How to Make Your Own Corned Beef from Scratch

Making homemade corned beef may sound intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple. With just a few basic ingredients and some time, you can easily cure your own flavorful and tender corned beef right at home.

This guide will walk you through the complete process step-by-step, from making the curing brine to cooking the finished corned beef. Follow along and soon you’ll be serving up tasty homemade corned beef and impressing family and friends.

What is Corned Beef?

Corned beef starts with a raw beef brisket that has been cured, or “corned” by soaking in a salt brine infused with spices. The curing process both preserves the meat and gives it a distinctive robust flavor. The term “corned” comes from the large kernels of rock salt historically used to cure meats.

Benefits of Homemade Corned Beef

Making your own corned beef has several advantages over store-bought:

  • Cost savings – Home curing is cheaper per pound.

  • Flavor control – Customize the spices to suit your taste.

  • Quality ingredients – Use high-quality brisket and spices.

  • Nitrate-free (optional) – Omit curing salt if you want no nitrates.

  • Satisfaction – Pride in crafting something homemade.

With the proper method, ingredients, and time, you can make exceptionally delicious corned beef at home.

Ingredients Needed

Brisket – Choose a well-marbled 5 lb beef brisket for best results. Avoid lean briskets.

Brine – Water, kosher salt, brown sugar, pickling spices, curing salt (optional)

Spices – Such as peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander, bay leaves, ginger

Equipment – Large pot, spatula, container or bag to brine brisket

Step 1: Make the Curing Brine

To make enough brine for a 5 lb brisket:

  • In a large pot, combine 1 gallon water, 2 cups kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3 tbsp pickling spice blend, and 1 tsp curing salt (optional).

  • Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using.

Tip: Refrigerate the brine overnight to allow flavors to meld.

Step 2: Brine the Brisket

  • Place brisket in a large sealable container and pour cooled brine over to submerge.

  • Brine brisket in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, flipping occasionally.

  • After brining, rinse brisket under cold water to remove excess salt.

Tip: Use a 2-gallon bag if short on space. Use half the brine.

Step 3: Cook the Corned Beef

  • Place brisket in a pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Add pickling spices.

  • Simmer covered on low for ~3 hours until fork tender. Top off water if needed.

  • Remove brisket and let rest 15 minutes before thinly slicing across the grain.

Step 4: Store and Use Leftovers

  • Refrigerate leftovers up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Slice and use for sandwiches, tacos, pizza, casseroles, eggs, salads, and more!

With the right method and a bit of patience, you can easily cure brisket into amazing homemade corned beef. Adjust the brine seasoning to make it your own signature recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What cut of beef is best for corned beef?

The brisket is the traditional cut of choice. Opt for a well-marbled whole brisket if possible. Avoid lean flat-only brisket cuts.

What makes corned beef pink?

The pink color comes from curing salt containing sodium nitrite. It’s optional, but creates the expected visual. Omit it for grey beef.

Can I use pink Himalayan salt?

No, pink curing salt is specially formulated for meat curing. Himalayan pink salt is for finishing, not curing.

How long does corned beef last after cooking?

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days. Slice and freeze cooked corned beef in portions for up to 3 months.

What’s the best way to cook corned beef?

Simmering is traditional, but you can also braise in the oven or slow cook in a crockpot. Cook to 190°F internal temperature.

Popular Ways to Use Corned Beef

Here are some delicious ways to use up your homemade corned beef:

  • Classic corned beef and cabbage
  • Hearty corned beef hash with potatoes and onions
  • Piled high Reuben sandwich with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut
  • Thinly sliced corned beef panini with spicy mustard
  • Tacos with sliced corned beef, cabbage slaw, and avocado
  • Eggs Benedict with corned beef, poached eggs, and hollandaise
  • Corned beef pizza with mustard sauce, red onion, and cheese
  • Corned beef boiled dinner with carrots, parsnips, and potatoes

Now that you know how easy it is to make your own corned beef at home, you’ll never go back to buying pre-made again! Adjust the brine and spices until you create your perfect custom corned beef recipe.

How to Make Corned Beef


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.

Is it cheaper to make your own corned beef?

Home made corned beef can be cheaper than store-bought. And it’s easy. And you can customize it. Once you’ve had the real deal, you can’t go back.

What is the secret to corned beef?

Simmering corned beef on the stovetop is a tried-and-true method that results in very tender beef. One of the keys to simmering corned beef correctly is the amount of water in the pot. When there’s not ample liquid to cover the meat, your dreams of tender corned beef may be replaced by a tough, chewy result.

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