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How do you keep corned beef submerged?

Why Keep Corned Beef Submerged?

Corned beef is a type of cured meat that is commonly made from brisket. The term “corned” refers to the grains of salt historically used to cure meats, which resemble kernels of corn. Keeping corned beef fully submerged in liquid during cooking is important for ensuring it remains moist, tender, and delicious. If exposed to air during cooking, corned beef can dry out quickly and become tough.

There are a few key reasons why it’s important to keep corned beef fully submerged while it is cooking:

  • Prevents drying out – Keeping the meat completely covered in liquid prevents exposed areas from drying out. This helps keep it moist and tender.
  • Even cooking – Submerging the meat allows it to cook evenly. The liquid transfers heat gently and uniformly.
  • Infuses flavor – The cooking liquid (usually water, broth or beer) will penetrate the meat and infuse it with extra flavor.
  • Food safety – Keeping meat submerged below 140°F helps eliminate bacteria growth on exposed surfaces.

Follow proper food safety guidelines and only cook corned beef that has been fully cured and properly stored. Vacuum-sealed or frozen corned beef must be fully thawed before cooking.

How to Keep Corned Beef Submerged During Cooking

Here are some tips for keeping corned beef fully submerged during the cooking process:

Use the Right Cooking Vessel

Choose a pot or Dutch oven that is large enough to fully submerge the meat and keep it covered in liquid during cooking. The liquid should cover the meat by 1-2 inches. Don’t overcrowd the pot.

Weight the Meat Down

If needed, place a heat-safe plate or pan on top of the corned beef to keep it forced down into the liquid. You can also use a special meat-weighting tool made for this purpose. The weight should apply even pressure across the top without crushing the meat.

Check Periodically

Occasionally check during cooking to ensure the meat remains submerged. If the liquid level drops, add more as needed to keep the corned beef covered.

Adjust the Cooking Time

Corned beef will take longer to cook when submerged in liquid vs cooking exposed. Follow recipe directions and allow plenty of time for the inner temperature to reach 145°F. The meat should be fork tender.

Use Enough Liquid

Make sure to use a sufficient amount of cooking liquid to account for evaporation over the lengthy cooking time. Top off with more liquid if needed.

Choosing a Cooking Liquid

Water is the most common cooking liquid used for corned beef, but other options can add extra dimensions of flavor:


Plain water is a simple way to gently cook the meat while keeping it moist. Use salted water for enhanced seasoning.


Chicken, beef or vegetable broth will infuse the meat with richer flavor.


For a unique taste, cover the meat with beer, stout or ale during cooking. Guinness is a popular choice.


Red wine, white wine or wine spritzers add a fruitiness that complements the meat.


Apple cider or hard cider lend pleasant sweetness.

Choosing a Cooking Method

There are a few techniques for cooking corned beef while keeping it submerged:


Gently boiling in a covered pot of liquid is the most common method. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer until fork tender.


Browning the meat then braising it in liquid keeps the corned beef moist. Cook covered in a low oven.

Slow Cooker

Place corned beef in a slow cooker with enough liquid to cover. Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours.

Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking allows the meat to become perfectly tender in a fraction of the normal time while submerged in liquid.


Gently poaching the corned beef in simmering liquid keeps it incredibly moist and tender.

Serving Tips

Once cooked, here are some serving suggestions for your deliciously moist corned beef:


Thinly slice the corned beef across the grain. Serve warm or chilled.

On Sandwiches

Pile warm sliced corned beef on rye bread with mustard for classic Reuben sandwiches.

With Cabbage

Enjoy corned beef with quartered boiled cabbage, a St. Patrick’s Day favorite.

With Potatoes

Serve sliced corned beef with boiled potatoes, carrots and parsley.


Chop and pan-fry corned beef with potatoes and onions for delicious hash.


Add diced corned beef to egg scrambles or omelets.

Storing Leftover Corned Beef

Follow these tips for storing leftover cooked corned beef:

  • Let cool completely, then refrigerate within 2 hours.
  • Store in an airtight container up to 4-5 days.
  • Freeze extras up to 2-3 months. Thaw in fridge before using.
  • Reheat gently in simmering liquid or broth before serving again.

Avoid letting the cooked meat sit in liquid during storage, as this can cause it to become soggy.

Common Questions

What cut of meat is best for corned beef?

Brisket is the traditional cut used, as it becomes tender and stays moist during long cooking times. Pick a well-marbled piece for best results.

How much liquid is needed to cover corned beef?

The liquid should cover by about 1-2 inches. Allow 2-3 cups of liquid per pound of meat. Top off during cooking if needed.

How long does it take to cook corned beef?

Cooking times range from 2-4 hours for a 3-5 lb brisket. Cook until fork tender up to 200°F internal temperature.

What temperature should corned beef be cooked to?

Cook until fork tender, up to an internal temperature of 185-200°F. Bring to at least 145°F for food safety.

Can you cook corned beef from frozen?

Yes, frozen corned beef can be cooked submerged in liquid, but may take 50% longer. Thaw first for shortest cooking time.


Keeping corned beef fully submerged during wet cooking methods like boiling, braising or slow cooking helps ensure it turns out incredibly moist and tender. Choose an appropriately sized cooking vessel, weight the meat down if needed, and top off with extra liquid periodically. Allow plenty of time for the meat to become fork tender. Served warm or chilled, moist corned beef makes delicious sandwiches and meals. Leftovers will keep 4-5 days refrigerated, or 2-3 months in the freezer.