How to Cook Corned Beef

A long, slow simmer is the key to this Irish favorite.

Corned beef is a salt-cured cut of beef brisket, which is a tougher cut of beef requiring long, slow cooking in liquid to tenderize. A staple for St. Patrick’s Day, this easy-to-follow guide will make corned beef so tender you’ll want to make it year-round. 

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1 Soak the Corned Beef

Place the beef in your pot, cover with cold water and let soak at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes. Soaking helps draw out some of the salt from the curing process.

Choose your cut of corned beef wisely. A point cut has more fat marbling and produces juicier slices, while a flat cut is leaner and easier to cut into nice slices.

2 Add Cooking Liquid

Pour out the water used to soak the beef.  Sprinkle spices from the spice packet that comes with the corned beef into the pot. If you don’t have a packet or you simply want to amp up the spice, toss in a bit of pickling spice.

Add just enough water to fully cover the meat.

Add a 12-ounce can of beer or 1 1/2 cups of apple juice to the cooking liquid for added flavor. Pour over the meat before adding the water. However, avoid stout beers; they are too bitter.

3 Skim Foam

Bring the pot to a boil. Use a slotted spoon to skim off any foam that forms on the top.

4 Simmer the Beef

Cover, reduce the heat and gently simmer for 3 hours until the corned beef is fork-tender. 


5 Prepare the Vegetables

Corned beef’s classic veggie partner is cabbage. When the 3-hour slow-simmer time is almost up, cut one small to medium-sized head of cabbage into large wedges.

You can use other veggies too — halved red potatoes, whole small onions, carrots cut in large chunks and cubed rutabagas or turnips work great in this one-pot preparation. Add one or a little of each to the pot.

6 Add Vegetables

Place prepared vegetables in the pot with the corned beef. Increase heat to return the pot to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and continue to simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

7 Slice and Serve

Remove corned beef to a cutting board and trim off the fat. Cut the meat into slices, placing slices on a serving platter. To make the meat more tender, slice corned beef across the grain (with the knife running perpendicular to the lines of the meat).Use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables from the pot, letting excess water drain. Place vegetables on the serving platter alongside the meat.

Find more St. Patrick’s Day favorites here »
Plus: Get the full recipe for this corned beef »
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About Kitchen Is My Playground

Tracey is the creator of the popular blog The Kitchen Is My Playground, which she founded in 2011. Her goal is to share recipes with other home cooks looking to create flavorful (and somewhat adventurous) food for their families and friends. Connect with her on PinterestFacebookTwitter or Google+.