This is the only recipe for corned beef and cabbage you’ll ever need. True to its roots, there’s nothing fancy about it. Boil the beef, fry the cabbage and your dinner is ready to enjoy. As a born and bred Irishwoman, I feel the need to point out that I never ate this on St. Patrick’s Day growing up. Corned beef and cabbage is an Irish-American tradition but what a great one it is!
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Tips for making Corned Beef and Cabbage
- My number one tip for making corned beef and cabbage is not to move the cabbage in the pan. Allow it to sit so it can get those lovely brown bits.
- Slice the head of cabbage in half and core it first. Then, set it on the flat side so you can slice it thinly. You can also slice it whole but this way keeps it stable.
- Allow the corned beef to cool a little before slicing it. This avoids burnt fingers and it slices better.
- Slice the corned beef across the grain for more tender meat.
Notes on ingredients
Corned beef can be found in the meat section of your local supermarket. Look for a brand that does not contain sugar. You may see some scary-looking ingredients such as sodium erythorbate. Don’t worry this is simply a curing salt used to preserve color and flavor in cured meats. The EU and the FDA have both approved it as safe. If you prefer to cure your own beef, check out this recipe from our friends over at the Whisked Away Kitchen.
I recommend using green cabbage for this recipe because it holds its shape well. It has a good crunch and the texture balances well with the soft corned beef. Half a head is more than enough for 4 people and this type cabbage is versatile enough that you can use it in other recipes such a coleslaw (check out this mayonnaise recipe to use as a dressing) or stuffed cabbage rolls.
Cabbage contains a lot of nutrients. Did you know that one cup of raw green cabbage contains 85% of your recommended daily allowance for vitamin K? It’s also high in vitamin C which helps absorb iron, also found in cabbage but especially high in corned beef.
I used clarified butter because it does not contain milk solids. If you find that you are not sensitive to dairy, feel free to use regular butter. Clarified butter also has a higher smoke point than regular butter, and so is better for sauteeing.
Use light olive oil and not extra virgin. Light olive oil has a higher smoke point so the fats don’t break down and release free radicals as soon. You can also omit the oil altogether and just use butter but using both gives you a wider variety of nutrients.
Why this recipe is good for PCOS
Corned beef is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, and iron. The wonderful thing about eating it with cabbage is that cabbage is high in vitamin C which aids the absorption of iron. They’re a perfect pair! Not only that, but by cooking the cabbage in healthy fats such as butter and olive oil, the vitamin K in cabbage is more readily absorbed by the body too. So you can enjoy this traditional meal entirely guilt free.
Frequently Asked Questions
Corned beef is beef that has been cured in a salty brine. It can be any cut of beef but usually, the cheaper cuts are used. This is because the curing process makes it more tender.
Corned beef is so called because the large grains of salt used to cure the meat used to be called ‘corns of salt’.
The Irish immigrants coming to America often lived near Jewish communities. To celebrate their national day they splurged on their neighbors’ flavorful beef and accompanied it with the most affordable vegetable, cabbage. The Smithsonian has a very detailed article on the topic which can be found here.
Cutting the beef across the grain makes the fibers shorter so it’s easier to chew and more tender.
Ideas for leftovers
- Make an open corned beef sandwich on Buckwheat and Oat Flour Bread.
- Slice the second half of the head of cabbage to make coleslaw. Use 10 Minute Olive Oil Mayonnaise for the dressing.
- Fry leftover cabbage with garlic and ginger until it’s hot. Add an egg to the pan and mix it in when it’s scrambled. Dress with sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili paste, and coconut aminos.
- Personally, I like to add a splash of red wine vinegar to my cabbage. The acidity pairs beautifully with the buttery cabbage. However, if straight-up vinegar isn’t your thing, mustard and horseradish are excellent condiment pairings.
- Traditionally, potatoes are paired with corned beef and cabbage. But did you know that a baked russet potato spikes your blood sugar more than pure glucose? But never fear there are some tricks to get around this! One is to use baby potatoes (also known as new potatoes). They are harvested young, so not all the sugars have not turned to starch. Another is to cook them, allow them to cool, and then reheat them. The starch that is in them becomes more difficult to digest when it cools, so the glycemic load isn’t as high. The third trick is to cover the potatoes in butter. Not only does this help the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, but it further slows the spike in blood sugar. Baby potatoes covered in butter? Yes, please!
- Carrots are a great vegetable to have on the side. And bonus points… if you have green cabbage, white potatoes, and orange carrots then you’ll have all the colors of the Irish flag!
- For a complete Irish meal, make No Food Coloring Shamrock Tarts for dessert.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Or “Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!” as we say in Ireland.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
- Large pot
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- 3 lb corned beef brisket
- 1 tbsp clarified butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ green cabbage (cored, thinly sliced)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- Place the corned beef in a large pot. Cover it with water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 hours until fork tender. Check on the corned beef every now and again to make sure there is enough water in the pot.
- After 3 hours, turn off the flame and allow the corned beef to sit in the water for 15 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and slice across the grain.
- Melt the butter and olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced cabbage. It will take up a lot of space in the pan but don't worry it will cook down. Coat the cabbage in oil and then allow it to sit until it starts to turn brown, about 5 minutes.
- When one section of the cabbage has browned, then move it so another part can brown. Don't constantly move it in the pan. It should take about 15 minutes for all the cabbage to cook. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with mustard, carrots, and potatoes (see serving suggestions for other ideas).