Slow Cooker Corned Beef
Learn how to make corned beef in your slow cooker for the easiest, most tender corned beef ever, with tips for seasoning, cooking liquid and vegetable options, cooking times and more.
Today, my friends, I’m going to show you how to make a delicious corned beef in your slow cooker or crock pot. Corned beef typically becomes a sought after recipe around St. Patrick’s Day, but that’s a shame because we love corned beef any time of the year.
I like to grab a few of them from the butcher, prep them in several different ways, then freeze some in batches. Or I’ll just freeze the corn beef briskets whole for preparing later on.
Corned beef freezes up nicely. Aside from enjoying it for dinners, you can cook it into all sorts of meals. Like this Corned Beef Hash recipe. I always try to have leftover corned beef available for this.
While I am offering up a specific slow cooker recipe here that you can follow, the real purpose of this post is to provide you with more of a method for how you can adjust your slow cooked corned beef recipe to your own preferences.
This includes developing your seasoning options, braising liquid options, vegetable options, and even your sauce and/or glaze options for serving. Once you’ve mastered these basic concepts, you will be able to make different slow cooker corned beef recipes any time of the year.
It would be ideal for a recipe such as Corned Beef and Cabbage, with some carrots tossed in, or other veggies.
So let’s dive in!
How to Make Slow Cooker Corned Beef – the Recipe Method
First, trim the fat from your chosen corned beef and rinse it thoroughly.
Set some red potatoes or yellow potatoes, chopped onion, peppers and garlic into the bottom of your slow cooker.
Set the corned beef brisket over them.
Add in your seasoning blend and mustard seeds.
Pour in the dark beer, such as a nice stout beer, then pour in enough water to just cover the brisket, so the brisket is submerged.
You can also use chicken stock or broth, or just water instead of beer.
Swirl in the hot mustard.
Cover the pot. Turn on the slow cooker and cook for 6-7 hours on HIGH, or 8-10 hours on LOW. Your cooking times will vary depending on the size of the corned beef brisket.
When the brisket is very tender, remove it and set it onto a tray, along with the potatoes. Slice the corned beef against the grain.
FOR THE GRAVY
Strain out about a cup of the cooking liquid and discard the rest.
Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a pan then add an equal amount of flour. Stir constantly over medium heat until the roux darkens a bit, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the reserved liquid until it thickens up. You can add more or less to your preferred thickness. Season it with salt and freshly ground pepper, as desired.
Drizzle the gravy over the corned beef and potatoes and serve.
You have many options to season your corned beef brisket. I have used a collection of Cajun seasonings (see my homemade Cajun seasoning blend), along with yellow mustard seeds and a homemade spicy mustard.
Mustard is always a nice addition to corned beef. The flavors really compliment one another. Learn how to make your own mustard at home, or use a good mustard sauce.
Feel free to vary up your blend and include seasonings to your personal tastes. Brown sugar is always a good addition for a bit of sweetness. Other choices include spicy chili powders, clove, fennel, or dried herbs.
Braising Liquid Options
I typically opt for a dark beer along with water or chicken stock for my slow cooker corned beef recipes. Sometimes I use only beer, depending on how much flavor I’m looking for. Sometimes I will split the mixture 50/50 with dark beer and water, though I almost always use a whole bottle of beer.
Chicken stock is a great option for imparting flavor, though some people prefer using only water. Another option is to include a bit of vinegar into the mix for a bit of tangy flavor. I encourage you to experiment with different liquid combinations to see where your preferences fall.
One consideration for your choice of braising liquid, however, is whether or not you will be making gravy afterward. See below.
Vegetable & Chili Pepper Options
Adding vegetables to your slow cooker corned beef is not required. I find that they add a lot of extra flavor to the finished corned beef, and also impart flavor to a finished gravy, if you’re making one.
I’ve used potatoes, onions, garlic and jalapeno peppers for this recipe. However, other vegetables are a strong addition, such as carrots, celery, rutabaga, celery root, golden beets and more.
If you’re concerned about the jalapeno heat, consider using bell peppers, which will work nicely. If you’re looking for more heat, toss in a serrano pepper or two, or perhaps a habanero pepper, which will give a good level of heat for everyone. Just be sure to consider who is eating.
When I cook with potatoes like this, I will pluck them out and serve them alongside the sliced corned beef. It would be the same for most root vegetables. Everything else can be strained out.
Sauce and Glaze Options
I usually like to make a gravy for serving, but you can either skip the gravy or make an additional sauce to go along with your gravy. Mustard is always a tasty option, like a whole grain mustard or even a mustard sauce.
