Homemade Corned Beef Recipe

Homemade corned beef recipe

The Spruce / Nita West

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 4 hrs
Brining Time: 120 hrs
Total: 124 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings

You may be surprised when you see how easy it is to make homemade corned beef. All you need is a bit of time—about a week to brine and an afternoon to cook with almost no work in between. A brisket is enough for an ample family dinner plus leftovers to thinly slice for sandwiches the next day, plus some to chop up and turn into corned beef hash.

This recipe calls for pink salt, a curing salt with nitrite added to it. It gives corned beef its characteristic color and flavor. Pink salt is not necessary to use, so if you choose to steer clear of it due to the nitrates, know that the final corned beef will still be delicious but will be gray, not the more familiar red color.


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  • 1 (5-pound) brisket

  • 1 1/2 cups fine sea salt

  • 1/2 cup sugar, or brown sugar

  • 1 ounce (5 teaspoons) pink curing salt

  • 1 recipe pickling spice, divided

  • 16 cups water, divided

  • 4 cloves garlic, divided

  • 2 carrots

  • 2 stalks celery

  • 1 onion

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for homemade corned beef
    The Spruce / Nita West
  2. Rinse off the brisket and pat it dry.

    Rinse off brisket
    The Spruce / Nita West
  3. Trim off any excess fat from the meat, if you like. Set the brisket aside.

    Trim off excess fat
    The Spruce / Nita West
  4. In a medium pot, bring the sea salt, sugar, pink salt, half of the pickling spice, and 4 cups water to a boil.

    Bring sugar and sea salt to boil
    The Spruce / Nita West
  5. While it heats, mince 3 cloves of the garlic and add that to the pot.

    Mince garlic
    The Spruce / Nita West
  6. Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and stir the mixture until the salts and sugar fully dissolve.

    Reduce heat
    The Spruce / Nita West
  7. Transfer the mixture to a bowl or pot large enough to hold the brisket (but small enough to fit in the fridge) and add 12 cups of cold water.

    Transfer mixture to container
    The Spruce / Nita West
  8. Let the mixture fully cool and then submerge the brisket in the brine. Use a plate or other kitchenware to weigh down the brisket, so it stays under the brine and then cover the vessel with plastic wrap.

    Let mixture cool
    The Spruce / Nita West
  9. Chill and let the brisket cure in the brine for at least 5 days and up to 10 days. (You can check on it if you like, but there really isn't any reason to—just let it sit and have the brine work its magic on the beef. This is the "corning" part of corned beef.)

    Let brisket cure
    The Spruce / Nita West
  10. When you're ready to cook it, lift the brisket out the brine (you can discard the brine) and rinse it thoroughly with cool running water.

    Lift brisket out of brine
    The Spruce / Nita West
  11. Put the brisket in a pot and cover it with water. Add the remaining pickling spice and bring to a boil.

    Put brisket in pot
    The Spruce / Nita West
  12. While the water comes to a boil, clean and trim the carrots and celery stalks and then add them to the pot.

    Add vegetables
    The Spruce / Nita West
  13. Peel and quarter the onion and mince the remaining clove of garlic and add both to the pot.

    Peel onion
    The Spruce / Nita West
  14. After it boils, partially cover and reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook the brisket, more or less undisturbed until it is fully tender—you should be able to pierce the brisket with a fork very easily—between 3 and 4 hours.

    Cover and reduce heat
    The Spruce / Nita West
  15. When the brisket is done, transfer it to a cutting board. You can cover it to keep warm while you finish other elements of the meal.

    Transfer to a cutting board
    The Spruce / Nita West 
  16. When ready to eat, slice the corned beef against the grain (the short way across the brisket) and serve hot or warm. Enjoy!

    The Spruce / Nita West

Curing Meat Warning

Curing meat requires specific expertise and failure to cure meat properly may result in sickness or death. If you have no experience in this area, we advise you to consult an expert to teach you proper techniques and applications.

Great Resources on Curing Meat

Since curing meat requires such a specific skill set, otherwise, it can lead to illness or worse, we highly recommend consulting with an expert to teach you proper techniques. We found that the following four publications are super helpful guides and go in-depth about just such processes, procedures, and techniques:


  • Using organic, grass-fed beef in this recipe adds extra flavor, and the sometimes more assertive taste and texture of grass-fed beef is a good match for the salt, spice, bringing, and slow cooking that makes a good corned beef.
  • The liquid in which you cooked the brisket will be delicious, although very salty broth. It is too salty and intense to use as a base for soup, but it is just about perfect for boiling potatoes, which is a great accompaniment to make this a meal.
  • If you plan on slicing the corned beef thinly for sandwiches or other recipes, let it come to room temperature after cooking and then chill before cutting.