Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe (Crockpot or Oven)
My absolute favorite recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage! This easy dinner is made in the slow cooker or in the oven, you can just set it and forget it! (Crock pot to the rescue, right?) This method gives you the most tender and juicy corned beef you’ve ever had. Serve it with Roasted Red Potatoes and Horseradish Sauce for the perfect St. Patrick’s Day meal! Originally posted March 12, 2012.
Isn’t St. Patrick’s Day the best? When you were a kid, didn’t you just love the shamrocks and rainbows everywhere, the pinching galore, and the green milk in the morning?
Okay so maybe my mom was the only one who claimed on the morning of every St. Patrick’s Day that leprechauns had come in the night and magicked our milk an intense shade of green. Let me tell you, it is quite a shock early in the morning to pour greenness all over your Honey Bunches of Oats instead of whiteness. (We always used cardboard cartons of milk, not see-through jugs, so it really was surprising enough to accidentally knock your entire bowl of now-green cereal off the table.)
My mom was very into eating St. Patrick’s Day food on the holiday. Don’t be deceived by the large pictures of Corned Beef on this post. That is not St. Patrick’s Day food, according to my mom. Instead she would serve broccoli, green mashed potatoes, and even green beef gravy. Beef gravy of course starts out brown, so adding copious amounts of green dye to it merely achieves a color that should not be discussed in pleasant company.
The best St. Patrick’s Day meal ever though was the year she managed to dye even the pork chops green. No I am not kidding. My mom makes these awesome Saucy Pork Chops that are a family classic; we have been using the recipe forever, it’s straight outta Better Homes and Gardens I think. You cook the chops in a special sauce on the stove. The main ingredient of this sauce is ketchup. Do you remember back in the day when they started marketing green ketchup? Oh yes, she did.
If you thought it was impossible to dye meat green, think again. It still tasted fabulous, of course; I just had to close my eyes for every bite. I think that was the year I stopped believing that leprechauns were causing the mischief. Only my mom would be crazy enough for such antics.
These days, instead of terrifying dinner guests, I like to serve Corned Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Does anyone else go all in on this tradition?? I love it so much! Corned beef, when done right, is incredibly flavorful and oh-so-tender. After hours of cooking low and slow, it falls apart and just melts in your mouth. I love the salty, briny flavor. It’s just so unique and well, Irish! Ish. More on that later. In any case, we are talking about some serious comfort food.
Corned beef can go very wrong though, have you been there? Often it is too tough (if boiled too quickly!), too salty, or just plain boring from lack of flavor. And don’t even get me started on disgustingly overcooked carrots, cabbage, and potatoes. SAY NO. I’m here to show you all the steps to get the PERFECT tender, juicy Corned Beef, with veggies on the side that are appetizingly fresh instead of droopy sad brown. But first let’s go back to the basics:
What is corned beef?
Corned Beef is a cut of beef, usually brisket, that has been cured in a salt brine. The phrase “corned beef” actually refers to the corn-kernel-sized salt crystals used in Ireland in the 17th century to brine the beef. The brisket was then boiled or braised long and slow until tender. This process turns a finicky, tough piece of meat into an extremely tender and juicy corned beef that has killer flavor.
Why do we eat Corned Beef?
Get this though: Americans don’t eat Corned Beef on St. Patrick’s Day because that’s what’s on the menu in Ireland. The Irish are usually eating lamb or bacon or Shepherd’s Pie, maybe a Rhubarb pie to finish off, not a dyed green cupcake in sight. Can you believe it? The lies we have been fed!!
So why are Americans eating Corned Beef? It’s an Irish-American thing. The Irish who immigrated to the United States eventually made enough money to be able to buy meat for the first time, cheap meat anyway. And brisket was definitely cheap back then since it was so tough (I wish it was still so cheap! It’s way too trendy now!) And they prepared it just the same way rich people did back in the homeland, brining and braising it into tender submission. Cabbage was the cheapest vegetable around (and probably all they could afford after splurging on meat!) so cabbage and corned beef eventually became two peas in a pod. History!! So fun, right?
How do you cook corned beef and cabbage?
