There is NOTHING better than a perfectly smoked corned beef paired with tasty sides for St. Patrick's Day, or any day for that matter! Take your meal to the next level by adding that nice smoked flavor you don't get when cooking any other way.
Video - How to smoke corned beef
What is corned beef?
Corned beef is usually a 3-4lb cut from the flat cut end of a beef brisket which is salt brined for preservation, normally found at your local grocery store in a vacuum sealed package. This is a tough piece of meat that needs to be slow cooked until it is tender.
Smoked corned beef is mainly cooked on the Irish holiday of St. Patrick's Day which is held on the 17th of March. Corned beef hash, a canned breakfast food of beef hashed with potatoes is another popular dish commonly eaten year round.
Is smoked corned beef good?
YES! I love smoking corned beef and eating as a meal or then using that smoked beef to make smoked corned beef hash. I LOVE eating hash and when you make it fresh, it blows the socks off any store bought canned hash.
The meat comes out tender and flavorful from the sugar and other seasonings and goes great when paired with a little mustard. Throw some cabbage on the plate and you have yourself the perfect meal!
- 3-4lb Corned Beef Brisket
- Brown Mustard
- Dark Brown Sugar
- Garlic Powder
- Black Pepper
- Mustard Seed (commonly included in packaging of beef)
- Beef Broth (for spraying beef while smoking)
Preparing the meat
Store bought corned beef has been brined in a salt mixture, making the meat very salty. It's important to rinse off the brisket after removing from the package and soak for about 3 hours in cold water to help remove some of this salt.
Make sure to drain and refill the water every hour in the dish/container you are soaking the meat in. After the corned beef has soaked for 3 hours, remove from the water and pat dry with paper towels.
Fire up the smoker
When the meat is finished soaking, fire up your smoker to 250°F and allow it to pre-heat while we season the beef in the next step.
I'm smoking this corned beef on my pellet smoker, just like the Camp Chef 36 smoker or Traeger 780. Pellet smokers are an easy and great way to impart fantastic smoke flavor on the beef with a set it and forget style of cooking.
A traditional offset smoker, like this Oklahoma Joe's Smoker can also be used when smoking beef. Grab your favorite wood and get your smoker fired up.
Hickory wood pellets or wood chips are a great option when smoking beef. They give it a great flavor that is not overpowering as you would get with a stronger wood such as mesquite.
When smoking corned beef on a pellet grill, competition or trophy blend pellets are also a great choice because they use several different types of wood mixed together in one bag.
The brisket will often have a small seasoning packet that come with it. I DO use these to help season the meat, but it's nowhere near enough to get a great flavor. Grab all your seasonings listed above or in the recipe card and let's start getting some flavor on this bad boy.
*Note - Take a picture of your brisket before seasoning or take note of which way the muscle fibers are running. This will be important when slicing later. They should run mostly down the length of the brisket.
Firstly, make sure to get a nice binder of brown mustard all over the corned beef. This will help all the seasonings adhere to the meat. Second, liberally season the beef with the remaining spices. (Not the beef stock, that's for spraying the beef while smoking).
Smoking the beef
After the meat is seasoned and the smoker is pre-heated and holding steady at 250°F, we are going to start smoking the corned beef to give it some smoke flavor.
Place the corned beef brisket directly on the grill rack FAT SIDE UP.
We want that fat on top so when it starts heating up it runs down the rest of the meat giving it some great flavor.
Smoke until an internal temperature of 150°F, about 3-4 hours. Most pellet smoker will come with temperature probes, if not, get yourself a good meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and tenderness throughout the cooking process.
While smoking, pour some beef broth into a spray bottle and spritz the meat every 45 minutes to an hour to keep it nice and moist.
This will help the meat from drying out and also deepen that beef flavor with the broth. Any bottle will do, but smoker spray bottles can be found online or in the grilling section of your local hardware store.
Wrapping / covering in foil
After the smoked corned beef brisket has reached an internal temp of 150°F, it's time to wrap it in foil or place in an aluminum pan.
