Slow Cooked Corned Beef For Sandwiches

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Did you know the secret to slow cooked corned beef for sandwiches is in the flavouring? This recipe makes it easy to cook your corned beef for that perfect sandwich.

I can’t wait to share this recipe with you. I was in cooking heaven as the corned beef cooked away on my stove. The aroma wafting through my kitchen was pure joy. Best of all, this recipe is easy and cheap but the end result tastes like it’s straight out of a restaurant. You’re gonna love it.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

This Slow Cooker Corned Beef recipe comes together in just a few simple steps. Throw everything in your slow cooker before work, set it and be greeted home with the most incredible smells and fall-apart tender corned beef.

sliced corned beef on a cutting board

This has to be the one meat entree that you can enjoy hot or cold. It’s the perfect recipe for leftovers! Enjoy it hot alongside some cabbage or potatoes, then load up a corned beef sandwich for lunch the next day. On top of that, this recipe could not get any easier. Dump your ingredients into the slow cooker, set it, try to forget it, and enjoy.

What Is Corned Beef?

Corned beef is typically made with beef brisket. It’s salt-cured in a brine with nitrate rich salt which gives the meat that distinctive pink color we all know and love. The term “corned” comes from the large pieces of salt, or “corns” of salt, that were originally used to cure the meat. These days it has a distinct flavor from the pickling spice that is used to brine and boil the brisket.

When you buy corned beef, it typically comes with pickling spices, so normally you don’t need to make your own or buy it separately. Read more about pickling spice below. If you can’t find corned beef at your local grocery store, you can always ask your butcher for it. I usually call ahead a couple days and my butcher will order it for me.

Ingredients

  • Cured brisket – Go to your local butcher to find this. If they don’t have it on hand, they are more than happy to prepare it for you.
  • Red pepper flakes – Use as much or as little as you like to give your corned beef the perfect amount of spice.
  • Cloves – Make sure to find whole cloves rather than ground.
  • Pickling spice blend – Your butcher will usually be able to supply this ingredient when you buy cured brisket. Keep reading for instructions on how to make your own pickling spice.
  • Garlic – The more garlic the merrier! You can use more or less cloves as you like.
  • Bay leaves – Fresh or dried will work.
  • Cinnamon stick – Like the cloves, make sure you use whole cinnamon and not ground.
  • Water – This will help carry all those amazing flavors and infuse them into the meat.
process shots showing how to make corned beef in the slow cooker

How to Make Your Own Pickling Spice Blend

This pickling spice recipe will give you exactly how much you need for this corned beef. You can multiply these ingredients, use 3 tbsp of your homemade pickling spice for the corned beef, and store the rest in a jar.

  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 2 tsp dill seeds
  • 2 tsp peppercorns

How to Cure Brisket

I highly recommend picking up or ordering an already-cured brisket from your butcher to save you some time and trouble. If you’d like to make this corned beef completely from scratch, start with these curing instructions.

  1. Using a pointy knife or metal skewer, stab the brisket to create channels for the brine to saturate. Leave about an inch or two between holes.
  2. Bring 1 gallon (16 cups, 4L) water to a boil. Add 2 cups Kosher salt, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 2 tbsp pink curing salt to the water and stir to dissolve. You can add a few tbsp of the pickling spice to this mixture if you’d like.
  3. Once everything has dissolved, let the mixture cool to room temperature then transfer to the fridge until completely cold.
  4. Add the brisket to the brine and let it cure for 5-7 days, flipping 2 or 3 times. Rinse well before using for this recipe.

How To Make Slow Cooker Corned Beef

This recipe is so simple! The hardest part will be waiting while your house fills with incredible smells.

  1. Prepare the brisket: Rinse the beef brisket with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.
  2. Cook the brisket: Place the corned beef in the slow cooker, fat side up. Add the rest of the ingredients to your slow cooker and pour 2 cups water over the beef. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  3. Finish and serve: Carefully remove the beef from your slow cooker. Cover with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

Instant Pot Option

If you follow my blogs, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of cooking in my pressure cooker and this corned beef is actually perfect for your instant pot, especially if you want corned beef in a fraction of the time. So guess what? Great news! Here’s my recipe for corned beef in the Instant Pot that I just shared with you on my Craving Home Cooked blog. It comes complete with step by step photos and detailed instructions on how to make it.

