St. Patrick’s Day isn’t the same without slow cooker corned beef and cabbage! The whole meal is cooked in one pot, along with tasty potatoes, cabbage, and tender carrots. It’s our favorite way to cook this cut of meat because the brisket is the most tender slice you have ever tasted!
You may find that your local Irish pub (here in the United States) is serving up this holiday meal during this time of year, but I promise my slow cooker recipe is better! I love that everything is cooked in one pot, and you don’t need any side dishes unless you want them!
As a new tradition, we thought it would be fun to make Shepherd’s pie and crockpot corned beef and cabbage soup around this time. As the desserts go, mini mint cheesecakes are delicious and bright green along with mint fudge. It’s also the perfect occasion to add Bailey’s Irish cream to your recipes to make brownies and cheesecake trifles! We also have a chocolate fudge that requires Bailey’s, but remember it’s an adult treat only!
What is Corned Beef and How is it Made?
Corned beef is made from beef brisket and is cured in a salty brine solution prior to being packaged at the grocery store.
Brisket in general is a tough cut of meat, but when cooked correctly it can be very tender. Most stores carry a flat cut because the pieces are so large. However, if you were to go to a butcher shop, they would also have the point cut.
The curing process can take up to a week. The whole brisket is soaked in salted water (enough water so it’s fully covered) with a blend of spices. This is the same process you would follow if you wanted to use a regular brisket to make corned beef from scratch.
Can You Use Another Cut of Meat to Make Corned Beef?
Sometimes chuck roast is used to make a “poor man’s brisket” because it’s much cheaper to buy. It’s also taken from the back of the cow and is leaner.
Nothing really tastes the exact same as corned beef, but some will settle for different cuts such as a pork shoulder, pastrami, or roast beef depending on the dish they are making or how it is being served.
What do I Need for this Recipe?
- yellow onions and smashed garlic cloves – These add a ton of flavor, while the onions also keep the meat from sitting directly on the bottom of the pot.
- corned beef brisket – we are using a 4-pound brisket. Be sure it will fit in your crockpot along with the other ingredients. It will shrink about ⅓ in size.
- water, sugar, and apple cider – add flavor and keep the meat moist while cooking
- Guinness – another dark beer can be used if needed.
- carrots – we used baby carrots for ease. If you have the larger carrots, dice them into large chunks and those will work too.
- red potatoes – don’t cut these too small. We want them to be larger enough so they are tender but not mushy.
- green cabbage – we want to chop these into wedges, just be sure the pieces will fit in your slow cooker.
- mustard seeds, bay leaves, allspice berries, salt and pepper – **If you wish to use the seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef, you can omit these ingredients.
Parsley or other fresh herbs
Crockpot – if you have a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot, you can use that as well, just use the slow cooker setting.
Variations and Substitutions:
- Cut of meat – if needed swap the brisket for beef round. When sliced, it will be more uniform than the brisket and not fall apart. It’s also a leaner cut of meat with less marbling.
- Beer – Dark beer adds a ton of flavor, but if you would like to substitute, you can with beef broth or chicken broth, or your favorite light beer.
- Low carb – omit the beer and go with broth or water.
PREP: Chop the veggies. Remove the beef from the packaging. If you are going to use the spice packet, be sure you don’t throw it away!
Step 1: Place the onions in the bottom of a slow cooker and add the smashed garlic cloves. Then sit the beef on top of the onions and garlic.
Step 2: Combine the beer, vinegar, water, and sugar in a small bowl. Pour over top of the corned beef. Mix the seasonings together and sprinkle over the meat.
Step 3: Cover and cook for 8 hours on low heat. After 4 hours of cooking, add the potatoes and carrots. Continue cooking for another 4 hours.
Step 4: When 1 hour of cooking time remains, add the cabbage wedges and finish.
Pro Tip: Adding vegetables mid-way through cooking keeps them from overcooking and getting mushy.
Step 5: Remove the lid and use a slotted spoon or tongs to take the meat out.
Step 6: Transfer the meat to a cutting board or serving platter and slice against the grain and serve.
- Be sure when slicing or shredding you go across the grain in ½-inch slices.
- Rinse the meat well before starting. Corned beef is packaged in a gel-like brine that can cause your dish to be too salty if left on.
- Use the leftovers to make corned beef sandwiches (like Reubens), dice it up and add it to potato soup, or make a beef hash with it. You can even shred cabbage and roll it up to make egg rolls, then dip it into Thousand Island dressing.
Did you know that the vibrant pink color in corned beef comes from the sodium nitrate mixture that companies add to prevent the meat from spoiling?
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. The corned beef can be frozen, but we do not recommend freezing the veggies.
We recommend using a slow cooker on low for 8 hours. This cut of meat is tougher, so low and slow is the best way if you want tender slices at the end.
Yes. If you don’t rinse it, along with the other ingredients you are using for spices, you may end up with a dish that is too salty.
Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
- 1 medium yellow onion cut into wedges
- 5-6 smashed garlic cloves
- 4 lbs corned beef brisket
- 3 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider or white vinegar
- 11 oz. bottom of Guinness or other dark beer
- 1 pound bag of baby carrots (or 4-5 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 1 lb small red potatoes whole or halved if larger
- 1 head of green cabbage cut into wedges
If you wish to use the seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef, you can omit the following ingredients:
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 bay leaves crushed
- 8 Allspice berries
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Spread the chunks of onion across the bottom of the slow cooker to serve as a stand for the beef. Add smashed garlic cloves to the pot.
- Place the beef on top of the onions and garlic.
- Whisk together the water, sugar, vinegar, and beer. Pour over the meat in the crockpot.
- Mix together the seasoning ingredients and sprinkle over the corned beef.
- Cover the slow cooker and program to cook on LOW for 8 hours. After 4 hours of the cook time, add the potatoes and carrots. Continue cooking, covered, for an additional 4 hours.
- When only 1 hour remains, add the cabbage to the slow cooker and then finish the cook time.