Back in the day they boiled Corned Beef for hours on the stove top. The only problem is that unless you’re paying attention, it’s easy to over-boil the meat and make it horribly tough instead of tender. No thank you! So instead we’re making it in the slow cooker (or oven). Set it and forget it is my mantra, people. Cooking it slow means we end up with super tender slices of juicy briny heaven. Here’s everything you need!
- corned beef brisket
- beef broth
- whole grain mustard
- whole peppercorns
- fresh thyme
How to make corned beef and cabbage
- Sear beef
- Add to slow cooker for 5-7 hours
- Add carrots and cook for another 1-2 hours
- Saute cabbage in butter, then slow cook 30-60 minutes
- Roast potatoes in the oven
- Serve with Horseradish sauce!
Now for the details!
The first thing you need to do is choose your corned beef at the store. Usually they have Flat Cut brisket, Point Cut Brisket, or Bottom Round. Any of them are going to work great, but look for one that has lots of fat and marbling. Fat = flavor.
You can see here on my package that there is no spice packet; the spices are just included as part of the brine. If yours has a packet, hang onto it. Drain all the brine down the sink, it has done its salty job.
This is the only time I will ever tell you not to salt the heck out of your meat before searing! The brine has thoroughly salted this hunk of beef, so don’t add more. Make sure you get a nice brown edge on each side, don’t skimp on that Maillard crispy goodness!
Toss it in your crock pot with a bit of beef broth, some whole grain mustard, bay leaves, garlic, onions, thyme, peppercorns, all the good stuff. Now is the time to add in that spice packet if it wasn’t mixed in with your brine.
And settle in for the long haul. This brisket needs a good 8-10 hours on low in the crock pot. So many recipes will tell you you can cheat, crank the heat up to high, and get this done in half the time. But in my experience, this only results in chewy meat. Brisket has a lot of collagen, and it needs a good deal of time to break down and turn into gelatin (which then saturates the meat, making it tender and juicy.)
Please don’t ruin your vegetables
Now listen here. Don’t go adding your carrots in right away.
CAN you add your carrots in the beginning along with your corned beef? I mean, sure, if you like over-cooked-to-the-point-of-disintegrating carrots that are a sad vestige of their former selves. I prefer to taste and chew my carrots, personally. Carrots are delicate okay? Give them some respect. They only need 2 hours in the crock pot, 3 hours max.
I am absolutely drawing the line with the cabbage though. You MUST add the cabbage at the end of the cook time, and only for a max of 1 hour.
And if you really know what’s good for you, saute your cabbage in butter first. Yes, a whole stick-aroo. I mean, you COULD just add straight up raw cabbage to your slow cooker and it would soften just fine. Edible enough. But you are passing up the opportunity to cook your cabbage in a stick of butter, here. Don’t be a fool. It makes the cabbage so rich and flavorful. I love the little browned edges.
Technically, you could stop after the sauteing step and just serve your buttery cabbage straight from the pan, skipping a soak in the crock pot altogether. But I actually love adding it in. The cabbage takes on the briny, corned beefy flavor, even from just 30-60 minutes in the pot. It’s absolutely delicious.
Be aware that it will turn your cabbage rather yellow. Cabbage is a little more green and pretty if you stop at sautéing in butter, but you miss all the beefy flavor. I saved out some of the sauteed-only cabbage for the final photos, just being upfront about looks and presentation! And now one last thing:
Potatoes don’t belong in a Crock pot. Ever.
I said what I said you guys. Just as I explain in my favorite Fall-Apart Pot Roast and Carrots recipe, potatoes were meant for higher planes.
If you like brown, mushy, over saturated potatoes, by all means, add them to your crock pot (alongside the carrots.) However, if you like crisp, brown, and tender potatoes, take the time to roast them in the oven. I’m sorry I’m being so bossy. But potatoes deserve better. Take a stand.
How to slice Corned beef against the grain
Once your beef is fall apart tender (stick a fork in it!) let it rest for a few minutes out of the crock pot before slicing, so you don’t let all the juices run out.
Can you see the lines running along the meat? Cut it the other way. It’s a lot easier to see the grain of the meat in a photo when it’s raw, so here is another photo of searing the meat:
Cutting against the grain is an essential step in achieving incredibly tender meat. You should get slices of meat with a crosshatch pattern, not long lines. You are saving your jaw from chewing through long strips of muscle by neatly cutting them with a knife beforehand. Slice thinly to get super tender, fall apart corned beef!
