Making Corned Beef Brisket
Beef,  Cooking,  Food Preparation

Corned Beef Brisket – How to Cure, Prepare, Cook and Serve

Corned beef brisket is a delicious dish, typically served in Ireland or on St. Patrick’s day. However, it is a great dish to serve anywhere, anytime, and it’s not hard to make.

So what is corned beef brisket, and how do you cure, prepare, cook, and serve the meat?

Corned beef brisket is the breast area of the cow, which becomes tender when cooked slowly. The beef is cooked in many herbs and spices, which gives the Corned Beef brisket a bold flavor. It is a versatile cut that can be served with cabbage and potatoes for a traditional Irish dish, or in a sandwich with sauerkraut for a lighter meal.

This article explains how the corned beef brisket differs from the plain beef brisket. We will explain how to make your own corned beef cure, and what cooking methods you can use for cooking the meat. We will also explain different ways to serve the meat, and how much to serve per person.

Corned Beef Brisket Meal
Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage St Patrick’s Day Favorite

Difference Between Corned Beef Brisket and Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is the breast or chest area of a cow. It is a tough muscle that has an outer layer of fat that provides great flavor to the meat. When cooked for a long time, the meat gets fork tender, and can be sliced or shredded. 

However, there is another common way to cook beef brisket, called corned beef brisket.

Corned beef brisket is the same meat, but it is cured and cooked with herbs and spices to give it a more distinct flavor. 

The next section will explain what spices are used to make corned beef brisket. 

What Herbs and Spices Are Used To Make the Corned Beef?

Corned beef brisket uses a few different herbs and spices to flavor and cure the beef brisket. However, which spices are in it depends on whether you get a pre-packaged corn beef seasoning or make your own. 

The herbs and spices in corned beef seasoning include peppercorn, bay leaves, mustard and dill seeds, and some other spices that have bold flavors. Other common corned beef herbs and spices include cloves, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and red pepper. 

If you are interested in buying a pre-made corned beef seasoning, try this Premium Corned Beef Seasoning from the June Moon Spice Company Store on This seasoning is calorie-free, has two freshness layers, and comes in an easy-to-use shaker bottle. 

Some of the ingredients in the seasoning include the following: 

  • Mustard
  • Coriander
  • Black peppercorn
  • Bay leaf
  • Cinnamon
  • Dill
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Fennel
  • A hint of chili powder

If you want to mix up your own corned beef seasoning, you can combine as many or as few of the ingredients above. If you do not like some spices or do not like your first mix, you can play around with different spice combinations and ratios until you make your perfect, homemade corned beef seasoning. 

How To Make Homemade Corned Beef Brine

This section has a brine recipe and instructions for you to use at home. 

First, you need to make the brine. Fill a large pot with water, sugar, salt, and corned beef seasoning. Heat the mixture until the salt and sugar dissolve, then add ice and stir it until it melts. 

Your brine needs to be 45℉ (7.2℃) or cooler before adding it to the meat. 

Once the brine is done, add your beef brisket and your brine into a bag. Place the bag into the fridge and let it sit for 10 days. Every day, check the bag to ensure the beef stays submerged and stir the brine. 

After 10 days, rinse the beef under cold water and add it to a pot. You can add any vegetables like carrots and celery into the pot too, but make sure the beef is covered completely in the water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for three hours, or until the meat is tender. 

Your homemade corned beef is ready to eat.

Here is a video showing you the process of making your own brine to cure a beef brisket and make Corned beef.

Different Ways To Cook Corned Beef Brisket

There are many ways to cook corned beef brisket, including grilling, smoking, roasting, and using kitchen appliances like crockpots and instant pots. 

No matter which cooking method you use, make sure the thickest part of your brisket reaches at least 145℉ (62.7℃). All cooking times below are for approximately 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of brisket, but you can adjust it if you want to make more or less. 

Oven Roasting

Oven roasting is one of the easiest ways to cook corned beef brisket because you can throw it in the oven for a few hours and leave it with minimal checking. 

