Famously enjoyed on St Patrick’s Day, this instant pot corned beef and cabbage is a cozy and wholesome meal that’s low on effort, but big on flavor, to be enjoyed all winter long.
What Is corned beef
There’s definitely no corn involved – at least, not the one you’re thinking of.
Corned beef is preserved beef brisket, kept fresh using a brine mixture made of a coarse, large-grain variety of rock salt known as “corns” – hence where it gets its name. Though traditional recipes would just use salt to bring out the brisket’s flavor, contemporary chefs often use other spices and herbs, as well as substituting the water for beer or beef broth for even more flavor.
Though its original origins are unknown, the curing of meat for preservation likely started centuries ago and made corned beef a staple during tough times for food, like the World Wars, when fresh meat was subject to rationing.
Like most red meat, this is a high-protein dish, but can also be very high in fat. I like to make this as an occasional treat dinner, especially during the colder months!
What is the best cut of corned beef
Traditionally, a corned beef recipe uses flat-cut or point-cut brisket – one of the larger cuts of beef available and a relatively lean one compared to others. When corned beef was more frequently on menus around the world, brisket was a very cheap cut. Despite being initially quite tough to eat, it responds well to marinades, seasonings, and herbs. So if you take the time, you’ll get deliciously tender and flavorful corned beef brisket in a few hours.
If you don’t have access to brisket, any beef round cut can be used – though the purists prefer to use a brisket. If you’re prepared to spend enough time letting the beef get tender, it makes for the best corned beef recipe you’ll ever try.
- Corned Beef: You can easily buy pre-corned beef from your butcher or the deli counter to save time and effort. Or, if you’ve got time for cooking corned beef, buy some beef brisket and prep it yourself. I recommend grass-fed for the best flavor and a slightly healthier cut.
- Cabbage: Green cabbage works great in the instant pot – and is more traditional.
- Other Veggies: I use a combination of inexpensive carrots and small yellow or red potatoes to turn a corned beef and cabbage recipe into a hearty winter meal, as well as onion and garlic for flavor. They’re also very durable in the pressure cooker and won’t turn mushy.
- Corned Beef Seasoning: I make my own with allspice, yellow mustard seeds, coriander seeds, whole peppercorns, cloves, green cardamom pods, bay leaves, and ginger. You can also buy a “corned beef” spice packet – but I always prefer to make my own.
How to brine a brisket for corned beef
The brine for corned beef is one of the most important ingredients – it gives the meat its flavor. Combine the water, salt, and spices in a pan, then bring the mix to a boil. Allow to cool completely. Once cold, place the brisket in a large container and cover it with the brine.
Cover tightly and place in the fridge for 5-7 days. Flip the meat once each day and re-cover. Once ready, rinse the beef to remove excess salt and pat dry. If you don’t rinse the brisket, the meat will be unpleasantly salty and not nice to eat – so don’t skip this step.
How to cook corned beef and cabbage in Instant Pot
Optional: The easiest way to add even more flavor is to pre-toast the spices. Simply place all except the bay leaf into a dry pan and toast for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Stir often so they don’t burn.
Pressure-cook the corned beef
Quarter your onions and peel the garlic cloves.
Place the cured brisket, water, onion, garlic, and spices (including the bay leaves) into the Instant Pot. Make sure to cover the meat completely with water – dry beef usually means you haven’t used enough water.
Seal the lid and turn the venting knob to the sealing position. Select manual HIGH pressure for 70 minutes or use the meat/stew setting.
Once ready, let the pressure release naturally for about 15 minutes as the brisket sits in the cooking liquid.
Prepare the vegetables
While the pressure is releasing, prepare the vegetables.
Chop the carrots into pieces – around 2 – 2 ½ inches long.
Depending on the size of your potatoes, you can either keep the whole, halve, or quarter them – about 1 ½ to 2-inch pieces.
Also, cut the cabbage into 8 wedge pieces.
