This smoked corned beef recipe will be your new favorite St. Patrick’s Day staple! The beef brisket is cooked low and slow in a beer-based smoking liquid yielding the most flavorful meat ever.
While the package may suggest cooking it in the oven, I’d much rather smoke corned brisket! It’s the best way to transform this classic St. Patrick’s Day meal into something extraordinary.
In this smoked corned beef recipe, I smoked the meat in a seasoned beer and brown sugar liquid to infuse every bite with smoky, savory goodness. In the end, you get tender, juicy corned beef to serve with classic sides like cabbage steaks and mashed cauliflower potatoes or in deli-style smoked corn beef sandwiches!
Table of Contents
- Rich flavor and tenderness. The slow-smoking process adds a whole new layer of deliciousness to this melt-in-your-mouth dish.
- Surprisingly easy. Like smoked chicken breast, smoking corned beef is straightforward–just set it on the smoker, let it do its thing, and then add the smoking solution. You’ll be rewarded with delicious results in no time!
- Many serving options. From thinly sliced and piled into sandwiches to a hearty main course with sides, you can enjoy this versatile dish for any occasion (as we do with smoked ham).
Corned beef vs. pastrami
Corned beef is a classic in Irish and Jewish cuisine. It’s made by curing a beef brisket in a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices, leading to its distinctive taste and pink color.
On the other hand, Pastrami (or turkey pastrami) starts as corned beef but takes a different path. After the initial curing, pastrami is coated with spices, like black pepper and coriander, before slow-cooking.
Here’s an overview of the easy ingredients you’ll need for smoking this delicious cut of beef:
- Corned beef. I buy pre-packaged corned beef in brine with spices for convenience. If you can’t find corned beef, use a fresh, well-marbled brisket, preferably flat cut or point cut.
- Guinness beer. This classic Irish stout is the base for the smoking liquid. Its full-bodied, malty flavor helps create a more flavorful and tender corned beef.
- Wheat ale. Like Blue Moon. The mild citrus notes complement the traditional corning spices.
- Bay leaves. They infuse a subtle aromatic flavor into the meat.
- Brown sugar. It helps balance the salty elements and caramelizes around the outside of the beef.
- Beef bouillon. I used just enough to intensify the naturally rich, meaty flavor without overpowering it.
- Spices. I added a touch of ground coriander seeds and whole cloves to intensify the warm corning spices.
- Worcestershire. Just a few dashes for a rich, savory flavor.
How to smoke corned beef brisket
I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1 – Start the smoking process. Place the corned beef on top of the grill grates away from direct heat. Close the lid and smoke the beef until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF.
Step 2 – Make the smoking solution. Mix the Guinness, wheat ale, bay leaves, brown sugar, beef bouillon, coriander, cloves, and Worcestershire sauce in a roasting pan.
Step 3 – Smoke in the solution. Transfer the beef to the pan with the beer mixture, cover with aluminum foil, and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 200ºF.
Step 4 – Rest, then slice. Set the beef aside to rest for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
How to smoke it in the oven
If you don’t own an oven, I’ve tested this recipe using the oven, and it works very well. The only difference is that it doesn’t have a super strong, smoky flavor. Here is how:
- Preheat the oven to 107C/225F.
- Make the seasoning liquid, then rub it all over the rinsed corned beef. If you want a pronounced smokey flavor, also add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke.
- Place the meat on a wire rack inside a roasting pan.
- Slow smoke the corned beef for 4-5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145F.
- Let the corned beef rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Be mindful of saltiness. If I’m starting this recipe with a particularly salty corned beef, I’ll rinse it under cold water to remove any excess salt from the surface before smoking. You can also soak the corned beef in water for a few hours to reduce saltiness.
- Hardwood options. You can use wood chips or wood chunks like hickory, oak, or mesquite for a smoky flavor that compliments the Traeger smoked corned beef.
- Checking for doneness. I recommend smoking the corned beef until the internal temperature is 195ºF to 205°F. A meat thermometer is the best way to check the meat’s doneness!
- Rest before slicing. As with any large piece of beef, I highly recommend letting it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing to retain its juices and flavor.
To store: Once the smoked corned beef has cooled to room temperature, wrap the slices tightly in plastic wrap or place them in a ziplock bag. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
To freeze: If you don’t plan on eating the corned beef right away, wrap the slices tightly in plastic or aluminum foil and freeze for 1 to 2 months.
Frequently asked questions
Smoking a corned beef brisket at 225°F typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound. It’s crucial to use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the meat (it’s best cooked between 195ºF to 205°F).
This is likely because it’s undercooked or it wasn’t rested after smoking. Remember to cook the beef to an internal temperature between 195ºF to 205°F and give it at least 30 minutes to rest after cooking.
I find that the corning spices and smoker infuse the meat with plenty of natural juices and wood-fired, savory flavors even without basting. Still, you could baste it occasionally to enhance the flavor but keep in mind that opening the smoker will affect the total cooking time.
More mouthwatering smoked meat recipes
- Smoked Turkey Leg – Easy to make and ultra flavorful turkey legs inspired by my turkey wings.
- Smoked Chicken Wings – Perfectly juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
- Smoked Turkey Wings – Crispy and juicy turkey wings to help you mix up wing night.
- Smoked Pork Loin – A juicy and impressive pork loin seasoned with a simple spice mix.
Smoked Corned Beef
- Heat the smoker to 225F using the desired hardwood. Add a water pan to the smoker.
- Place the corned beef on top of the grill grates and away from direct heat. Close the lid and smoke the beef for 4 hours or until the inner temperature reaches 160F.
- Combine Guinness, wheat ale, bay leaves, brown sugar, beef bouillon, coriander, cloves, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Place the beef into the pan with the Guinness mixture. Cover the beef with aluminum foil and smoke for 4 hours or until the inner temperature reaches 200F.
- Remove the beef and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before slicing.
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