How to Cook Corned Beef Without Being Tough

Use the stove, not a slow cooker, to cook tender corned beef.
Use the stove, not a slow cooker, to cook tender corned beef. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

A traditional Irish meal, corned beef is a slow cooked meal that often includes cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Corned beef is a cut of meat, also known as brisket, that has been pickled in seasoned brine. Often, one-pot, slow cooked meals are cooked in a crockpot; however, corned beef is best cooked on the stove top to keep it from becoming tough.

Things You'll Need

  • Beef brisket
  • Dutch oven or soup pot
  • Marinade
  • Water
  • Vegetables
  • Spices

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Marinate the meat. Pour a marinade of your choice over the brisket roast, and then marinate overnight in the refrigerator for a rich, flavorful and juicy end product. A marinade for corned beef typically consist of acidic ingredients such as vinegar or lemon juice plus oil and spices. The acidic ingredient in the marinade softens the meat, allowing it to absorb the flavors of the marinade.

Cook it on the stove top in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Put the corned beef in the pot and pour in enough water to cover the beef. Then, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat after the water begins to boil to a simmer and cover the pot. The cooking time should be about an hour per pound of meat. Check on the meat while it is simmering, add additional water if necessary. Once the meat begins to pull apart easily, it is ready to eat.

Add flavor. Shredded cabbage, chunks of potatoes and carrots are good flavor enhancers of corned beef. Add your choice of vegetables and/or spices during the last half hour of cooking.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cook corned beef and other forms of brisket for several hours (about an hour per pound of meat) with low heat and plenty of moisture.
  • Although a crockpot typically leaves meat tender, this is not the case with a corned beef brisket. Instead, use your Dutch oven and cook it until the meat begins to fall apart.


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