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 includes potatoes and cabbage; and that will also make the sandwich leftovers of your dreams!
5 star review
“Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe! It was the first time I ever made it, and your recipe sounded perfect out of all that I’ve found. It turned out fantastic!! Thanks again!!”– Rachel D.
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?
And who wants to deal with pickling, brining, and boiling meat, just to end up tough, hard to chew results?
Um, not me, that’s for sure.
My solution: make it a simple and effortless slow cooker recipe.
I absolutely love using the crockpot to make juicy, tender and low-effort meals — I’m looking at you Slow Cooker Turkey Breast!
The slow cooker is really the best method for cooking 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 slow cooker meal (meaning to pre-browning required), resulting in a truly 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 and makes this a complete Irish themed one post meal, so I personally love to add them.
How to Use Leftover Corned Beef
Once cooked, this corned beef makes amazing sandwiches, in particular Reubens! It’s also great in a simple corned beef hash.
Process & Tips for Tender Corned Beef
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 brined beef 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, especially if you’re making this corned beef for St. Patrick’s day, you’ll want it to be ready in time for dinner.
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 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Corned Beef Recipe
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.
If you’re cooking it by itself without the vegetables, then the corned beef would also great with sides like Slow Cooker Red Cabbage, Slow Cooker Cabbage, Slow Cooker Potatoes, Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes or Slow Cooker Carrots.
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!
What to Do with Leftover Corned Beef Cooking Liquid
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.
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 nitrites, salt, sugar, and/or spices, so there’s no need to add more salt at home.
Pickling spice: Most corned beef briskets come with a pickling spice packet that can include spices such as cinnamon, allspice, mustard seed, coriander, cloves, black pepper, ginger, bay leaves, and juniper berries; but you can make this recipe with a brined corned beef brisket without pickling spices 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. If you want additional potatoes as a side dish, try this easy slow cooker potato recipe.
Carrots: Fresh medium-sized carrots work best for this recipe. Baby carrots will work, but will not be as flavorful
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. If you prefer to cook the cabbage separately, try this slow cooker red cabbage or slow cooker cabbage recipe.
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 mild beer such as a lager, hard apple cider, 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.
Using Guinness Beer in a Corned Beef Recipe
I tested this recipe with Guinness beer in place of water, and found the stout beer caused the carrots and potatoes to be overly bitter and off color. If you want to use Guinness, I’d suggest skipping the carrots and the potatoes in this recipe!
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.
You can store it in a sealed freezer friendly container for up to 2-3 months.
This Recipe Is…
Dairy FreeGluten FreeNut FreePaleo
Slow Cooker Corned Beef
- 1 3-4 pound corned beef brisket, fat trimmed to ¼ inch
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice, or pickling spice packet
- 10 medium red or yellow potatoes, halved
- 10 medium carrots, halved lengthwise
- 2 cups water
- 1 small head green cabbage, about 1-pound, cored and cut into wedges
- optional: 2 tablespoons butter, traditional or dairy-free
- In a large 6-quart slow cooker, arrange the potatoes in an even layer. Coat the brisket evenly with the pickling spice, then place on top of the potatoes, fat side up. Add the water, it should come to just the top of the beef, but not submerge it.
- Cover and cook until the beef is very tender, about 7 to 8 hours on low or 5 to 6 hours on high. Do not remove the lid during the cook time other than to add the remaining vegetables.
- Uncover, add the cabbage and carrots on top of the beef, then recover and cook an additional 2 to 3 hours on low or 1 to 2 on high, or until the veggies are tender and a fork slips easily in and out of the meat.
- Turn off the slow cooker. Transfer the beef to a cutting board, allowing to rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain into ½-inch thick slices. Serve with the cooked potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, dotting with butter if desired.
Nearly identical to my recipe except I add a few small peeled and halved onions with the other veggies.
Onions sound like a great addition to this recipe, thanks for sharing your idea!
First time making corn beef, turned out great meat is tender, vegetables are flavorful. Thank you for this recipe.
Yay, so happy you enjoyed this one, Karen. Thanks so mcuh for leaving a review!
It was also the first time for me cooking corn beef, the result was a great experience. I should add, I used raw onions when serving. They add a great flavor to each bite!
Wonderful, so happy to hear this one was a success for you! Love the idea of adding some raw onion at the end for extra bite, thanks for the tip!
Sounds good and will try this. Quick question though. If I cook on high for 5 hrs do then cook another 1-2 hours after putting the carrots and cabbage in?
