Homemade Corned Beef Brisket
Use this brining recipe to make corned beef with or without pink curing salt that contains sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite gives cured products such as corned beef brisket its characteristic pink color and flavor.
If making corned beef without sodium nitrite, the meat will be gray as for any roast meat and the flavor will be more pickled than sweet.
For more information about curing corned beef brisket as well as wild game, read How to Cure Corned Beef in Brine.
Corned Beef Brisket Brining Recipe
- 1 quart water
- 1¼ cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ¾ cup Morton’s Kosher salt or 6 ounces (170 grams) of any type of Kosher, pickling, or canning salt
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 level teaspoon (5 grams) curing salt #1 (optional)
- 3 tablespoons pickling spice OR
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries (optional)
- 1 stick cinnamon, broken into several pieces
- 2 large bay leaves
- 4 to 6 pounds beef brisket; cut across in half
- Pour the water into a large (6 quart) saucepan, and add the salt, sugar, optional curing salt, and picking spices. Place pan over high heat, bring to a boil, and stir about 5 minutes, or until salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat, transfer to non-reactive container (stainless, glass, or plastic), and allow to cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate liquid uncovered several hours or overnight, until it is well-chilled. Metal will chill the liquid faster, glass and plastic take longer.
- Place beef brisket in a large container or gallon size or larger zipper style bag. Pour the cold brine over the meat to cover completely. If placed in a container, the meat may float, in which case you want to weigh it down with a plate. If using a zipper style bag, be sure to extract the air and seal the bag completely; place bag in a pan or other container in case it leaks. Place the brining container in the refrigerator for 4 to 7 days (2 days per pound of meat).
- Twice a day (every morning and every evening) flip over the brisket to ensure the meat cures evenly.
- At the end of the curing period, remove the brisket from the brine. Rinse under cold running water to remove any spices that have stuck to the surface of the meat. Discard the brine.
- After curing, the meat is still raw, so you must cook it before serving or using in corned beef recipes. Cook it by boiling or baking, as described below.
Boiled Corned Beef Recipe
- Place cured and rinsed brisket in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven just large enough to hold it snugly. Barely cover with cold water. Instead of water, you may use apple juice, hard cider, or dark beer such as porter or brown ale.
- Place pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pan, and simmer gently for 3 hours. While corned beef is cooking, check every 30 minutes and adjust heat as needed to maintain a very gentle simmer.
- To serve warm, remove to a warm platter and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Baked or Braised Corned Beef Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Place the meat fat side up in a covered pan in a slow oven with a little liquid.
- Pour 3/4 cup or 12 ounces water into the pot, or enough to a depth of about 1/4-inch. Instead of water, you may use apple juice, hard cider, or dark beer such as porter or brown ale.
- Cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven.
- Bake at 300°F for 3 hours, or until the corned beef shrinks by almost half and is tender when pierced with a knife.
Ideas for serving corned beef
Traditional corned beef dinner accompaniments include per person, 1 medium peeled potato, ¼ head cabbage, and 1 large peeled carrot. The vegetables can be added to either cooking method during the last 30-40 minutes, or baked or steamed separately and served with the corned beef. Arrange the cooked vegetables around the sliced corned beef on a large platter.
A four to six pound corned beef brisket will feed 8-12 people for a traditional corned beef dinner, or four to six people with plenty of leftovers for classics such as corned beef hash and Rueben sandwiches.