Corned Beef and Cabbage is a one-pot meal that needs almost no prep and simmers without tending. Celebrate St. Patrick's day with this timeless and hearty boiled dinner.
If you love long-simmered meats, this is a recipe for you. Salty, spiced corned beef makes a hearty comforting meal when paired with sweet green cabbage that is cooked along with the meat.
This dinner is so good it's a shame to only have it one day of the year!
Here in America, we celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a boiled dinner of corned beef and cabbage along with pints of Guinness and an Irish Coffee or two. Sadly, it's probably the only time we eat corned beef because it really is delicious and super easy to cook.
And when a say super easy I really mean it. Simply take the corned beef out of its package, rinse it in cold water, and put it in a pot. Add spices, cover with cold water and simmer it long and slow until it is done. Easy right?
But... there is one thing. Corned beef is not Irish. It's American Irish. But that's okay it's still delicious and fun to eat on St. Paddy's Day!
Spices for Corned Beef and Cabbage
The typical spices used for corned beef are crushed bay leaves, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, black or pink peppercorns, and caraway or anise seeds.
Rather than buy a special spice blend just for corned beef I prefer to use a good pickling spice. It contains everything you need plus some lovely sweet baking spices like allspice and cloves.
What is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is a brisket cut of beef that has been brined in a salt solution that may also contain nitrates, sugar, and spices.
The name comes from the large pieces of rock salt called "corns" and the pink color of the meat comes from nitrates that are added to the brine to reduce spoilage.
The brisket cut can be flat or point. The point cut is thicker, irregularly shaped, and generally has more fat. The flat cut is leaner and dense. Both cuts require long slow cooking to make them tender
When my mom made this dinner she always added potatoes and carrots and called it a boiled dinner or a New England boiled dinner. Everything was cooked in one pot and it was super easy to make and clean up.
Served it with prepared mustard, yellow, brown, honey, or whole grain and you have a flavorful dinner worth making more often than once a year.
So, let's cook!
Here's what you need to make Corned Beef and Cabbage:
- Corned Beef - These cuts of meat come flat or pointed. Both are delicious. The flat cut (pictured) yields larger, more uniform slices.
- Pickling Spice - Many brands of corned beef come with pickling spice either in the brine with the meat in the package or separately in a small packet. The spices that come with the meat are mostly mustard seed, so I prefer to use my own since it has more allspice and cloves.
- Green Cabbage - I choose small heads of cabbage that are easier to cut and fit well in the pot with the meat or in my steamer basket.
Please see the recipe card for the exact quantities.
Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Make Corned Beef and Cabbage
Remove the corned beef brisket from its packaging, rinse it in cold water, and place it in a large Dutch oven. Add the pickling spice and cold water to cover it.
Add a lid and bring it to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to allow it to simmer, and let it simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Using a large fork turn the meat in the pot halfway through cooking.
While the corned beef simmers, slice the cabbage in half down through the center and stem and then cut each half into large wedges.
During the last 25 minutes of cooking place wedges of cabbage around the corned beef to cook with the meat. Alternatively, use a steamer basket above the meat if you have one that fits the Dutch oven.
The corned beef and cabbage are done when both the meat and the cabbage are tender when pierced with a fork.
My Top Tips
♡ You can reduce the saltiness of corned beef by draining the water from the pot halfway through cooking and replacing it with fresh boiling water. I boil water in my electric kettle to replenish the drained water.
♡ Make dinner all in one pot as my mom did. Add carrots and potatoes to the pot with the corned beef during the last 45 minutes of cooking. Cook for 20 minutes and then add the cabbage.
You will need a large cooking pot, a large pot with a steamer basket, or a Dutch Oven to cook the corned beef. The water should completely cover or nearly cover the corned beef.
Corned beef can be made in advance and stored refrigerated until you are ready to serve it. However, the cabbage will always taste best if cooked just prior to serving it.
Store leftover corned beef and cabbage in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can store the corned beef separately from the cabbage or store them together and portion them out as meals.
Gently reheat leftover corned beef and cabbage in the microwave on 80% power. A small amount of water added to the microwave-safe container helps keep the meat moist.
You can freeze the corned beef in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. However, steamed or boiled cabbage does not freeze well.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
- 1 Dutch Oven
- 3½ to 4 Pound Corned Beef Brisket, Point or Flat Cut
- 2 Tablespoons Pickling Spice
- Cold Water
- 1 Small Cabbage
- Remove the corned beef brisket from its packaging, rinse it in cold water, and place it in a large Dutch oven. Add the pickling spice and cold water to cover it.3½ to 4 Pound Corned Beef Brisket, 2 Tablespoons Pickling Spice, Cold Water
- Add a lid and bring it to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to allow it to simmer, and let it simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Using a large fork turn the meat in the pot halfway through cooking.
- While the corned beef simmers, slice the cabbage in half down through the center and stem and then cut each half into large wedges.1 Small Cabbage
- During the last 25 minutes of cooking place wedges of cabbage around the corned beef to cook with the meat. Alternatively, use a steamer basket above the meat if you have one that fits the Dutch oven.
- The corned beef and cabbage are done when both are tender when pierced with a fork.
Encharted Cook Notes
Per 1 serving. All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.