Cook the corned beef and cabbage
Add the chopped vegetables to the pressure cooker. Reseal the lid and cook on manual HIGH pressure for 2-3 minutes. Then, QUICK RELEASE the pressure. For the best results with corned beef and cabbage wedges, I recommend allowing the brisket to rest untouched for about 10 minutes before you start cutting into the meat so it retains its moisture.
When fully cooked, the beef’s internal temperature should be between 190-195ºF/88-90ºC.
Cut corned beef
With a sharp knife, slice the beef against the grain. Look for the lines of muscle fibers – this will help guide you and make the cuts more precise. Like steak, it matters how you cut it. I recommend cutting it into 1/8-inch slices, but you can adjust it to your liking. Cutting it correctly will make it a lot easier to chew!
Enjoy! For a fully authentic Irish experience, you’ll want to serve it with a Guinness on the side.
And if you’re preparing in advance, you can very easily freeze the corned beef. Wrap tightly once it’s completely cooled and it’ll keep for up to three months. Just let it thaw in the fridge before you make your corned beef and cabbage.
More Instant Pot Recipes
If you try this corned beef and cabbage recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage
- Instant pot or another pressure cooker
Brine a brisket for corned beef
- Combine the water, salt, and spices in a pan, then bring the mix to a boil. Allow to cool completely. Place the brisket in a container and pour over the brine.
- Seal and keep in the fridge for 5-7 days, flipping the meat each day. Once ready, rinse the beef to remove excess salt and pat dry.
Cook the corned beef
- Optional: Toast your spices (except the bay leaves) in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Quarter the onions and peel the garlic cloves.
- Place the cured brisket, water, onion, garlic, and spices (including the bay leaves) into the Instant Pot. Make sure to completely cover the meat with water.Seal the lid and turn the venting knob to the sealing position. Select manual HIGH pressure for 70 minutes or use the meat/stew setting.
- Once ready, allow around 15 minutes for the pressure to release naturally.
Cook the vegetables with the beef
- Toward the end of cooking the beef, prepare the vegetables.Chop the carrots into pieces – around 2– 2 ½ inches long. Depending on the size of your potatoes, you can either keep the whole, halve, or quarter them – about 1 ½ to 2-inch pieces. Cut the cabbage into 8 wedge pieces.
- Once the beef is ready, add the chopped vegetables to the Instant Pot. Reseal the lid and cook on manual HIGH pressure for 2-3 minutes. Go up to 4 minutes if you like very tender veggies or have a large cabbage.
- QUICK RELEASE the pressure once done. For the best results, allow the brisket to rest untouched for about 10 minutes before you start cutting.
Cutting the beef
- With a sharp knife, slice the beef against the grain. Look for the lines of muscle fibers – this will help guide you and make the cuts more precise. I recommend cutting it into 1/8-inch slices.
- Use enough liquid: If the meat isn’t covered with the liquid you may forego tender morsels for tough and chewy corned beef so adjust the amount of water if needed, based on the size of your brisket and Instant Pot.
- Adjust the cooking time: If your brisket is thicker than 1.5 inches, I recommend an additional 5 minutes for every ½-inch.
- To make ahead: You can make it earlier in the day and then leave it on the “warm” setting until you’re ready to serve later that day.
- To store: To keep any leftovers tender and moist, it’s best to store them in the leftover liquid. However, you could alternatively wrap them tightly or place them in an airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To reheat: Reheat the beef either in hot water (with a lid) for 2-3 minutes or wrapped in a damp paper towel and microwaved in 15-20 second intervals.
- To freeze: Wrap the meat tightly and freeze it for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before using or reheating.
- More veggies: You could add turnips and/or parsnips to the Insta Pot corned beef.
- Alcohol: Feel free to replace some of the water with a bottle of Guinness for tons of extra flavor. Any beer you like the flavor of will work, too, but the flavor will vary.
- Brown sugar: Just a small amount of brown sugar balances the flavors of this pressure-cooked corned beef wonderfully.
- Sauerkraut: For tangier flavor, use sauerkraut in place of cabbage.