How to Cook Corned Beef in a Slow Cooker

Corned beef brisket is a delicious staple for St. Patrick’s Day or anytime you’re craving its distinctively seasoned flavor. While corned beef is traditionally boiled, using a slow cooker makes it super convenient. The low, steady heat gently breaks down the meat over several hours, resulting in corned beef that’s incredibly tender and juicy.

Cooking corned beef in a slow cooker couldn’t be easier. With just the beef some seasonings and root vegetables, you’ll have a phenomenal homecooked meal with little effort. Follow this simple guide to learn how long to cook corned beef in a slow cooker along with tips for maximizing flavor.

Benefits of Slow Cooked Corned Beef

There are several advantages to making corned beef in a slow cooker rather than boiling it on the stovetop:

  • Convenience – Simply add the ingredients in the morning and let it cook all day No monitoring required

  • Moistness – The slow, moist heat prevents the beef from drying out. The results are very juicy and tender.

  • Flavor – The seasoned liquid permeates the meat, concentrating the taste over the long cooking time.

  • Safety – No worries about boiling over or drying out like on the stovetop. Perfect for unattended cooking.

  • Simplicity – Minimal preparation needed. Use whole garlic cloves and spices for seasoning.

  • Versatility – Cook root veggies right in the pot for a complete meal.

For these reasons, corned beef is a perfect candidate for the slow cooker treatment.

How Much Time Does Corned Beef Take in a Slow Cooker?

Cooking times can vary based on the size and shape of your slow cooker, but in general, plan on the following:

  • Corned beef only – 1 hour per pound on LOW. A 3 lb brisket takes about 3 hours.

  • Corned beef and vegetables – Cook the beef for 4-5 hours on LOW first. Then add veggies and cook 1-2 more hours until tender.

  • High setting – If cooking solely on HIGH, reduce time to 6-8 hours total for a 3 lb brisket.

The most foolproof method is cooking on LOW for 7-8 hours. The extended gentle heat guarantees tender, fall-apart meat while developing the flavors. Check for doneness with a food thermometer, aiming for 145°F internally.

Ingredients Needed

Cooking corned beef in a slow cooker requires just a few simple ingredients:

  • Corned beef brisket – Choose a 2-3 lb brisket for easy fitting in the slow cooker. Opt for the flat cut rather than point cut.

  • Liquid – Cover the meat with 2 cups of water or beef broth. Irish stout like Guinness also adds nice flavor.

  • Aromatics – Whole allspice, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, and garlic provide seasoning. Use the package spices for convenience.

  • Root vegetables – Carrots, potatoes, and cabbage cook beautifully alongside the beef. Add during last 1-2 hours.

  • Finishing touches – Mustard, horseradish, and parsley brighten up the completed dish.

And that’s it – corned beef has so much flavor from the curing process that little else is needed. Let the slow cooker work its magic!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these simple steps for perfectly cooked corned beef every time:

  1. Trim excess fat – Some fat cap on top is ok, but trim large chunks to prevent greasiness.

  2. Place brisket – Lay brisket flat in the slow cooker. Sprinkle on packet of pickling spices for maximum flavor.

  3. Add liquid – Pour in 2 cups water, beef broth, beer or a combo. Liquid should just cover meat.

  4. Insert aromatics – Stud brisket all over with whole cloves. Add halved garlic cloves and bay leaves.

  5. Cook 4-5 hours – Cover and cook on LOW 4-5 hours until beef is fork tender.

  6. Add vegetables – Nestle large carrot chunks and small potatoes into the liquid around the beef.

  7. Cook 1-2 more hours – Continue cooking til veggies are tender, about 1-2 more hours.

  8. Rest and slice – Remove beef and let rest 15 minutes before slicing across the grain.

  9. Serve – Place sliced beef and vegetables on a platter. Moisten with cooking liquid if desired.

Pro Tip: For Corned Beef and Cabbage – Add wedges of cabbage to the pot for the last 30 minutes only so it doesn’t get overcooked.

Tips for the Best Homemade Corned Beef

  • Choose a well-marbled brisket for juicy, tender results.

  • Add crushed garlic and pickling spices to the cooking liquid for enhanced flavor.

  • Cook at least 1 hour per pound of meat, plus time for veggies. Don’t rush it!

  • Always cook on LOW – the gentle heat prevents dryness. High may cause uneven cooking.

  • Use a thermometer to confirm doneness – corned beef should reach 145°F.

  • Let rest 15 minutes before slicing to allow juices to redistribute.

  • Thinly slice across the grain for tenderest texture.

  • Moisten leftovers with broth when reheating to restore moisture.

With these tips, you’ll see how incredibly easy corned beef is to make in the slow cooker. The active prep time is minimal, and the delayed cooker does the rest while infusing the meat with luscious spice flavor. Enjoy this classic dish for holidays, game day, or anytime!

How to Cook the Best Tender Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker~Easy Cooking


Does corned beef need to be in liquid in a slow cooker?

You can add seasonings other than salt, like black peppercorns and bay leaves. Keep the brisket submerged at all times as well since it’s the water actually transferring heat into the meat and cooking it. Letting the top become exposed will dry out the meat and slow down the cooking process, leading to uneven doneness.

What is the best method to cook corned beef?

In our book, roasting is our preferred method to cooking a corned beef brisket. Roasting results in a super moist and tender brisket with an irresistible crust. We packed in the flavor with a unique and simple homemade spice blend—trust us, you won’t find flavor like this in a little pre-made baggie.

Does corned beef go in crockpot fat side up or down?

Place corned beef brisket, fat side up, into a slow cooker; sprinkle with pickling spice. Place whole cloves throughout the brisket. Add garlic, bay leaves and 2 cups water, or more water as needed to cover the brisket by at least 1 inch. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours.

Do you use the liquid in the corned beef package?

Place the brined corned beef in a large pot or Dutch oven along with the liquid and spices that accompanied it in the package. Pour in enough water to cover the beef, then bring the water to a boil on the stovetop.

How do you cook corned beef brisket in a slow cooker?

Place corned beef brisket, fat side up, into a slow cooker; sprinkle with pickling spice. Place whole cloves throughout the brisket. Add garlic, bay leaves and 2 cups water, or more water as needed to cover the brisket by at least 1 inch. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours. Add carrots and potatoes to the slow cooker.

Can you cook corned beef in a slow cooker?

The carrots and onions also provide a nice base for the corned beef to sit on in your slow cooker! Remove the corned beef from its package and brine, and place it over top of the vegetables. Most corned beef packages include a seasoning packet—sprinkle that over the top of the beef. Set your slow cooker to high heat, cover, and cook for five hours.

How long do you cook corned beef in a crock pot?

Cook on LOW for 8 hours, taking care not to overcook or the meat will begin to fall apart. (Still delicious, but not sliceable.) If you prefer your corned beef to fall apart, simply cook it a little longer. If desired, add cabbage to the crock-pot after about 6 hours of cooking.

Can You overcook corned beef in a crock pot?

You can overcook corned beef in a Crock-Pot if it’s cooked for too long at too high of a temperature. Overcooked corned beef can taste tough and stringy. It’s best to follow the recommended cook time and temperature within the recipe. Is it better to cook corned beef on high or low?

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