How to Cut the Salty Taste in Corned Beef


Corned beef is as much a part of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast as cabbage and green beer. This meat is salty by definition. In fact, the “corn” in the name refers to the large pieces of salt (called “corns" of salt) used in the curing process. Although there is no way to actually remove the salt from corned beef, you can use certain methods to reduce the salty taste.

Things You'll Need

  • Sugar
  • Extra ingredients from dish
  • Dairy
  • Strain the corned beef thoroughly to remove as much of the salty liquid as possible.

  • Soak the corned beef in cold water or milk for 12 to 24 hours before cooking it. Keep it in the refrigerator during this process and change the liquid regularly. Drain as much liquid as possible from the meat before cooking it.

  • Add sugar to the dish containing the corned beef. Do not use enough to actually make the dish taste sweet; start with half a teaspoon per pound of corned beef and gradually add more while frequently tasting the dish. The sugar can help reduce the salty flavor in the beef. If the dish starts tasting sweet, stop adding sugar and move on to another technique.

  • Include more of the other ingredients used in the dish. For example, if you are making a stew with corned beef, potatoes and carrots, add more of the potatoes and carrots without changing the amount of corned beef. Adding more ingredients without providing more salt will reduce the overall saltiness of the entire dish.

  • Incorporate dairy into the dish, if possible. Some possibilities include mixing cream into a corned beef stew or serving your corned beef with creme fraiche. Take note that this trick reduces both spiciness and saltiness. If you are making something that is supposed to be spicy, you may need to add more of those spices to offset the effects of the dairy.

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  • Photo Credit low view of a corned beef and cabbage dinner image by David Smith from
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