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Sous Vide Corned Beef Recipe (2 ingredients!)

Once you find your sweet spot texture, this 2-ingredient sous vide corned beef recipe is pretty much foolproof. Pile it in reuben sandwiches, serve it with cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day or make a corned beef hash for brunch. All delish!

The sous vide method for corned beef has a long cook time, but requires minimal hands on time (10 minutes) and is very easy. So plan ahead and treat yourself. 

corned beef sandwich on plate with mustard
24 hour cook
corned beef sandwich cut in half on board
36 hour cook

I’m a Montreal smoked meat fan at heart. I grew up in Montreal and ate mountains of Snowdon Deli and Schwartz’s smoked meat. The best. Like a big warm delicious hug.

So I was skeptical about making corned beef. It surprised me.

Corned beef, pastrami, smoked meat – what’s the difference?

First, let’s nail down a few terms. Here’s a great article from Food and Wine on the difference between corned beef, pastrami and Montreal smoked meat.

In a nutshell: 

All three are made from brisket, but corned beef and Montreal smoked meat are made from the leaner brisket, while pastrami is usually made from the fattier navel plate.

Pastrami, originally from Romania, is usually wet brined, smoked and has a sweeter spice rub. It is the king of deli in New York. The color is usually a rosy pink. It’s denser than smoked meat and marbled with fat.

Smoked meat is dry rubbed with curing salt then smoked. Spices are more intense (but with much less sugar) and the meat has a darker red color. Montreal deli connoisseurs will order their smoked meat sandwiches medium (fatty) or lean. Both come in old fashioned (spicier) or mild (like corned beef).

Corned beef, with its Irish roots, is wet brined with curing spices, then boiled. It doesn’t have an extra layer of seasoning and is therefore blander than pastrami and smoked meat. Also a pink color. Corned beef can be bought in a package, pre-brined and ready to cook. That’s what we’re using for the sous vide corned beef. 

packaged raw corned beef
Start with a pre-brined ready-to-cook corned beef brisket.

Tips for cooking corned beef

  1. Remove some of the saltiness by soaking the corned beef in water for an hour or two. Or, at least run it under cold water for several minutes.
  2. Season the corned beef before cooking with the pickling spice packet that usually comes in the package. If it doesn’t, sprinkle with Montreal Steak spice. 
  3. Use a ziploc freezer bag (instead of vacuum sealing) which allows you to test the corned beef for texture and continue cooking if needed.
  4. Cover the water bath container to reduce evaporation during cooking.
  5. Let the meat rest before slicing for 10-20 minutes.
  6. Slice across the grain. I don’t bother searing the my corned beef for appearance, but that’s up to you.  

Time and temperature

Time and cooking temperature are the foundation of sous vide cooking. As always, there are ranges depending on your preferences. There’s no way to get around experimenting.

We did the research on times and temps so you don’t have to 🙂

I also did some experimenting of my own at 155F/68.3C – with two different times – 24 hours and 36 hours. You can see the different results in the pictures.

  • 24 hours: sliceable, tender with a slight bite, moist
  • 36 hours: sliceable bordering on shredding, not as moist, very tender.

I prefer 24 hours at this temperature because I like my meat moist. The flavor was equally good at both times.

Here are a couple of other options to consider. Keep in mind that a higher temperature results in more moisture loss (lots of cooking liquid in the bag). On the plus side, the cooking time is shorter.

  • 145F/62.8C for 36-40 hours (moist, steak-like texture, sliceable). This lower temperature means a long cooking time.
  • 165F/74C or 16-20 hours (quite a bit of moisture loss, fall apart, flakey)
  • 180F/82C for 10-12 hours (a lot of moisture loss, fall apart, dryer, shredded)

How to make corned beef sous vide

Check out the difference in timing – 24 vs 36 hours. I tested both times with two pre-brined corned beefs.

raw corned beef soaking in pot of water
Remove corned beef from package. Rinse and place in cold water for 1-2 hours in a pot to remove some of the salt (desalinate). Or rinse well under cold water.
raw corned beef in sous vide bag
Pat dry, add packet seasoning or Montreal Steak spice (if meat didn’t come with a packet). Place in freezer ziploc bag or equivalent. Or seal in a vacuum bag with a vacuum sealer.
corned beef cooking in water bath container
Set the water temperature to 155F/68.3C. When heated, place corned beef in sous vide bath. Use the water displacement method if using a ziploc plastic bag. Cook, covered, for 24 to 36 hours (scroll down to see visual results of each time below).
sous vide cooked corned beef on paper towels
Remove from sous vide bag and pat dry with paper towels. Rest meat for 10-20 minutes.