I prefer to make a gravy from the finished cooking liquid, as there is so much wonderful flavor there, and this decision affects my various choices for seasoning, liquid and vegetables.
Dark beers add a lot of flavor, so I typically go with one of those, as well as a lot of spicy seasonings and spicy chili peppers.
Once the corned beef is done, simply strain out about a cup of the cooking liquid and discard the rest.
Start with a roux by melting a couple tablespoons of butter in a pan with an equal amount of flour. Stir constantly over medium heat until the roux darkens a bit, about 5 minutes, though you can go longer if you’d like.
Stir in the reserved liquid until it thickens up. You can add more or less to your preferred thickness. Season it with salt and pepper, as desired.
Drizzle the gravy over the corned beef and potatoes and serve.
How to Choose the Best Corned Beef Brisket Cut
You have 3 options with any brisket. They are:
Flat Cut: This is the thicker, leaner portion of the brisket.
Point Cut: Aka, the deckle. This cut is thinner with more marbling that sits on top of the flat, the larger, leaner bottom section.
Whole Brisket: For hungry people! Includes both the point and flat cuts.
Serving Options for Your Slow Cooker Corned Beef
You can serve it up with the reserved potatoes, but another option is to serve them over mashed potatoes instead. It is SO GOOD this way, especially with a nice thick gravy.
However, potatoes don’t have to be your only option. Consider other roots. I’ve been making a lot of celery root purees lately and LOVE them. Rutabaga is great, as are turnips.
Give them a go!
You can also save the corned beef or use leftovers for making sandwiches or my favorite, Corned Beef Hash – Madness Style or a nice reuben sandwich or corned beef sandwich.
How Long do you Cook Corned Beef in a Slow Cooker or Crockpot?
Cook a corned beef for 6-7 hours in the slow cooker on high, or 8-10 hours on LOW. Check it after 6 hours, depending on size of the brisket. Your times may vary a bit.
How Do You Know When the Corned Beef is Done?
You’ll be able to tell the corned beef is done cooking by the tenderness. It will almost shred with a fork. However, for food safety, the best way to know is to measure with a meat thermometer. It should register 145 degrees F internally.
That’s it, my friends! Such an easy recipe, isn’t it? Let me know how your corned beef turns out! It’s quite fall apart tender! And let me know what how you’ve decided to prepare it! I’m always curious to hear.
Try My Other Popular Corned Beef Recipes
- Pressure Cooker Corned Beef
- Corned Beef Tater Tot Hot Dish
- Corned Beef Hash – Madness Style
- Corned Beef Stuffed Peppers
- Slow Cooker Corned Beef with Spicy Guinness Gravy
Try it out with this Classic Reuben Sandwich recipe from my friend, JoCooks!
What I really love about corned beef is the flavor and the tenderness. A good corned beef doesn’t need much treatment. It’s so good on its own. The way Mike cooks it, with just the right seasonings, so low and slow, it’s just perfect. I’m craving it again now.
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! – Mike H.
Slow Cooker Corned Beef – Recipe
- 3-5 pound corned beef brisket
- 6-8 small yellow potatoes
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped (use 2-3 jalapeno peppers and/or a serrano for more spiciness)
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/3 cup preferred seasoning blend I used a Cajun blend – see discussion above
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
- 12 ounces dark beer a good stout or porter is ideal
- 2 tablespoons hot mustard optional
- Water to cover
FOR THE GRAVY (optional)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Trim the fat from the corned beef and rinse it thoroughly.
- Set the potatoes, onion, peppers and garlic into the bottom of the slow cooker. Set the corned beef brisket over them.
- Add in your seasoning blend and mustard seeds.
- Pour in the dark beer, then pour in enough water to just cover the brisket.
- Swirl in the hot mustard and cover.
- Turn on the slow cooker and cook for 6-7 hours on HIGH, or 8-10 hours on LOW. Your cooking times will vary depending on the size of the corned beef brisket.
- When the brisket is very tender, remove it and set it onto a tray, along with the potatoes. Slice the corned beef against the grain.
FOR THE GRAVY
- Strain out about a cup of the cooking liquid and discard the rest.
- Melt the butter in a pan then add the flour. Stir constantly over medium heat until the roux darkens a bit, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the reserved liquid until it thickens up. You can add more or less to your preferred thickness. Season it with salt and pepper, as desired.
- Drizzle the gravy over the corned beef and potatoes and serve.
Note: This recipe was updated on 3/2/20 to include new information. It was originally published on 12/12/18.