Dutch Oven Corned Beef and Cabbage is the perfect one-pot meal for your St. Patrick's Day feast. The corned beef brisket is simmered for hours in the Dutch oven, resulting in tender meat that pairs beautifully with the boiled vegetables. Serve with soda bread, horseradish, and mustard for a delicious and comforting meal that celebrates the Irish holiday.
It may sound strange, but St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. As someone who cooks a lot, I love the opportunity to make dishes I don't normally make throughout the year.
This easy Dutch oven corned beef and cabbage is my favorite recipe to make for St. Patrick's Day.
When cooked in a Dutch oven, the corned beef becomes incredibly tender and flavorful, while the cabbage and other vegetables take on a lovely, savory taste that pairs perfectly with the meat. Moreover, the cast iron Dutch oven helps to lock in moisture, ensuring that the corned beef and vegetables do not dry out during the cooking process.
So, if you want to learn how to make this classic and comforting Irish dish right at home, keep reading for all of my best tips.
>> Need more recipes for your St. Patrick's Day feast? Give this Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie a try!
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What is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is a beef brisket that has been cured in a salt solution. Traditionally, curing meat in salt was used as a preservation method before refrigeration. The word "corned" comes from the large size of the salt grains used during the curing process.
Gray vs Red Corned Beef
When buying corned beef at the grocery store, you might notice there are some that look more pink or red and others that are grayer in color. And you wouldn't be alone in wondering what the difference is.
Both gray and red corned beef are salt-brined. The difference comes down to the type of salt used during the brining process.
Gray corned beef, typically found in New England, is cured in a saltwater brining solution over several weeks. On the other hand, red corned beef is brined using sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrate, a preservative often found in cured meats like bacon and sausage, is pink and gives the meat a pink or red color.
Flat-Cut vs Point-Cut Corned Beef
Another decision you'll have to make when selecting your corned beef is whether you want flat-cut corned beef or point-cut corned beef.
Just like brisket, corned beef comes in two different cuts. Flat-cut corned beef is generally leaner than point-cut corned beef with more meat overall. However, point-cut corned beef has more flavor thanks to its higher fat content.
Overall, I prefer flat-cut corned beef because I want more meat and I'm not the biggest fan of the fatty portion of brisket. But, the decision is a matter of personal preference so you choose what works best for you and your family.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- One Pot- Everything cooks in the Dutch oven so there is minimal clean-up after dinner.
- Only 5 Ingredients- Just corned beef and a few vegetables are all you need to make this holiday meal.
- Easy to Make- Boiled dinner is one of my favorite holiday meals because it's super simple to make. Seriously... all you have to do is boil the meat and vegetables and you're done!
- Fork Tender- Cooking corned beef low and slow inside a Dutch oven creates the most tender, flavorful corned beef ever.
- Customizable- Don't like carrots? Leave them out! Want to throw in a few cloves of garlic? Do it! Feel free to adjust the ingredients to fit your taste preferences.
Here are some notes on the key ingredients. For the full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Corned Beef- I prefer flat-cut corned beef because it has more meat and less fat. Both red and gray corned beef can be used in this corned beef recipe. Opt for gray corned beef if you're trying to avoid nitrates.
- Spice Packet- Corned beef typically comes with a little packet of spices. Don't throw it out! The spices are added to the cooking liquid to give it more flavor.
- Cabbage- This recipe uses half a head of green cabbage. Use the other half to make stir-fries, soup, coleslaw, sauerkraut, or cabbage rolls later in the week.
- Carrots- Opt for whole carrots for the best flavor.
- Potatoes- Yukon Gold potatoes are a great all-purpose potato that holds up well to boiling. You can leave the skin on or remove it if preferred.
- Onion- Gives the cooking liquid flavor.
- Water- Use enough to completely cover the corned beef.
How to Make Corned Beef Less Salty
Corned beef is very salty. If you're on a low-sodium diet or just want to avoid too much salt, corned beef may not seem like the best choice.
