Corned Beef – Comparing Methods

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching and with it comes Corned Beef and Cabbage.  Although we tend to think of this an ‘Irish’ meal – Corned Beef is American as apple pie.  Once considered an affordable meal, that is no longer the case until Corned Beef goes on sale for St. Patrick’s day.  It is a good time to stock up!

Much like drinking green beer, for many people cooking Corned Beef  is a once a year event. There are several schools of thought on the ‘best’ method of cooking Corned Beef but they all have one thing in common – Low and Slow.  Corned Beef is made from beef brisket, a cut of beef that can be tough if not cooked properly.  Corned Beef and Cabbage is sometimes referred to as “Boiled Dinner” which is a complete misnomer, it should be called, “Simmered Dinner”.  Do NOT boil corned beef, unless of course you like leather for dinner.

Tips for buying and cooking a perfect Corned Beef Brisket

When buying corned beef you will see two cuts, ‘Flat’ cut and ‘Point’ cut.

Flat cut Corned Beef

  • The flat cut is leaner, easier to slice and more expensive.
  • The Point cut is generally less expensive, fattier – think flavor here and although there is more waste it does tend to be more tender.



    • First things first, once you remove the corned beef from the package, rinse it under cool water before placing it in your pan.  The juices in the package are rather slimy and salty.  These juices will cause a ‘scum’ to form on the top of your cooking liquid.
    • If cooking stove top, cover with cool water and cover.  Bring the pot up to almost boiling and then lower heat to a low simmer.  Skim off any ‘scum’ that rises to the top.
    • For planning purposes, allow 50 – 60 minutes per pound at a low simmer.
    • An instant read thermometer, inserted in the deepest part of the meat at its center, will read 200-210° when done. The  tough connective tissue will not entirely gelatinize until the meat reaches about 210°
    • No thermometer?  No problem!  A skewer, inserted in the thickest part of the meat, will slide out easily when the meat is done.
    • Allow plenty of time.   This is not a cut of meat that you can successfully hurry along.  It is far better to have this ready early and re-warm with some of the braising liquid than to try to speed up the cooking process.  Boiling will toughen any cut of meat, including corned beef brisket.
    • Once tender, allow to rest before carving.
    • Speaking of carving, slice against the grain of the meat for nice slices.  If carved with the grain the meat will shred instead of slice.
    • Why is Corned Beef pink in color?   The pink color of commercially corned beef is from  sodium nitrate used in the brining / curing process.  If you would like to avoid the sodium nitrate you may want to consider making Corned Beef from Scratch.  This process takes 5 – 7 days so if you want to try this make sure you allow enough time.

Braised Corned Beef Brisket

Braised Corned Beef Brisket – Recipe by Mauigirl published on Allrecipes

This is the least ‘traditional’ method of cooking corned beef brisket but without a doubt it is my absolute favorite for Flat Cut Corned Beef Brisket.  My son-in-law who thought he hated corned beef, loves it when cooked this way.  The brisket is painted with ‘browning sauce’ aka Kitchen Bouquet, seared stove top then placed on a rack* with just a tiny bit of water in a roasting pan. It is then topped with garlic and onions, tightly covered with heavy foil and then slow roasted at 275° for 6 hours.  I have made this tightly wrapped in a triple layers of heavy foil on a sheet pan with excellent results. Make two of these and chill one for later, when cooled in the foil and chilled it is easy to slice very thin for sandwiches.   The meat is tender and the fat is rendered off leaving all the delicious flavor in the meat instead of the cooking water.
One draw back to this method:  I really like the taste of  cabbage (not other vegetables though) cooked in the braising liquid stove top. What I have started making is Braised Cabbage by cooking one or two pieces of bacon in a frying pan, remove bacon and add onions and cabbage wedges and about 1/2 cup of beef broth along with the pan juices from the braised corned beef.   Cover and cook the cabbage until it is just tender.  Perfection!

** A question was asked about this recipe – it states to toss the seasoning package.  If your corned beef has the seasoning on the roast and does not have a seasoning package, simply rinse the corned beef.  This is a very old recipe & at that time those little seasoning packages did not exist, which is why I think it states to discard the seasoning package.

This method of braised corned beef can be made in an Instant Pot, electric multi-cooker.
Place the browned corned beef on the rack of the Instant Pot with one cup of water in the bottom.  Cover with onions, garlic and then tuck foil over the top.  Cook using the slow cooker setting, with the vent open, for 5 – 6 hours.

