How to Cure Your Own Corned Beef

Today I’m joined by Kelly from A Mother’s Design to learn about corning our beef brisket for St. Patrick’s Day.  I love this idea and can’t wait to try it myself this year.  Welcome, Kelly!

As a child, I hated corned beef and cabbage. There was nothing you could do to get me to eat it. I was actually 27 before I tried it. Lo and behold, I LOVE IT!  

Now, I know most people (myself included), just go to the store and get the packaged corned beef and that’s it. I have corned my own beef brisket many times in the past, but I lost the recipe. So here I am off on a new quest to find one I like. All the while, hoping my family won’t be sick of corned beef by St. Patrick’s Day.

There are so many different recipes on the internet. Some of these recipes talk about letting it sit for 3 weeks. Seriously, who plans that far ahead. There is another recipe which takes 10 days. And 8 days, 7 days. I was still on the quest for something shorter because I don’t have a ton of space in my fridge to store something for that long. So in the end I settled for a recipe that required 5 days. The reason for the lengthy process is because the purpose of brining the meat is to get the blood out and infuse it with the brine.

**** NOTE: UNLESS YOU USE SALT PETER (same thing that is in gun powder), IT WILL NOT BE PINK****

I thought I should mention that since most people are accustomed to bright pink corned beef. It will be closer to a dusty rose to dull gray color.  

I opted to use store bought pickling spices. I was going to make my own, but in the end, I know I will never use some of these ingredients and I don’t want them to go to waste in my pantry.
Modified from Home Cured Corned Beef from

Home Cured Corned Beef Recipe

The spice mix with the gallon of brine makes easily enough curing brine for a 5 pound brisket, cured in a somewhat large-ish container. If you were to use a 2-gallon freezer bag or marinating bag, you would likely need just half (or less) of the amount of brine and brine spices.
Cook Time 4 hours
Author A Mother's Design


Pickling Spices

  • 1 Store bought mix


  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 cups Kosher salt
  • 5 teaspoons pink curing salt/sodium nitrate/salt peter
  • 3 Tbsp pickling spices
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  • 1 4-5 pound beef brisket
  • 1 Tbsp pickling spices


  1. Add about 3 Tbsp of the spice mix to a gallon of water in a large pot, along with the Kosher salt, pink salt, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.
  2. Place the meat in a 2-gallon freezer bag (placed in a container so if it leaks it doesn't leak all over your refrigerator), place the brisket in the freezer bag and about 2 quarts of brine, squeezing out the air from the bag before sealing. Alternatively you can place the brisket in a large, flat container or pan, and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. The meat may float in which case you may want to weigh it down with a plate. Place in the refrigerator and chill from 5-7 days. Every day flip the brisket over, so that all sides get brined equally.
  3. At the end of the cure, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse off the brine with cold water.

Recipe Notes

Place the brisket in a large pot that just fits around the brisket and cover with at least one inch of water. If you want your brisket less salty, add another inch of water to the pot. Add a tablespoon of the pickling spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer (barely bubbling), and cook 3-4 hours, until the corned beef is fork tender. (At this point you can store in the fridge for up to a week.) Remove the meat to a cutting board. Slice thinly against the grain to serve.
Some people use the liquid that they cooked the beef in to cook their vegetables, and some people like me, cook their vegetables with the meat, because I like all the flavor. This is personal preference. I also add potatoes to mine, so I have Corned Beef, Cabbage and Potatoes every St. Patrick's Day.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Well I hope this helped, and that it takes the fear out of doing it yourself. Think of all the chemicals you aren’t adding when you use this method versus what is in that package at the store.

About Kelly

I am a stay at home mom of one busy boy. I married my best friend and am truly blessed. I love my life. I cloth diaper and baby wear, my mom says I’m turning in to a “hippie”, which she thinks is hilarious. I am crafty and always looking for a greener way to do things.

Shared on the Homestead Blog Hop

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