after 24 hours

sliced corned beef on black plate 2
Slice meat thinly. After 24 hours, corned beef is sliceable, moist and tender.
corned beef sandwich on plate
Corned beef sandwich with meat cooked for 24 hours.

after 36 hours

sliced corned beef on cutting board
After 36 hours, corned beef is still sliceable but bordering on shredded. Very tender, a little dryer.
corned beef sandwich cut in half on cutting board
Corned beef sandwich with meat cooked for 36 hours.
sliced corned beef on black plate 1
sliced after 24 hours

Recipe FAQ

What is sous vide?

Sous vide is a method of cooking where food is immersed into a water bath in a sealed bag and cooked to the precise temperature you choose. There is no chance of over cooking if you follow time guidelines and you can achieve exceptional results with zero stress. An immersion sous vide circulator (wand) or dedicated sous vide box-like machine will have the most accurate temperatures compared to the multi-use equipment like an instant pot.

What is the best corned beef to buy?

Corned beef brisket comes pre-brined (cured in salt) and ready-to-cook in a vacuum sealed package at the grocery store. Most will be “flat cut”. Some will be “point cut”. Point cut is fattier and very flavorful, but you will see some connective tissue when cooked sous vide. Most people prefer the leaner flat cut.

What spices is corned beef brined with?

Typically, corned beef brisket is brined in a solution that includes spices such as coarse salt, black pepper, mustard seed, cloves, bay leaves, coriander seed, cloves and juniper berries.

Is there corn in corned beef?

No. Corned beef is cured with large chunks of course salt resembling the size of corn, thus the name. 

How much corned beef should I figure per person?

Figure at least 3/4 pounds/340 grams per person (in raw form) as the corned beef will shrink a lot when cooked.

Can you make corned beef in a pressure cooker or instant pot?

Yes, and some people swear by it as it only takes 90 minutes. I tried it once and couldn’t get rid of the smell in my instant pot for a year! I found it wasn’t as tender as I like either.

Shortcuts

  1. Rinsing time to get the salt out – this can be cut down to 30-60 minutes or even just a few minutes of running the corned beef under cold water when you remove it from the package.
  2. Cook time – If you sous vide at higher temperatures, you can reduce the cooking time significantly. Note that the texture will be different though.
  3. Skip the searing – I don’t bother searing as corned beef is usually boiled.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Flavor-wise, there is not much you can change if you are starting with a pre-brined, ready-to-cook corned beef brisket.
  • You can, however, choose:
    • how to serve it and what to serve it with (see below), and
    • how you like it done – softer, shredable, etc.

How to serve corned beef

  1. In a grilled reuben sandwich with Russian dressing, swiss cheese and sauerkraut between two pieces of rye bread.
  2. In a plain sandwich on rye bread with prepared or deli mustard with or without vinaigrette coleslaw. My go-to.
  3. Sliced with boiled cabbage, carrots and potatoes – a traditional st. patrick’s day meal.
  4. In a hash with potatoes, onions and peppers. Topped with a fried egg if you like. Here’s our easy potato skillet breakfast with ham – just replace the ham with corned beef.

What to eat with corned beef

Corned beef goes fantastically with mustard (prepared, deli, honey-mustard, spicy), horseradish, sauerkraut and coleslaw.

Back in the day, we ate piled-high hot sandwiches with greasy fries (amazing) and sour pickles. Or potato pancakes – like our mashed potato pancakes or regular potato pancakes (latkes)

Make ahead

  • If you’re not using the corned beef right away, cool it in an ice bath for 10 minutes and put it in the fridge in the bag with the juices for 4-5 days. If you vacuum sealed the bag, it will last longer – about 10 days. Some say letting the meat sit in its juices make it even more flavorful. I think it’s very well seasoned anyway.
  • To reheat, place the bag in a water bath at 10 degrees lower than the original temperature you used. Heat for 45-60 minutes.

Love sous vide? Need some beginner tips?

