Homemade Corned Beef

Homemade Corned Beef is like nothing else.

St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner and in our house that means Leprechaun movies and corned beef with cabbage and mashed potatoes. In a pinch I’ll use a store bought corned beef but I love making it at home. The flavor is so much better and it doesn’t look as sickly pink as the one from the store.

It’s really easy to make yourself but does take time and preparation. You’ll want to start 7-10 days before you want to eat your corned beef. This is because you need to “Corn” the beef, which is basically pickling it in a brine.

Why is it called corned beef?

Back in the day they used salt the size of corn kernels when preserving meat like this. Which is how it got the name corned beef. There is no actual corn involved.

The corning process was used to preserve the meat and is a great way to impart flavors by adding spices. Common spices include Clove, Peppercorns, and Mustard Seeds.

What is Curing Salt and do you need it?

Saltpeter or Pink Curing Salt is used to preserve meats and gives Corned Beef it’s iconic pink color. It’s made with a percentage of Sodium Nitrite and is often dyed pink to differentiate it from regular salt. You only want to use it for curing purposes.

Their are two strengths of curing salt for different preserving methods. #1 Curing Salt is used for any quick curing methods, like our Corned Beef. #2 Curing salt also contains Sodium Nitrate and is used in week or month long curing, like hard salami.

Finding Pink Curing Salt my be tricky for you. I know after 6 different stores I gave up and just ordered some on-line.

I should mention that this is an optional ingredient. If you’re staying away from Nitrates or are on a Paleo diet you can omit it without a problem. You’ll just have a pale looking Corned Beef.

A word on spices…

I for one am all about the flavor and I jam packed my recipe full of spices. You are free to use whatever pickling spice combination you like.

You can also switch up which spices are whole and which are ground or only use one kind or the other. I’ve found I like crushing my whole spices slightly in a mortar and pestle so they release more of their beautiful flavors.

In the end it’s all up to what you like because the recipe is so flexible.


Homemade Corned Beef

Loaded with flavor and easy to make, you'll never go back to store bought corned beef again.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American


Units Scale

The pickling spices

  • 1 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBS Pink Curing Salt (*Optional*)
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Coriander – ground
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg -grated
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger- ground
  • 1/4 tsp Clove- ground
  • 8 Whole All-spice berries
  • 12 Whole Juniper berries
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

The corned beef

  • Water
  • 5 lbs Beef Brisket
  • 1 Med Onion (Diced)
  • 2 Carrots (Diced)
  • 2 Celery Stalks (Diced)


  1. In a large bowl combine the pickling spices and cover with hot water to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved add in a few cups of cold water to cool the mixture.
  2. Place the brisket in a large container or large seal-able bag. Pour the pickling liquid over the brisket and add cold water till the brisket it covered by 1 inch.
  3. Let this brine for 7 to 10 days (longer equals more flavor), turning the brisket daily to stir up the brine and insure it's fully submerged.
  4. After 7 to 10 days remove the brisket and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  5. Place the Brisket in a large cast iron pot, add the onion, carrots, and celery, and cover by 1 inch with fresh water.
  6. Bring this to a boil over med-high heat, then reduce to med-low, cover and let it gently simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender.
  7. Slice against the grain and serve.


You can reserve some of the cooking liquid (not brine liquid) and use it to flavor other dishes. I love using it to saute cabbage as a side dish.

Keywords: Beef, Gluten free

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Alycia Louise
Alycia has worked in the food industry for over 10 years. She lives in the PNW with her husband and three dogs. Her likes include coffee, rainy days and horror movies.
Articles: 251

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