Corned beef brisket needs no introduction. Those addictively tender, tart and tangy, savory spiced slices of brisket are the stuff that sandwich dreams are made of.

Not to mention breakfast dreams, cabbage dreams, and just about everything else dreams. Is there anything corned beef doesn’t make better?

I like to make corned beef brisket at home a few times a year, including of course around St. Patricks day. It’s super easy and really rewarding, and these days I have it down to a well-oiled machine.

corned beef brisket |

Corned beef you make at home tastes way better than store bought, and not just because you labored for it, it’s actually objectively way tastier. Even though it seems like a commitment to do, it’s not. It’s only about 5 minutes of work followed by 6 days of waiting and relaxing before you’re rewarded with as much juicy flavorful brisket as you could ever want.

What is corned beef?

Corned beef is a salt-cured beef. It’s cured in a salt and pickling spice brine for anywhere from 5-45 days, then boiled or smoked and steamed to finish. It’s called corned because back in the day, that was the term for the larger grained salt that was used to cure things.

corned beef brisket |

Why make corned beef brisket at home

Not only is homemade corned beef brisket delicious, when you make it yourself you know exactly what goes into it. You can choose the right quality and size brisket for your budget, adjust the spice mixture, and decide whether or not to add pink salt. It’s also much cheaper pound-for-pound than buying a premade/storebought brisket.

brisket |

What is pink salt

Pink salt is sodium nitrite. It gives cured meats its signature pink color and adds to the flavor. Pink salt, not to be confused with pink Himalayan salt, is regular salt mixed with sodium nitrite and dyed pink so that it’s not eaten by accident.

Should you use it? On longer cures, it prevents botulism and listeria, but our 6 day salt brine isn’t at risk of that, so you would be mainly adding it for color and flavor. Nitrites have been correlated with a slightly higher risk of cancer, but that’s usually more of a worry if you’re eating an incredibly large amount of cured meats. Regardless, pink salt is completely optional.

pink salt |

You can find it on Amazon as well as locally at any good gourmet store – it’s also called instacure #1, prague powder 1, or curing salt. You may need to ask for it behind the counter.

Why this corned beef recipe

I love this recipe because it is a simple bare bones recipe that’s small enough for people without giant kitchens. Most recipes I see need a ton of room in your fridge and large containers. This one uses a 2.5-3 lbs brisket (enough to serve 4) which fits snugly into a standard sized 11 cup baking dish. But most of all, this recipe is really tasty.

making corned beef brisket |

For the best corned beef brisket, remove the fat

Because we’re going to boil this corned beef brisket, you should remove as much fat from the top and bottom of the brisket as possible. Boiled fat looks lumpy and gummy, and doesn’t add much to the flavor. If you intend to smoke it instead (ie, for pastrami), leaving the fat on would be a great idea, but if not, that fat needs to go.

corned beef brisket |

Slow cooker/crock pot corned beef

Instead of an oven, you can cook the corned beef brisket in a crock pot on high for the same amount of time, provided your brisket fits. If you intend to do this, check the fitment of your brisket and give it a trim if needed before soaking it in the brine.

corned beef brisket |

How to make corned beef

  1. Make and cool the brine. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add the pickling spices to the water and let soak while it cools down to room temperature.
  2. Trim. If you intend to boil your corned beef, such as for corned beef hash or reuben sandwiches, trim the fat off your brisket.
  3. Cover. Transfer your brisket to a snug fitting container with a lid. For a 2.5-3lb brisket, an 11 cup baking dish is perfect. Cover with the brine that’s been cooled to room temp, add pink salt if using, and completely submerge the brisket with cool, clear water. You may need to weigh down the brisket with a small plate.
  4. Cure. Place the covered brisket in the fridge. After 3 days, flip the brisket, and wait another 3 days.
  5. Cook. Rinse the salt and spices off your brisket, then cook with your preferred method.

cooked corned beef brisket |

How to cook corned beef

Cooking corned beef is super simple, just simmer it below a boil (about 180º-200ºF) for 4-5 hours. Depending on your stove, this could either be easy or hard. For me, I prefer the oven, which keeps everything at a consistent temperature.

