Home Cured Corned Beef
Home Cured Corned Beef

Here’s how you can easily cure your own corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day! It is made with beef brisket, pickled spices and salt and left to cure for 5 days. The result is a corned beef that’s tastier and more unique than you can buy at the store.

Bright pink, salty and flavorful corned beef is always a welcome meal in our house, whether in a cooked dinner, with cabbage or in a Swiss cheese and sauerkraut sandwich. Who would have thought it would be so easy to make?

Corned beef is essentially Beef cured in brine with some pickled spices for added flavor. It gets its name “corn” from an Old English word for grain or small pieces of hard things the size of grains, such as grains. e.g. salt.


Homemade Corned Beef – v2

How to make corned beef from brisket

Over the years, many of my friends have encouraged me to smoke my own corned beef, insisting it is easy and worth the effort. Having finally got around to it, I’m happy to report that my friends were right! It’s really easy; It only takes about 5 days to heal.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Make a salty pickle with curing spices such as mustard seed, allspice berries, coriander seeds and peppercorns.
  2. Marinate a brisket of beef in the brinefor 5 to 7 days.
  3. Let the pickled and drained brisket simmer in water with more pickling spices for several hours until tender.

How to season your corned beef

Pretty much every packaged corned beef brisket I’ve bought tastes about the same. The ones I healed at home? Wonderful and different.

While researching several online sources for salting your own corned beef and interrogating my colleague Hank, the source I referred to most often was Michael Ruhlman’s brilliant charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (highly recommended) . You can also find his instructions on Leites Culinaria.

I played around with the spice mix a bit and kept the garlic out of the brine, but otherwise pretty much followed Michael’s method.

What Makes Corned Beef Pink?

Corned beef gets its bright pink color from the use of Sodium nitrite, a chemical compound that also adds flavor and inhibits bacterial growth. Sodium nitrite is sold for curing meat in a form called “pink salt.” Because sodium nitrite is toxic in concentrated amounts, it’s colored pink so we don’t confuse it with table salt. Note that curing pink salt is NOT Himalayan pink salt.

You may or may not use pink salt in this recipe. I have corned beef with and without pink salt. Both work. The curing salt adds a bit more flavor and helps preserve the beef better if you don’t cook it immediately after curing.

There is some controversy over the use of sodium nitrite in curing meats, as frequent consumption of cured meats (bacon, ham, pancetta, corned beef) is associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. I eat cured meat maybe once a month so I’m not worried, but it helps to know the risks and the current research.

To achieve a pink color without using pickling salt, some people add a beet or two to the boiling water when it comes time to cook the roast. I haven’t tried this yet, but if you do, please let us know how it works for you!

What do you do with corned beef?

  • Corned beef and cabbage
  • Salted ground beef
  • New England cooked dinner
  • Red Flannel Hash

Homemade corned beef

cooking time
3 hours

total time
3 hours

up to 8 servings

The spice mix with the gallon of brine easily makes enough pickle for a 5 pound brisket pickled in a slightly large container. If you were using a 2-gallon freezer bag or marinating bag, you would probably only need half (or less) the amount of brine and brine seasoning.

Pink curing salt or sodium nitrite goes by many names, such as Prague Powder #1 or DQ Curing Salt #1, and is available online and possibly at your local specialty store or butcher. If you don’t have it, you can still make corned beef, but it’s necessary for the bright pink color we associate with corned beef. And it also adds flavor. Without it, the corned beef will be a dull gray color.

Note that pink pickling salt is NOT Himalayan pink salt. Pink pickling salt is toxic and can be fatal if ingested directly, which is why it’s colored pink so consumers don’t confuse it with table salt.


Put spices:

  • 1 tablespoon all allspice corns

  • 1 tablespoon all mustard seeds (brown or yellow)

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 tablespoon completely black peppercorns

  • 2 teaspoon whole cloves

  • 9 all cardamom Pods

  • 6 big bay leaves, crumbles

  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 floor Cinammon


  • 1 gallon (3.8 liter) water

  • 300G kosher salt (2 cups Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt OR 1 cup 3 1/2 tablespoons Morton’s Kosher Salt)

  • 5 teaspoon pink curing Saltoptional, see recipe note

  • 3 tablespoon pickling Spices

  • 1/2 cup (90G) Brown sugar


  • 1 5lb beef brisket

  • 1 tablespoon pickling Spices


  1. Roast and Chop Spices:

    You can either use store-bought pickling condiments or make your own. To prepare, toast the allspice berries, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods in a small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant. Note that it’s pretty easy to burn spices; You want enough heat to release their flavors, not so much that they burn.

    Remove from the stove and place in a small bowl. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices a little (or the back of a spoon, or the side of a knife on a flat surface). Place in a small bowl and stir in the crumbled bay leaves and ground ginger.

  2. Make the pickle:

    In a large saucepan, add about 3 tablespoons of the spice mix (reserve the rest for cooking the corned beef after it has cured) plus half the cinnamon stick to one gallon of water, along with the kosher salt, pink salt (use as needed), and brown sugar . Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.

  3. Soak the brisket in brine for 5-7 days:

    Place the brisket in a large, shallow container or pan and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. The meat may float, in which case you may want to weigh it down with a plate.

    Alternatively, you can use a 2 gallon freezer bag (put it in a container so it doesn’t spill all over the fridge), place the breast in the freezer bag and about 2 liters of brine and squeeze out the air from the bag before sealing.

    Place in the fridge and chill for 5-7 days. Turn the breast over each day so all sides are evenly salted.

  4. Prepare the corned beef:

    At the end of the treatment, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse off the brine with cold water. Place the brisket in a large saucepan that just fits around the brisket and cover with at least an inch of water. If you would like your breast to be less salty, add another inch of water to the saucepan.

    Add a tablespoon of the pickling spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer (barely bubbling) and cook until corned beef is tender, 3-4 hours. (At this point, you can store in the fridge for up to a week.)

  5. Cut across the grain:

    Place the meat on a cutting board. (You can use the seasoned cooking liquid to cook vegetables for cooked dinners or corned beef and cabbage.) Notice the visible lines on the meat; This is the “grain” of the meat, or the direction of the muscle fibers.

    For easier slicing, first cut the meat in half along the grain of the meat. Then make thin cross-sections, across the grain, to slice the meat for serving.

nutritional information (per serving)
531 calories
32g Fat
9g carbohydrates
50g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!