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Corned Beef From Scratch

Corned beef is one of my favorite foods. Avoid the sugar and dyes in store-bought and make your own wonderfully spiced, fall-apart brisket!


- 5 lbs uncooked beef brisket

- 1 1/4 cup coarse kosher salt

- 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries

- 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds

- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

- 1 tablespoon ground bay leaves or 6 whole bay leaves

- 9 cardamom pods

- 2 teaspoons whole cloves

- 2 teaspoons ground ginger or about 1 inch sliced fresh ginger

- 1 small cinnamon stick


- Mix together all the spices.

- Toast the spices in a pan over medium heat. Take off the heat once fragrant. It is easy to burn spices.

- Lightly crush the toasted spices with a mortal and pestle if you have one. If not, move the spices to a separate bowl and use a spoon or some other utensil to crush. Keep the cinnamon stick whole.

- Make the brine for your brisket: warm the salt in about a gallon of water until it has dissolved. Reserve about two tablespoons of your spice mix for cooking the brisket later and add the rest of the spices including the cinnamon stick to the salt water. Stir to combine.

- Once the brine has cooled place the brisket in the brine, ensuring it is covered by the water. If it floats, use a plate or other kitchen item to weigh it down.

- Move the covered brine to the fridge and store for about 5-7 days.

- When it's time to cook your brisket, remove from the brine and rinse.

- Place in a large cooking pot or a slow cooker and cover the brisket with at least an inch of water. Add the remaining two tablespoons of spices. On the stove, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 hours. In a slow cooker, cook on low for about 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, until the meat is tender.

- When serving, cut the brisket against the grain of the meat.

Why make your own corned beef? Store bought corned beef briskets include sugar and most homemade recipes call for it too. Additionally, the distinctive pink color of traditional corned beef comes from the pink curing salts. These salts include nitrites, a possibly problematic food preservative, and include food dyes, which have been linked to various health conditions. Most recipes still call for the pink curing salts to obtain the traditional color, but making your own gives you the option of leaving them out. Nothing is lost in the flavor or texture by skipping the sugar or pink salts in this recipe!

This recipe turns out wonderfully tender and flavorful. The left overs are even good cold!

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