While it's not possible to remove all of the salt from corned beef, it is possible to reduce it. Here are a few tips:
- Rinse- Place the corned beef in a colander and rinse it under cold, running water. This will remove some of the salt from the outside of the corned beef.
- Soak- To remove even more salt, soak the corned beef in a large bowl of cold water for 1-2 hours before cooking it. This will draw some of the salt out from the meat, resulting in less salty corned beef.
- Discard Cooking Liquid- After boiling the corned beef, most recipes call for boiling the vegetables in the cooking liquid. Often, the cooking liquid is also used as broth for serving. Skip one or both of these suggestions if you're looking to reduce sodium.
Here are some notes on any special equipment I used to make this recipe.
- Dutch Oven- Corned beef needs to be cooked low and slow to make it fall apart tender. And Dutch ovens are the perfect pot for low and slow cooking due to their ability to retain and disperse heat evenly. You'll want to use at least a 6-quart large Dutch oven for this recipe.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make corned beef and cabbage in a Dutch oven.
Step 1: Prepare the corned beef. Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse the corned beef under cold running water, then place it inside the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the spice packet over the corned beef and pour the water into the pot. The corned beef should be completely submerged in water.
Step 2: Braise the corned beef. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam that floats to the surface. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and carefully transfer it to the oven. Cook corned beef for 3 ½ hours or until it is very tender.
Step 3: Prepare the vegetables. While the corned beef is braising, prepare the vegetables by cutting them into large chunks.
Step 4: Boil the vegetables. Remove corned beef from the pot and place it on a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet. Tent it with foil to keep warm. Add the prepared vegetables to the cooking liquid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the vegetables uncovered for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
Step 5: Plate and serve. Cut corned beef across the grain and transfer to a serving platter. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the same serving platter. Ladle some of the cooking liquid over the meat and vegetables. Serve with mustard, horseradish, and Irish soda bread.
Tips for Success
- Buy ½ pound of corned beef per person. Generally, a 3-pound corned beef should serve 5-6 people.
- Cut the vegetables into large pieces. Typically, the vegetables are boiled whole or in large chunks. I like to cut mine into big pieces that are roughly equal in size so they cook through evenly.
- Plan ahead. From start to finish, Dutch oven corned beef and cabbage takes about 4 hours to make. Figure out what time you want dinner ready, then count backward from there to decide when you'll start cooking.
- Let the corned beef rest. Once the corned beef is done cooking, let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes before slicing. This will help the meat retain its juices and ensure that it is tender and flavorful.
Here are a few ways you can try customizing this Dutch oven corned beef cabbage recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Corned Beef- Not a fan of corned beef? Make boiled dinner with ham, sausage, or beef brisket instead.
- Spice Packet- Make homemade corned beef seasoning with whole peppercorns, bay leaves, mustard seeds, dill seeds, coriander seeds, anise seeds, and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Cabbage- Try kale or Brussels sprouts instead of cabbage for a unique twist on the classic dish.
- Carrots- Parsnips, turnips, or winter squashes such as butternut squash are great substitutes for carrots.
- Potatoes- I love Yukon Gold potatoes because they hold their shape well after boiling. However, russet potatoes, red potatoes, or baby potatoes can also be used.
- Onion- Use leeks or garlic in place of onion or leave the onion out altogether.
- Water- Swap some or all of the plain water for beef broth, chicken stock, or beer.
What to Serve With Dutch Oven Corned Beef and Cabbage
Dutch oven corned beef and cabbage is a complete meal on its own. However, a traditional boiled dinner is often served with Irish Soda Bread, horseradish sauce, and mustard.
Alternative options include roasted vegetables such as these Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts or these Roasted Carrots and Green Beans. For a light and flavorful side dish, try pairing corned beef and cabbage with this Kale Crunch Salad, or use the extra cabbage to make coleslaw.
