Guinness Corned Beef with Cabbage

What you’ll learn:

  • Using Guinness beer or an Irish Stout instead of water dramatically increases the flavor of the corned beef. The resulting sauce is dark, rich, complex flavor.
  • Beef brisket is usually packed in a solution of salts and preservatives – discard the solution and rinse beef before cooking.
  • Cooking in the oven, low and slow guarantees moist, flavorful, incredibly tender corned beef recipe.
  • Cooking the vegetables separately prevents the vegetable from overcooking and becoming mushy.

For several years, I used to work for Guinness, based in the San Francisco offices. Actually, I worked for their parent company, Diageo, working on a top-secret technology project and then moving on to their wine portfolio, helping them build their Internet strategy.

One of the perks of working for Diageo, was a trip to Scotland and London, and being immersed in the world of Guinness – from culture to dozens of recipes featuring Guinness as an integral ingredient. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to make a side trip to Dublin, but perhaps in the near future, with my family.

Since that time, I’ve learned to use Guinness in place of water, stock and wine in recipes. It adds a deep, rich, earthy flavor profile to the dish. Naturally, Corned Beef with Cabbage featuring Guinness was a no-brainer to test.

We normally associate eating Corned Beef with Cabbage during St. Patrick’s Day, and ironically, the dish isn’t distinctly Irish — it’s more an Irish-American tradition, something we made up to go great with copious amounts of beer.

So I thought it would be fitting to braise this Corned Beef in Guinness Beer, instead of water or the “stuff” that the brisket is magically suspended in inside the package.

The “stuff” is a solution of salt, seasoning and other preservatives that I really don’t care for. It’s also incredibly salty. I always rinse the corned beef well, getting rid of the solution and then pat dry.

Why is it called “Corned Beef”?

After all these years of enjoying Corned Beef several times a year, I finally had the bright idea to actually look up why it was called “corned” beef.  Is there corn involved in the pickling process? Did a “Mr Corned” exist and it was named after him?

It turns out after a simple search, it’s an easy explanation. The beef brisket used in making Corned Beef is salt and pickle cured and the salt pellets used resemble corn kernals.

Okay, that makes sense.

How to Cook Corned Beef Recipe with Guinness and Cabbage

For the Corned Beef – you’ll need dark brown sugar, 2 bottles of Guinness, pickling spice (only if it doesn’t come in your corned beef package, onion, garlic and of course the corned beef meat that’s been rinsed very well and then patted dry.

This recipe works well either on the stove, oven or slow cooker.

Cut the onion and the garlic in half lengthwise. You’ll just need these halves.

In a large pot, combine the brown sugar and the Guinness.

Add the pickling spice, either that you’ve purchased (recommended) or the packet that comes with the meat.

Add the onion and garlic.

Then slide and snuggle in the beef.

Look at that beer froth!

We’re going to slow cook the Corned Beef in the oven, but first, let’s give it a head start on the stove and bring the beer to a simmer. Keep an eye on this – beer easily bubbles over and it’s a pain to clean. Of course, you could completely skip this route and throw this baby in the slow cooker.

After the liquid begins simmering, we’ll cover and slip it into the oven at 300F for 4-5 hours. Low ‘n slow.

I flip the meat once during the half-way point.

For the vegetables, here’s what you’ll need: cabbage, red potatoes, carrots and *whispers* Mangalitsa Pig Lard!!! Okay, you don’t need Mangalitsa Pig Lard — you could use bacon lardons (a la Michael Ruhlman, which I’ve borrowed his technique for the cabbage). But if either option just seems over the top, regular ol’ cooking oil will do just fine.

Why not throw the vegetable in with the corned beef? Well, two very good reasons:

1) The vegetables really don’t need that long to cook – I want my carrots to taste like carrots, not overcooked corned beef sauce.

2) Vegetables cooked with the meat always end up looking all brown and sad. I want my carrots to look like carrots!

Cooking them separately allows me to cook the vegetables perfectly. I add in some of the corned beef sauce to flavor the vegetables – just enough for nice flavor.

Cut the cabbage into 8 wedges, the potatoes and carrots into 3/4-inch chunks.

You’ll brown the cabbage wedges on each side. Medium heat, just a few minutes per side.

