Next Level Corned Beef Recipe Puts The Store Bought Stuff To Shame

Our Famous Corned Beef Recipe Outshines Store Bought

By:

Meathead

Sliced corned beef

Curing meats such as bacon, ham, or pastrami is fun and the results are often better than store bought. But curing is very different from any other recipe because you are using a preservative, sodium nitrite. You must read and thoroughly understand my article on the Science Of Curing Meats before attempting to cure meat or before you ask any questions regarding this corned beef brisket recipe.

Your first question has to be “Why bother?” And the answer is simple: Our homemade corned beef brisket recipe is better than anything you could ever pick up at your local grocery store.

Why? The commercial stuff, especially the cheap stuff mass marketed for St. Patrick’s Day for Irish wannabes, is usually made by taking shortcuts that result in odd flavors and gelatinous textures.

commercial corned beef

The homemade stuff from this corned beef recipe can also be cheaper. And it’s easy. And you can customize it. Once you’ve had the real deal, you can’t go back. It just takes time. So start now.

Corned beef has no corn. OK, maybe the steer ate some corn, but no corn is harmed in the process of corning beef. Actually, to be precise, corn was the old British name for grain before corn on the cob was discovered in North America and usurped the name. “A corn of salt” was as common an expression as a “grain of salt” is today. So corned beef is really just another name for salted beef.

Corned beef was a World War II staple among civilians in Great Britain and among the troops in Europe because fresh meats were hard to come by. It came in a can. Sliced corned beef is especially popular in Jewish delicatessens where it is a sandwich staple, but you can make it even better with our corned beef recipe!

So corning has become another name for curing or pickling. Yes, we are pickling the meat in this corned beef brisket recipe. These are ancient processes invented for preserving meat by packing it in salt or soaking it in a concentrated brine, long before refrigerators. In recent years, curing is also done by injecting meat with salt. The process was probably discovered when some ancient hunter speared a deer and it fell into the ocean and washed ashore a couple of weeks later. Surprisingly instead of bloating and turning foul, the meat had been preserved, and tasted pretty good.

Diagram of a whole beef brisket
Diagram of a whole beef brisket

A vital part of the process for this corned beef recipe is your selection of the meat. Corned beef is usually a section of the brisket. It is sometimes made from navel, but that cut is so fatty and sinewy that I cannot recommend it. The waste is great and the and eating experience is inferior. I have seen other muscles used, but not very often. Brisket is cut from the pectoral muscles, a pair of thick muscles from the steer’s chest, and a whole “packer” brisket is a large hunk of meat made of two muscles and can weight 12 to 18 pounds. It can be bought whole, but is usually cut near the middle and sold as flat or point.

These are heavily worked muscles and are tough cuts. Making them into corned beef is a great way to tenderize and flavorize this otherwise lesser cuts, and a great way to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration. Do it!

Since this corned beef recipe uses beef brisket, which is thicker at one end than the other, we recommend you separate the two muscles, the point and the flat, if they are not already separated when you buy the meat. This will leave you with slabs no thicker than 3-inches and will speed the curing time and insure that the cure penetrates all the way to the center. While you’re at it, remove the copious amounts of fat from between the two muscles. It does nothing to enhance flavor, in fact, it tastes yucky, and it impedes movement of the cure.

Now before you get started, note that this page is only about making raw corned beef. The next step is cooking it. Options include traditional corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner, corned beef hash, or even a Reuben sandwiches. If you want, you can add a barbecue touch with two extra steps, smoking it and steaming it to turn it into incredible pastrami.

Awesome Corned Beef Recipe


corned beef and cabbage
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
4.88 from 240 votes
Store-bought corned beef is OK in a pinch but nothing beats the homemade version featured in our famous recipe!

Serve with: Guinness.


