How to Make Homemade Corned Beef From Scratch

Corned beef is a salt-cured brisket that has been brined and seasoned with pickling spices. It’s a traditional Irish-American dish, often served with cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Making your own homemade corned beef may seem intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple with just a few basic steps.

Overview of the Corned Beef Making Process

Here is an overview of the basic process for making corned beef at home:

  • Choose a beef brisket and trim off any excess fat.

  • Make a brine using water, salt, sugar and spices. Allow to cool completely before adding the meat.

  • Submerge brisket in brine and refrigerate for 5-10 days. Flip occasionally.

  • Remove brisket from brine, rinse and pat dry.

  • Place brisket in a pot, cover with water or broth and simmer until tender.

  • Allow meat to rest before slicing across the grain.

The keys are finding a good cut of meat, making a flavorful brine and allowing enough time for the meat to cure. With just a few simple ingredients and a bit of patience, you can make outstanding home-cured corned beef.

Choosing the Right Brisket

  • Look for a 3-5 lb beef brisket. Opt for a flat cut brisket or one with both the flat and point cut.

  • Well-marbled brisket will be more tender and flavorful after brining.

  • Trim off any large excess fat before brining. Leave about 1/4 inch.

Making the Brine

The brine is what gives corned beef its signature salty-sour flavor and pink color.


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp pink curing salt (optional, for color and flavor)
  • Spices: peppercorns, mustard seeds, allspice, bay leaves, etc.


  • In a pot, combine water, salt, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil to dissolve.

  • Remove from heat, cool completely and stir in curing salt if using.

  • Place brisket in brine solution in a large container. Brisket should be fully submerged.

  • Refrigerate 5-10 days, flipping occasionally. Longer time = more tender meat.

Cooking the Corned Beef

After brining, the corned beef is ready to be cooked until tender. There are a few options:


  • Place brisket and 1 Tbsp pickling spice in Dutch oven. Add water or broth to cover.

  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer 3-4 hours until fork tender.


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Place brisket in Dutch oven with pickling spice and broth.

  • Bring to a boil on stovetop then cover and braise 3-4 hours.

Slow Cooker:

  • Add brisket and pickling spice to slow cooker. Add broth to cover.

  • Cook 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.

Instant Pot:

  • Place brisket and pickling spice in Instant Pot. Add broth to cover.

  • Pressure cook on high for 90 minutes with natural release.

Tips for Perfect Homemade Corned Beef

  • Cook until fork tender with an internal temp of 190-200°F.

  • Let rest 15-20 minutes before slicing across the grain.

  • Add potatoes, carrots and cabbage during last 1-2 hours of cooking.

  • Use leftover broth to make corned beef hash or boiled dinner.

  • Store leftovers in broth up to one week. Reheat gently in broth.

With the right ingredients and technique, you can make restaurant-quality corned beef at home for a fraction of the cost. Adjust the brining time, spices and cooking method to suit your preferences. Serve with all the fixings for a festive St. Patrick’s Day meal!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between corned beef and pastrami?

Pastrami starts with corned beef that is then smoked and steamed. Both are brined and seasoned, but pastrami has the additional smoke flavor.

What cut of beef is best for corned beef?

Choose a well-marbled brisket ideally with both the flat cut and point cut still attached. Avoid lean briskets for corning.

Can I use pink Himalayan salt instead of curing salt?

No, Himalayan pink salt is just colored table salt. Curing salt contains sodium nitrite which gives the meat its signature pink color and flavor.

How long does corned beef last in the fridge?

An uncooked corned beef brisket will last 7-10 days refrigerated. After cooking, it will last 5-7 days stored in broth.

Can I freeze homemade corned beef?

Yes! Corned beef can be frozen before or after cooking. Freeze slices tightly wrapped for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before using.

What spices are used to make corned beef?

Common pickling spices include black peppercorns, mustard seeds, allspice berries, bay leaves, coriander, ginger and cloves. Customize to your taste!

What is the white stuff on corned beef?

The white powder on store-bought corned beef is just excess curing salt. Simply rinse it off before cooking as you would with homemade. No need to worry!

Making your own corned beef may seem intimidating but it’s actually quite easy. With a simple brine, some pickling spices and a brisket, you can have delicious homemade corned beef ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Adjust the recipe to your tastes and enjoy!

How to Make Corned Beef


What is the best method to cook corned beef?

It is often sold precooked, but if you have purchased it raw, the best way to cook corned beef is slowly. You can bake, boil, or cook it in your slow cooker, but the key to a tender, flavorful meal requires at least a few hours.

How do they make corned beef?

Corned beef is most often made from beef brisket (a relatively inexpensive, tough cut of beef) that’s been cured in a salt brine with a mix of spices, like bay leaf, peppercorns, mustard seed, juniper berries, coriander seed, and whole cloves.

What cut of meat to make corned beef?

Corned beef is made with beef brisket, a cut of meat that is naturally tough, so it needs to be braised: cooked with moisture at a very low temperature. Cooking low and slow is the key to flavorful, tender corned beef.

How to make corned beef from package?

Remove Corned Beef from package and place in crock pot and completely cover with water. Cover and cook for approximately 11 hours on low or 5 hours on high, or until firmly fork tender. Please note that crock pot cooking times may vary greatly depending upon brand and style.

Leave a Comment