how to finish the dish:


  • 3 pounds corned beef
  • 1 spice packet (this comes with the corned beef when purchased from a butcher)
  • 1 large head cabbage
  • 5 carrots
  • 10 small potatoes

Prepping the Corned Beef

Once you’ve gathered all the ingredients, you can start making this great recipe.

The great thing about buying corned beef nowadays is that the job is almost done. All you have to do is finish cooking the meat. And this process is a largely hands-off recipe that fills your home with delicious aromas.

Step 1: Wash the vegetables

First thing first: wash your produce and dry it with paper towels.

Before cooking them, you want to make sure to scrub the vegetables well with your fingers to get rid of any dirt that can be hiding between the cabbage leaves or in the crevices in the carrots and potatoes.

Step 2: Prepare the vegetables

After cleaning the vegetables, take care of the rest of their prep work before moving on to the meat. Go one by one and check that all three have been taken care of:

  • Cabbage: Cut it into small wedges.
  • Carrots: Peel them and then cut them into cubes. Make them all look nice and even!
  • Potatoes: They just have to look nice and ready – you’ll bake them along with the meat in one of the later steps.

All of the vegetables should be cut to about the same size. Avoid cutting them too small, or they will fall apart during the hour-plus cooking process. Instead, aim for roughly 2-inch pieces. This way, they will cook evenly and maintain their texture well after cooking.

Step 3: Fill the pot

Start working with the corned beef itself. Grab a large pot and place the corned beef inside. Next, cover the meat with cold water and add the spice packet that came with your meat.

Cooking the Corned Beef

Turn up the heat! This part of the recipe takes the longest, but it’s also simple and takes very little work.

Step 1: Boil and simmer

Heat the pot with the meat and seasoning over high heat until the water reaches a boil. Once there, bring the heat down, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 50 minutes per pound of meat. For instance, for the 3 pounds of corned beef recommended in this recipe, let it simmer for 150 minutes or 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Step 2: Add the veggies

Now it’s time to bring the veggies (except for the cabbage) into the mix. Put the carrots and potatoes into the pot and cook there for 15 more minutes. After 15 minutes have gone by, add the cabbage pieces. Cook the cabbage for another 15 minutes or until everything is fork-tender.

Step 3: Remove and rest

After the final 15 minutes have passed, remove the pot from the stove. Let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes to cool slightly. As a result of allowing the meat to rest, you also help the cooked corn beef retain its moisture and make it easier for you to cut.

Finally, remove the corned beef from the pot and slice it into thin slices. Serve it up hot with the simmered and flavorful vegetables piled high on each plate. It’s time to eat!

What to Serve with Corned Beef

The great part about this recipe is that you cook the vegetables, starch and protein all in one pot. You may not even need another dish to feed a crowd a well-rounded meal. However, if you’d like to add a bit more green to people’s plates, a fresh green salad or roasted broccoli make a nice pairing.

What is the Red Liquid in the Corned Beef?

Don’t worry, the red liquid is not blood! In fact, the red liquid in the corned beef is actually a mixture of water and myoglobin. The former you already know what it is. The latter is a natural animal protein, so there is nothing to worry about there!

If you’re afraid of the pink color of your meat, you don’t have to worry about that either! That comes from the rock salt – a crucial element in preparing corned beef.

Ideas for Corned Beef Leftovers

Since cooking an entire corned beef meal means cooking multiple pounds of meat, it’s normal to have leftovers, unless you’re feeding a large crowd. This corned beef recipe tastes as good as leftovers as when you first make it, but if you want to vary how you eat your corned beef leftovers, here are some different ways to eat them. Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.

Here are some delicious ways to repurpose your beefy leftovers all week long:

  • Corned beef sandwiches or lettuce wraps
  • Put it in a casserole with cheese and more potatoes
  • On top of a baked potato
  • Inside a crispy quesadilla or taco
  • Corned beef and cabbage soup
corned beef

Corned Beef

How to cook Corned Beef with potatoes, cabbage and carrots.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish
Servings 6


  • Large pot
  • Tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Knife


  • 3 pounds corned beef
  • 1 spice packet this comes with the corned beef when purchased from a butcher
  • 1 large head cabbage cut into wedges
  • 5 carrots cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 10 small potatoes cut into 2-inch pieces


  • Place the meat and seasoning packet in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 50 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add the cabbage and cook for 15 minutes more.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Slice the meat and serve with vegetables.
Keyword Corned beef

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