Crockpot Corned Beef Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day

This Crockpot Corned Beef Recipe cooks in your slow cooker with Guinness, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Irish American culture for St. Patrick’s Day.

Corned-Beef-Dinner

TLDR

Crockpot Corned Beef is an easy recipe for celebrating Irish American heritage on St. Patrick’s Day. Use a flat cut corned beef brisket, and make sure to slice against the grain to serve. The post below gives the history of corned beef, and everything you need to know about choosing your corned beef, seasoning, cooking in the crockpot, and slicing. Or you can click the button below to jump straight to the recipe.

IS CORNED BEEF REALLY IRISH?

If you live in the U.S. it may surprise you to learn that the beloved dish of corned beef and cabbage is not eaten on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

In fact, it’s not really a traditional or popular dish in Ireland. You would more likely find cooked cabbage paired with slices of Irish bacon made from the back of the pig.

So is corned beef really Irish? And why is corned beef eaten on St. Patrick’s Day all over the United States?

HISTORY OF CORNED BEEF IN IRELAND

Until England’s conquest of Ireland in the 1500’s, beef was rarely eaten in the Emerald Isle. While dairy (which didn’t require slaughtering the cow) was commonly consumed, beef was eaten only by royalty on special occasions. In fact the cow was considered a symbol of wealth in ancient Ireland.

The English began bringing large quantities of beef from Ireland to England. Then in 1666 the Cattle Act was passed in Parliament, making it illegal to bring Irish beef into England. With the dramatic reduction in English demand, cattle prices in Ireland were suddenly much more affordable.

Crockpot-Corned-Beef

CORNED BEEF EXPORT

Corned beef was named for the kernels of salt used to preserve the meat. Thanks to a plethora of cows and a low tax on imported salt, Ireland developed a thriving corned beef export. The unfair result of a worldwide demand for corned beef was that it once again became too expensive for the Irish to consume. The people of Ireland returned to eating pork, as well as the newly introduced potato.

CHECK OUT OUR IRISH MASHED POTATOES POST FOR A GREAT COLCANNON RECIPE AND HISTORY OF POTATOES IN IRELAND

HISTORY OF CORNED BEEF IN AMERICA

From 1845 to 1852, the potato crops of Ireland were decimated by potato blight. This was known as the Potato Famine, or The Great Hunger, and led to estimated deaths of 1 million Irish people. This dark time in Irish history also led to the spreading of the Irish people around the world, as another million fled as refugees to Britain and the Americas.

The beloved bacon of the Irish was incredibly expensive in the New Land. And while corned beef was a luxury in Ireland, it was a very affordable and effective way of preserving meat in colonial America. But corned beef in America is different than what was produced by the Irish ancestors.

In America, Jewish and Irish immigrants were very connected. The Irish would buy their beef from Jewish butchers. The kosher cut of beef used to make corned beef was the brisket. Brisket is the cut still used to make corned beef in America today.

Corned Beef in Slow Cooker

If you love culinary history as much as I do, you can find even more history on this popular preserved meat here.

CORNED BEEF FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

While St. Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday in Ireland, Irish Americans began using it for celebrating Irish heritage and culture on March 17. One of the best parts of a celebration is the meal, and corned beef became the dinner of choice.

Both cabbage and potatoes were eaten for centuries in Ireland, so it’s no surprise that they were typically a part of the meal.

Another fun Irish American treat often consumed on St. Patrick’s Day is the Irish Potato Candy.

HOW TO MAKE CORNED BEEF IN THE SLOW COOKER

Traditional corned beef was cured in salt, then boiled low and slow over an open flame or on a stove. Well, not actually boiled. Good corned beef should not be totally submerged in liquid. And a rolling boil would give you seriously tough meat. What you’re actually doing is steaming the corned beef.

While you can definitely cook your corned beef on the stove, I really love the convenience of crockpot corned beef.

Crockpot corned beef for St. Patrick's Day

Crockpot Corned Beef allows you to cook your meat low and slow, without having to monitor it. You can also include potatoes, carrots, onion, and cabbage in the crockpot for a complete meal.

WHAT IS THE BEST CUT OF CORNED BEEF FOR CROCKPOT CORNED BEEF?

The cut of meat used for corned beef is the brisket. Corned beef purists will usually insist on a whole brisket. The whole brisket has the “flat” (a leaner cut with consistent thickness) and “point” (a fattier thicker cut) still connected together. You can also buy the flat brisket or point brisket individually. The flat has more meat, and the point has more fat.

Fat is flavor, so many people like the point for the added flavor. I prefer using the flat because of its even thickness. It’s easy to slice and serve. I buy my brisket flat with the layer of fat on top.

For crockpot corned beef, cook with the fat on the top so that any fat that melts during cooking trickles down into your liquid to add flavor to the rest of the meat.

DO YOU RINSE CORNED BEEF BEFORE COOKING IN THE CROCKPOT?

It’s always a good idea to rinse corned beef before cooking it. Because the brisket is cured, you don’t need to worry about washing away the flavor. All that salty goodness has absorbed into the meat.

WHAT IS IN THE CORNED BEEF SPICE PACKET?

A corned beef is often sold with a pickling spice packet. If your corned beef comes with one, use it in the crockpot corned beef recipe. If it doesn’t have a corned beef spice packet, you can easily make your own spice mix.

I use a bay leaf, a tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds, two teaspoons of coriander seeds, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, ten allspice berries, ten peppercorns, and two whole cloves.

Crockpot Corned Beef with Carrots, Potatoes, and Onions

Because I do a lot of cooking and pickling, I have all these seeds on hand. If you don’t, try looking for a jar of pickling spice. Use about three tablespoons of pickling spice for your crockpot corned beef.

