Home Cured Corned Beef

You have quite simply never had the best Home Cured Corned Beef, much less this exquisite Reuben Sandwich, until you’ve made your own at home. A bit of work, sure, but SO worth it!

Home Cured Corned Beef on a Reuben Sandwich    

Michael Ruhlman's CharcuiterieCharcuterie is a culinary specialty that originally referred to the creation of pork products such as salami, sausages, and prosciutto. That definition has grown to include among other things, this Home Cured Corned Beef. It is true food craftsmanship, the art of turning preserved food into items of beauty and taste.

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Today the term encompasses a vast range of preparations, most of which involve salting, cooking, smoking, and drying.

In addition to providing classic recipes for sausages, terrines, and patés, Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn have written extensively in their book ‘Charcuterie’ about these tops plus preserved or prepared ahead foods such as Mediterranean olive and vegetable rillettes, duck confit, pickles and sauerkraut.

I’m enjoying my forays into their book, ‘Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.’  I’ve been amazed at how easy some of these processes are, especially since the results lend themselves to such stellar results!

Home Cured Corned Beef
Photo by Donna – www.ruhlman.com

See that beautiful brining liquid…that is the secret; I had to borrow a photo from Michael’s site; I forgot to take one of my own! Though I’ve always enjoyed corned beef; seasoning the brine yourself gives you some control over the magic and the outcome is nothing less than amazing compared to what you know.

I’ve taken the liberty of using a photo of the brine taken by Michael’s wife Donna. I only wish my nails were so nicely groomed!

I’ve been a fan of Michael’s for a long time though in the spirit of full disclosure I must admit part of that was simply because he was the cute guy on Iron Chef!

But I’m open to seeing beyond that pretty face and love his blog, the conversations that ensue and am enjoying, with his assistance this venture into something I would have never once considered doing before.

I made the Home Cured Corned Beef knowing I would be making Reuben Sandwiches; I’ve never been a fan of a slab of corned beef with potatoes; make mine German please.

After ‘corning’ the beef, and making a side dish of coleslaw, I was assembling the ingredients and grilling this sandwich that was almost a week in the making. I wondered if any sandwich could be worth the time and the mess in my kitchen.

I decided to take a break and watch TV for a bit and enjoy my lunch. Did you hear my response after the first bite? I’m certain I literally made a noise; not a grunt, not a yum, maybe a bit of a moan and I know anyone listening would have recognized it as the sound of absolute nirvana. ABSOLUTELY worth it!

I sort of hate to admit it but feel I must. I had one of these sandwiches every day until the meat was gone. And I was still sad.

Home Cured Corned Beef on a Reuben Sandwich with Rye and Pumpernickel Bread

Though I pride myself on always mixing it up a bit when I cook from a recipe, with this effort I kept it verbatim. My unfamiliarity with Charcuterie was one reason but why mess with success (or the complete unknown)? So I followed Michael’s recipe and directions to the letter and it was absolutely perfect.

I must note…I bought a lot of new spices for the pickling spice mixture because I had ground spices and not seeds. I did not note until later that they were all ground together. So check your inventory for either when doing your prep.

This is so worth it but realistically I know sometimes we are pushed for time. If ever you have a craving for this sandwich but not enough time to cure a brisket, I’ve used a packaged brisket for Reuben Sandwiches too; that recipe is here!

PIN IT! ‘Home Cured Corned Beef’

Home Cured Corned Beef on a Reuben Sandwich with Rye and Pumpernickel Bread

Home Cured Corned Beef on a Reuben Sandwich

Home Cured Corned Beef on a Reuben Sandwich

Home Cured Corned Beef on a Reuben Sandwich

Creative Culinary
There is nothing quite like Home Cured Corned Beef and it makes the most fantastic Reuben Sandwiches!
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Course Beef
Cuisine American
Servings 8 -10 Servings
Calories 925 kcal


For the Pickling Spice

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon ground mace
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks crushed or broken into pieces
  • 2 to 4 bay leaves crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger.

