Corned Beef and Cabbage in the Crock Pot

Corned beef and cabbage is one of those dishes that was practically made for the slow cooker. Sure in other words you could say that it was meant to be cooked low and slow, but the slow cooker gives you even more flexibility.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

What is Corned Beef?

I didn’t really know what corned beef was. My childhood brisket was the Jewish sort, not cured or brined at all, just cooked—also low and slow—in the oven, but with more Mediterranean seasonings. Lots of tomatoes and herbs, and onions and garlic and red wine.  Sometimes mushrooms.

Corned beef is also a flat cut brisket cut of beef, but one that has been salt-cured before. It is traditionally then boiled or braised with cabbage and other vegetables, as well as a pickling spice blend. If you buy a package labeled corned beef, there will probably be a little packet of the pickling spice mix in the package to use. Otherwise you can use any commercial pickling blend.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

The word “corned” refers to the meat being cured with salt, which was the way meat (and other foods) were preserved before refrigeration was prevalent.  The story goes that the salt granules used to preserve the meat were sizable, roughly the size of corn kernels, and so the term “corned” was born.  Sometimes other spices and sugar are used in the preparation of corned beef.

Corned Beef and Cabbage is a classic St. Patrick’s Day Irish tradition, but you can make and eat corned beef anytime you need a comfort food meat and potatoes meal!

Corned Beef Cooking Time and Temperature in the Slow Cooker

I have made this in a Crock Pot on the higher setting in 5 hours (including the extra hour for the cabbage), and the lower setting in 9 hours (ditto on the extra hour for the cabbage), both with success. So you can choose the timing that works for you.

The shorter time at the higher temperature will result in a firmer corned beef, while the longer cooking time at the lower temperature will give you a softer corned beef. Both ended up tender and easily slicable, and both were pronounced delicious by my crew. No more dry corned beef!

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Does the Liquid Have to Cover the Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker?

The liquid should just cover the meat, which will result in a consistently tender piece of corned beef.

Adding Cabbage to Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker

Whatever temperature your choose to cook your corned beef in the slow cooker, you will add the cabbage to the slow cooker for only the last hour of cooking. This allows the cabbage to soften and becomes tender,but it also allows the cabbage to retain some texture and its pretty pale green color. Carrots and onion and celery are the other vegetables in the mix, but I prefer to let those get nice and soft with the meat.

How to Slice Corned Beef

I like to slice my corned beef pretty thin, very thin if I’m using it in sandwiches. Make sure to cut the corned beef against the grain, for the meat to be at its most tender. Spoon over a bit of the cooking liquid if desired. This recipe also includes a lush little horseradish sauce which is downright delicious with the meat.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage: This traditional Irish meal is perfectly suited to be cooked in the slow cooker – the vegetables come out perfectly as well!

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Leftover Corned Beef

Interestingly, while most of us think of corned beef and cabbage as this traditional Irish dish, and the mainstay of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, corned beef is also usually the starring meat in a Reuben, one of the most beloved Jewish deli sandwiches ever. I would have made one…but I didn’t have any leftovers. Next time.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

What Goes with Corned Beef and Cabbage

This is really an all-in-one meal, but you can definitely add a salad or another simply cooked green vegetable to the plate! The Horseradish Cream Sauce (recipe below) is optional, but it really makes the meal.

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Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

This traditional Irish meal is perfectly suited to be cooked in the slow cooker – the vegetables come out perfectly as well!
Yield: 8 People

Equipment

Ingredients

For the Corned Beef and Cabbage

  • 1 pound baby potatoes halved
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 3 ½- to 4-pound corned beef brisket
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 12-ounce can dark beer
  • ½ green cabbage cut into large wedges

