How to Cook Corned Beef in a Crock Pot – A Step-by-Step Guide

Corned beef is a salt-cured brisket that’s simmered until tender and delicious. While it’s often associated with St. Patrick’s Day, this hearty meat can be enjoyed all year long! Cooking corned beef in a crock pot is easy and convenient, allowing the meat to become meltingly tender with little effort on your part.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to cook perfect corned beef in a slow cooker or crock pot. We’ll cover everything from picking the right cut of meat to adding tasty seasonings. With a few simple tips, you’ll be able to make this classic comfort food for your family any night of the week!

Benefits of Cooking Corned Beef in a Crockpot

Cooking corned beef in a crockpot offers several advantages:

  • Convenience – Once you add the ingredients to the slow cooker, the corned beef cooks low and slow with no additional work on your part. You don’t have to monitor it or add liquid as you would on the stovetop.

  • Moist and tender meat – The slow, even heating of a crockpot breaks down the meat’s tough connective tissues. This renders the meat incredibly moist and fork-tender.

  • Enhanced flavor – As it simmers away, the corned beef absorbs the flavors of the cooking liquid and aromatics. This enhances its natural beefy flavor.

  • Safety – With the crockpot’s enclosed environment, there’s no risk of burning or drying out the meat. It cooks gently and safely.

Shopping for Corned Beef

When selecting corned beef for the crockpot, choose from the following cuts:

  • Whole corned beef brisket – This is the most common cut used for corned beef. Opt for a 3-5 lb brisket to feed a family.

  • Corned beef flat cut – This comes from the bottom half of the brisket. It’s leaner with less fat.

  • Corned beef point cut – This is the top half of the brisket. It’s fattier with more marbling.

Look for a corned beef with an even pink color throughout and plenty of fat marbling. Avoid any with dry or brown spots.

Crockpot Size

It’s important to select the right sized crockpot for your corned beef brisket. A too-small crockpot may require cramming in the meat, while an oversized one leads to inefficient cooking.

Here are some size recommendations based on the weight of your brisket:

  • 2-3 pound brisket – Use a 4 quart slow cooker.

  • 3-4 pound brisket – Use a 5-6 quart slow cooker.

  • 4-6 pound brisket – Use a 6-7 quart slow cooker.


Corned beef brisket
4 cups water
1 cup Guinness beer (optional)
1 onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
5 whole allspice berries
1 tsp mustard seeds
1⁄4 tsp ground cloves
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
6 small potatoes, halved
2 celery ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces

Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these simple steps for perfect corned beef every time:

Step 1: Rinse the Corned Beef

Rinse the corned beef briefly under cold water. This removes any excess salt and impurities from the meat surface. Pat it completely dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Sear the Meat (Optional)

For browned and crispy exterior, you can sear the corned beef before cooking. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corned beef and sear 2-3 minutes per side.

Step 3: Add Seasonings

Place the seared or raw corned beef in the crockpot. Add water, beer, onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice berries, mustard seeds, cloves, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. The liquid should cover 3/4 of the meat.

Step 4: Cook on Low

Cover and cook the corned beef on the LOW setting for 8-10 hours. Cook times vary based on crockpot wattage and size of the brisket.

Step 5: Add Vegetables

After cooking for 6-8 hours, add the carrots, potatoes, and celery to the crockpot. Push them down into the liquid.

Step 6: Cook Until Tender

Allow vegetables to cook for another 1-2 hours until fork tender. If the liquid reduces too much, add more water to keep everything submerged.

Step 7: Remove Corned Beef

Once vegetables are tender, use tongs to transfer the corned beef to a cutting board. Let it rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Step 8:Make Gravy

Spoon out vegetables and add broth to a small saucepan. Whisk in 2 tbsp flour. Heat to a simmer and cook 5 minutes until thickened.

Step 9: Slice and Serve

Slice the corned beef across the grain into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Serve drizzled with the gravy, along with sides like mustard, cabbage, and boiled potatoes.

Cooking Tips

  • Add extra potatoes, carrots, and celery to bulk up this dish. Cabbage wedges can also be added during the last 30 minutes of cook time.

  • For a spicier corned beef, add 2 chopped jalapenos when you add the vegetables.

  • Instead of water or beer, use chicken or beef broth as the cooking liquid. This adds extra flavor.

  • Let the cooked corned beef cool in the broth. Then refrigerate and slice it the next day for juicier meat.

  • Speed up cook time by slicing the corned beef in half before placing it into the slow cooker.

Common Questions

Got questions about making corned beef in the crockpot? Here are some helpful answers:

Can I cook corned beef from frozen?

Yes, you can place frozen corned beef directly into the slow cooker. Add 1-2 hours to the total cook time.

My corned beef came out too salty. Now what?

Soak sliced corned beef in cold water for 1 hour to remove excess saltiness before eating or using in recipes.

Do I need to add liquid during cooking?

No need to add more liquid if your crockpot seals in steam properly. Check meat halfway through and add more broth or water if needed.

Can I cook something else in there too?

Absolutely! Potatoes, carrots, and cabbage all cook perfectly with the corned beef.

Video Tutorials

Seeing how it all comes together visually can be helpful. Here are a couple great video tutorials for making corned beef in the crockpot:

So there you have it – everything you need to know to make flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth corned beef in your trusty crockpot! With minimal hands-on time, you’ll end up with a stellar home-cooked meal everyone will love.

How to Cook the Best Tender Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker~Easy Cooking


Does corned beef need to be in liquid in a slow cooker?

Brisket should always be cooked with some amount of liquid when placed in the crockpot since that’s what transfers the heat to the meat. A brisket put dry in this kind of appliance will cook unevenly and may become unsafe to eat. For corned beef in particular, you need enough liquid to cover the entire piece of meat.

What is the most tender way to cook corned beef?

Slow cooking with a crock pot or using an instant pot is a fantastic way to cook corned beef, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth, tender meat throughout. You can make a delicious, hearty meal with simple ingredients and a crock pot or instant pot. Your whole family will enjoy it.

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.

Does the fat side of corned beef go up or down in crock pot?

Place corned beef brisket, fat side up, into a slow cooker; sprinkle with pickling spice. Place whole cloves throughout the brisket. Add garlic, bay leaves and 2 cups water, or more water as needed to cover the brisket by at least 1 inch. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours.

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