Curious to learn how to make corned beef brisket at home? Our Test Kitchen takes you through the process, step-by-step.
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Corned beef has been a staple of old-school diner menus and Irish-American diets for decades. (Just like many of these classic Irish recipes.) You might find it mingling with sauerkraut in a tasty Reuben sandwich or next to potatoes at a St. Patrick’s Day supper. Sure, you can buy it canned or already cured in a store, but nothing beats the flavor—and feeling of total accomplishment—of making your own. So how do you make corned beef from scratch?
The Taste of Home Test Kitchen has found the best way. Follow along with our expert tips and methods below.
A quick heads-up: This recipe requires multiple days. But don’t let the time scare you. The steps are simple and the flavor payoff is second to none. It’ll take about 10 days to brine the meat, so if it’s for a big event, schedule it into your calendar early.
How to Make Corned Beef
1 gallon water
1-1/2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup mixed pickling spices, divided
4 teaspoons pink curing salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh beef brisket (4 to 5 pounds)
2 large carrots, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
Editor’s Tip: As a shortcut, you can buy pickling spices at your local market, but we recommend going the extra mile with our Homemade Pickling Spice recipe. It’s simple to make, and you might have the ingredients already in your pantry.
Enough room in your fridge to store the brisket for 10 days
Step 1: Get Prepping
In a large stockpot, combine water, kosher salt, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons pickling spices, pink curing salt and garlic. Bring the brine to a simmer and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled.
Editor’s Tip: Pink Curing Salt? Not all pink-colored salts are created equal. Unlike Himalayan pink salt, or other rosy salts on the market, pink curing salt is made using sodium nitrate, which prevents food from spoiling while being stored for a lengthy time. Curing salt is often dyed red so it’s not mistaken for standard table salt.
Step 2: Let’s Wrap
It’s time to play Russian nesting doll with your oven-roasting bags. Open them both and place one inside the other. Tuck the brisket into the innermost bag and carefully add in the cooled brine. Be sure that it pools over and around the brisket. Then seal both bags. Try to press as much air out as possible before sealing. Before placing in the fridge, turn the meat a few times to evenly coat it.
Step 3: Keep it Cool
Clear a special place in the fridge for the brisket to live. Keep it refrigerated for 10 days so that the meat can properly soak in all the spiced flavor. Be sure to turn the brisket over occasionally so that it remains evenly coated.
After 10 days, the corned beef is almost ready. Wake up the brisket from its chilled slumber by removing it from the brine. Give the brisket a thorough rinse and cut it in half to fit your pot, if needed.
Step 4: Time to Cook
Next, place the brisket in a Dutch oven with enough water to cover. Add in carrots, celery and the remaining pickling spices and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and add water if necessary to keep brisket covered. Cook for about 3 hours or until meat is tender.
Step 5: Dig In!
Taste of Home
At long last, your corned beef is ready to serve, hot or cold. Use a sharpened knife to cut the brisket into thin slices. Slap it onto a sandwich or serve with additional vegetables simmered until tender.
To eat the beef at a later date, refrigerate it in the cooking liquid. It’ll keep for several days. Reheat in that same liquid when you’re ready to serve. Next, learn how to make baked corned beef.
Sunday breakfasts have always been special in our house. It's fun to get in the kitchen and cook with the kids. No matter how many new recipes we try, they always rate this corned beef hash recipe No. 1! —Rick Skildum, Maple Grove, Minnesota
Go to Recipe
I love this quick-to-fix, layered Reuben stromboli. I used another sandwich recipe as a guide but made it with Reuben fixings. Switch things up by using sliced turkey and coleslaw instead of corned beef and sauerkraut. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
This is one of my favorite leftover corned beef recipes. It's great for the days after St. Patrick's Day, or the celebration itself. This Reuben casserole features corned beef, sauerkraut and other ingredients that make Reuben sandwiches so popular. —Margery Bryan, Royal City, Washington
I’m a big fan of Reuben sandwiches and anything with that flavor combination. For an appetizer, I blend corned beef with Swiss and a few other items to make a spread for rye bread or crackers. —June Herke, Watertown, South Dakota
Using leftover corned beef in new and exciting ways is my personal cooking challenge. These fun tacos take my favorite Reuben ingredients and turn them into something totally different—and completely delicious. —Fay Moreland, Wichita Falls, Texas
Who knew there was such a thing as healthy corned beef hash?! Loaded with red potatoes and deli corned beef, our lightened-up version of corned beef hash delivers fresh flavors and a dose of fiber. It's so spot on, you'll swear you're in a diner. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
I love Reubens, so I turned the classic sandwich into a fun appetizer with corned beef and sauerkraut on waffle fries. It's one of my best leftover corned beef recipes. —Gloria Bradley, Naperville, Illinois
Our Aunt Renee always brought this leftover corned beef casserole to family picnics in Chicago. It became so popular that she started bringing two or three. I have also made it using dark rye bread or marbled rye, and ham instead of corned beef—all the variations are delicious! —Johnna Johnson, Scottsdale, Arizona
My daughter shared this recipe with me for a hearty spread that tastes just like a Reuben sandwich. Serve it from a slow cooker set to warm so the dip stays at its most tasty temperature. —Rosalie Fuchs, Paynesville, Minnesota
Fridays are pizza nights at our house. We do a lot of experimenting, so we don't have the same, old thing every week. With only five ingredients, this Reuben pizza is a snap to whip up, and it tastes just like a Reuben sandwich. —Nicole German, Hutchinson, Minnesota
I created this when I wanted something different for a graduation brunch for two of our sons. When I realized I had most of the ingredients on hand for the Reuben dip I usually make, I decided to use them in a brunch casserole instead! Everyone asked for the recipe. —Janelle Reed, Merriam, Kansas
I created my leftover corned beef hash to taste like a dish from a northern Arizona restaurant we always loved. We round it out with eggs and toast made from homemade bread. —Denise Chelpka, Phoenix, Arizona
This slow-cooked spread tastes just like the popular Reuben sandwich. Even when I double the recipe, I end up with an empty dish. It's an excellent leftover corned beef recipe, too. —Mary Jane Kimmes, Hastings, Minnesota
I was having trouble figuring out what to make with corned beef after St. Patrick's Day. So, I tried a spin on traditional pea soup, with this split pea soup recipe with corned beef. The flavor is peppery rather than smoky, and a tasty change of pace. —Barbara Link, Alta Loma, California
When I need a leftover corned beef recipe, I turn to this melt. This twist on a classic Reuben keeps the corned beef and uses a sauce made with Swiss (and plenty of thousand-island flavor). Fresh slaw on top replaces the sauerkraut. —Jenni Sharp, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Fans of the classic Reuben sandwich will go crazy for baked pastry spirals of corned beef, Swiss and sauerkraut. They're so easy to make, and bottled Thousand Island dressing makes the perfect dipping sauce. —Cheryl Snavely, Hagerstown, Maryland
Nicole is the Content Director of TMB's Strategy and Performance team. She oversees the brand's shopping and trend editorial teams and assists with content planning across Taste of Home, Family Handyman, Reader's Digest, The Healthy and Birds & Blooms. With over seven years of experience writing and editing in the food and home space, she enjoys sharing cooking tips, recipe picks and product recommendations that make life a little easier. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's either practicing latte art or fixating on her latest DIY home renovation.