Homemade Corned Beef Brine

Catalina Castravet
By Catalina Castravet
Updated:
Published:
5 from 8 reviews

Beef Holiday Food Main Dishes Recipes St. Patrick's Day

Homemade Corned Beef tastes even better than what you can get at the deli, and is easier to make than you think! It’s amazing on sandwiches, with vegetables, in a breakfast hash, and more. All you need is the best brine recipe is you make your own.

Enjoy an Irish-inspired spread anytime, not just on St. Patrick’s Day! This Lamb Stew, Irish Soda Bread, and Irish Coffee taste fantastic all year.

How to Make Brine for Corned Beef

Homemade Corned Beef is leagues away from anything you can buy at the grocery store or the deli. Ever noticed how store-bought ones often taste the same? My recipe yields flavor-packed brisket that basically melts in your mouth!

Don’t be intimidated by the curing time. Once the meat is soaking in brine, flipping once a day is the only thing left to do. Honestly, the hardest part of this recipe is waiting to finally eat it! And once it’s done, you’ll have the tastiest corned brisket you’ve ever had in your life.

Terrific with on a crusty bread sandwich, sauteed with vegetables, in soups, and many more!

What is corned beef?

It’s basically meat cured in salt. The dish begins by curing the brisket in salt and spices for several days, then slow-cooking until it’s unbelievably tender.

The word “corn” comes from the big pieces of salt, as big as corn kernels, which was traditionally used for curing. This recipe was created to help preserve meat before the days of accessible refrigeration. 

What cut do you use to make corned beef?

Brisket is the ideal cut for this cooking method. It’s a tough but super flavorful part, which becomes tender throughout the brining or salt-curing process.

What do you need to homemade corned beef brine?

It’s a basic brining solution made of water, about 300 grams of salt, brown sugar, and a dash of our homemade pickling spices. I also like throwing in half a stick of cinnamon for a boost of warm spice flavor.

How do you brine corned beef?

  • Chill the brine. Mix the brine ingredients. Bring to a boil so all the flavors get infused into the brining solution. Turn off heat and cool, then place in the fridge until it’s very well-chilled. 
  • Cure the brisket. Take a large container that can fit both the brisket and the brining solution. You can also use a 2-gallon bag for this. Place the meat in there, and cover with the brining liquid. Chill from 5 to 7 days. Flip once every day, so every part of the meat is cured evenly.

How long can you brine corned beef?

At most, you can soak the meat in brine for as long as 10 days. But for this recipe, which uses a smaller cut, 5 to 7 days is enough to infuse the meat with all the brine flavors and tenderize it.

Do you cook corned beef in brine?

No, you need to rinse it off before cooking. Don’t worry about wasting all those flavors— they’ve already penetrated deep into the meat!

How do you cook corned beef?

Once the curing period is over, rinse off your brined brisket carefully. Pour an inch of water into the pot. Add about a tbsp of pickling spices before letting it boil. Next, reduce heat to a very low simmer. Leave the brisket to cook from 3 to 4 hrs. until it’s tender enough to cut with a fork. At this point, it’s done and ready to enjoy!

Recipe variations:

  • Simmer in beer: For a delicious twist, slow simmer it in some ginger beer or your favorite beers.
  • Use other cuts: Can’t find brisket? Rump roast will do in a pinch!
  • Cook with veggies: Instead of just water, simmer the meat with chunks of carrots and potatoes for more flavor.

What to serve with corned beef?

It’s phenomenal in these rye sandwiches with sauerkraut, zesty pickle relish, and melted Swiss cheese! Try subbing the turkey in this grilled cheese recipe with thin slices of brisket. 

I also love serving it with cabbage for a fast and hearty weeknight meal. For breakfast, it’s hard to beat it in a hash with the creamiest scrambled eggs. Want to try something new? Top a plate of creamy Fettucine alfredo with chunks or strips of the meat!

How to store:

Once it’s completely cool, transfer to an air-tight container before placing in the fridge. It will stay fresh and delicious when consumed within 4 days or up to a week.

Can you freeze corned beef?

Yes! To freeze, make sure it’s entirely cool first. You may also slice it for easier freezing and storage. Wrap in plastic tightly before placing it in a freezer-friendly container. Keep frozen for up to 3 mos.

To reheat, thaw and cook according to the recipe you’re using. 

More recipes:

Recipe tips:

  • Always slice carefully against the grain for maximum tenderness.
  • Do NOT skip brining for a few days as recommended! This is essential!
brining corned beef

Homemade Corned Beef Brine

Homemade Corned Beef tastes even better than what you can get at the deli, and is easier to make than you think!
5 from 8 votes
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Prep Time: 1 hour
Brine: 5 days
Total Time: 5 days 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 511kcal
Author: Catalina Castravet

Ingredients

Pickling Spices:

  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole red peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 8 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 large bay leaves (crumbled)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Brine:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 300 g Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons pickling spices (save the rest)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark both work)

Brisket:

  • 5 lbs beef brisket

Instructions

Pickling Spices:

  • To save time you can use store-bought pickling spices or you can make your own based on the ingredients above.
  • Add the allspice berries, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, red and black peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods to a small frying pan over medium-low heat and toast until fragrant. This will take a minute or two, stir and keep an eye on the spices as they can easily burn.
  • Remove from heat and place in a small bowl. Use a mortar and pestle to crush them. Add the crushed bay leaves and ground ginger and stir to combine.

Brine:

  • Add a gallon of water to a large pot and add 4 tablespoons of the pickling spices (saving the remaining ones for later), add the cinnamon stick, Kosher salt, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.
  • Once chilled, place the beef brisket in a large, flat container or pan, and cover with the brine. Make sure the brine covers the meat. If the meat floats, weigh it down with a plate.
  • Refrigerate for 5-7 days and every day flip the brisket over so that all sides get brined equally.

Cook the corned beef:

  • Remove the brisket from the brine and rinse it with cold water.
  • Place the brisket in a large pot and cover with at least one inch of water.
  • Add the remaining pickling spices and bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer, and cook for 3-4 hours, until the corned beef is fork-tender.
  • Once done, place the meat on a cutting board. Cut across the grain to serve.
  • Add some veggies into the spiced cooking liquid, like cabbage and carrots, and cook them to serve with the corned beef.

Nutrition

Calories: 511kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 59g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 176mg | Sodium: 14798mg | Potassium: 1035mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 171IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 6mg
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Comments

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Toni Dash

This is so good!! I love how easy it is to make!

Reply

Sara Welch

Such a flavorful recipe that never disappoints! Adding this to my dinner line up this week; no need to wait for St. Patrick's Day, indeed!

Reply

Allyson Zea

I've never tried to make corned beef myself, so I am interested in trying this recipe. Thank you for the easy to follow directions.

Reply

Kevin

This looks so good! Love how easy the recipe is to follow!

Reply

CATHY

When freezing, is it already cooked or can I freeze it after brining?

Reply

Both ways work, I just recommend using a vacuum sealer when freezer, so the beef doesn't get those annoying icicles.

Reply

Laurie Lawson

Looks so delish! I'm in Costa Rica and can not find Kosher salt anywhere! What can I use as a substitute?

Reply

salt without iodine

Reply

David

Thanks Catalina! This looks like a great brining recipe! Can't wait to do this. Plus, since I like to "experiment", I will try it out with a whole rump...inject it with the brine, like when brining/making homemade ham. Should be a fun project.

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