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Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage (or Instant Pot)

Corned beef is usually offered in two cuts: beef round and beef brisket. Brisket comes from the front of the cow and round is from the back. Because these beef muscles are used most often, both cuts are relatively tough unless cooked low and slow. That’s what makes corned beef the perfect slow cooker meal.

Beef brisket cuts into more shreddy pieces with lots of juicy flavor while beef round cuts into more uniform slices that don’t fall apart. I’ve made corned beef with both cuts of beef with different results. So, which cut of corned beef is best?

Beef brisket, has more marbling and fat that makes this corned beef juicy, fall apart-tender and delicious. Brisket is offered in a point or flat cut. The flat cut has a generous fat cap on top of the meat that melts flavor into the meat as it cooks. The point cut has lots of fat and connective tissue for loads of flavor, but not as much meat.

If you prefer a leaner corned beef, go with the round cut. It’s leaner with far less marbling. But just like meat of any kind with less fat and collagen, this cut won’t have quite the flavor and won’t be as juicy as beef brisket.


  • 3 carrots , peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion , peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 pound small potatoes , halved
  • 1 corned beef brisket , (about 3-4 pounds), plus pickling spice packet or 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • 2 8 to 12-ounce beers , (I prefer ale or lagers)
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 head cabbage , cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons prepared horseradish , to taste


To Cook in the Slow Cooker:

  • In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, place the carrots, onion and potatoes. Place corned beef, fat side up, on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with pickling spice. Pour the beers over the vegetables and brisket. Sprinkle with the sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover and cook on high until corned beef is tender, 5-6 hours or 10-12 hours on low.
  • Arrange cabbage over corned beef, cover, and continue cooking until cabbage is tender, 45 min to 1 hour (or 1 1/2 to 2 hours on low). Thinly slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with the vegetables and cooking liquid with the horseradish sauce.

To Cook in the Instant Pot:

  • Cut the corned beef into 2-3 chunks so it cooks faster and more evenly. Add to the insert of a 6 quart Instant Pot with the fat cap up. Layer with the onion, spices, thyme and beer. Cook on HIGH pressure for 90 minutes then do a quick release. 
  • Add the potatoes, carrots and cabbage to the insert, close, and set to HIGH pressure for another 5 minutes. Natural release for 5 minutes, cut, and serve.

For the Horseradish Sauce:

  • Mix the sour cream and horseradish together in a small bowl. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.