Check out our best sous vide recipes (with tips for beginners).

stacked corned beef sandwich
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Sous Vide Corned Beef Recipe

Once you find your sweet spot texture, this 2-inredient sous vide corned beef recipe is pretty much foolproof. Pile it in reuben sandwiches, serve it with cabbage for St. Patrick's Day or make a corned beef hash for brunch. All delish.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 d
reducing saltiness30 mins
Total Time1 d 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Canadian, Irish
Servings: 3
Author: Cheryl, Two Kooks In The Kitchen

Equipment

  • Sous Vide immersion circulator or oven-type sous vide machine ( plus a water bath container eg. large pot or plastic container)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 kg) raw corned beef brisket, Note 1 pre-brined, ready-to-cook package
  • seasoning packet that comes with package (or Montreal Steak spice)

Instructions

  • PREPARE CORNED BEEF: Remove corned beef from package and rinse well. Place in a bowl and add water until meat is fully covered. Let it sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This will help remove some of the salt from the pre-brined corned beef. If short on time, rinse under cold water for several minutes.
    Then pat dry and re-season with packet of seasoning that comes with corned beef. If there isn't one, sprinkle lightly with Montreal spice seasoning.
  • HEAT WATER BATH: Heat water with sous vide equipment to 155F/68.3C (Note 2 for other temperatures). I use hot water from the tap to get the water to temperature quicker.
  • SOUS VIDE CORNED BEEF: When water reaches the correct temperature:
    °For water displacement method: place corned beef in zipper freezer plastic bag. Lower bag into water, unsealed, until top of the bag is just above water level, pushing as much air as possible out of bag. Then seal bag.
    °For vacuum seal method: place roast in vacuum sealer bag. Seal bag with vacuum sealer machine. Lower bag into water.
    Bag should not float. Use clip to attach to side of container or hang bag over side when you put on lid. Cover container with lid, towel, plastic wrap or aluminum foil to reduce evaporation.
    Sous vide corned beef for 24 – 36 hours depending on the texture you prefer, Note 3. When finished, remove corned beef from bag and rest it for 10-20 minutes. Reserve juices if you want to use them to boil potatoes, cabbage and carrots. Otherwise discard them. Note 4 to sear.
  • SERVE: Slice corned beef ACROSS the grain. See Note 5 for serving suggestions.

Notes

  1. Size of corned beef: Time and temperature will not change if your corned beef is smaller or bigger as most are about the same thickness (2-3 inches/5-7.6 cm).
  2. Other time and Temperature options:
    • 145F/62.8C for 36-40 hours (moist, steak-like texture, sliceable). This lower temperature means a long cooking time.
    • 165F/74C or 16-20 hours (quite a bit of moisture loss, fall apart, flakey)
    • 180F/82C for 10-12 hours (a lot of moisture loss, fall apart, dryer, shredded)
  3. Preferred texture at 155F/68.3C with different times:
    • 24 hours: sliceable, tender with a slight bite, moist
    • 36 hours: sliceable bordering on shredding, not as moist, very tender.
  4. Optional searing of corned beef: I don’t bother (since corned beef is usually boiled), but you can sear the meat on a very hot grill or cast iron skillet for two minutes on one side (the fattier side).
  5. How to serve corned beef:
    • In a grilled reuben sandwich with Russian dressing, swiss cheese and sauerkraut between two pieces of rye bread.
    • In a plain sandwich on rye bread with prepared or deli mustard with or without vinaigrette coleslaw.
    • Sliced with boiled cabbage, carrots and potatoes – a traditional st. patrick’s day meal.
    • In a hash with potatoes, onions and peppers. Topped with a fried egg if you like. Here’s our easy potato skillet breakfast with ham – just replace the ham with corned beef.
  6. Make Ahead:
    • If you’re not using the corned beef right away, cool it in an ice bath for 10 minutes and put it in the fridge in the bag with the juices for 4-5 days. If you vacuum sealed the bag, it will last longer – about 10 days. 
    • To reheat, place the bag in a water bath at 10 degrees lower than the original temperature you used. Heat for 45-60 minutes.
 
Nutrition values are estimates for generous portions. 
  •  

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Sous Vide Corned Beef Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 674 Calories from Fat 459
% Daily Value*
Fat 51g78%
Saturated Fat 16g100%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 24g
Cholesterol 184mg61%
Sodium 4140mg180%
Potassium 1010mg29%
Carbohydrates 0.5g0%
Protein 50g100%
Vitamin C 92mg112%
Calcium 24mg2%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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4 Comments

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