Smoked Corned Beef

Smoked corned beef with herb and spice rub, partially sliced, on a wooden cutting board

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 4 hrs 30 mins
Soak and Marinate Time: 10 hrs
Total: 14 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 3 pounds corned beef
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
581 Calories
43g Fat
4g Carbs
42g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 581
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 14g 72%
Cholesterol 222mg 74%
Sodium 2208mg 96%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 42g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 384mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Use your smoker to add an extra kick to corned beef brisket. A simple rub and smoking produce a flavor that is similar to pastrami or Montreal smoked meat. People will debate exactly what to call it, but regardless of the name, this recipe will make some of the best sandwiches you've ever had.

Look for a corned beef brisket that is square in shape and is of a consistent thickness so it will smoke evenly. For store-bought corned beef, the flat cut is leaner than the point cut; make sure it's not previously cooked. Use a mild wood for smoke, such as apple, cherry, or grape.

The spices are easy to find in the grocery store, and you probably already have most of them in your spice rack. It should take about 4 1/2 hours to smoke a 3-pound corned beef over low heat, and you'll need to start preparing it the day before.


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"The rub is amazing and the recipe’s smoking time was spot-on. It’s simple to make and the hands-on prep is a few minutes each time. The concentration of pepper offset the salt, so the corned beef was perfect in Reuben-like sandwiches where the spice is offset by the softer taste of sauerkraut, cheese, and dressing." —Colleen Graham

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Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for smoked corned beef recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. If there is still a membrane layer on the brisket, remove it. Also, remove any loose pieces and excess fat, leaving only some of the fat.

    Membrane being removed from the brisket

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. In a large pan or kettle, soak the corned beef brisket in water for 2 hours to remove any excess salt. Remove it from the water and pat it dry with paper towels.

    Brisket in a large pot with water

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Grind the peppercorns and coriander seeds. Add the onion powder, dried thyme, paprika, and garlic powder, and mix to produce the rub.

    Herbs and ground spices combined in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Rub the mixture on the corned beef brisket. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.

    Brisket thickly coated all around with the herb and spice mix

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Refrigerate the wrapped corned beef overnight. Do not let it sit out at room temperature.

    Brisket with rub tightly wrapped in cling foil

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Set your smoker for 275 F. Unwrap the corned beef brisket and place it directly on the grill grate, fat-side up. Slow cook the corned beef brisket for about 1 1/2 hours per pound, uncovered. The internal meat temperature should be near 185 F or higher when it is done.

    Corned beef brisket on the grill grate of the smoker

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Once cooked, remove the corned beef brisket from the smoker and place it onto a large cutting board. Let the meat rest for 15 minutes.

    Dark brown smoked corned beef brisket on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  9. Carve the corned beef brisket against the grain into thin slices. Serve and enjoy.

    Smoked corned beef being sliced on a wooden cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

How to Use and Store

  • You can use the smoked corned beef in sandwiches or wraps.
  • It makes a great alternative to bacon on a hamburger or cheeseburger.
  • Go simple and serve it with mustard on rye or pumpernickel, savoring every bite.
  • Put it into a Reuben sandwich with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye.
  • You can also use it in the morning alongside eggs and breakfast potatoes or in a hash or omelet.
  • Smoked corned beef should be refrigerated in an airtight container and will keep well for up to four days.

Does Corned Beef Really Need to Be Soaked Before Smoking?

Corned beef is a brisket cured in a salt brine that produces a very salty cut of meat. This salt is typically leached out while the corned beef cooks in a traditional way, such as a low boil in water. Since no water is used on the smoker and the meat sits directly on the grill, presoaking it to remove the salt is necessary. You can soak it longer than 2 hours (up to 8 hours) to remove even more salt; change the water every 1 or 2 hours for maximum effect.

What if 275 F Isn't an Option on the Smoker?

The temperature settings on electric smokers vary, and not every model uses 25-degree increments. If 275 F is not an option, set the smoker at 250 F. The actual temperature inside the smoker will, most likely, be around 275 F. Just like a kitchen oven, they can run hot and a grill-safe thermometer can help you monitor the smoker temperature. Toward the end of the smoke time, use a meat thermometer to test the corned beef's internal temperature and adjust the smoking time if needed.

What Is the Difference Between Corned Beef and Pastrami?

Corned beef is made from beef brisket. The same cut can be used for pastrami as well, but it traditionally uses salt-cured meat from a cow's naval. While pastrami is ordinarily smoked, corned beef is more often boiled. Smoking corned beef is now a popular option that produces pastrami-like meat. Additionally, corned beef rub differs from many types of pastrami rub in that it doesn't have sugar or mustard.

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