Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

It’s that time of year again! The only time of year when corned beef flies off the shelf and people embrace cabbage. St. Patrick’s Day. Although

instant corned beef and cabbage with text overlay


 

Take my word for it, using an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) is the best and easiest way to cook fall-apart, tender corned beef. No knife needed, just grab a fork. This is one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes and we make it year round.

What is Corned Beef?

Corned beef is sometimes referred to as salt beef because it is a cured meat, meaning that it is submerged in salty water along with sugar and spices, for about a week. The purpose of curing is for preservation, flavor, color and texture. The term “corn” came from the large rock salt pieces used for the process.

This not only gives it loads of flavor, but the salts tenderize the cut. Today, most are also cured in pickling spices, a combination of allspice berries, coriander seeds, ginger, star anise, whole cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom pods, mustard seeds, dried bay leaves and red pepper flakes (optional). You can easily make your own pickling spice blend to match personal preferences.

serving platter of sliced corned beef with carrots and cabbage

What Cut of Beef is Corned Beef?

Brisket is the cut of beef typically used. It is a large cut and divided into flats and points. The flat is used for corned beef. It is long, thin and has a fat cap that melts and helps to keep the beef tender and moist while cooking. It is also easier to slice.

Why is Corned Beef Pink?

It doesn’t have to be pink, but typically it is sold this way. The brining mixture uses a salt mixture that has sodium nitrate, which is pink, You’ll see them sold as pink curing salts if you buy them to cure your own corned beef.

juicy sliced corned beef on a white plate

How Do You Cook Corned Beef?

Historically speaking, corned beef was braised, which is a method of low and slow cooking combined with a lot of moisture. The flat part of brisket has a lot of connective tissues that require time, slow heat and moisture to break down. If you were to throw this cut on the grill for a quick sear, it would be chewy, tough and dry.

In recent years, the most acceptable method to make corned beef was using a slow cooker (crock pot) which is essentially a table top braiser. This method is still a great way to prepare this St. Patrick’s Day dish, but since the Instant Pot as made such a splash on the scene, it reigns king.

three slices of corned beef on a serving spoon

Using pressure to cook corned beef tenderizes the roast, forces moisture and flavor into the fibers and cooks it super fast. What used to take 8 hours on low will take less than an hour in an electric pressure cooker.

The only trick us that the cabbage, potatoes and carrots need to be added on their own and last because the amount of time it takes to cook the beef will literally disintegrate them. The bonus to this is that they get to steam in all of the beefy broth goodness from the corned beef.

sliced cabbage on a serving platter with potatoes, carrots and cabbage

What You Need to Make Corned Beef

The ingredient list is fairly short and if you are making this around St. Patrick’s Day, all of these items will likely be in display throughout your local grocery store. Out of “season”, they are still readily available.

  • Corned beef brisket + spice packet- Most cured briskets will be sold along with the spice packet, which is made up of pickling spices and be a flat cut brisket. You can choose to use this or not, but it does give the dish flavor. Point cut can be used as well, but will likely not be cured. For best results, you want a 1-2 pound brisket. Only because of the size of the IP.
  • Water– Water is the most basic and readily available, but to give this dish a little more flavor opt for chicken broth, beef broth or beer. Many folks choose to add Guinness for a full Irish effect. I would not use all Guinness, maybe just one cup. The IP and the beef need ample liquid to come to pressure and tenderize.
  • Fresh Garlic– Smashing the cloves lightly helps release flavor, but not become overpowering.
  • Onion– Pretty standard, yellow onion or white onion will work.
  • Dried Bay Leaf– Also optional, bay leaves are peppery and earthy. You’ll remove it before serving, as they will cause some major tummy issues if ingested.
  • Potatoes- Baby red potatoes, fingerlings or creamers are all acceptable. I cut them in half to makes sure they are soft and creamy at the same cooking rate as the carrots and cabbage.
  • Head of Cabbage– Cut into eighths.
  • Baby Carrots– Or whole large carrots cut into strips.
ingredients to make instant pot corned beef

How Do You Make Corned Beef in the Instant Pot?

No need to brown or prep much. It should take less than 5 minutes to get everything into the pot, but remember that since the beef is cold and there is a good amount, it will take about 15 minutes to build pressure and start cooking.