CAN YOU USE GROUND SPICES FOR CORNED BEEF?

Go with whole seeds, not ground spice. The powders can overwhelm the flavor of your crockpot corned beef with raw spice. Whole seeds will impart flavor without being overpowering.

CAN YOU OVERCOOK CORNED BEEF IN A CROCKPOT?

It’s definitely possible to overcook corned beef in a crockpot. Because you are using liquid to cook the corned beef, you don’t have to worry about it getting dry or burnt.

Irish American Dinner for St. Patrick's Day

The real concern with overcooked corned beef is having it get mushy. But by cooking crockpot corned beef on low in your slow cooker, it’s not a likely problem.

HOW TO CHECK IF CORNED BEEF IS DONE

Butcher Kris Kreiger has a method for testing your cooked corned beef. “ “The key to knowing when it’s done, is to take a cook’s fork, stick it in the thickest part of the meat, and when you tug it out there should be a little resistance, but it shouldn’t cling to the fork,” Kreiger says. “If it falls right off, you’ve overcooked it.”

You can also use a meat thermometer to check the beef for doneness. It should be 165 degrees in the thickest part of the brisket.

Easy St. Patrick's Day Dinner

When making crockpot corned beef, just check your beef at the 9 hour mark. Take the temperature and do the fork test suggested above. If it’s not quite done, give it another hour or two.

HOW TO SLICE CROCKPOT CORNED BEEF

Guinness Corned Beef

One of the most important steps for making corned beef is slicing it across the grain. The grain is the direction the muscle fibers in the meat run. The grain lines are easier to see in raw meat, but visible in cooked beef as well.

Notice in the closeup how there is kind of a crosshatch pattern in the crockpot corned beef slices?

Close Up of Crockpot Corned Beef Sliced Against the Grain

That’s because I sliced the meat across the grain lines instead of in the same direction. This is what your slices should look like.

Wait at least fifteen minutes after cooking to slice your corned beef. Slicing it earlier can make it fall apart. The best time to slice is actually after refrigerating it overnight. But most of us want to eat our corned beef warm after cooking.

This video from Cook’s Illustrated explains how they used science to determine the difference in tenderness between cutting with the grain and against the grain. They use a flank steak to demonstrate, but it applies to brisket as well.

Science: How to Slice Steak and Make Cheap Beef Cuts (like Flank Steak) Tender with Only Your Knife

STEP BY STEP HOW TO MAKE CROCKPOT CORNED BEEF

Crockpot Corned Beef with Irish Mashed Potatoes
  • Start with a 3-4 pound flat cut corned beef brisket.
  • Rinse your brisket under cold running water.
  • Place peeled and quartered potatoes, onions, and carrots in the bottom of a crockpot.
  • Place the corned beef on top of the veggies, fat side up.
  • Mix a 12 ounce Guinness with a couple tablespoons of molasses.
  • Pour the molasses beef over everything.
  • Add the spice packet, or three tablespoons of pickling spice.
  • Cover and cook on low for 9-11 hours, until the beef is fork tender.
  • If you would like to include cabbage, add wedges of cabbage on top of the beef at the 8 hour mark.

WE SKIP THE CABBAGE IN OUR CROCKPOT CORNED BEEF AND ADD IT TO IRISH MASHED POTATOES INSTEAD.

PIN TO SAVE CROCKPOT CORNED BEEF FOR LATER

Don’t lose the recipe! Pin to save for St. Patrick’s Day, and then leave a photo in the pin’s comments after you make it. We love seeing what you cook!

Crockpot Corned Beef

CROCKPOT CORNED BEEF PRINTABLE RECIPE

Crockpot Corned Beef Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
9 hrs
Total Time
9 hrs 10 mins
 

This Crockpot Corned Beef Recipe cooks in your slow cooker with Guinness, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Irish American culture for St. Patrick’s Day. Adapted with permission from Genius Kitchen.

Course: Main
Cuisine: Irish American
Keyword: Crockpot Recipe, Irish American Recipe, Irish recipe, Pickled Beef, Slow Cooker Recipe, St. Patrick’s Day Recipe
Servings: 6
Calories: 663 kcal
Author: Diana Johnson
Ingredients
  • 3 -4 lbs corned beef brisket I use a flat cut
  • 6 medium red potatoes quartered
  • 2 medium yellow onions peeled and quartered
  • 24 baby carrots
  • 12 ounces Guinness
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 small green cabbage cut into wedges (optional)
Pickling Spices * (SEE NOTES)
Instructions
  1. Rinse your brisket under cold running water.
  2. Place potatoes, onions, and carrots in the bottom of a crockpot.

  3. Place the corned beef on top of the veggies, fat side up.
  4. Mix the Guinness and molasses then pour over the beef and veggies.

  5. Add the spice packet, or three tablespoons of pickling spice. You can also use the pickling spice ingredients listed to make your own.

  6. Cover and cook on low for 9-11 hours, until the beef is fork tender.
  7. If you would like to include cabbage, add wedges of cabbage on top of the beef at the 8 hour mark.
Recipe Notes

*If your brisket didn’t come with a spice packet your can use 3 tablespoons of bottled pickling spice. Or you can use the pickling spice recipe to make your own if you already have the spices needed in your pantry.

Nutrition Facts
Crockpot Corned Beef Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 663 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Fat 35g54%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 122mg41%
Sodium 2834mg123%
Potassium 1910mg55%
Carbohydrates 47g16%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 38g76%
Vitamin A 5530IU111%
Vitamin C 83.4mg101%
Calcium 86mg9%
Iron 6.5mg36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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