For the Brine

  • 1 ½ cups kosher salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pink salt sodium nitrite, optional
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 5- pound beef brisket

For Cooking the Beef

  • 1 carrot peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion peeled and cut in two
  • 1 celery stalk roughly chopped.


  • To Make the Pickling Spice Mixture
  • Combine peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small dry pan. Place over medium heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn them; keep lid handy in case seeds pop.
  • Crack peppercorns and seeds in mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on cutting board.
  • Combine with other spices, mix. Store in tightly sealed plastic or glass container.
  • This looks like a lot but really, it's not. You mix and grind the spices, add them to water with the brisket, keep it chilled for 5 days and then on the 5th day you cook the meat with a couple of vegetables and more spices. I actually think I spent almost as much time figuring out how to cut the meat...and did find it should be sliced on an angle to the grain so you don't end up with strings of the finished product.
  • To Make the Brisket
  • In pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1 gallon of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 2 tablespoons pickling spice (below). Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
  • Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover. Refrigerate for 5 days.
  • Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly. Place in a pot just large enough to hold it. Cover with water and add remaining pickling spice, carrot, onion and celery. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer gently until brisket is fork-tender, about 3 hours, adding water if needed to cover brisket. (I cooked mine on low overnight in a crock pot; I'll do it next time on the stove-top and see what different I can discern. There will be a next time!)
  • Keep warm until ready to serve. Meat can be refrigerated for several days in cooking liquid. Reheat in the liquid or serve chilled. Slice thinly against the grain and serve on a sandwich or with additional vegetables simmered until tender in the cooking liquid.


A note about the salt from Michael: Salt level not hugely critical here because it’s basically boiled and excess salt moves into cooking liquid. You can weigh out 12 ounces here if you feel better using a scale (approximately a 10% brine). [br][br]Or you can simply make a 5% brine of however much water you need to cover (6.4 ounces per gallon). When you cook it, season the cooking liquid to the level you want your meat seasoned. Another option is wrapping the brisket in foil and cooking it in a 225 degree oven till tender, but only do this if you’ve used the 5% brine.


Nutrition Facts
Home Cured Corned Beef on a Reuben Sandwich
Serving Size
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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  1. Great post! I’ve been reading a lot lately about curing my own meat. Your post has inspired me to finally give it a try. Thank you!

  2. Ahh, Reubens. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years, but I still sometimes miss my favorite sandwich. It was my specialty growing up. We used pumpernickel bread and thousand island dressing and always served it with big dill pickle spears. Yours looks lovely. Thanks for the memories!

  3. Why is the pink salt optional in this recipe ? And is it 12 Tbsp or 2 Tbsp of black peppercorns in spice mix ? Can you brine in refrigerator in covered plastic tub ? My husband and I were just talking today that I needed to find a good recipe for this to use my briskets from the whole cow in our freezer. And then we will try your bacon recipe ! Also trying your browned butter molasses cookie soon. I just made browned butter brown sugar cookies with bacon that I had dipped in melted milk choc chips ! The family all thought I had flipped my lid but have each eaten about a dozen in last 24 hrs ! Bookmarked your site. Will be cruising thru it alot. My family loves when I try new recipes. Cooking is a passion of mine.

    1. Eileen, the pink salt in the cure does two things. It helps to preserve the bacon because it does have nitrates in it and it also is what helps keep the pink color we are used to in bacon. That being said, it is entirely optional if you don’t mind a different color than you’re used to and knowing that there is a shorter shelf life in the fridge than you might expect with bacon. It’s personal preference and I prefer using it!

      Oops…how did I do that on the corned beef…sorry. Just 2 Tbsp of pepper; I’ve fixed that, thanks.

      Your cookies sound terrific…now I want one of them! The browned butter just does something special doesn’t it?

      So glad you came to visit and stay!