  1. Cut the brisket in half so it will fit in the bowl of your Instant Pot. If it isn’t too large, you might not need to cut it. Rinse the roast to get residual salt off the exterior. I like using the trivet the trivet to prevent it from sticking to bottom and being in direct contact to the heat mechanism. Place the fat side up.
  2. Add the seasoning packet that came with the beef, onion, garlic cloves, bay leaf and water (beer or stock). 
  1. Lock lid in place and set to manual high pressure for 45 minutes.
  2. Use the quick release method and remove the beef to a cutting board. Set aside and tent loosely with aluminum foil to rest. 
  3. Layer the potatoes, carrots and then cabbage wedges in the instant pot along with any remaining cooking liquid. Place lid back on and set to manual high pressure for 3 minutes. Use the quick release method. It won’t take as long to come to temperature because the liquid is already hot and the veggies are likely at room temp.
cabbage, carrots and potatoes in the instant pot
  1. Slice the brisket against the grain and plate along with cooked vegetables. 
overhead plate of corned beef with sides

Variations

There aren’t too many variations on this delicious corned beef, but here are some options.

  • No Spice Packet- If you don’t like the typical warm, earthy spices that come along with corned beef, leave this out. The dish will be a little more plain.
  • Beer instead of Water- Use a dark beef or lager like Guinness Stout or even Yuengling. Lite beers can also be used, but don’t have as much flavor. Only swap out about 1 cup or the beef will be overwhelmed and possibly bitter.
  • Broth instead of Water– Likewise, you can swap out the water for low sodium chicken broth or beef broth.
  • Cook Veggies Separate- Don’t feel like you have to make the cabbage, potatoes and carrots- instead make them as side dishes with other flavors. There are some great options for all three below.
sliced corned beef with side on a plate

What Do You Serve With Corned Beef?

Corned beef is typically just served with the potatoes, cabbage and carrots you cook with it as a one-pot meal. But not everyone will make the root vegetables as the recipe states. Use leftovers for corned beef hash.

If you still want potatoes, cabbage and carrots, but want different flavor profiles, a few cabbage recipe options include Garlic Cabbage Steaks, Colcannon, or Fried Cabbage with Bacon.

Honey Glazed Carrots, Charred Carrots with Brie and Oven Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Ricotta are delicious. For potatoes, check out Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes, classic Baked Potatoes in the Oven or Homemade Mashed Potatoes.

Crusty bread is also a great option. Make your own easy, no-yeast bread like my potato bread, Irish soda bread or roast garlic bread. Or opt for my award winning garlic bread spread or 2-ingredient bread sticksFocaccia or cornbread casserole are also lovely choices.

overhead platter of st. patrick's day brisket

Questions about Homemade Corned Beef & Cabbage

Why Is My Corned Beef Tough?

This is likely that the roast was either cooked too high and fast or for too long on low and slow. Cooking any beef past the optimal point can cause the fibers to seize and shrink.

What is the Internal Temperature of Corned Beef?

Corned beef should reach 145°F using a digital thermometer. The roast can be 140°F when removed and will rise the last 5° using carryover cooking. If you don’t have a thermometer, another good indicator is if it is “fork tender”- just grab a fork and if the fibers pull apart easily, it is done.

What is in the Spice Packet with Corned Beef?

This is usually pickling spices made up a blend of some or all of these spices: allspice berries, coriander seeds, ginger, star anise, whole cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom pods, mustard seeds, dried bay leaves and red pepper flakes.

If there is something in there you love, feel free to add more!

Do You Need to Rinse Corned Beef Before Cooking?

Yes, we recommend rinsing corned beef before cooking to get any of the residual salt off the exterior, otherwise you risk it being too salty. You can always add more salt, but you can take it away after it is finished.

Why Do you Cut Corned Beef Against the Grain?

The tougher the muscle fibers, the harder it is to chew your meat. But when you slice against the grain, you are essentially shortening them and manually tenderizing. You won’t have to chew as much to break down the pieces since it’s already been done for you.

However, not all cuts of beef need this treatment and the same concept can be applied to many different types of meat including chicken and pork.

overhead sliced corned beef

Make-Ahead, Storage & Leftovers

Can you Make Corned Beef Ahead of Time?