You need to combine the meat and your spices in a pan with a lid. Boil water in the pot, then put it in the oven at 300℉ (148.9℃). The corned beef should take just over one hour for each pound of brisket to become tender. 

Crockpot Cooking

Another easy cooking method is in a slow crockpot cooker. Add all your ingredients like vegetables, the brisket, and any extra seasoning to the pot and cook it on low for approximately eight hours. Make sure your brisket is covered in water before you begin cooking it.

If you are adding cabbage to your slow cooker brisket, add it in for the last hour of cooking until the cabbage is soft. 


Grilling or BBQing corned beef brisket is perfect for the summer when you want to spend time outside. It is a low heat, a slow cooking method that makes the meat tender and gives it a grilled/charred flavor. 

Check out this video from the BBQ Pit Boys on YouTube for a full recipe and tutorial on grilling corned beef and cabbage: 

Smoking A Corned Beef Brisket

Smoking a corned beef brisket gives the meat a smoky flavor and is great if you want to keep a lot of the original flavor in the meat. Here is a recipe and tutorial video from HowToBBQRight on YouTube that shows you how to smoke your corn beef brisket and cabbage:

Instant Pot

Using an Instant Pot is the fastest way to cook your corned beef brisket, even though you still need to bring it for multiple days before cooking it. 

You can use a 4 lb (1.81 kg) brisket in a 6 qt (5.7 L) Instant Pot. Add onions, garlic, thyme, your spices, and 6 cups (1.42 L) of water. Seal the lid and cook on high pressure for 85 minutes. Use the quick-release method to release the steam. Your meat is ready.

Corned Beef Shrinkage and Serving Size

When you cook corned beef, it can shrink during cooking, sometimes by as much as ⅓ of its original weight. However, if you get good quality meat, you can lessen the shrinkage, and the cooked weight will not be significantly less than the raw weight. 

A standard serving size for corned beef is ½ lb (0.23 kg) per person, so a 3 lb (1.4 kg) brisket, which we gave instructions for in the previous section, will serve around six people. If you want leftovers, make more corned beef than you need for the number of people you serve. 

Cooking more than you need is also a good idea if you are worried about running out of meat or if some of your dinner guests eat more than the standard person.

If you are serving only corned beef, you may want to have a little more meat per person. But if you are serving a lot of sides, vegetables, and appetizers, less beef per person, around 4 oz (113.4 g), should be enough. 

Corned Beef Brisket Serving Suggestions

The most common way corned beef brisket is served is on St. Patrick’s Day in March. It is usually cooked with cabbage and potatoes, as mentioned in many sections above. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish dish which is why it is so popular on holiday. 

You can also serve the brisket on any bread as a sandwich and put on your favorite ingredients. It is usually served with mustard and cheese on a darker bread like rye or wheat and adding sauerkraut makes a classic rueben sandwich.

For more ways to make corned beef, check out the Gotta Have It Quick & Easy Corned Beef Recipes! Book on There are traditional, cabbage recipes, and more unique recipes in the book.

How Long Does Cooked Corned Beef Last

Before you cook your corned beef, you can leave it in the fridge, unopened, for up to one week or until the use-by date. Or, you can freeze it for up to one month before thawing. 

After you cook the beef, you can refrigerate it for three to four days before it goes bad. If you have a lot of leftovers and a few days to eat, it is not enough time. You can freeze it for two to three months before it loses flavor and goes bad. 

If you want to change up how you eat leftovers, you can put the meat on a sandwich or chop it up and put it in a salad. You can also eat it with vegetables, whether it be the ones you originally cooked the corned beef with, or you can make fresh vegetables to eat with the leftovers. 

Final Thoughts

Corned beef brisket is a great way to cook beef brisket if you want tender meat with bold flavor from spices and herbs. 

There are many ways to cook and serve your corned beef brisket, and you can find a ton of pre-packaged corned beef seasonings. Or, you can make your own and play with the spices and amounts you use until you find your own perfect corned beef seasoning. 

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