Slow Cooked Corned Beef for Sandwiches  – Recipe by SDK999 Published on Allrecipes

This is one of the highest rated Corned Beef recipes on Allrecipes and it certainly is not just for sandwiches.  This recipe has you cooking low and slow, stove top with beer and water as the braising liquid along with plenty of garlic and peppercorns.  Many of the reviewers state that they used this recipe in a slow cooker with good results.  I would recommend following the recipe and cooking this stove top.  I personally do not like the taste or texture of corned beef cooked in a slow cooker.  Somehow, it just doesn’t develop the depth of flavor that simmering stove top or in a low oven does.  That said, if you are going to use a slow cooker use the LOW setting.  Newer slow cookers cook much hotter than the older ones used to and will actually boil if you aren’t careful.

Chef John’s Corned Beef & Cabbage  published on AllRecipes

Chef John has you cooking the corned beef low and slow, stove top along with carrots, onions and celery until the corned beef is almost done and then adding halved red potatoes and cabbage.  This is the most traditional method and if you are looking for a one pot meal this is the one I would recommend.  I really prefer my carrots and potatoes cooked separately and just the cabbage cooked with the corned beef once the meat is done.  When I am making ‘Point’ cut corned beef I use this method.

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef  Recipe by LUSYRSGIRL published on AllRecipes

In my opinion this recipe is flawed although it could be made to work, but not as written. This recipe has you cooking the potatoes, carrots and corned beef on HIGH for 8 hours.  I do NOT recommend this.  As stated above, newer slow cookers cook much hotter and on high for 8 hours it will be boiling and you will not be happy with the results.  It also calls for beer and water – honestly, save the beer to drink with your meal.   If you are going to use your slow cooker, cook on LOW the entire time. Place the meat in the crock, fat side up and cover with water.  If you are adding the potatoes and carrots at the beginning use red potatoes (they don’t fall apart) and large pieces of carrots.

Served with mashed potatoes, carrots and parsnips, braised cabbage, Corned Beef is pure  comfort food.

If you have any questions, please ask!  I will be glad to help.  Enjoy!

Do you love Pastrami?  If you are stocking up on corned beef while it is on sale, check out Chef John’s recipe for Easy Homemade Pastrami using corned beef brisket.

**  Just a note:  Costco does carry quality Corned Beef Brisket pretty much year round, it isn’t cheap though and it never goes ‘on sale’ not even for St. Patrick’s Day.

Pan and rack for corned beef 002


*UPDATE – A picture for a reader, Jennie – this is the type of pan and rack I use for the Braised Corned Beef.

Sorry about the ugly pan – it has been well loved.  🙂



About Baking Nana

Each morning my granddaughter Sarah calls to ask, “Watcha doing, Nana? Are you baking Nana?” Hence my “name” Baking Nana. I am a mother to three wonderful children and a grandmother to 12 very hungry grandkids. I don’t bake fancy cakes but I do make wonderful yeast bread and home cooked meals made with love.


Corned Beef – Comparing Methods — 44 Comments

  1. Yesterday, I bought a flat corned beef and a huge head of cabbage for 79¢ to be cooked tomorrow. I use Julie’s Braised Corned Beef Brisket recipe but hadn’t decided exactly what to do with the cabbage. Now I know…I’m trying your Braised Cabbage recipe. I think we like the leftovers for hash and sandwiches as much as the original corned beef meal. Leftover corned beef never goes to waste in this house.

    • Hi Pat. The Braised Corned Beef recipe is really good, isn’t it? I especially like it for making corned beef for sandwiches, it just slices so nicely.
      I hope you enjoy the braised cabbage, it is one of my favorites.

  2. BN: Mission accomplished! As it turns out, my husband had eaten corned beef as a child…although it wasn’t a positive experience. (MIL wasn’t that great a cook). Everyone seemed to enjoy it last night. Unfortunately, I should have purchased a larger Corned Beef so we could try some Reubens. Oh, well. That’ll be another new experience that we can save for 2015. Thanks for the tips and support!

  3. I made your ‘low and slow’ triple foil-wrapped method and it was amazing! So tender it just shredded. I will make this again!

  4. I just picked up three corned beef briskets today from Costco. Haha, always a big crowd here for St. Party’s Day. Have a great one!

  5. Lindsay just asked if you topped your braised corned beef with the onions and garlic before triple wrapping it in foil. I told her I thought so – but thought I should check to be sure (=

  6. Can you explain the ‘broiler rack’ in mauigirl’s recipe? I have a broiler pan with an accordion style bottom.
    When I make a regular brisket, I use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven – would this work? I just add the water to the pan?
    Thank you!!