Then flip to brown the other side.

Next add the potatoes and the carrots.

Pour in 2 cups of the Corned Beef cooking liquid into the pot. The liquid is incredibly flavorful and will do wonders for the vegetables. I promise you, this is way better than just boiling cabbage in water!

Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cabbage (it should be done by now) and leave the carrots and potatoes to cook for another 5-7 minutes, until they are cooked through. You can check by piercing with a paring knife or fork.

The last step is to sprinkle with freshly minced parsley.

Slice the corned beef and serve with the vegetables. Spoon some of the cooking liquid over the meat.



Guinness Corned Beef with Cabbage Recipe

Servings: 6 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 4 hours

Normally, brisket for corned beef is packaged suspended in some kind of brine loaded with preservatives and may come with a small pickling spice already. You want to make sure you rinse the brisket well, removing the thick brine. Pat very dry. You can use the small seasoning pickling spice in the package, or you can use your own spices.

You can use a slow cooker instead of cooking in oven.


For the Corned Beef

2 bottles Guinness beer (or other stout beer)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 pound packaged brisket for corned beef, drained, rinsed well and patted dry
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1/2 onion
1 head garlic, halved

For the Vegetables

1 head cabbage
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4-5 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 pound of red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 tablespoons freshly minced fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 300F. In a large pot, whisk together the beer and the brown sugar. Snuggle in the brisket, it should almost be completely covered by the beer (see photo). Add the pickling spice, onion and the garlic. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, uncovered is best so you can keep an eye on it. Boiled-over beer is no fun to clean.

2. Once it begins simmering, cover the pot and place in oven to roast for 4-6 hours, flipping meat once during halfway point. Remove from oven. Spoon out 2 cups of the corned beef braising liquid to cook the cabbage.

3. To make the vegetables, cut the cabbage into 8 wedges. In a separate large, wide pot, heat up oil on medium-high heat. When hot, add the cabbage wedges and cook until browned, about a 3-4 minutes. Turn to brown the other side. Add in the carrots and potatoes. Pour in the reserved corned beef cooking liquid, bring to a simmer and cover the pot. Turn the heat to low and let cook for 10-15 minutes. Use tongs or a large spoon to carefully remove the cabbage and reserve. Continue cooking the carrots and potato another 5-10 minutes or cooked though (pierce with fork to check doneness). Sprinkle with parsley and plate up with the cabbage.

4. Slice up the corned beef and serve with the cabbage and vegetables. Pour a bit of the sauce over the corned beef just before serving.

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Comments 150

  1. Tiffany

    I have my eye on this recipe to make for the up coming St. Patrick’s Day and I am just a little confused. Should I get an unseasoned beef brisket or one already in the brine?

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  2. Zac

    Can you prepare this recipe in a slow cooker, starting on high until boiling, then just reducing the temp to medium for the 4-6 hours?

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  3. Christy Perando

    I love the sound of this recipe! I would prefer to use my slow cooker for this though. What would be the directions for slow cooker use? Low or High? Time?

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  4. Gina

    Going to give this a try tomorrow….are you putting in only half of the head of garlic? or both halves? I’m also a little confused about the lard or bacon that you suggested in the narrative…but it says oil for the veggies…. I’m certainly not anti lard or bacon grease….

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      I use half a head of garlic – just reserve the other half for another use. You can use lard, bacon, or oil. Love the bacon!!!

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      A head of garlic is made up of the bulbs (or cloves). So grab one whole garlic, cut in half. I just lay the garlic head on its SIDE and use a chef’s knife to slice right down the middle, so that all cloves are exposed.

  5. Mollie

    Hi Jaden, I made this last year and it was fabulous. I am making it again but for a larger crowd. I have a 5lb brisket. Any suggestions on how to increase the other ingredients without overdoing it. Doubling seems like it would be to much. I appreciate any advice. I will be using a 7qt oval dutch oven if that makes a difference. Thank you.

  6. Glynis

    I am cooking 2 briskets, for a total weight of just over 5lbs. I will be using a slow cooker, and wonder how long you think I shold cook on low?