How to Use Leftover Corned Beef and Cabbage
Leftover corned beef and cabbage can be repurposed in a number of recipes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Corned Beef Hash
- Reuben Sandwiches
- Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup
- Corned Beef Brisket Tacos
- Corned Beef and Cabbage Quiche
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezer- If you have more leftovers than you'll be able to eat in just 4 days, freezing cooked corned beef and cabbage is a great option. Store leftovers in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag for 2-3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
How to Reheat
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place leftovers in a baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with some of the leftover cooking liquid and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Heat for 10-15 minutes or until fully warmed through.
- Stovetop- Add leftovers to a saucepan. Set the saucepan over medium heat and add enough cooking liquid to the pot to partially cover the leftovers. Bring to a gentle simmer and heat until the meat and vegetables are fully warmed through.
- Microwave- Place leftovers on a microwave-safe dish and drizzle with some of the leftover cooking liquid. Cover with a lid, another dish, or a damp paper towel. Heat on HIGH in 1-minute intervals until fully warmed through.
If you want to get a head start on preparing your St. Patrick's Day meal, you're in luck!
Dutch oven corned beef and cabbage can be fully prepared up to 2 days in advance, then reheated using one of the methods above.
Alternatively, cook just the corned beef ahead of time. Store it in the refrigerator along with the cooking liquid. Then, on the day you plan to serve the dish, bring the cooking liquid to a boil to cook the vegetables and reheat the corned beef at the same time.
Frequently Asked Questions
For moist, juicy, and tender corned beef, cooking it low and slow is the way to go. Dutch ovens excel at low and slow cooking because they retain heat well and disperse it evenly throughout the cooking process.
While you don't have to rinse corned beef before cooking, I prefer to give it a quick rinse to remove some of the salt brine. Removing some of the brine prevents the dish from being overly salty.
Yes, you can overcook both the corned beef and the vegetables. Overcooked corned beef will become tough, dry, and chewy. The vegetables, if overcooked, will turn out soft and mushy.
Corned beef and cabbage is known as boiled dinner for a reason. Traditionally, corned beef is boiled for several hours, resulting in fall-apart tender meat. However, baking corned beef gives it a crispy, flavorful crust that is also very appealing. Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference.
Yes, corned beef and cabbage can be made in a slow cooker or crock pot. However, I prefer making corned beef in a Dutch oven for the most tender and flavorful results.
More Dutch Oven Recipes
Dutch Oven Corned Beef and Cabbage
- 3 pound flat corned beef (red or gray) with spice packet
- 16 cups cold water
- ½ head green cabbage cut into 8 large chunks
- 5 whole carrots peeled and cut into 3 to 4-inch chunks
- 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes scrubbed and quartered (peel if desired)
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and cut into 8 large chunks
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse the corned beef under cold running water, then place it inside the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the spice packet over the corned beef and pour the water into the pot. The corned beef should be completely submerged in water.3 pound flat corned beef (red or gray), 16 cups cold water
- Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam that floats to the surface. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and carefully transfer it to the oven. Braise for 3 ½ hours or until the corned beef is very tender.
- While the corned beef is braising, prepare the vegetables by cutting them into large chunks.½ head green cabbage, 5 whole carrots, 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 large yellow onion
- Remove the corned beef from the pot and place it on a cutting board. Tent it with foil to keep warm. Add the prepared vegetables to the cooking liquid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the vegetables uncovered for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
- Slice the corned beef across the grain and transfer to a serving platter. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the same serving platter. Ladle some of the cooking liquid over the meat and vegetables. Serve with mustard, horseradish, and Irish soda bread.
- Quick Tip: You'll need about ½ pound of corned beef per person.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Make Ahead: Cook the corned beef, then store it in the refrigerator along with the cooking liquid. On the day you plan to serve the dish, bring the cooking liquid to a boil to cook the vegetables and reheat the corned beef at the same time.