This traditional corned beef and cabbage recipe is the perfect St. Patricks’s Day feast. Tender brisket simmered with hearty vegetables for a complete meal.
Table of Contents
Our family looks forward to celebrating St. Patrick’s day with a traditional yearly feast. My husband Jason is Irish, and we enjoy sharing his heritage with the kids. We make a fresh loaf of Irish soda bread to serve as the meal simmers.
I’ll show you how to pick the corned beef brisket and cook it correctly on the stovetop. Cooking corned beef and cabbage in a flavorful stock tenderizes the brisket and vegetables. The timing of when to add the ingredients and the length of cooking impacts the final taste and texture.
What is corned beef?
A cut of beef that is either from the brisket or round that has been cured. The meat will take on a bright pink hue depending on the curing mixture, either Insta-Cure #1 or Prague Powder 1. The curing salt is what gives the beef the savory flavor. These cuts are very tough and benefit from moist heat cooking for an extended period. This converts the collagen into soft gelatin for tender pieces.
Corned beef selection
The brisket will be labeled as flat cut or point cut corned beef at the market. It’s the chef’s choice. Both are delicious! The flat cut is leaner, with a more consistent width that yields gorgeous slices. I use this cut for this recipe.
The point cut is thicker at one end, then taper down on the other. This has more marbeling for more tender and flavorful pieces with the extra fat. The meat will be more stringy and great for shredding in leftovers like corned beef hash.
If there is still a thick layer of fat connected to the surface of the brisket, trim it down to about 1/8-inch thick. You want it to add flavor but not be too greasy.
How to cook corned beef
The best way to tenderize the tough connective tissue in the brisket is to simmer it in liquid. I use beef stock to flavor the meat and vegetables. Plus, it’s delicious to serve with the meal. Use a large pot, like a dutch oven, to cook the beef.
Add in the trimmed beef, stock, pickling spices in the package, bay leaves, seasoning packet, and minced garlic. Cook on high heat, then bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. This will maintain a temperature of around 200ºF (93ºC) in the liquid.
Corned beef cook time
Cooking time is dependent on the size of the roast. For every pound, cook the beef for about 45 minutes. The collagen will break down into gelation between 160 to 180ºF (71 to 92ºC) and should be maintained at that temperature for at least an hour.
For a 2-pound brisket, cook for at least 90 minutes. It will cook slightly longer with the root vegetables, further tenderizing the meat.
Add the vegetables
Add the onion wedges, potatoes, and carrots to the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Let it simmer uncovered to soften. I use halved baby red potatoes. The waxy texture holds its shape well when simmering. You can add them whole, but they will take longer to cook. Cut large potatoes into quarters.
Other types of potatoes, like white or Yukon Gold are also delicious. Skip the russets. They are mealy and will break down too quickly. Remove the corned beef from the pot, then cover to keep warm. This also allows the meat to rest and redistribute the juices in the brisket before slicing.
Add the cabbage
Cut the green cabbage into 8 wedges. Add the cabbage in the last moments of cooking to prevent it from turning into mushy leaves with no texture. It takes about 15 minutes to tenderize so that the leaves are soft, sweet, and hold their shapes.
Once the cabbage and potatoes are tender, it’s time to serve the feast! In each bowl, I like to add a few slices of corned beef, carrots, onions, potatoes, and one to two edges of cabbage. The leftovers are even more delicious the next day!
Serve this with
Frequently asked questions
Both methods can be used to cook corned beef. Cooking on the stovetop should be on a low simmer, not a boil, for an extended period. Baking with some moisture at the bottom of the pan creates steam to help soften the tough connective tissue.
Cook with the fat side up. This helps insulate the top of the beef so it doesn’t get dried out. Over time, the fat will melt, flavoring the meat and liquid.
The liquid is very salty and the meat has been cured. You can discard the juices if using salted beef stock or broth for the recipe. If using just water, you can add it to the pot to add depth and a more savory taste.
What’s in the spice packet?
Don’t toss away those little spice packets that come with the brisket. It’s typically a mixture of whole mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cracked bay leaf, crushed red chilies, fennel, and dill seed. They add earthy and fragrant flavors from the herbs and spices without overpowering the dish. If it’s not there, add the spices you have available from the mix. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons, being careful not to add more than ⅛ teaspoon of chili or it will make the beef too spicy.
Pin this recipe to save for laterPin This
Corned Beef and Cabbage
- 2 pounds corned beef brisket, flat cut
- pickling spice packet
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 8 cups beef stock
- 1 ½ pound baby red potatoes, halved
- 2 cups carrots, 2" pieces
- 1 cup celery, 2" pieces
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 1 head green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
- Prepare the Corned Beef – Trim most of the visible fat off of the corned beef, leaving about a ⅛ inch layer on top.
- Cook the Beef – Place the beef in a large pot or dutch oven, fat side up. Sprinkle with pickling spice. Add the bay leaves, garlic, and beef stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook over a low simmer for 1 ½ hours. See the note section for cooking a larger brisket.
- Add the Vegetables – Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook uncovered, for 15 minutes.Transfer the beef to a plate and cover to keep warm. Add the cabbage to the pot and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve – Slice the corned beef against the grain. Serve with vegetables and some beef stock from the pot.
- Cook Time: Simmer corned beef for about 45 minutes per pound. For example; 2.5 pounds for 1 hour 52 minutes, 3 pounds for 2 hours 15 minutes, 3.5 pounds for 2 hours 38 minutes, and 4 pounds for 3 hours.
- Using Guinness: Add 2 cups Guinness and 6 cups beef stock.
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Microwave on high setting in 30-second increments until hot. Alternatively, heat on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
Tried this recipe?
Tag me on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!