Kim, yes, you’re correct! The meat needs 6-7 on high, but the veggies will fall apart if you cook them that long, so you cook the meat for 5, then add the veggies, then cook until everything is done. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!
Hi Robyn! I just prepped this and have it in the slow cooker now. I found that I used less potatoes to get an even layer and needed a lot more water to get it close to the top of the meat, but not submerged like you indicated. I got a corned beef that was a little over 3 lbs and using a 6 qt slow cooker. It doesn’t look like there’s a lot of room on the top for cabbage and carrots, but they could definitely fit on the sides. I’m now worried that this won’t come out good as I’m not following your recipe completely – hopefully it does (fingers crossed)! Do you think it will be fine? I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out!
Hi Lindsay, the meat will cook down quite a bit in the 5 hours on high (or more on low) before you add the veggies, so there should be more room at that point than there is when you first up the raw corned beef in. Once it’s cooked down you can add the veggies around and on top, and as long as the lid still fits on securely you should be fine. Let us know how it turns out!
Came out great! Super juicey!
Oh yay, so glad you enjoyed this one, thanks so much for leaving a review!
Robyn,. I bought large russet potatoes. Will this work with your recipe? If so how big or small do I cut them?
You would need to cut the Russet’s into smaller pieces, but I’m not completely sure they will hold their shape during the long cooking process. You can try it, they’ll still taste good even if they fall apart a bit. I’d try cutting each Russet into at 8 pieces (so half a large potato, half each half, then half each of those). If you give it a try, let us know how it turns out!
Never made anything in a slow cooker before, but St Pats day got me thinking. Here is what I did and what happened. I had a 3 ½ pound meat, washed & dried it.
Used 2 large russet potatoes (which my wife bought) put these in bottom with one sliced (in rings) onion. Meat on top and water to cover but not submerge the meat.
Cooked on low about 7 hours, then took out some water to add 3 sliced carrots & about ⅔ of a small cabbage. Another 2 hours. NEXT TIME I will use less water and cut down the cooking time by a third. The corned beef was tasty, but all the veggies cooked apart. The meat, when raw was two large pieces, it also fell apart. All had a good flavor, the meat was pink & falling apart, have 3 chunks for slicing tomorrow. The carrots held together & were great. next time I would reduce the time of the meat & potatoes by a third and drop the time of the cabbage by half to only one hour. I thought everything turned out, for a first attempt, very good. My wife even liked the meat & says that once a year would be good.
Thanks so much for your notes on this recipe, Jeff, and so glad you enjoyed!
Recipe followed exactly, but would modify per above next time
Could you use canned corned beef
Hi Jan, I haven’t tested this recipe with canned corned beef, so I can’t say for sure. My guess is it would not work well, since canned corned beef has already been cooked once, and would likely end up overcooked and stringy with the additional cook time. Hope that helps!
Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe! It was the first time I ever made it, and your recipe sounded perfect out of all that I’ve found. It turned out fantastic!! Thanks again!!
Wonderful to hear you enjoyed this one Rachel! Thanks so much for leaving a review!
Hi, this is the first time for me. I have a corned beef brisket 6Lb. I’ll put it in a slow cooker but without potatoes or veggies. Should I just leave it cooking in water covered the brisket? And oil to rub in?
Hi Eli, you will likely need less water, so try staring with one cup – you want the liquid to come about halfway up the brisket, but not cover it completely. This recipe does not call for oil to be rubbed into the meat, but you can add the optional butter at the end. Note that if you’re not using a corned beef cut, but rather an uncured, unseasoned cut of brisket you’ll need to modify this recipe significantly, since it’s written for corned beef specifically. Hope that helps!
So happy to hear you enjoyed this one, Shelley, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
Making this tonight can’t wait to try it.
Yay, I hope it’s a hit, Krista! Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day! 🙂
I’m a bit confused and wondering if I did the recipe wrong. I attempted to follow it to a tee and found that my 6 quart slow cooker was filled to the brim.
There was something about the pickling spice. I used McCormick pickling spice and the entire dish came out smelling like sweet cider. It tastes sweet. Is it meant to be?
Hi Cecilia, hmmm, I’m not sure what happened, but if you used a 3-4 pound corned beef brisket and medium potatoes (not large) like the recipe called for it shouldn’t have been an issue. Did you add all the vegetables at the beginning including the cabbage and carrots? If so, check the recipe again because they go in later. As for the pickling spice, it might be that you don’t like the combo that McCormick uses. I looked it up and it’s heavy on cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, which are all sweet spices, so that’s likely the cause of the sweet flavor.