Some Tips

  • Prick the fatty side of the beef brisket with a fork to ensure our liquid and spices penetrate the meat fully.
  • Slice up your corned beef against the grain, this will ensure that each bite is perfectly tender and scrumptiously juicy.
  • Since corned beef is brined in with nitrate rich salt, it is already pretty salty, so there’s no need to add anymore salt to it.

How to Store

Store your leftover corned beef in an airtight container or freezer bag up to 3-4 days. Leftovers taste fantastic hot or cold! Reheat in the microwave in 30 second intervals until heated through. You can also let the slices heat up on a skillet over medium heat.

Corned beef will also do well in the freezer. Wrap well with plastic and store in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and enjoy cold or reheated.

How To Serve

We enjoyed this corned beef sliced up on a sandwich with lots of mustard. You can also try it how it’s served traditionally, with cabbage! Reserve the cooking liquid in your slow cooker, and strain off the spices. Add a head of cabbage, sliced into large chunks, and cook on high for 1 hour.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

Slow cooker corned beef makes this meal easy and delicious at any time of the year. But since St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner, grab one on your next shopping trip and be prepared! Corned beef and cabbage is a must if you’re going to embrace your Irish heritage, even if it for one day.

This recipe delivers a moist, tender, flavor-packed piece of beef brisket. So easy you just dump, set, and cook!

raw corned beef and spices in the crock of the slow cooker

How to cook tender corned beef brisket

I have made corned beef in the oven and it’s great but the ease of the slow cooker usually wins out.

Low and slow cooking is the method for beef brisket. It’s a tough cut of meat and needs to be cooked properly for tender juicy results.

Always allow the meat to rest once cooked.

Brisket has long fibrous strands so after allowing the meat to rest, cut across the grain for serving. This is important for tender meat.

Corned beef is beef brisket which has been cured and brined.  It usually comes already seasoned and/or with a seasoning packet. If yours didn’t come seasoned simply mix together 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 2 bay leaves, 8 allspice berries, 1/2 tsp salt, and1/2 tsp pepper.

How to make Slow Cooker Corned Beef

Add the corned beef, fat side up, to the slow cooker or crock pot. Sprinkle the spice packet, minced garlic, bay leaves, and pepper. Rub the spices around on top of the brisket.

Pour the beer and beef stock around the meat.

Set the slow cooker or crock pot to low and cook for 9 – 10 hours.

If you would like to add potatoes (quartered) and carrots (cut into 1″ pieces) do so after the first three hours of cooking.

Cabbage can be added during the last two hours of cooking.

sliced corned beef on a white platter garnish with fresh parsley

Gently remove the brisket to a cutting board or platter and tent with aluminum foil. Let rest at least 15 minutes.

sliced corned beef on a white platter garnish with fresh parsley

Once rested thinly slice against the grain or shred. You won’t believe how amazing and fork tender this comes out!

sliced corned beef on a white platter garnish with fresh parsley

Serve with potatoes and cabbage. You can also make some scrumptious Reuben sandwiches or any other corned beef sandwiches that tickles your fancy. This tender meat will work however you decide to serve it.

And don’t worry about leftovers either. If it doesn’t get wolfed down totally on the first day, there are always ways of finishing it off the next morning. Use your leftover corned beef for a delicious corned beef hash. This is a great dish that’ll make for a great weekend!

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

Say good-bye to tough, dry corned beef and say hello to this incredibly simple to prepare, deliciously fork-tender Slow Cooker Corned Beef. A hearty and filling one pot meal that also makes the sandwich leftovers of your dreams!

about this crockpot corned beef recipe

Okay, let’s be honest, I think over the years corned beef has gotten a bad rap.

I mean, who wants overly salted meat that’s been boiled for hours?

Um, not me, that’s for sure.

My solution: the slow cooker.

I absolutely love using the crockpot to make corned beef because it yields absolutely perfect, tender results every time.