Aluminum foil wrap
I like using large/wide aluminum foil. This assures you only have to use 1 sheet/piece to completely wrap the meat.
Remove the meat from the smoker and wrap completely with foil. Return the meat to the smoker and continue smoking until the internal temperature reaches 195° to 203°F is reached, about another 1.5-2 hours.
An aluminum pan can also be used instead of wrapping in foil. Place the beef in the pan and cover to top with a lid or aluminum foil.
When using a pan, ½-1 cup of beef broth can also be added to help keep the meat nice and moist.
If you desire a little more tender smoked corned beef, go to an IT of 203°F. Wanting a little more bite to your beef? Go to an IT of 195 degrees fahrenheit.
Once your desired internal temperature is reached and the meat probes tender (will not be fall apart, it should be easily sliced and remain in form), remove from the grill and unwrap the foil. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Slicing & Serving
When carving up and slicing corned beef, it's important to make sure you slice with a sharp knife against the grain of the meat. The lines of the meat aren't as clearly seen when the meat is finished cooking, this is why I mentioned to take note before seasoning the beef.
However, in most cases they run lengthwise down the cut of beef. So when slicing, you will slice ¼" wide pieces across the width of the meat. This will result in shorter round looking pieces of beef.
Do NOT slice down the long length of the beef, this will result in a tougher finished product.
Serve the ¼" pieces of corned beef with a side of brown spicy mustard, dijon mustard, or a yellow mustard.
This beef recipe is packed with flavor and of course has that nice smoked touch that will take it to the next level. This is a definite must have on the dinner table for St. Patty's day!
Cabbage is by far the most common side dish to serve with smoked corned beef. However, here are some other great sides that will complement this dish nicely.
- Boiled Cabbage - by Sweet & Savory Meals
- Potato Gratin - by Thomas Sixt
- Honey Glazed Carrots - by Bake it with Love
- Smoked Brussel Sprouts - by Jerkyholic
Corned beef is a salt brined flat brisket which is slow cooked until tender.
Though a lot of corned beef was produced in Ireland from the 17th to mid 19th century, most was for British consumption. Corned beef for St. Patrick's Day is an Irish-American dish.
Yes, this will help keep the meat moist and tender when smoking. An aluminum foil pan with a lid can also be used instead of wrapping. This will easily hold a recommended ½ - 1 cup of beef broth for the second part of the smoking process.
No, we are not looking to have the meat fall apart like you would with a smoked pork butt. It should be easily sliced and stay together, yet being nice and tender.
Try smoking these great recipes!
- 3 pound corned beef brisket
- 3 tablespoon brown mustard
- 2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black pepper (freshly cracked)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder (dried)
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed (1 included packet)
- 1 cup beef broth
- Remove corned beef from packaging and rinse with cold water. Place beef in a container and soak in cold water for 3 hours, draining and refilling the water every hour to remove excess salt from meat.
- Pre-heat smoker to 250°F using hickory wood.
- Combine the dry ingredients (minus the beef broth and mustard) in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Rub pork tenderloin with mustard and sprinkle the seasoning evenly on all sides of the corned beef.
- Place the beef directly on the smoker rack away from direct heat. Spritz with the beef broth every 45 minutes to keep moist.
- Smoke until an internal temperature of 150°F, about 3-4 hours.
- Remove beef from smoker and wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Return to the smoker and smoke until and internal temperature of 195° to 203°F. A 203° IT will produce a more tender smoked corned beef than finishing at 195°F.
- Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into ¼" pieces AGAINST THE GRAIN. This should be slicing across the beef creating short oval pieces.
- Serve and Enjoy!!! Don't forget to comment and rate this recipe. Thanks!
- Want even more tender? Instead of wrapping in foil, place meat in an aluminum foil pan and add ½-1 cup of beef broth. Cover and smoke until 203° internal temperature.
- Serve with brown mustard, dijon mustard, or yellow mustard on the side.
- Have leftover corned beef? Make corned beef hash for the perfect breakfast.