How to Cook Cabbage and Carrots for Corned Beef

Corned beef and cabbage is a classic Irish-American dish traditionally served on St. Patrick’s Day. The tender corned beef is simmered together with potatoes, carrots, and cabbage for a savory one-pot meal. Learning how to properly prepare the vegetables is key to perfecting this dish.

Choosing the Right Cabbage

Picking the right type of cabbage is an important first step. Opt for a small green cabbage head that feels heavy for its size. Pass on cabbage heads with brown spots or dry outer leaves. Savoy cabbage or napa cabbage can also work. Avoid using pre-cut packaged cabbage.

Cabbage Prep Tips

  • Remove any damaged outer leaves then rinse the cabbage under cold water. Pat dry.
  • Cut the cabbage into 6-8 sturdy wedges, leaving the core attached to hold the wedges together.
  • Keep the cabbage wedges fairly large, at least 2-3 inches wide at the stem end.
  • Quarter very large cabbage heads before cutting into wedges.

Keeping the cabbage in big wedges prevents the leaves from overcooking into mush. The core helps the wedges hold their shape.

Selecting Good Carrots

Choose smooth, firm carrots without cracks or blemishes. Medium carrots around 1/2 inch thick work very well. Larger carrots may need extra time to become tender.

Prepping Carrots for the Pot

  • Rinse carrots under cold water and scrub with a vegetable brush.
  • Trim both ends. You can peel them if desired.
  • Slice carrots on the diagonal into large 1-2 inch chunks. Keeping them in big pieces prevents them from getting too soft.

Cooking Time for Cabbage and Carrots

Add the cabbage and carrots to the pot after the corned beef has cooked for 2-3 hours and is nearly tender.

  • Carrots take 10-15 minutes to become tender but still firm.
  • Cabbage wedges need 15-20 minutes cooking time in the simmering liquid.

Test the vegetables with a fork to ensure doneness. If needed, cook for 5 minutes more until tender but not mushy.

Cooking Liquid Tips

There should be adequate cooking liquid in the pot from the corned beef itself and any added ingredients like beef broth or beer.

  • If the liquid reduces too much, add a bit more broth so the vegetables steam and simmer properly.
  • Keep the pot at a gentle simmer – rapid boiling can cause vegetables to overcook.

Serving Tradition

Corned beef and boiled vegetables are traditionally served straight from the cooking pot for St. Patrick’s Day.

  • Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the corned beef, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage to a serving platter.
  • Ladle some of the savory cooking broth over everything.
  • Serve immediately while hot.

The aromatic cooking liquid takes on tons of great flavor from the corned beef. Be sure to spoon some over the vegetables on each plate. Irish soda bread, mustard, and beer are classic accompaniments.

More Vegetable Options

In addition to cabbage and carrots, try adding these vegetables to the pot:

  • Red or gold potatoes, cut into chunks
  • Peeled turnips cut into wedges
  • Parsnips sliced into coins
  • Quartered onions

Stagger the addition based on cooking time so vegetables are evenly tender. Potatoes and turnips need 10-15 minutes. Add quick-cooking parsnips and onions in the last 5 minutes.

Make it a Day Ahead

You can prep the cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables the day before and store them in the fridge until ready to add to the simmering corned beef.

Cooking the corned beef fully the day before can also save time. Refrigerate the cooked meat in the broth overnight then simply reheat with the vegetables.

With a few simple tips on vegetables, you can master corned beef and cabbage with tender carrots and perfectly cooked cabbage wedges. Enjoy this delicious St. Patrick’s Day specialty.

Corned Beef with Cabbage & Carrots


Why do you put cabbage in corned beef?

The Irish immigrants also realized that cabbage was a more readily available vegetable in America than in Ireland, where it was traditionally a fall and winter vegetable. So they combined the corned beef with cabbage to create a hearty, filling meal that was reminiscent of their homeland.

What cooking method is best for corned beef?

The most common method for cooking corned beef and cabbage is boiling. Put the meat in a large pot, cover it with water or beef broth, add a seasoning packet and boil before lowering the heat to a simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender and cooked to your liking.

What happens if you don t rinse corned beef before cooking?

1. Not Rinsing the Meat Before Cooking. If you cook the meat straight from the plastic packaging or pulled the meat right away from the brine solution in the fridge without rinsing, you just might be in for a saltier meal than you bargained for.

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