Course: Brunch, Dinner, entree, Lunch
Cuisine: Irish, Irish-American, Jewish
Difficulty: Moderate

Makes:

4 pounds raw corned beef (3 pounds cooked)
Servings: 8

Takes:

Prep Time: 1 hour
Curing time: 7 days
Total Time: 7 days 1 hour

Ingredients

About the Prague Powder #1. This recipe calls for Prague Powder #1. No other curing agent can be substituted. No Prague Powder #2, TenderQuick, or saltpeter. Chemically they are all different.
About the beef. Many delis use the fattier navel cut. You can also use boneless short rib meat, flank steak, tongue, or round, but round can be very thick, so cut in into 1.5″ planks. For that matter you can use any cut you want, but brisket is my fave. The flat is leaner and make perfect slices. The point muscle is fattier and juicier but doesn’t slice as perfectly.
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works. For this recipe, you want to use 1/2 teaspoon Morton coarse kosher salt per pound of meat.
What? No pickling spices? They really aren’t necessary. They don’t penetrate deep. But if you must, you can buy them premixed or click here for a recipe for pickling spices that you can make yourself. Add 4 to 5 tablespoons, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, and 4 cloves of garlic, crushed.

Method

  • Prep. Find a proper non-reactive container large enough to handle 1 gallon of brine and the meat as described in our article Science Of Curing Meats Safely. Clean it as described.
  • Mix the cure ingredients and the distilled water. Stir until they dissolve.
  • If the meat you buy has two layers of meat separated by a layer of fat, you have both flat and point muscles. Separate them and remove the fat. Also remove as much fat as possible from the exterior unless you plan to use some of it for pastrami. In that case, leave a 1/8″ layer on one side. Because corned beef is cooked in simmering water, the fat just gets gummy and unappetizing. But if you plan to make pastrami from it, you will be smoking the meat and in that case the fat gets succulent and lubricates the sandwich. I like to buy a full packer brisket and separate the point from the flat, and cut the flat in half. That gives me 3 manageable hunks of 2 to 4 pounds each. If you leave the point attached to the flat beneath, it will be very thick and take longer to cure, and there’s an ugly hunk of fat between them.
  • Cure. Add the meat to the curing solution. If you have more than one slab do not let them lie on top of each other. If you do, they will act like one thick slab and curing will take much longer. The meat might float, so put a plastic bowl filled with brine on top of the meat until it submerges. The meat will drink up brine so make sure there is enough to cover it by at least 1″ or else you’ll find the meat high and dry after a few days. Refrigerate. Let it swim for 7 days. Move the meat every day or so just to stir up the cure. The liquid will get cloudy from juices that come out of the meat, but it should never smell bad. When you are done, the exterior of the meat will be pale tan or gray and if you cut into it, it should not look too different than normal raw meat, just a little pinker.
    corned beef curing
  • Cook. Now decide how you want to cook it. You can make traditional corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner, you can make corned beef hash, you can make Rockin Reuben Sandwiches, or turn it into Close to Katz’s Pastrami like in this video from our friends at ThermoWorks.

Nutrition

Calories: 264kcal | Protein: 35g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 1257mg | Potassium: 562mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 3mg

Related articles

Published On: 2/11/2014 Last Modified: 4/20/2021

  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.


If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and much more!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 4,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner like TV network or a magazine publisher to subsidize us.

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club, but please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get 21 great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial membership, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

grouchy?

1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.

Moderators

  Max

Spotlight

These are not ads or paid placements. These are some of our favorite tools and toys.

These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs


The Undisputed Champion!


 
The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. The MK4 includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight and rotating display. Don’t accept cheap substitutes.
Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review

Heat Resistant Gloves With Extra Long Sleeves Hold The Hot Stuff

If you’re using oven mitts at the grill, it’s time to trade up. Say hello to these suede welder’s gloves. They’re heat resistant enough to handle hot grill grates, and flexible enough to handle tongs. The extra long sleeves even let you reach deep into the firebox to move hot logs without getting burned. Our Fave.

Click here to read our detailed review

Click here to order from Amazon

The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy


The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them

If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the Slow ‘N’ Sear


The Slow ‘N’ Sear turns your grill into a first class smoker and also creates an extremely hot sear zone you can use to create steakhouse steaks.
Click here for our article on this breakthrough tool

GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone


GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily rmoved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.

Click here for more about what makes these grates so special


Surely you know somebody who loves outdoor cooking who deserves a gift for the holidays, birthday, anniversary, or just for being wonderful. There he is, right in the mirror! Here are our selections of best ideas, all Platinum or Gold Medalists, listed by price.

Click here to see our list of Gold Medal Gifts

The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One


The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.

Click here to read our complete review