You surely make corned beef ahead of time and just heat it up when you are ready to eat. I would aim to prepare it 1-2 days before your meal.

How Do You Store Corned Beef?

Storage leftover corned beef in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Leftovers can be heated low and slow in the oven at 300°F for 15 minutes. Add some liquid (chicken broth, beer or water) to the pan to help them stay moist. Or heat them in the microwave.

After you get done enjoying the best corned beef recipe, use your leftovers (if you have any) to make Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup, Corned Beef Hash or even Corned Beef Sandwiches using thousand island dressing and your favorite toppings.

Can you Freeze Corned Beef & Cabbage?

You can certainly freeze corned beef along with the potatoes and carrots, but cabbage doesn’t not freeze well. Because it is so logged with water, it thaws as a limp, sticky mess.

Place the meat and other veggies in a plastic freezer bag, releasing as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat according to leftover directions.

collage of instant pot corned beef and cabbage

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instant pot corned beef and cabbage recipe with text overlay
overhead plate of corned beef with sides

Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

4.84 from 42 votes
Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage is the best way to prepare brisket. Fork tender meat made with a delicious spice blend and root vegetables. 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds corned beef brisket + spice packet
  • 4 cups water
  • 3-4 cloves garlic , lightly smashed with the side of a knife
  • 1 onion , quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound baby potatoes , cut in half
  • 1 head cabbage , cut into 8 large wedges
  • 2 cups baby carrots

Instructions

  • Cut the brisket in half so it will fit in the bowl of your Instant Pot. Rinse it with cold water. Place the trivet into the instant to prevent it from sticking to bottom. If it isn't too large, you might not need to cut it. Place it in, fat side up.
  • Add the seasoning packet, onion, garlic cloves, bay leaf and water. 
  • Lock lid in place and set to manual high pressure for 45 minutes.
  • Use the quick release method and remove corned beef brisket. Set aside and tent loosely with aluminum foil to rest. 
  • Layer the potatoes, carrots and then cabbage over the cooking liquid. Place lid back on and set to manual high pressure for 3 minutes. Use the quick release method.
  • Slice the brisket against the grain and plate along with cooked vegetables. 
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 360 kcal, Carbohydrates: 29 g, Protein: 35 g, Fat: 11 g, Saturated Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 93 mg, Sodium: 195 mg, Potassium: 1223 mg, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 8 g, Vitamin A: 6045 IU, Vitamin C: 73.8 mg, Calcium: 121 mg, Iron: 4.8 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 360
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Irish
Keyword: corned beef and cabbage, instant pot corned beef
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.84 from 42 votes (38 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. I hope my corned beef is not tough. I put to CB on a rack but just watched the video and it does not use a rack.

    1. The rack won’t make a huge difference, just to prevent some sticking. Hope you enjoyed it!

  2. 5 stars
    Wow miss Jessica!!!
    I must be honest, my sister and our whole family has always made the traditional corned beef and cabbage and I gotta tell you, I never ever cared for it!! If there was one meal I could bypass, that was the one!! Until you!! Miss Jessica, I took a brisket out of my freezer, A) because my gracious sister bought and gave us all one and, B) to make food for my sick neighbors!
    God shined down on me to pick your blog and oh my God!!! Delicious!!!!
    Fast painless and so amazing!!!

  3. 5 stars
    I grew up on a pressure cooker – chicken and potatoes was often the meal my mom would make. Received my first cooker of my own in my 20’s and I’ve been using one ever since! I now have one that is stainless steel so it’s easier to clean than the old Presto model – it also has an easy release button to vent the steam when done.

  4. Your recipe sounds so clever and quicker than using the slow cooker!
    I tend to cook the meat and the vegetables together, and this might be the reason I never got the unique taste of the greens.Trying your way, right away. Thanks for the recipe! xoxo

    1. Doing them together, even in the slow cooker, loses the flavor of the veggies and they get all soggy. Let me know how you like it!

  5. 5 stars
    I love this time of year, because corned beef becomes forefront in Pinterest and FB.
    And I am such a fan of the delicious tender meat.
    What a great idea cooking it in the IP.

  6. 5 stars
    This looks just perfect! My husband’s favorite meal is corned beef and I’m always looking for more opportunities to use my Instant Pot, so I’ll have to try this!