Cooking Corned Beef and Cabbage on stove top with carrots and potatoes is an easy yet hearty St. Patrick’s Day dinner using the boiling method.

Corned Beef and Cabbage on plate with brown rim

It never fails.

Every March, I get a message from my parents asking when they can come over so I can make them stove top corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day.

We usually pick the Saturday closest to St. Paddy’s Day.

Corned beef and cabbage on stove top is a once a year meal for me, mostly because it takes forever to cook.

Then I started thinking about how it’s usually a large meal and not friendly for small households. That’s why I wanted to make a small corned beef.

It really is possible to have boiled corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day without feeding an army!

The best corned beef and cabbage recipe is what I make every March except I scaled down the ingredients including the potatoes, carrots, and cabbage to make it more dinner for two friendly.

Serving sizes will heavily depend on the smallest size of corned beef you can find. I included what to do with leftover corned beef if your brisket happens to make too much.

Corned Beef and Cabbage on brown plate with green napkin

Do they really eat corned beef and cabbage in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day?

No, surprisingly corned beef and cabbage is not an authentic Irish dish.

When the Irish first immigrated to the US, they couldn’t afford much so they bought the cheapest cut available: beef brisket. It was paired with cabbage because it was the cheapest vegetable around.

We eat it for St. Patty’s Day because of its Irish American origins.

Don’t want corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day? You can also cook Shepherd’s Pie For Two or Baked Fish And Chips.

What is corned beef?

Corned beef is beef brisket which has been cured in corn-sized pieces of salt.

Because making your own corned beef takes a long time to make, you can easily buy already cured corned beef at the store to save time.

What is the best cut of corned beef to buy?

When you buy a small corned beef, you’ll see two types of cuts – flat cut and point cut.

Flat cut brisket is when the meat is mostly flat with a layer of fat on one side. It’s leaner than point cut, making it ideal for slicing. You want to buy flat cut brisket for your corned beef and cabbage.

Point cut brisket is when the meat comes to a point at the end. It has a lot of fat running through it, making it nice and juicy after cooking. This cut is ideal for shredding, which you don’t want for this particular recipe.

You’ll see flat cut more available than point cut, so that should make shopping for this recipe easier.

How much corned beef per person?

Buying corned beef is a big challenge when cooking dinner for two. It’ll heavily depend on what is available at the store.

Ideally you want a 2 pound brisket, 2 1/2 pounds at the most when serving two people. Corned beef will shrink after cooking, so don’t freak out about the size when you buy it.

If you cannot find small corned beef, buy the smallest one you can then refer to my list of leftover ideas below.

Ingredients For Corned Beef and Cabbage On Stove Top

To make the best corned beef and cabbage recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Corned beef brisket: Use flat cut brisket
  • Packet of spices: Every corned beef I’ve gotten from the store comes with a tiny packet of spices you’ll need to add
  • Bay leaf, salt, and pepper: Additional spices you’ll need
  • Potato, cabbage, carrots, and onion: Vegetables to cook alongside your corned beef

How To Cut Cabbage For Corned Beef

You can’t serve corned beef without cabbage! Make sure your knife is sharpened since you’ll need to use some force to cut through.

I wrote a step by step guide on how to cut cabbage with photos included.

Do you rinse corned beef before cooking?

If you buy already-cured corned beef, you don’t have to rinse it before cooking.

However, if you make homemade corned beef then you may want to rinse off the extra salt.

Do you leave the fat on corned beef?

Leave the fat cap on for cooking as the fat adds flavor. However, for serving you may trim it off.

Corned Beef and Cabbage on brown plate with green napkin

How To Make Stove Top Corned Beef and Cabbage

One way to cook corned beef and cabbage is on the stove top in gently boiling water.

Some people do frown upon boiled corned beef, but I’ve used this method for years. As long as your water is flavorful from salt and spices, it won’t be bland.

You also want to make sure you don’t overboil the meat. You can ensure this by turning the heat down to low.

Don’t speed up the process; it’s going to take 3 hours. No way around that (except maybe a pressure cooker).

First, you need a giant pot with a lid to hold both your small corned beef and vegetables. I personally use a 5.5 quart Dutch oven (Amazon affiliate link).

To get started on your corned beef and cabbage on stove top:

  1. Add the meat to your pot then cover with water. It may still float a little, but you want to submerge it as much as possible.
  2. Add your packet of spices along with some bay leaves.
  3. Bring your corned beef to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours, flipping the meat occasionally if the top is peeking out.
  4. Add the vegetables. Bring back to a boil and cook uncovered until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Drain into a colander then serve, discarding the bay leaves.

What do you serve with easy corned beef and cabbage?

Sticking with the St. Paddy’s Day theme, serve your stove top corned beef and cabbage with Mini Irish Soda Bread or Irish Soda Bread Muffins.

For dessert, serve it with Chocolate Guinness Cake or Chocolate Guinness Mousse.

How do I use up extra cabbage?

Cabbage is one of those vegetables where you simply can’t buy a small size; usually the smallest is around 2 pounds.

That’s too much for one recipe, so here are recipes using leftover cabbage.

What To Do With Leftover Corned Beef

Because you’re at the mercy of whatever size cut the store sells, you may or may not have leftover corned beef. Here are some recipes using leftover corned beef:

Corned Beef and Cabbage on brown plate with green napkin

Corned Beef and Cabbage On Stove Top

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Corned Beef and Cabbage On Stove Top with carrots and potatoes is a hearty St. Patrick’s Day dinner using the boiling method.


  • 2 - 2.5 pounds flat cut corned beef brisket
  • 1 packet of spices (should be included with corned beef)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and diced (roughly 1-2 potatoes)
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage (roughly 4 ounces) (read How To Cut Cabbage for help)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (roughly half small onion)


    1. Place the corned beef, packet of spices, bay leaves, black pepper, and salt in a pot large enough to hold the meat and vegetables. Add enough water to submerge the meat (it may float and peek out on top). Bring to a boil.
    2. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid. Cook the meat for 2 1/2 hours, flipping occasionally if the meat is peeking out. The water should be simmering the whole time. If the water gets low, add more water.
    3. Remove the lid and add the potatoes, cabbage, carrots and onion. Bring back to a boil. Once boiling, cook uncovered 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.
    4. Drain and remove the bay leaves. Slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with vegetables.


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Recipe adapted from Alton Brown

Originally published March 5, 2020