  4. Hi Barb,
    I saw your cake on Lora’s page and had to come see what else you had. I had no idea. My husband would die if I made him this corned beef. I haven’t seen charcutepalooza, can’t wait.

    1. It looks more artery clogging than it is. The beef is lean; the cheese is low fat and I used yogurt in lieu of mayo in the dressing. Real butter on the bread though. There are limits! Altogether…still decadent.

  5. This is just absolutely divine. That corned beef looks incredible, and I am going to have to get this book for my meat and smoking obsessed husband.

    1. Seriously Shaina you should…and then have him do a couple of the challenges. It’s fun to have a community to do it along with. Even if I’m behind the curve in my scheduling, I love the support and sharing as we delve into this unknown together.

  6. I have always wondered how hard it would be to make my own corned beef, you make it sound like I could even do it! And that sandwich looks incredible, I would absolutely devour it!

    1. It is soooo easy. The hardest part was getting the pink salt. A friend had to send me some but I’ve now found it locally at savoryspiceshop.com where you can order it online and I heard Walmart has it in the canning section too.

  7. I seriously want to jump through the screen and bite into that sandwich right now. I wish I had some of my charcutepalooza corned beef left so I could assemble a beauty like that. Seriously… the toasted bread, so simple… but it looks so tempting with everything oozing out of it!

  8. I want to yell an expletive at that sandwich. I want to sit in awe and yell “How F***!!” over and over and over again because that is food glory in its simplicity. That sandwich looks like it belongs at Katz’s.

    This might be the most compelling reason to show my husband to get into this home curing business. I don’t even LIKE brisket that much and I am drooling.

  9. Wow! That looks delicious and I’m not a huge fan of Corned Beef, but I may have to reconsider if I make my own. I have a feeling that I will be taking up where my grandparents left off after seeing this 🙂 Thanks for showing us how easy curing your own meat can be.

    1. I am so glad I tried this Lea Ann and really…so easy. Brining and slow cooking? Piece of cake. Finding the pink salt the hardest part and guess who has it. Savory Spice Shop. Whoo hoo!

  10. Have to admit, was never much of a corned beef fan (but I always liked reubens, go figure) but now I am thinking I really need to give corned beef another go – but only if I make it this way!!
    I am sure that it would beat any reuben I’ve had – made with some good rye bread from Nate n’ Al’s and I definitely think I would agree with you – nirvana!!!

    1. Pretty much the same here Nancy; don’t think I’ve ever had corned beef hash or any other dish I can think of. maybe it’s the kraut and dressing and cheese we REALLY love?!!

  11. I have been torturing myself over corned beef for weeks now, but it’s enough! Youn have convinced me to jump right in, as it is completely doable in my tiny California apartment with no garage, no extra fridge, and no storage:)
    I am so hungry for your Reuben! Thanks for tempting me and prompting me. I’ll yell for help on Twitter if something goes awry!

    1. No problem…happy to see you jump onboard. Since you can’t find pink salt, go to contact form and send me an email with your address. I’ll send you enough for the recipe.

  12. My pleasure to help, even in a small part, to bring another in to the folds of home-curing. Can’t wait until you have made bacon, and then the giant step to pancetta. You will be in taste heaven. Yell if you need anything.

    1. And now a friend needs some; and I found local resource today. So LOVE that your pink salt became my pink salt and will now become her pink salt…the power of Twitter at it’s best, huh?

  13. I am fascinated by this quest. I have made corned beef but admittedly it all came in the package with a little spice pouch. Much more like the idea of doing it from scratch. I really want to know more about the bacon. ‘Let’s talk’! Thanks for sharing all this.

  14. Speaking of torture this morning. That golden crispiness of the bread and what’s hidden beneath it got me and I never eat this early! We love corned beef and it’s interesting you say to follow the recipe to the letter, cause’ I agree you can mess it! There is an art in producinga perfect corned bread and seems like you achieved it. I am hungry!

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