Everyone is Irish with this hearty, savory Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe! A classic Irish-American dish of tender corn beef brisket slow cooked with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots, it’s an ultimate comfort food and a tasty way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
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Corned beef is a brisket that’s been cured in a spice and salt brine for 5 days, giving it a unique spicy, savory, tangy, and sweet flavor and meltingly tender texture.
Originally designed to preserve meat before the invention of refrigeration, the name “corned” refers to the large grains of salt, resembling kernels of corn, that were used to cure the beef.
These days, you can buy corned beef that has already been cured in the salt brine (most grocery stores carry them leading up to St. Patrick’s Day), or for the ultimate traditional corned beef experience, make your own homemade Corned Beef.
Once your corned beef is cured and ready to cook, set aside a few hours for it to cook slowly. As it rests, you’ll make the vegetables, then serve everything up for a rewarding, comforting dinner.
The History of Corned Beef and Cabbage
Corned beef and cabbage was popularized by Irish immigrants in the United States during the 19th century.
In Ireland, the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal was bacon and cabbage, but due to the high cost of bacon in America, the resourceful Irish immigrants substituted corned beef instead.
With time, corned beef and cabbage became the classic dinner recipe served on St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s a tradition with a rich history that we can celebrate today!
Tips for the Best Corned Beef
- Rinse the Corned Beef Prior to Cooking. This removes excess salt and spices and ensures the brisket won’t be too salty.
- Low and Slow Cooking. Brisket is a tough cut of meat and needs long, gentle cooking to become tender. Corned beef takes about 3 hours to cook on the stove top.
- Cut the Vegetables Large. This will ensure they do not become too mushy and soft after boiling.
- Let Rest. The corned beef needs to rest for at least 20 minutes at room temperature prior to slicing to allow the juices in the meat to re-incorporate. If you cut it immediately, the meat will be tough.
- Slice Against the Grain. Cutting against the grain helps make the slices more tender.
How to Make this Corned Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe
Corned beef and cabbage transforms humble ingredients into an all-in-one meal that can feed a crowd.
- Brisket is a tough, marbled cut of meat, but with gentle, slow cooking, it is coaxed into a meltingly tender dish.
- Cabbage is an undersung, nutritious, and budget-friendly vegetable with big-time potential.
- Potatoes and carrots round out the meal, making corned beef and cabbage a complete dish.
There are a variety of methods to cook corned beef, including in the crock pot, Instant Pot, baking, or boiling.
The best method depends upon how much time you have, as well as which appliances are in your kitchen.
Boiling corned beef is the most traditional way to cook it, and what you’ll find in the recipe below.
- Corned Beef. Brisket that’s been cured in a salt brine for days, corned beef is flavored with whole spices like cardamom, mustard seeds, and peppercorns, plus brown sugar, vinegar, and a pink curing salt that gives it its color. It tastes richly savory and a little sweet and tangy. You can make your own corned beef from scratch, or purchase it premade.
- Pickling Spice. The key to classic corned beef flavor. It adds a delightful, harmonious blend of sweet, spicy, savory, and sour notes to the liquid. The pickling spice is also what tenderizes corned beef.
- Bay Leaf. The secret ingredient for tasty corned beef and cabbage! It subtly enhances the overall flavor of the dish and adds depth.
- Garlic. Another flavor booster for the cooking liquid.
- Cabbage. The classic companion for corned beef. Unlike raw cabbage, the cooked cabbage wedges are tender and flavorful. Cabbage is packed with vitamin C, fiber, and folate.
- Other Vegetables. A mix of carrots, potatoes, and onion. These three veggies become deliciously tender in the cooking liquid, absorbing its rich flavors. Together, they add vitamins, fiber, and potassium to the dish.
- Dijon Mustard. Tangy Dijon mustard is stirred into the cooking liquid at the end to help thicken it and add a boost of flavor. Dijon is the mustard that goes best with corned beef and cabbage.
- Rinse and dry the meat. Trim any excess fat.
- Place the meat in a stockpot, covering it with at least 1 inch of water. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and pickling spice.
- Boil over high heat, then reduce it to a simmer. Let simmer for 3 hours.
- Allow the meat to cool for 10 minutes after the cooking time has ended. Using tongs, transfer the meat to a cutting board. Strain 2 cups of the liquid into a small bowl, and discard the remaining liquid. Rinse the pot.
- Let the beef cool for 20 minutes.
- Pour the strained liquid and water into the pot.
- Add the vegetables, then bring the mixture to a boil. Baste the vegetables. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, basting the vegetables 2 more times.
- Slice the beef.
- Transfer the vegetables to a serving platter. Add the beef.
- Stir the mustard into the remaining liquid in the pot. Drizzle it over the platter. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate corned beef and cabbage in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a covered baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
Meal Prep Tip
Slice the carrots, onion, and cabbage up to 1 day in advance. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
The best way to use leftover corned beef and cabbage is in Corned Beef Hash. With the addition of a couple of simple ingredients, you can turn your leftovers into a hearty and flavor-packed breakfast.
