How to Cook Corned Beef in a Slow Cooker: Timing Tips

Packages of pre-marinated corned beef appear in grocery stores all over America in March — one of the sure signs of spring and a nod to the Irish-American version of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. If you’re new to cooking corned beef, Look’s Michelle McGlinn has demystified all the details with her Crock Pot corned beef recipe. Indeed, your slow cooker is arguably the best way to cook a tough brisket because the low and slow moist method converts all of the chewy connective tissue to succulent gelatin, with fork-tender results.

Corned beef brisket will need about eight hours on low in the slow cooker to achieve that nearly magical transformation, but that’s all hands-off time. The good news is the root vegetable accompaniments for a traditional corned beef dinner cook right along with the beef in the slower cooker, so this is an easy one-pot meal. An extra hour on high at the end of the slow braise will cook wedges of cabbage in the steamy broth and complete the cooking process.

Slow and low is the way to tenderize tough cuts of beef

corned beef dinner in crock pot

Slowly cooking a tough brisket is one of the absolute best uses for your slow cooker – it was actually invented for recipes like beef or beans simmered for hours, mimicking old-world covered casseroles left in the dying heat of a bread oven. Fortunately for us, there’s no need to keep watch over a wood-fired oven. The slow cooker does all the work to keep a low and steady temperature that’s perfect for this corned beef recipe.

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Don’t be tempted to make the common slow cooker mistake of trying to cut the time in half by using the high setting on your slow cooker — there are no shortcuts to tenderness. As the beef cooks, the muscle fibers will actually tighten up and become tougher until the proper amount of heat melts the connective tissue. A shorter cooking time will result in tough and chewy corned beef. Patience is a virtue here, and your reward is a tender corned beef that’s perfect for dinner or a classic Reuben sandwich.

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