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How to Cook Corned Beef in a Slow Cooker

From dinner to sandwiches to corned beef hash, there are so many ways to enjoy this dish. Here’s how to cook corned beef in a slow cooker.

Corned beef is shown on a wooden cutting board with a bowl of potatoes and carrots, a bowl of cabbage and a fork and knife nearby.

For many American families, corned beef and cabbage served on St. Patrick’s Day tradition. The fragrant, salty aroma permeates the air and the carrots, potatoes and cabbage are all infused with it.

But corned beef, for all its nostalgia and allure, isn’t authentic Irish food. Or, more accurately, it isn’t authentic Irish food. According to the Smithsonian, beef (and corned beef) was far too expensive for the majority of the Irish population. So while it grew in popularity as an export in the 17th century, the Irish weren’t actually eating it. Later in the 19th century, as Irish immigrants settled in New York, beef was finally affordable to them — and they ate corned beef (though a different one than Ireland had been exporting) eagerly. So while many Americans associate it with St. Patrick’s Day, it is an Irish-American thing.

I highly recommend reading the Smithsonian piece linked to above. It’s fascinating.

A white plate with a fork and knife next to it sits on a granite countertop. On the plate is corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and onions.

All that said, corned beef and cabbage is a delightful meal for March 17 or anytime. Here’s how to cook corned beef in the slow cooker.

What You Need

A Crock-Pot, potatoes, carrots, an onion and a package of corned beef sit on a counter.

Corned Beef

Corned beef is a salt-cured beef brisket. In the United States, it’s often sold with a seasoning packet, which is used in this recipe. If yours doesn’t come with the packet, Hilda’s Kitchen Blog has a corned beef seasoning recipe to help you make your own. Corned beef comes in two cuts: flat cut and point cut. The point cut has more fat marbled throughout, giving it a better flavor. However, the flat cut has an even layer of fat on one side that ensures the meat stays moist when it’s slow-cooked, as in this recipe. The flat cut is also an even thickness, which fits conveniently into the slow cooker on top of the veggies.

For the slow cooker, I prefer the flat cut.

A Large Slow Cooker

A slow cooker sits on a counter.

There are so many sizes — and shapes — of slow cookers available. This recipe takes up a lot of room in a crock, so you’ll need a large one. I use a large 6-quart slow cooker to cook corned beef in a slow cooker. If your slow cooker is smaller, you might need to cook the vegetables seperately.

What to Do with Corned Beef Leftovers

Leftover corned beef and cabbage should be stored in airtight containers. I typically keep corned beef in one container, cabbage in another and potatoes, carrots and onions in a third.

You can reheat the leftovers and just eat them as is. To do this, portion out the amount you want onto a microwave-safe plate. Then heat for 1-2 minutes, until hot throughout.

Another option is to transform some of the corned beef and potatoes (and carrots too, if you like!) into Homemade Corned Beef Hash, similar to what’s pictured above.

You can also make a variety of sandwiches using corned beef. The classic Reuben is a popular sandwich that combines corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and cheese on rye for a gooey, delightful lunchtime treat. I make mine without the dressing, so I can attest that it’s good without it.

Or, if you are feeling wild and crazy you could try something completely different. Corned beef macaroni and cheese? Corned beef omelets? Your imagination is your only limit.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes

From dinner to sandwiches to corned beef hash, there are so many ways to enjoy this dish. Here's how to cook corned beef in a slow cooker.

Ingredients

  • 4 large carrots, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 red or yellow potatoes, large diced
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 corned beef with seasoning packet (about 2.5-3lbs)
  • 1/2 head cabbage, cut into 4 pieces

Instructions

  1. Arrange the carrots, potatoes and onions in the crock of a slow cooker in an even layer. Place the corned beef (do not rinse) on top. Sprinkle with seasoning packet. Add water to the crock, covering the corned beef. Note: the corned beef will float, so press it down to check the water level as you fill. You don't want to overfill the crock.
  2. Set the slow cooker on high and cook for 4 hours.
  3. Add the cabbage to the slow cooker. If the water level edges over the lip, use a ladle to remove some before replacing the lid. Cook for an additional hour.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the slow cooker and arrange in bowls or on a serving platter. Transfer the corned beef to a cutting board. Slice thinly against the grain.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. Leftovers should be stored in airtight containers and consumed within 5 days.

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