What to Serve with Corned Beef and Cabbage
- Bread. You can’t go wrong with a side of Irish Soda Bread or Irish Soda Bread Muffins.
- Vegetables. For an extra serving of veggies, pair this meal with Roasted Green Beans or Sauteed Spinach.
- Salad. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad would be tasty with this recipe.
- Dessert. We can’t forget dessert! Guinness Brownies are a true treat.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Stockpot. Use this for everything from corned beef to chili.
- Tongs. Easily pick up the beef without the liquid.
- Carving Knife. Perfect for carving corned beef.
Let’s all be Irish for a meal with this rich, savory, and comforting corned beef and cabbage recipe!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the corned beef must be rinsed to remove the excess brine that is on the outside of the meat. If you do not rinse it, the corned beef will taste too salty.
Absolutely! I have not tested this in a crockpot, but I believe it would work well. Add the onions to the bottom of a slow cooker. Top the onions with the beef. Add the bay leaves and pickling spice. Place the potatoes, carrots, and garlic on top of the beef. Pour in the water. Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook on LOW for 8 hours (add the cabbage before the final 2 hours of cooking). Remove the beef to a cutting board with tongs, allowing it to cool for 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a platter. Slice the beef as directed, then place it on the platter. Strain 2 cups of the liquid in the crock pot into a bowl. Rinse out the slow cooker. Pour the 2 cups of strained liquid back into the slow cooker, then stir in the mustard. Top the beef and vegetables with the mustard mixture. DIG IN!
While not necessary, you can serve horseradish sauce with corned beef. The strong, spicy flavor of horseradish pairs well with the meat, but it is plenty tasty on its own too.
I have not tried making corned beef in a pressure cooker, but I think you could experiment with it. After rinsing the beef, add it to the Instant Pot with the garlic, bay leaves, pickling spice, and 4 cups of water. Seal and cook on HIGH pressure for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Perform a natural release. Remove the corned beef with tongs to a cutting board. Add the vegetables to the Instant Pot. Seal and cook on HIGH pressure for 2 to 3 minutes. Perform a quick release. Remove the vegetables to a platter using a slotted spoon. Strain 2 cups of the liquid into a bowl as directed. Rinse out the Instant Pot. Slice the corned beef as directed and add it to the platter. Pour the 2 cups of strained liquid into the Instant Pot, then stir in the mustard. Drizzle the mixture over the beef and vegetables. DIG IN!
Corned Beef and Cabbage
For the Corned Beef:
- 3- to 4- pound Corned Beef Brisket homemade or storebought
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice*
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves peeled
For the Cabbage & Vegetables:
- 2 cups water
- 4 medium carrots chopped on a bias into 2” pieces
- 1 pound Gold Potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
- 1 medium yellow or white onion peeled, halved, with halves cut into thirds
- 1 medium head cabbage cored and cut into wedges
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Rinse the brisket all over, then pat very dry. If applicable, trim off excess fat carefully with a paring knife, being careful not to cut away any of the meat itself.
- Place the brined brisket into a large stockpot (6 quarts or larger) and cover with at least 1 inch of water above the brisket. Add garlic cloves, bay leaf, and 1 tablespoon pickling spice.
- Bring liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 3 hours or until the brisket registers 180 degrees F to 190 degrees F on a meat thermometer and is fork tender.
- Once the meat is ready, turn off the heat and let cool 10 minutes. With kitchen tongs, carefully remove the corned beef from the cooking liquid and transfer it to a cutting board. Remove 2 cups of liquid from the pot, then strain it into a bowl to remove any pieces. Set aside. Discard the remaining liquid from the pot and lightly rinse the pot to use later.
- Let the corned beef cool for 20 minutes at room temperature.
- While the corned beef cools, place the 2 cups of the strained liquid and 2 cups of water into the now-empty pot.
- Top with carrots, potatoes, onion, and cabbage. Bring liquid to a boil, then use a soup ladle to baste the vegetables at the top of the pot. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook until vegetables have softened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Baste the vegetables with the hot liquid 2 more times as they cook.
- While the vegetables cook, slice the corned beef against the grain into 1/4” inch strips.
- When the vegetables are ready, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a large serving platter that has a lip to prevent liquid overflow. Top the cooked vegetables with the sliced corned beef.
- To the pot of leftover liquid from the vegetables, add the mustard and mix together until combined. Spoon the liquid over the platter. Enjoy!
- *Depending upon your brand of pickling spice, it can be a little heavy on the allspice. If you prefer, you can pick out a few of the allspice berries, or enjoy it as is.
- TO USE STORE-BOUGHT CORNED BEEF: Rinse a 3- to 4-pound corned beef brisket and pat before cooking as directed. If the corned beef comes with a pickling spice packet (sometimes the store-bought versions do), you can use this in place of the “1 tablespoon pickling spice” when cooking the corned beef, so you don’t need to buy a jar of pickling spice.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate corned beef and cabbage in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a covered baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
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