How do I serve crockpot corned beef & cabbage?
Honestly, Corned Beef can sometimes look like a hot plate of garbage if it’s not presented well, haha! I only speak the truth! We always eat with our eyes first, so we’re going to doll it up a bit. Bust out one of your nice BIG platters. Separate all the veggies from each other and drain off all the briny broth. (It’s too salty to make a gravy out of it.)
Add the carrots to one corner of the platter, cabbage to another, roasted potatoes in another. Discard all the broth and the cooked garlic and onions. I mean you can eat them if you want but I don’t think they are great; they have already served their purpose of enhancing flavor. (This is just me though, don’t let some food blogger tell you what to do!)
After the meat has rested, slice it thinly against the grain and place in the middle of all the veggies. Sprinkle with some freshly chopped parsley or chives, and serve with a bowl of spicy Horseradish sauce. These few simple steps make this meal look totally irresistible, instead of like sad steamy brown mush. Just bein real here my friends. It’s going to taste amazing no matter how you serve it of course!
What sides to serve with corned beef and cabbage?
Horseradish Sauce is the perfect condiment to go with Corned beef, don’t skip it! It takes just a few minutes to whip up. It is the perfect tangy, creamy sauce to pull it all together.
As far as sides though, Corned Beef and Cabbage just isn’t right without the carrots and (roasted) potatoes. It’s kind of a meal all on its own! Serve it with a nice big green salad and call it good. Here are some other ideas if you want to skip adding potatoes and carrots to the corned beef:
- Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- Gruyere-Crisped Potatoes Au Gratin
- Sauteed Carrots & Shallots
- Apple Cider Roasted Carrots
And you can never go wrong with a side of bread!
If you make corned beef, you HAVE to make a Reuben Sandwich. It’s a classic! You can also try
How to store Corned Beef
It’s best to store the vegetables and beef separately in airtight containers. Both will last in the refrigerator for about 4-6 days. The beef in particular freezes very well. Simply add the meat to a freezer ziplock bag after cooling completely, and remove as much air as possible from the bag. It will last in the freezer for 4-6 months. If you want to freeze the vegetables as well, follow the same steps as the beef but use a separate ziplock. Let thaw in the fridge.
How to reheat corned beef and cabbage
The trick to reheating Corned Beef is keeping it from drying out. If you’re planning to reheat a good amount of beef, transfer (thawed) meat to a 9×13 pan, sprinkle 2 or 3 tablespoons water over the top, cover well with foil, and put in a 350 degree oven until the meat is warmed up to 165 degrees F. If it’s already sliced, this should only take 5 minutes or so. If it’s not sliced, I recommend a meat thermometer to make sure it doesn’t overcook and get tough.
If you just want to warm a single serving in the microwave, sprinkle the meat with a small bit of water and warm it at 50% power til heated through. I recommend sauteeing the cabbage in a nonstick pan on the stove with a bit of butter or nonstick spray. Corned beef makes for excellent leftover lunches. It’s also never a bad idea to repurpose: add meat and veggies to a saute pan and crack an egg on top. Yum!
Just for kicks, here is the photo from the first time I posted this recipe back in 2012! Yes, that is a fuzzy white blanket that I thought would make a decent photo backdrop. Oh dear. Hey at least I didn’t try to dye it green you guys. We are evolving! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
More St. Patrick’s Day Recipes you are going to love!
- Irish Soda Bread << this is the perfect side dish to go with your Corned Beef!
- Classic Shepherd’s Pie with Crispy Cheddar << 100x better than the lunchlady special you had growing up!
- One Skillet Shepherd’s Pot Pie << minus the potatoes, plus flaky pie crust! Yum.
- Mini Chicken Pot Pie << these are stupid easy and great for kids!
- Beef Stroganoff Recipe << just like from a restaurant, no ground beef in sight.
- Salisbury Steak << comfort food, come to mama!
- Mom’s Saucy Pork Chops << okay so maybe me and my siblings are the only ones who will associate this 50s classic with St. Patrick’s Day. Do NOT use green ketchup!!