All you need to do is preheat your oven and boil a quart of water with pickling spice. Transfer the brisket to a large oven safe vessel like a dutch oven. Add the pickling spice infused water as well as enough water to cover. Finally, transfer to a 200ºF oven for 4-5 hours, and you’re done!

corned beef brisket |

Corned beef for life


corned beef brisket |

Corned Beef Recipe

Super easy tender, juicy, and delicious homemade corned beef brisket that tastes way better than store bought.
Serves 12
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Curing time 6 days
Total Time 6 days 5 hours 15 minutes


  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar brown preferred
  • 6 tbsp pickling spices divided, see below or use store bought
  • 2.5-3 lbs brisket
  • 2 qt water
  • 1 tsp pink salt optional

Homemade Pickling Spice Mix (optional - makes 1 batch, you need 2 for this recipe)

  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 stick cinnamon broken
  • 1 bay leaf torn
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp sichuan peppercorns optional


  • An hour before you start preparing your meat, make the brine: bring 2 quarts of water to a boil then remove from the heat. stir in sugar and salt until dissolved, about 1 minute, then add pickling spices. Let cool.
    corned beef brine |
  • Trim any large caps of fat off your brisket (optional) then place in a snug fitting container with a lid.
    brisket |
  • Stir the pink salt into the brine, if using. Add the cooled brine until covered. You shouldn't need all the brine - discard the remainder. If you need a little more than 2qt, cover with cool water as needed, or make a new batch of brine if a lot.
    making corned beef brisket |
  • Weigh the brisket down with a plate if needed. Seal and store in the fridge for 3 days. After 3 days, give the brisket a flip, and store another 3 days.
    cured corned beef |
  • To cook: After 6 days, preheat your oven to 200ºF. Find an oven-proof pot (such as a dutch oven) large enough to hold your brisket and fill it halfway with water. Set it over high heat. Carefully remove the brisket from its container and give it a good rinse. Add brisket and the remaining 3 tablespoons of pickling spice and wait until the pot comes to a boil, then transfer to oven and braise for 4 hours.
    cooked corned beef brisket |
  • Remove the brisket from the braising liquid from and slice. Store brisket with the braising liquid and reheat together to retain maximum moisture, avoiding a boil. Brisket keeps for 3-5 days in the fridge.
    corned beef brisket |

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Corned Beef Recipe
Amount Per Serving (3.5 oz)
Calories 251 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 98mg33%
Sodium 973mg42%
Potassium 145mg4%
Carbohydrates 0.5g0%
Fiber 0.01g0%
Sugar 0.01g0%
Protein 18g36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  1. Kathy Sullivan says:

    Awesome. Perfect timing. I bought a 10# whole brisket. I think that I would have to increase the brine to 1 gallon but do I also need to increase brining time and cooking time? Also while in the oven is the pot covered? I’m thinking turkey pan with foil with baking sheet on top with a cast iron pan on top of that. Thank you so much- will search for what to cook with leftover corn beef- possibilities could be endless

    1. Mike says:

      If you did the whole brisket as one piece, I might go to 8 days on the brine if you have the time, but you should be ok on the original 6 day brine as well. Cooking time is the same, but moving around 10lbs of meat + a gallon of water into and out of an oven sounds dangerous – it might just be better to leave it on the stove at a very low simmer (1 bubble every 30s).

      If you’re comfortable with a knife, I’d consider splitting the brisket along the fat stripe into a flat and a point (you can google or youtube this). It’ll be easier to handle, faster to cure, and the grain will all run the same way on both pieces.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Kathy Sullivan says:

        Thank you. I did cut along the fat stripe and ended with a 10# and 3# piece. Hmm. You’re right about the gallon of water in the pan while braising. Unfortunately my stovetop fluctuates. It’s challenging to keep the slow simmer going. Would I cover it in the oven?

  2. Sabrina says:

    5 stars
    thank you so much, have already bought the store version for tomorrow’s SPD, but love corned beef anyway, don’t want to leave it for one day a year! So interesting about pink salt distinguished from pink himalayan salt, and your technique, and yes from scratch is always better!

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