How to Make Corned Beef

March 8, 2021

This post will teach you the simple process of How to Make Corned Beef. Think curing your own meats at home is difficult? Think again! This home cured corned beef is super simple, and even more importantly, it is more delicious than anything you are going to get from the store.

Sliced corned beef on a plate with whole roasted potatoes, cabbage and baby carrots. Text overlay reads: How to Make Corned Beef.

What is Corned Beef?

Corned beef is simply when a roast or brisket has been salt-cured with the optional addition of sugar and spices to the cure for added flavor. It’s often made from 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 (and taste incredible as well!).

Beef brisket in a corned beef brine.

Home Cured Corned Beef

While you can easily purchase corned beef from the grocer (usually in March around St. Patrick’s Day), making your own is something I recommend trying at least once. The meat turned out extremely tender, juicy, and full of flavor that you won’t get from the store bought roasts.

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 personally love the sweet and spice blend I’ve got going on in this brine recipe. It makes every bite better than the last.

Home cured corned beef in a stock pot with cabbage.

How to Make Corned Beef

Now that we’ve chatted a bit about corned beef, let’s get to the process. As mentioned, making corned beef requires you to cure a roast or brisket in a salt bath to render it nice and tender.

For this recipe, you will need Prague powder #1 (also called InstaCure or pink curing salt #1) 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.

  1. Make the brine. First up, you’ll want to make the brine using the Prague powder, water, apple juice, salt, brown sugar, and pickling spice. (Make sure to scroll below for the printable instructions with full ingredient amounts and instructions). Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot and stir well to dissolve all the salt and sugar.
  2. Cool the brine. Remove the brine from the heat, add 1 quart of ice and allow the brine to come to room temperature.
  3. Cure the beef. Place the beef brisket in a large, food-sage plastic container, and cover it in the brine. Place the brisket in the refrigerator and allow the beef to cure for 5-7 days. Turn and stir the brine mixture at least once every day.

That’s it! It’s definitely an easy process. All you need is a few good ingredients and some patience, and you’re on your way to making your own beef brisket!

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. 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. This prevents the salt from sinking to the bottom.

sliced corned beef on a plate with whole roasted potatoes, cabbage and baby carrots.

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 with my recipe for Smoked Corned Beef and Cabbage with the addition of braising with some delicious veggies. While this is not the most traditional way to cook corned beef, you’ll be shocked with how good it tastes! (Plus, I’ve never been much of a traditionalist anyways!) 

More Corned Beef (and Cabbage!) Recipes

Whether you’re preparing for a St. Patrick’s Day feast, or you just have a hankering for some good food, these recipes will satisfy any craving.

Home Cured Corned Beef Recipe

Cooking a holiday meal for your friends or family should be easy. If you’re looking for the ultimate way to help you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero, join my members-only group The Grill Squad for full access to all my meat, rubs, sauces, and meat buying masterclasses, podcasts, and so much more.

Need some rubs and sauces to go with this recipe? Patio Provisions sells Hey Grill Hey Signature products for a great price. Best of all? They’re delivered straight to your door!

Slices of homemade corned beef lined up on a serving dish next to whole potatoes, cabbage, and baby carrots.

Home Cured Corned Beef

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.
4.5 from 2 votes
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 5 mins
Curing Time : 5 d
Total Time : 5 d 20 mins
Servings : 8 people
Calories : 60kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 1 4-5 pound brisket flat, 1.5 inches thick

Corned Beef Brine

  • 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

Instructions

  • Make the brine. 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.
  • Cure the meat. 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.
  • Cook the corned beef. Once the brisket is cured, you can prepare as corned beef. (Recipe linked in the recipe notes.)

Nutrition

Calories: 60kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 13IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
Ready to Become a Backyard BBQ Hero?Join The Grill Squad today!

**This post was originally published in March 2017. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

How to Make Corned Beef

Home Cured Corned BeefCorned Beef Recipe

 

 

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40 thoughts on “How to Make Corned Beef

  1. I have made the corned beef three times now and it’s delicious! I am now venturing into making the pastrami, a lot of recipes call for steaming the meat after smoking, thoughts? I am using a tri-tip from my cow so it is a little bit of a tougher cut. Any input will be appreciated.

    1. So glad you liked the corned beef!! Steaming is totally an option. I prefer the texture of it just smoked, but steaming is a great way to reheat the pastrami if you’ve chilled and sliced it too.

  2. You don’t mention refrigerating the meat while brining, oversite or does it not need to be refrigerated? BTW, loved and use your bacon recipes!!

  3. I have Prague Powder #1 to cure bacon. Can I use that or should I get #2 for this recipe? If I can use #1, how do I figure out the amount? Thanks!

  4. Hi Susie, just finished my curing now sitting all rubbed up on the fridge. Sunday is the big day! Question though. Does the brisket/pastrami need to be completely cooled before wrapping and refrigerated? Thanks! You are awesome!

    1. Hey Phil!- I like to cool it completely before refrigerating, just to prevent excess moisture from building up inside the wrapping and softening the bark.

  5. I’ve made venison Corn Beef that turned out excellent. i’m planning on making Pastrami now and was wondering what wood would you suggest for the smoke?

  6. Bought brisket for corned beef …when I got home found it has bone in it …. should I remove, or leave it in.

  7. Hi Susie,
    Just did your Texas Brisket for Easter – amazing! Thinking about doing this pastrami – wondering about the “stall” and peach paper
    Thanks!

  8. Suzie, 2 questions.1. After brining, do you need to soak the brine out of the meat? 2. since this a cure, how long will the corned beef last out of refrigeration? I can keep cool but not refriedgerated. (horse back, backcountry trip)

  9. Question, should you rinse the curing solution off the flat before smoking? I tried a similar cure recipie once before and while it tasted good it was abnormally salty tasting. Always wondered if that was because I didn’t rinse the cure off. Love your recipies and your website!

  10. Great work!… I just love your recipes. I did notice that you said you said you don’t rinse the brisket after its brind. Then adding another 2 tablespoons of salt to the pastrami rub won’t this make it way to salty?

  11. Just tried your pastrami recipe with an elk roast and it is excellent. So good, that we already have two more cuts of beef in your brine now.
    Thanks for the killer recipes!

  12. Did the pastrami recipe get removed from this article? It was here the other day now I can’t seem to find it right as mine is about to go on the smoker…

  13. Could you cut the brisket flat in 2, stir good everyday, and use the same amount of cure#1? My flat wont fit in
    one piece in My Container

    1. The measurements on the cure are based on weight, so as long as the weight stays the same, it should be fine. If your pieces stick together in the cure or the liquid can’t float around evenly, it might cause issues. Keep agitating the liquid and rotating the meat frequently.

  14. I use many of your recipes as a starting point, thank you very much!

    My question is about making the corned beef for sandwiches or… Does it need to be braised or just cook it like pastrami or a brisket, to an IT of 195?

    Again, thanks!

  15. Recipe look’s great and I will try it! One question about the curing salt though, I was under the impression you only use 1 tsp per 5lbs isn’t that correct?

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