- Authentic Irish Colcannon Recipe from Boulder Locavore
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew from Kristine’s Kitchen
- Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet from BellyFull
- Make these Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert, or these Mint Chocolate Brownies!
Corned Beef and Cabbage
- 4 pounds corned beef brisket, flat or point cut, with spice packet*
- 2 tablespoons oil, for searing
- 1 & 1/2 cups beef broth**
- 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed and left whole
- 1 large onion, sliced into wedges
- 15-20 whole peppercorns, or fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 8-10 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and quartered (8-10 carrots)
- 1/2 cup butter, (1 stick)
- 1 large head green cabbage, sliced into wedges
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 batch Roasted Red Potatoes, (2 pounds red potatoes needed)
- 1 batch horseradish sauce, for serving
- parsley and or chives , to garnish
- Heat a large 12 inch skillet over medium high heat for at least 2 minutes. Open your package of corned beef and drain the brine into the sink. There is no need to rinse the corned beef. Some corned beef brands include a packet of spices*, but sometimes the spices are mixed into the brine. Save the spice packet if there is one.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil to the hot skillet; it should shimmer immediately. Swirl to coat, then add the drained corned beef. Sear for 2-4 minutes on one side until golden brown, then carefully flip with tongs and sear the other side for another 2-3 minutes.
- Place the seared corned beef in your crock pot, fat side up, but don't put the skillet in the sink yet.
- In a glass measuring cup, combine 1 and 1/2 cups beef broth with 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard. (I always use Better Than Bouillon Beef Base and water to make my broth.)
- Add the liquid to the pan that you seared the beef in, and turn the heat to medium high. Let the mixture bubble as you scrape up the browned bits. Pour the mixture over your corned beef into the crock pot.
- Smash 6 cloves of garlic with the side of a chef's knife, peel, and add to the crock pot. Roughly slice an onion into wedges and add to the pot. Add about 15-20 whole peppercorns. Add 8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves, tucking them into the liquid. Sprinkle the spice packet* over everything.
- Cover with the lid and cook on low for about 6-7 hours.
- Prepare your carrots. Peel them and slice each carrot into thirds, slicing any large segments in half lengthwise. I actually prefer the larger carrots myself, so don't break your back here.
- Add the carrots on top of the beef, cover again and cook for another 1-2 hours.
- Prepare the cabbage. Slice the cabbage in half, then cut out the stem. Slice the cabbage into large wedges. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat. Add all the cabbage (it looks like it won't fit, shove it all in!) and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Saute, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage is slightly wilted but not quite to the point that you would snag a bite yet. Add the cabbage on top of the carrots, and continue cooking on low for another 30-60 minutes, until the cabbage is softened and has absorbed some of the corned beef flavor.
- Meanwhile, make a batch of Roasted Red Potatoes in the oven. Potatoes do not belong in the crock pot. (Of course you can do it if you want. Add them with the carrots, they need 2-3 hours to cook. But don't blame me when you get smooshy mooshy gray potatoes.)
- To serve: I like to serve corned beef on a large platter. I think it looks best when the ingredients are presented separately. Use a slotted spoon to remove all the cabbage to a colander to drain slightly. Place all the carrots together on the platter. Add the drained cabbage to the platter next to the carrots. Remove the corned beef to a cutting board and let rest for about 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, then add to the platter. Leave all the broth, onions, garlic, thyme stems, and bay leaves behind. (You can eat the onions and garlic if you want, I find them to be so overcooked that they are unappetizing. We add them to help flavor the other ingredients.)Add the roasted potatoes to the platter. Garnish with chopped parsley and chopped chives.
- Serve with a batch of homemade Horseradish Sauce! It's super easy to whip up, and compliments the corned beef perfectly. Don't skip it!
- Sear the meat in a large oven-going dutch oven. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the beef broth and mustard, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Return the meat to the pot and add garlic, onion, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, and spice packet. Cover with a lid and roast at 300 degrees F for about 2 hours.
- Add sliced carrots, cover, and cook 1 hour. Add the sautéed cabbage and cook another 30-60 minutes. The meat should register about 200 degrees F on a meat thermometer.
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