How to Cook Corned Beef (Stove Top)

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Corned Beef is the most delicious and flavorful entree, perfect served alongside potatoes and cabbage (or for making a delicious Reuben Sandwich)!

If you’ve never had it before, St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect opportunity to try corned beef. A brined beef brisket is simmered with seasonings (and a bit of Guinness) until fork tender. This classic Irish staple couldn’t be more delicious!

Serve it next to mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or roasted root vegetables for a comforting meal that everyone will love!

Corned Beef sliced on a wood board

Corned Beef

What is Corned Beef? It is a brine-and-spice-cured beef brisket. The curing process is what gives corned beef its characteristic pink color. The word “corned” refers to the large chunks or rock salt, called “corns” that are used in brining.

Typical spice mixes used for corned beef brining recipes include bay leaves, pepper corns and allspice. Some mixes may also include ginger, cinnamon or other warming spices. Nowadays, corned beef most often comes with a spice packet for you to use while cooking (and if yours doesn’t have the spice packet, pickling spices is a great substitution).

Brisket is a flavorful, though tough cut of meat that comes from the breast section of the animal. You can find corned beef in an oblong shape, but more commonly, it is triangular.

Corned beef typically has a thin layer of fat on one side. Don’t trim that off! It makes for better flavor. An oblong corned beef is a little nicer for making even slices. But whatever shape you choose, corned beef is easy comfort cooking.

corned beef on a plate with carrots and potatoes

How to Cook Corned Beef

Corned beef should be simmered until it is fork tender. To make corned beef:

  1. Place the corned beef a stock pot. Add the spice packet, a bottle of dark beer and enough water to cover the corned beef completely.
  2. Bring it to a boil and cover, cooking on a low simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours. This cooking time will vary depending on the size and shape of the corned beef.
    • Suggested cook time is 45-50 minutes per pound. Ensure it is a low simmer. Check a small piece and ensure it’s tender.
  3. Once fork tender, remove the corned beef from the liquid and rest for at least 20 minutes.

While the meat is resting, add the vegetables to the corned beef water and simmer about 25 minutes. The water has tons of delicious flavor perfect for potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Toss them in butter, salt and pepper, and fresh parsley.

IMPORTANT TIP:

Corned Beef must always be cut across the grain. Look at the beef and you can see the direction of the fibers of the meat, you’ll want to cut the opposite way the fibers run for the most tender meat!

Instant Pot Corned Beef: You can also make Instant Pot Corned Beef using the same ingredients. Simply place the corned beef, 1 bottle of beer and 2 cups of water in the Instant Pot. A 3.5-4lb corned beef will need about 90 minutes (with 15 minutes natural release).

What To Serve with Corned Beef

Corned beef only needs the simplest side dishes to make your meal complete. To keep the traditional Irish theme going, serve it with cabbage, colcannon, or mashed potatoes.

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corned beef on a plate with carrots and potatoes
5 from 42 votes
Review Recipe

Corned Beef

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
With St. Patricks Day approaching, it's the perfect opportunity to try corned beef. Delicious beef is simmered in a beer and water mixture with seasonings until fork tender. 

Ingredients

  • 1 corned beef brisket 3-4 pounds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle dark beer optional
  • 1 ½ pounds baby potatoes halved
  • 3 large carrots
  • ½ head cabbage cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter or to taste
  • salt & pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley

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Instructions

  • Place the corned beef in a large stock pot. Add spice packet if your corned beef came with one (see note if you don't have one).
  • Add one bottle of beer (optional) over corned beef and enough water to cover completely.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer 45-50 minutes per pound (until meat is fork tender). Approximately 2 ½ -3 ½ hours.
  • Once tender, remove meat from the pot and cover (reserve the cooking liquid, this will flavor your vegetables). Place corned beef in a 250°F oven to keep warm.
  • Bring the corned beef water back up to a boil. Add in vegetables and cook an additional 20-30 minutes or until tender.
  • Place vegetables in a large bowl and toss with butter. Add parsley to taste.
  • Slice the corned beef against the grain.

Recipe Notes

If your corned beef didn't come with a seasoning packet, add 1-2 tablespoons pickling spice and 2 bay leaves to the water.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 280, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 57mg, Sodium: 1151mg, Potassium: 697mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 3335IU, Vitamin C: 57.4mg, Calcium: 42mg, Iron: 2.4mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword corned beef
Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish

 

 

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Corned Beef on a plate with vegetables and parsley shown with a title
Corned Beef cooked with carrots and potatoes shown with a title
About the author

Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Comments

  1. I do not boil my corned beef, never have. I rinse it off thoroughly, removing all the packaged jell. I cover the corned beef completely with a seasoning rub. Place in a oven pot with lid. For the liquid, I use pineapple juice, apple juice a little whiskey and some water is needed throughout the cooking. Place the corned beef on a rack above the liquid. Place the lid on tightly. Cook in oven for about 1-1/5 per pound at 270-290 degrees. If it is cooking too fast turn it down. About the last hour, I place all my veggies in the pot. Checking often and pouring the hot liquid over the veggies as they cook. The last 15 minutes, I uncover and let it brown a little bit. Serve with horseradish sauce. It is very delicious and tender.5 stars

  2. The spices added are crucial to the recipe but how do you handle the resulting corned beef and vegetables that are then covered in loose spices? Do you scrape them off as best you can? There must be an easier way to handle this.
    Thanks for any help here.

    1. If you prefer you can remove the spices. You could pour a bit of the liquid and scrape them as the liquid runs off. Or you can just leave them and serve it as is.

    2. Roxana—you could put all those spices in cheesecloth bags and tie them up so nothing gets out. That is my solution. Good luck!

      1. Thank you, Fran! That’s the solution I came up with, too. I appreciate your help. Roxana

  3. When cooking corn beef in the crock pot, do you cook the beef with the juices and seasoning that is sealed up with the meat from the market?

    1. Hi Willard, we add the corned beef to the stockpot along with the spice packet and cover it with beer. Hope that helps!

      1. I understand what Willard is asking. When you open the package, the meat is in a slurpy mixture. Do you rinse that off?

      2. Oh, I understand what you mean. No Margaret, we do not rinse the meat when adding it for cooking. Those seasonings are cooked along with the meat.

  4. Hi Holly – I am 51 and corned beef/ potatoes/cabbage has been my favorite meal since I was about 6 and my Grandfather came to visit and cooked my first corned beef experience! Some years ago, I don’t remember where or how, I heard about doing a corned beef in the oven…crispy and most delicious. You just cook it until fully done and the outside is crispy brown …usually cooked at 375* for about 20-30 minutes per pound…now, my favoirte way of having corned beef!!!

      1. Doesn’t boiling meat make it tougher or reduce the amount of flavor at least?

      2. Hi Charleigh, boiling the corned beef infuses it with the spices from the water and beer that it is cooked in and results in a fork-tender brisket.