    • Hi Jennie:
      I will try to get a picture of the pan and rack I have used but even a cooling rack or a smallish meat rack will work – something to get the meat off the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t scorch.
      As for your Dutch oven – I would still suggest a rack of some sort and make sure that the Dutch Oven is well sealed. This is the reason I have wrapped mine in TRIPLE layers of HEAVY foil – then just place on a sheet pan.
      When I get a picture I will add it to the blog.

  7. My friend used to make Corned Beef and Cabbage every year for us to celebrate St. Patricks Day using a recipe from her Irish mother in law. It is simmered on the stove top until almost done, then removed from the pan and put onto a rack in a roaster with a half inch of the cooking liquid. Cover the brisket entirely with mustard then bake (covered)in a slow oven for 1 to 2 hours until done. Seems like it is the combination of both of your favorite methods and comes out perfectly!

  8. Looks great.
    Is this recipe different from a recipe for making kosher corned beef?
    If there is a difference what is it?


    • Hi Michael –
      I am not Jewish – BUT I do know that the Irish immigrants learned to make Corned Beef from the Jewish population in New York. They are similar.
      The Jewish brisket recipes I am familiar with use a similar method of cooking as detailed in the Braised Corned Beef.
      Mauigirls recipe for Braised Corned Beef originates from her mother in law, who learned the technique from her Jewish boarding house owner during WW II.
      If you are Jewish or have Jewish friends they might be able to help with what is Kosher and what is not.

  9. I used Sweettreat’s personal recipe, with Mott’s For Tot’s apple juice, last year [my first time making corned beef and cabbage – and the first time in many years I didn’t just make a bunch of “green food” )=], and we loved it! I’ve been wanting to try mauigirl’s recipe, too. If I use mauigirl’s recipe this year, I may try colcannon for the first time . . . This is Sweettreat’s recipe:

  10. Baking Nana, your dinner looks delicious. I am going to try cooking the cabbage as you suggested. I will be the only one who will eat it, but that is okay. More for me!

    • Hi Lela, Even my former cabbage haters like that cabbage – it has BACON you know! Heck, like you said – if they won’t try it, more for you!
      Thanks for stopping in!

  11. BN: Well, for a foodie, it seems I have no experience outside my own tiny world. Not only have I never made corned beef, I’ve never even eaten it! But I wholeheartedly trust your advice. When I mentioned corned beef to my husband last year at this time, he kinda narrowed his eyes and scowled. Maybe 2014 is the year!?!

    • Good morning, bikerfamily. Does hubby like pastrami? If so he will like the braised corned beef of Mauigirl’s. I like to triple wrap it in heavy foil and bake low and slow. I first heard this method suggested by a Jewish woman for preparing Beef Brisket. Same cut of meat, just not cured.
      Maybe you can give it a try when the price of corned beef drops for St. Patrick’s day.
      Let me know how it goes.

      • BN: Ha! I doubt my husband has ever eaten pastrami. Honestly, he ate his first BLT in his 20s! I have to work on St. Patrick’s Day, but I am considering it for a few days later. What’s the worst that could happen? I buy a small one and we don’t care for it. However, we might be foolishly missing out on something we really enjoy!

        • Hmmmm – this might be a hard sell! The way I look at it, if you can pick one up cheap while they are on sale you have nothing to lose.
          He might not like it but then again he might love it. Corned Beef sandwiches with mustard and pickles (mayonnaise is optional) are the bomb!

  12. Thanks for the rec. of my/mom in law’s corned beef. I grew up on the boiled method and once I had this (courtesy of mom in law) I never went back. We love this method and I like your idea of triple wrapping this in a foil packet to make it even easier.

    • Thanks for stopping in Julie and thanks for sharing your mother in laws recipe for Braised Corned Beef. Even the corned beef haters loved it. Triple wrapping in foil works great. It is a keeper.

  13. Your blog is a feast for the eyes, Baking Nana! Corned beef isn’t part of the food tradition in DH’s family or mine, but your photos sure make it look appetizing.

    • Good morning Brenda, thank you for the lovely compliment. I grew up eating corned beef, probably because at that time it was really cheap. Thanks for stopping in.

  14. Hello Baking Nana, very informative thank you. I have never made Corned Beef and Cabbage, my husband is the cook for this dish. I would like to try mauigirls recipe also.

  15. This year I am going to try mauigirl’s method. I will look for this cut this week. Thanks for an informative article. I won’t bother with the cabbage, but yum on sandwiches made with corned beef!

    • We love corned beef sandwiches and Mauigirls recipe is spot on. Costco sells a really good corned beef. It is a little pricey but not horrible. Personally, I think it is worth it.
      Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy!

    • Good morning Nora. It is really an easy meal to cook, it just takes time. The biggest mistake that many people make is cooking it too fast. Low and slow is the way to go. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping in.

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