For the Horseradish Cream Sauce

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  • Place the potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and thyme in a large slow cooker (6 quarts). Place the brisket on top of the vegetables and sprinkle over the pickling spice. Pour in the beer and add enough water to just cover the meat. Cover and cook on the high setting for 4 hours or the low setting for 8 hours.
  • Add the cabbage, cover and cook on the low setting for 1 more hour.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, horseradish, mustard, parsley and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the meat and vegetables from the slow cooker and let the meat sit for 5 minutes before slicing across the grain. Serve with the vegetables and the Horseradish Cream Sauce. Spoon a bit of the cooking liquid over the corned beef and vegetables.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 2873mg | Potassium: 1200mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4077IU | Vitamin C: 102mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 5mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Comments

  1. Hi Annie, did you completely cook the brisket for about 3 hours before putting it in the slow cooker?

    1. If you choose high, I would still do 4 hours, but you could start checking it at 6 hours if you are cooking on low.

  2. I’ve cooked this recipe a few times and it’s great! Beef is always tender and juicy and veggies are always delicious. The only thing I’ve tweaked personally is the amount of time in my slow cooker—I like the low and slow option, but when I cook it the full 8 hours everything tends to get a little mushy and the meat falls apart easily, so I can’t exactly pull it out to slice. I cook it for about 5 hours before placing the cabbage on top for the last hour so in total about 6 hours time for myself. All in all, a great and easy recipe!

  3. I first ” cooked” this brisket covered in water, in a stock pot, to skim off the ” scum” . Then transferred the brisket, carrots, potatoes and celery to my slow cooker. Sprinkled the top with the package of spices, added a few bay leaves, one can of light beer and enough water to cover the meat. Cooked on low for 3 1/2 hrs, then added cabbage for 1 hr. Let brisket stand for 10 minutes. Sliced off layer of fat, then cut brisket , against the grain, in beautiful slices. Brisket was very tender, veggies cooked perfectly.Recipe a keeper.

    1. I bought a corn beef brisket in a vacupack with spices. Did you rinse off the brisket before placing in the stock pot???

  4. Wonderful. Meat was very tender, but the potatoes and carrots weren’t mushy. I put the cabbage in two hours before end time; I think an hour would have been enough.

    I didn’t need to use any pickling spice as my piece of meat came covered in spices. I did not use dark beer (I find it bitter even in cooking) so used about a cup of chicken broth, a cup of beef broth and the rest water.

    The leftover liquid is so delicious, I chilled it, skimmed off the fat, and am going to use it to make vegetable soup or beef stew.

  5. After 50 years of married bliss and 30+/- years of cooking corned beef brisket (many successful, one or two like the inside of a golf ball), yesterday I tried your recipe without the beer but with the accompanying spice packet and potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion. We used your suggestion of cooking in the crockpot on high for 5 hours (no cabbage added) because we love corned beef sliced for Reubens, and you said the meat would be more firm. EUREKA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who knew this would turn out to be EXACTLY how we needed corned beef to slice for a perfect Reuben???? Today we went to the food store and purchased three corned beef briskets for Reubens in the future months. Hubby is thrilled, and we both thank you so very much.

  6. I followed every detail of this recipe and it could not have been more delicious. Moist and full of flavor. I made it for just my family on a weekend night but it felt like a super special meal which was so welcome in these days of monotony! Will make again very soon!!!

  7. Has anyone tried this in the newer pressure cookers, like an Instant Pot? I’d like to know your settings and cook times please!!

    1. I just tried it on the slow cook setting on less for the 8 hours I’m not sure how this recipe is supposed to be, but the corned beef was not falling apart the way I associate corned beef to be, it’s more like cutting into a normal cut of meat even a little tough. I’m cooking it an extra hour on the slow cook setting but on “normal” heat to see if it gets a little better.

      1. this one was intended to be a bit firmer so it holds together in slices. but it shouldn’t be tough! was you piece of beef extra thick?

    2. I have an electric pressure cooker. It takes about 70 to 90 minutes to cook the corned beef. I take out the meat, leave the juice, add the vegetables takes 8 minutes. It was good and tender.

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