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      Hi Glynis – Same amount of time will be fine. Cooking time really depends on THICKNESS of meat (1.5″ thick brisket vs. 6″ roast will cook differently) But two briskets, each similar thickness should be fine cooking at same time.

  7. Patricia

    Ha!! Jaden I just stumbled upon this while looking for a Guinness recipe… I currently work for Diageo the North America Plant. How funny is that?! I’m going to try your recipe to use with Guiness I got from work, another perk of working for Diageo! Happy St. Paddy’s Day!!

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  8. Carla

    I bought a corn beef without any artificial added nitrates from Whole Foods . Do I need to rinse and pat it prior to putting it in my slow cooker with this Guinness beer ?

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  9. Steve

    Hi Jaden,
    Looking forward to this today! Do you take the liquid for the vegetables only when the corned beef is completely done and out of the oven? Leave the done corned beef in the remaining liquid while you’re cooking all the vegetables? Thanks!

  10. Nancy

    I’m making this today. Glad I checked your website since my phone did not show pictures. I used only a clove of garlic, but after 20 minutes in the oven I took it out and added the rest of the half head of garlic and a little more onion. I used to bottles of Guinness on a 4 lb. brisket but it does not truly cover the top of the brisket. Should I add more when I turn it half way through the cooking time?

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      So sorry Kris – I made a mistake in my email to you. The corned beef should just be resting on counter, until vegetables are cooked through. If desired, just before serving, you can heat up the corned beef on stovetop (just bring to a simmer, let cook on medium for a couple of minutes, flip, cook another 2 minutes.

      1. Robert

        Hi Jaden,
        When I want to heat the corned beef before serving, I put bring the cooking liquidto simmer in a 12 inch fry pan and immerse the sliced corned beef for a minute or two before it goes on the platter.

  11. Penny

    I ran into your recipe about 4 or so years ago and have made this every year, since, for St Patrick’s Day. Best recipe around! Thank you so much!

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  12. mrp55

    This was sooo good!! My son was born on March 17th so this was his birthday dinner. I was lucky enough to by my beef brisket from a meat market that had already brined and seasoned the beef. So, I could begin with the Guinness step. I followed the recipe exactly and it was incredible. I will be making this again. And, won’t wait until my son’s birthday – or St. Patrick’s day! I plan to use the leftover cabbage in colcannon and cooked enough corned beef for Reuben sandwiches and corned beef hash.

  13. Jennifer

    This is one of my favorite recipes and we make it year round. This year though St. Patricks day was crazy busy with a full clinical day for me and the kids in soccer practice. Can this recipe be made in the pressure cooker?

  14. Michelle

    Making tomm.
    Know recipe calls for meat at 3lbs ish.
    What if I’m cooking one that is bigger?
    Do I add more liquid?
    I’m slow cooking, have 2 small ones I got.
    I can’t remember how many lbs offhand…but feel like each one might be like 5-7lbs each.
    So X 2.
    10-14 lbs poss
    How much liquid or guineas should I add since there’s more meat?
    Thanks so much

  15. Mike

    I will be cooking 2- 4 pound corned beef rounds in a crock pot, should we double the ingredients, brown sugar, garlic, etc.?

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      1. Jeannine Hood

        Hi Karen

        I’m new to this site. I want to follow you recipe for oven roasting but my husband isn’t too happy about tthat because we live in a tiny place and even with the A.C. on it’s 87 outside. Can it so this on the stve top, and if so, how?

  16. Jennifer S.

    Do you have any suggestions for substitutions for the beer? We made this last year and it was great but shortly after my son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Soooo…we can’t use the beer…

  17. K.Albrecht

    Made this on Saturday night and it was fantastic. I had a small jar of Penzey’s corned beef spices that I used. This is by far the best corned beef recipe I’ve tried. Thank you!

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  18. Laura Wensek

    I have a 6.65 pounds of corned beef that is about 6 inches thick that I am serving for 8 woman. I want to put it in my crockpot on high, I will follow your recipe, how long will it take in the crockpot and should I double the Guinness, brown sugar, onion and garlic?

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      Hi Laura – What you can do is double the seasoning and liquids – and then add enough into the pot to fill. My concern is that doubling everything will make your pot overflow. Just add enough of the beer so that the pot won’t overflow.

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