Equally delicious for St. Patrick’s Day dinner or any chilly night, hearty corned beef and cabbage is always a family favorite. This recipe for The Best Slow Cooker Corned Beef is easy to assemble in the morning so it simmers all day.
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Most people eat corned beef and cabbage exactly once a year: on St. Patrick’s Day. But I’m one of those people who can — and does — enjoy this Irish-inspired recipe all year long. And why not? It’s hearty and satisfying, easy to prepare and made with just a few inexpensive ingredients.
I reach for one of my favorite slow cooker recipes for many a weeknight dinner, and the slow cooker is also the key to the best corned beef. Instead of having to constantly check water levels and adjust the heat of a pot simmering on the stove, making corned beef in the slow cooker couldn’t be easier.
Add all the ingredients in the morning, set it to cook low and slow all day, and it’ll be ready and waiting when it’s time to sit down to dinner. Just add some mashed potatoes to soak up the juice and perhaps some freshly baked soda bread and you’ve got a plate full of comfort food at its finest.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Only four ingredients!
- Quick to assemble. It takes just five minutes to put everything together in the slow cooker.
- The perfect busy weeknight dinner. Throw this together in the morning and it’s ready to go when you get home from work, soccer practice, or whatever your crazy schedule has in store for you.
What is corned beef and what cut should I buy?
Corned beef is brisket that has been cured in a seasoned salt mixture. This curing mixture flavors and tenderizes this ordinarily tough cut of meat and also gives it its characteristic reddish hue. Cooking corned beef brisket for a long period in liquid is necessary to make it juicy and fork-tender.
To make this recipe, look for a three-pound piece of corned beef brisket. If your butcher carries both the flat cut and the point cut, choose the flat cut, which is long and thin, making it easier to slice. It also has less fat and connective tissue throughout the meat.
Only four ingredients are needed to make this tender and flavorful corned beef recipe.
- Carrots: A handful of carrots, peeled and halved, flavor the cooking liquid and double as a side dish.
- Corned beef brisket: Look for a three-pound piece of flat-cut beef brisket. Often corned beef brisket comes with a packet of pickling spices; if yours does, you can include it with the other ingredients for extra flavor.
- Pickling spice: This flavorful mixture can be found in the spice section of the supermarket. It contains cinnamon, mustard seed, coriander, ginger, clove, pepper and other ingredients.
- Cabbage: Look for a head of green cabbage with crisp, tightly packed leaves that are unwilted and unblemished.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Fill the slow cooker. Arrange the carrots in a layer in the bottom of a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Place the corned beef brisket, fat layer side up, on the carrots and add just enough water to cover the meat. Sprinkle the pickling spice over the ingredients.
- Set the slow cooker. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set it to cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- Prepare the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into eight wedges. When the meat has cooked for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high, add the cabbage to the slow cooker. Return the lid to the slow cooker and cook for an additional 1 hour on low or 30 minutes on high, until the cabbage is tender.
- Slice and serve. Remove the cabbage, corned beef and carrots from the slow cooker. Slice the corned beef against the grain and serve along with the cabbage and carrots.
Pro Tip: When cutting the corned beef, slice against the grain, or perpendicular to the long fibers of the meat. This shortens the muscle fibers, making the meat more tender to eat.
- Trim the fat. Most corned beef has a thick layer of fat on top, called the fat cap. Use a sharp boning knife to trim as much fat as possible, which will make the finished dish less oily.
- Use the seasoning packet. If your brisket came with an included seasoning packet, add it to the cooking liquid along with the 2 teaspoons of pickling spice. It’ll make the corned beef even more flavorful!
- Scoop out excess cooking liquid. When adding the cabbage, if the slow cooker is already very full, you may need to use a ladle to scoop out some of the cooking liquid to make room for the cabbage. Make sure to leave enough so it’s as submerged as possible.
Leftover corned beef can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
Refrigerate the corned beef within 2 hours of cooking, stored in a shallow airtight container or wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Corned beef can be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or a freezer bag, for 2 to 3 months.
Reheat corned beef in the oven, loosely wrapped in aluminum foil, until it reaches an internal temperature of 145˚F.
For a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner, pair your corned beef with potatoes. Roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or cheesy mashed potato pancakes would all be delicious with this recipe. A fresh green salad with citrus dressing or balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts would be a fresh contrast to the richness of the meat, and no yeast bread or dinner rolls can round out the meal.
I also like to set out dishes of condiments, such as grainy mustard, Dijon mustard or horseradish sauce. Kids even like dipping their corned beef in ketchup!
In keeping with a St. Patrick’s Day theme, serve Rainbow Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting for dessert!
Frequently Asked Questions
Because corned beef has been sitting in a salty brine, it’s a good idea to rinse it several times with cool water before adding it to the slow cooker. This will remove excess seasonings and allow you to control the salt content of your dish.
You can round out this corned beef dinner by adding a variety of vegetables to the slow cooker. Stick with dense, hard vegetables that are similar to carrots, such as parsnips or turnips so that they will cook at the same rate. Potatoes are also a classic corned beef accompaniment. For potatoes and other vegetables, add them to the pot when the appropriate amount of cooking time is remaining, and make sure they are submerged in the cooking liquid. Potatoes take 4 to 6 hours on low or 2 to 3 hours on high.
Leftover corned beef freezes well. Wrap it well in plastic wrap or a freezer bag. It will keep for 2 to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a 350˚F oven in a shallow baking dish covered with aluminum foil. Check it after about 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the meat should be 145˚F when checked with a meat thermometer.
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- 8 medium carrots, peeled and halved
- 1 (3-pound) corned beef brisket (See Kelly’s Note)
- 2 teaspoons pickling spice
- 1 medium head cabbage
- In a 5-to 6-quart slow cooker, arrange the carrots on the bottom then place the corned beef (fat side up) on top of the carrots. Add enough water to just cover the meat, then add the pickling spices.
- Add the lid then cook the corned beef on LOW for 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours.
- Cut the cabbage into eight wedges then add it to the slow cooker, cover it and continue cooking until the cabbage is tender, about 1 hour on LOW or 30 minutes on HIGH.
- Remove the cabbage, corned beef and carrots from the slow cooker.
- Slice the corned beef against the grain and serve.
- Use a sharp boning knife to trim as much of the excess fat as possible, which will make the finished dish less oily.
- If your brisket came with an included seasoning packet, add it to the cooking liquid along with the 2 teaspoons of pickling spice.
- You may need to remove some of the water with a ladle if the cabbage doesn’t fit.
- When cutting the corned beef, slice against the grain, or perpendicular to the long fibers of the meat.
- ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.