This Home Cured Corned Beef has all of the instructions you need to make corned beef on your own! Often people assume that cured meats are difficult to do at home, but that’s just not true. This home cured corned beef is super simple, and even more importantly, it is mega more delicious than anything you are going to get off of a store shelf.
What is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is essentially a tough beef roast (often a brisket or round roast) that has been slow cured and cooked to tender, salty perfection. For this recipe I used a brisket flat and it worked perfectly, but you can use a brisket point or a bottom round roast as well! Brisket is a tough meat, but after 5 days in a bath of curing salt and a slow braise it will basically melt in your mouth.
How to Make Corned Beef
Now, I’m not the first person to create a recipe for corned beef but that is the beauty of a brine recipe like this. Once you get the correct ratio of curing salt to meat, you can play with the spices and flavors to your liking. I love the sweet/spice blend I’ve got going on in this brine recipe!
For this recipe, you will need Prague powder #1 (also called InstaCure) in a ratio of 3.2 teaspoons cure per gallon of liquid for a 1.5 inch thick, 4-5 pound roast to get that deep pink color throughout your entire cut of meat.
Corned Beef Cure Ratios!!
Dry cures are often measured by weight of the meat your are curing (typically 1 teaspoon will cure 5 pounds of meat), but since this is a wet brine method the correct ratio will be the amount of cure suspended in the liquid. The correct amount of cure is crucial to making sure your meat is fully penetrated before cooking. If you have a different size of meat than I’ve used in this recipe, please refer to this awesome chart that gives you exact calculations of meat to liquid to brine. You simply input your weight, liquid amount, and size, and that chart will tell you exactly how much cure to use.
A thinner brisket flat will typically cure in 5 days, while a thicker cut (like a round roast) will take closer to 7 or 8 days. Another important tip is to rotate your meat in the brine and agitate your liquid every day to keep the salt from sinking to the bottom.
How to Cook Corned Beef
Once your beef is cured it’s time to cook! Traditional corned beef is boiled with the reserved pickling spices from the brine. That is totally an option! My absolute favorite way to prepare corned beef is by smoking for a little bit before braising with some delicious veggies. Not the most traditional way to do corned beef, but I’ve never been much of a traditionalist anyways. Follow the recipe below for the cure and then HEAD TO THIS POST for full cooking instructions.
How to turn Corned Beef into Pastrami
This home cured corned beef brine does double duty as a cure for home smoked pastrami. Both corned beef and pastrami come from the same cut of brisket and the same cure recipe, the only difference is in the final preparation method. Like I said, corned beef is traditionally boiled. Pastrami is traditionally coated with toasted spices and slow smoke roasted. Below, I’ve got the printable recipe and instructions for my brine cure and I’ve also included a section for my pastrami rub! The instructions for my cooked corned beef with braised veggies can be found HERE. Make the cure as directed below and from there you can either cook as corned beef or smoke low and slow for pastrami!
Home Cured Corned Beef Recipe
Home Cured Corned Beef and Optional Pastrami Instructions
Corned Beef and Pastrami Brine
- 1 4-5 pound brisket flat, 1.5 inches thick
- 2 quarts water
- 1 quart apple juice
- 1 1/2 cups coarse Kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3.2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1 (also known as Prague Powder #1. Ask your butcher or order online.)
- 3 Tablespoons pickling spice
- 1 quart ice
PASTRAMI RUB (opitiona)
- 2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 Tablespoon whole mustard seeds
- 2 Tablespoons coarse Kosher or sea salt
- 2 Tablepoons smoked paprika
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- In a large stock pot, combine all of the ingredients for the brine except the ice. Bring to a boil and stir until all of the salt and sugar has dissolved in the brine. Remove from the heat and stir in the ice until the brine has cooled to room temperature.
- Place the brisket in a large food-safe plastic container and pour over the cooled brine. Keep the brisket in the cure in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, turning and stirring the brine mixture at least once per day.
- Once the brisket is cured, you can prepare as corned beef. Recipe linked in the recipe notes. Or, if you like, you can follow the remaining instructions to make home cured pastrami.
- In a small saute pan over medium heat, combine the coriander seed, mustard seed, and peppercorns. Toast the spices for 2-3 minutes or until just fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder and pulse until well combined. Stir in the remaining rub ingredients.
- Coat the cured brisket in the pastrami rub and wrap tightly. For best results, let the roast sit in the pastrami rub for 1-2 days. Preheat your smoker and cook at 250 degrees until the internal temperature reads 195 degrees. This typically takes anywhere from 6-8 hours. Wrap the smoked pastrami in plastic wrap and chill completely before slicing thin and stacking high on your favorite rye bread.