How To Make the Best, Easiest Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

updated Mar 8, 2023
Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Classic corned beef and cabbage gets an easy slow cooker make over.

Serves 4 to 6

Prep35 minutes

Cook8 hours to 10 hours

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

I don’t cook corned beef often (maybe once or twice a year), so because it feels new every time, I always end up stressing. But this year, I discovered the smarter, easier route to perfect corned beef and cabbage: my slow cooker.

Sure, you can make delicious corned beef and cabbage on the stovetop, but this slow cooker method is hands-off and fuss-free. Corned beef and cabbage slowly cooks in a happy brine of pickling spices, beer, and a little salt and sugar, making it the best (and easiest!) St. Patrick’s Day foods you can make.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Why Make Corned Beef and Cabbage in the Slow Cooker?

It’s almost entirely hands-off.

There are a lot of ways to cook corned beef (in a Dutch oven, the pressure cooker, etc.), but the slow cooker reigns supreme. You get to set it and forget it, and it cooks the meat low and slow without scorching the cooking liquid.

It’s packed with flavor.

Recipes that claim you can simply simmer your corned beef in water will leave you with flavorless beef and vegetables. Instead, toss the brine packet that comes with the beef and use your own pickling spices (you can make your own or buy fresher store-bought spices), sugar, and a little salt to make a flavorful brine. A lager adds even more depth, but you can use beef broth if you want to skip the alcohol.

What’s the Best Cut of Beef for Corned Beef and Cabbage?

The best cut of beef for corned beef and cabbage is brisket, which is sold in flats, points, or whole portions. While there is some debate about whether flat or point is better for corned beef, I prefer a point cut, which has more marbling and fat. You can always trim the fat after cooking.

Look for a three-pound cut with a nice fat cap. You’ll want to buy your beef already corned — corning is a curing process that takes special salt and several days (up to a full week), so let your butcher do it for you. You may also notice that corned beef has a different appearance and flavor than typical cooked meats. Due to the curing process, corned beef has a briny taste, tender texture, and pinkish-red hue.

How To Cook Corned Beef and Cabbage in the Slow Cooker

It’s easy! Just rinse the beef, cover with liquid and veggies, then let your slow cooker work its magic. Trust me, you’ll never want to cook corned beef and cabbage any other way.

Rinse the corned beef.

Because the beef was pickled (corned) in a mixture of salts, you’ll want to rinse it several times under cool running water. Then, set the brisket inside the empty slow cooker.

Cover the brisket.

Cover with water, beer, and spices, followed by the vegetables. You want the brisket completely submerged, but don’t stress if the veggies float or sit on top.

Cook on low.

Cook the beef and harder vegetables for 8 to 10 hours on low, then add the cabbage for the last 45 minutes of cooking. When it’s done, the brisket should be tender but not falling apart. (You should be able to easily pull shreds just near the ends.) Overcooking will result in beef that’s more like pulled beef than sliceable brisket.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How Do I Serve Corned Beef and Cabbage?

To be perfectly frank, my favorite part of cooking corned beef is turning the leftovers into a mouth-watering corned beef hash. But for a traditional presentation, slice the tender beef thinly — cut across the grain of the beef, like you would a steak — and serve it with the vegetables and grainy mustard.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Classic corned beef and cabbage gets an easy slow cooker make over.

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 8 hours to 10 hours

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    (3-pound) corned beef brisket

  • 1 tablespoon

    pickling spices

  • 2 teaspoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle

    lager or brown ale

  • 6 to 8 cups

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 4

    large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 1 pound

    small waxy potatoes, such as Yukon golds, halved if larger than 1-inch

  • 1

    small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch thick wedges

  • 3 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1 pound

    savoy cabbage (about 1/2 small head), cut into 1-inch wedges

Equipment

  • 6-quart or larger slow cooker

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Chef’s knife and cutting board

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Slotted spoon

Instructions

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  1. Preheat the slow cooker. Set your slow cooker to the LOW setting to preheat while you prepare the vegetables.

  2. Cover the brisket with the seasoning and cooking liquid. Place the brisket fat-side up in the slow cooker. Sprinkle the pickling spices, sugar, and salt over the brisket. Pour in the beer, followed by enough water just to cover the brisket. Add the vinegar and stir gently to combine.

  3. Layer the vegetables over the brisket. Scatter the carrots, potatoes, onions, and thyme over the brisket.

  4. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH. Cover the slow cooker and cook until the brisket and vegetables are just tender, 8 to 10 hours on the LOW setting or 4 to 5 hours on the HIGH setting.

  5. Add the cabbage and cook for 45 minutes longer. Place the cabbage on top of the brisket and cooking liquid and continue cooking until tender, about 45 minutes more.

  6. Slice the corned beef and serve. Use tongs to remove the brisket from the cooking liquid to a clean cutting board. Slice thinly across the grain. Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the vegetables and serve with the brisket.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.