Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Cook: 8 hours
Slow-cooker corned beef is packed with cabbage and other hearty vegetables. It's easy to pull together for St. Patrick's Day, but you can enjoy it any time of year.

Updated: Apr. 18, 2024

Corned beef is always delicious, whether enjoyed with a brothy bowl of cabbage and potatoes or sliced for a hearty sandwich. The dish is a beloved St. Patrick’s Day food, but it deserves to be enjoyed more than once a year! This slow-cooker corned beef and cabbage recipe is as easy as any homemade beef stew, and there’s no curing required (because it has already been done for you).

What is corned beef?

Corned beef is made from beef brisket (mainly the lean end) that has been salt-cured. Salt-curing is an ancient method of preserving meat, and was very common with different cuts of beef up until the birth of electrical refrigeration. The brine packs this hard-working muscle with flavor, and a long, low-heat cooking time turns the brisket meltingly tender.

What’s the difference between corned beef and pastrami?

When comparing pastrami and corned beef, the differences are in the cuts and the cooking methods. Corned beef is made with the leaner flat brisket, while pastrami is made from the more marbled point brisket, deckle (shoulder) or navel (belly) cuts. Both pastrami and corned beef are cured with salt and spices, but pastrami goes on to be smoked, giving it a more pungent flavor. Brisket is generally boiled or braised.

Ingredients for Slow-Cooker Corned Beef

  • Corned beef brisket with spice packet: Around St. Patrick’s Day, most grocery stores and butcher shops start to carry corned beef brisket. Corned beef usually comes with a spice packet, but if it doesn’t, use a mix of peppercorns, bay leaf and mustard seeds. Want a project? You can also make corned beef from scratch.
  • Cabbage: A classic pairing with corned beef, cabbage adds a slightly sour, slightly sweet note to this dish. We like to use whole green cabbage cut into wedges.
  • Potatoes: This Irish staple is an ideal pairing with corned beef. Waxy potatoes are best since they’ll hold their shape well; this recipe calls for red potatoes.
  • Carrots: Sweet carrots complement the meat and other vegetables in this dish. If you don’t have baby carrots, peel and cut regular carrots into 2-inch chunks.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Cider vinegar adds acidity to the stew pot, brightening up the rich beef. You can use white wine vinegar or wine if you prefer.


Step 1: Load the slow cooker

Placing onion, potatoes and carrots in a slow cooker TMB Studio

Place the onion, potatoes and carrots in a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker. In a separate bowl, combine the water, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, pepper and contents of spice packet. Pour it over the vegetables.

Placing brisket in a slow cooker along with other vegetablesTMB Studio

Set the brisket and cabbage on top.

Step 2: Cook low and slow

Cutting the beef into small pieces with a knife on a wooden surfaceTMB Studio

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for eight to nine hours, or until the meat and vegetables are completely tender. A knife tip should glide through the beef. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef served in a plate with other cooke vegetablesTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Skip the cabbage: Don’t love cabbage? Leave it out and bulk up the recipe with potatoes and carrots.
  • Add beer: You can replace some of the water with a strong ale or stout beer, like Guinness, for even more flavor.
  • Add a glaze: Glazed corn beef has an extra dose of sweetness that balances the saltiness of the beef.
  • Serve with mustard sauce: Another favorite corned and cabbage beef recipe includes a mustard sauce made from scratch with sour cream, mustard and sugar. It adds a savory and tangy touch.

How to Store Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Leftover corned beef and cabbage should be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to four days. Leftovers can be gently reheated or eaten cold.

How to Freeze Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Like many slow-cooked meats and stews, corned beef freezes well. Allow the dish to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container. Freeze it for up to three months. To serve, allow the meat to defrost in the refrigerator, then gently reheat it or enjoy it cold.

The vegetables may soften or become a bit grainy in the freezer, but they will still be fine to eat. If you’re planning to freeze your corned beef, you may want to omit the vegetables from the cooking pot and serve the defrosted beef with freshly boiled potatoes and cabbage.

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage Tips

Slow Cooker Corned Beef TMB Studio

Do you need to rinse corned beef before cooking?

You do not need to rinse corned beef before cooking. Some believe it will rinse off the salt and lower the sodium content, but the USDA doesn’t recommend rinsing raw meat or poultry before cooking. It actually increases the risk of cross-contamination.

How do you make sure the corned beef is tender?

For tender corned beef, make sure to put enough liquid in the cooking pot. The brisket should be almost entirely covered. Here’s more on how to make tough beef tender.

Can you cook the corned beef and cabbage on high for less time?

It’s not advisable to cook corned beef on high for less time. High temperatures can make tough cuts of beef like brisket even tougher. Cooking brisket on low heat for a long time turns the beef meltingly tender. If you don’t want to slow-cook, you can make a boiled dinner on the stovetop instead.

How do prevent the potatoes from getting too mushy?

Add your potatoes two hours before the end of cooking to prevent them from turning to mush. But if you prefer a one-step recipe, keep things simple by adding the potatoes and beef all at once. They’ll break up a bit, but they’ll still taste good.

How do you slice corned beef?

Before slicing corned beef, allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This will keep juices from flowing out when the meat is cut (which can result in dry beef). After resting, use a sharp knife to slice it. Take note of the direction of the muscle fibers; this is known as the grain. Always cut across the grain for tender slices that are perfect in sandwiches.

What do you serve with slow-cooker corned beef and cabbage?

Make corned beef and cabbage to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and serve it with other traditional Irish recipes, like soda bread, colcannon potatoes, roasted potatoes and glazed carrots. Corned beef isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day, though; it’s tasty enough to serve with green beans, broccoli or garlic bread. A fresh green salad is always a good idea, too.

How do you use leftover corned beef?

The best leftover corned beef recipes include corned beef hash and eggs, creamy Reuben dip and soups. Of course, you can always make corned beef sandwiches on rye bread with hot mustard (or Reuben sandwiches, if you like things messy).

Watch how to Make Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Easy Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Prep Time 15 min
Yield 8 servings.


  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • 4 large red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 corned beef brisket with spice packet (2-1/2 to 3 pounds), cut in half
  • 1 small head cabbage, cut into wedges


  1. Place the onion, potatoes and carrots in a 6- to 7-qt. slow cooker. Combine the water, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, pepper and contents of spice packet; pour over vegetables. Top with brisket and cabbage.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Nutrition Facts

1 serving: 414 calories, 19g fat (6g saturated fat), 97mg cholesterol, 1191mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (11g sugars, 6g fiber), 23g protein.

This corned beef and cabbage slow-cooker recipe is a fuss-free way to cook the traditional dish. I tried it for St. Patrick's Day a few years ago. Now it's a regular in my menu planning. —Karen Waters, Laurel, Maryland