Plus, since this recipe uses potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, it serves as a complete one-pot meal that is a dump-and-go, no-brainer way to feed a crowd.

Of course, you can also skip the veggies if you want to go meat only, but I will say the veggies add so much flavor to the broth (I love to add them).

Once cooked, this corned beef makes amazing sandwiches, in particular Reubens! It’s also great in a simple corned beef hash.

process & tips

This recipe couldn’t be simpler to make, as you’re really just throwing all your ingredients into a crockpot and letting it do the work for you. 

First, the potatoes and brisket go into the pot and cook for several hours.

And then the carrots and cabbage go on top of that towards the end of the cooking time so everything finishes together in one pot (without ending up with overly mushy veggies).

You can cook the corned beef on low or high, directions for both have been included below to keep your options open on busy weeks – so it’s entirely up to you.

But as a heads-up, if you’re cooking this recipe on low you’ll need to allow 8-10 hours total for the meat and veggies to be cooked and tender. 

It’s nearly all hands-off time, but be sure to get it started early enough in the day so it’s done by the time you’re ready to eat.

During the cook time you might notice a white foam float to the top. Do not remove the lid to skim the foam during cook time, as each time you open the lid extends the cook time. 

Instead, wait until the cook time is over, skip the foam, and then remove the meat and veggies per the recipe instructions.

ways to serve this slow cooker corned beef

If you’re cooking this with all the recommended veggies, you can enjoy this as a complete meal – serving the meat sliced with the delicious cooked potatoes, carrots and cabbage on the side.

You can also use leftovers to make the most delicious sandwich with any greens, traditional (or gluten-free) bread, and choice of condiments.

Of course, this corned beef would make a fantastic Reuben sandwich – you can use classic ingredients like dark rye bread, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and thinly sliced corned beef!

There will be quite a bit of liquid remaining after the beef is cooked. Put this tasty liquid to use by either straining it and using it as a dipping sauce on the side for the meat and vegetables, as a dipping sauce for sandwiches, or to make soup out of the leftover meat.

ingredients & modifications

Corned beef brisket: You’ll notice this recipe does not call for any additional salt. That’s because a store-bought corned beef brisket comes already brined for you in a mixture of salt and spices, so there’s no need to add more salt at home.

Pickling spice: Most corned beef briskets come with a pickling spice packet, but you can make this recipe with a corned beef brisket without the pickling spice if you prefer, as it should still have plenty of flavor from the pre-brining process.

Potatoes: I like to use red or yellow potatoes cut in half for this recipe, they make a classic, hearty option to pair with the corned beef.

Carrots: Fresh medium-sized carrots work best for this recipe.

Green cabbage: I love how silky and tender cabbage gets when cooked like this but you can certainly make this corned beef by itself without any vegetables. Just add enough water to barely cover the beef. You may also need to reduce the cook time slightly.

Water: I tested this recipe with water as well as beer, and found that water yielded tasty results while keeping the ingredient list simple and streamlined. However, if you want to add even more flavor, swap in beer or apple juice for the water in this recipe. 

Butter: The butter at the end is a rich & delicious addition but totally optional. You can use traditional butter or dairy-free butter.

I also tested this recipe with Guinness beer, which I found caused the carrots and potatoes to be overly bitter. If you want to use Guinness, I’d suggest skipping the carrots in this recipe!

potatoes, carrots and corned beef on a white plate with striped blue napkin and white background

how to store & freeze leftovers

This is one of those recipes that still tastes totally delicious the next day, and leftovers make a great lunch (who wouldn’t love eating Reuben sandwiches all week long!).

It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, in a sealed container.

This meat also freezes beautifully, either in a gallon ziplock bag, or individually in mason jars.

Notes

If you are gluten-sensitive, be sure to double check that the corned beef and the pickling spices are gluten-free.

I prefer cooking this brisket on low, but if you’re tighter on time, the high setting will also work.

There will be quite a bit of liquid remaining after the beef is cooked. Put this tasty liquid to use by either straining it and using it as a dipping sauce on the side for the meat and vegetables, or later as a dipping sauce for sandwiches such as a Reuben, or to make soup out of the leftover meat.

Nutrition information calculated including butter.

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