This st. patrick’s day step up your game with this smoked Corned Beef Brisket recipe. Follow these steps for perfect (and the best) corned beef every time.
Using a pellet grill to smoke Corned Beef is the best way to guarantee perfectly cooked corned beef every single time.
Made with only 3 ingredients; beef brisket, black pepper, and light beer, this recipe is full of flavor, can be prepared quickly, and tossed on the smoker.
Why Smoked Corned Beef?
If you’re like me then you would agree everything tastes better with a kiss of smoke and corn beef is no different.
Smoked corned beef has all the familiar flavors of traditional corned beef but with a little extra flavor that only comes from using a pellet grill or smoker.
Using a pellet grill to make smoked corned beef is so easy because you can prep it, toss it in the smoker, put it in a temperature probe, and go about your day.
Don’t worry about adding logs to the fire or constantly opening the smoker to check temps; this is not that kind of recipe.
The old saying is definitely true, “If you’re lookin’ it ain’t cookin’.” And the same applies here. Set it, forget it, but get ready to enjoy it for dinner.
Pellet Grill Recommendations:
I personally own the Rec Tec 700. In my opinion, there is not a better pellet grill on the market. Any pellet grill will work, but if you are in the market to buy one, this is it!
Ingredients to make Smoked Corned Beef
Corned Beef: If you want to make thin slices look for a brisket flat section, if you like fatty shredded corned beef look for a brisket point section or fat side with a generous layer of fat.
Coase Black Pepper: I always season my brisket with 16 mesh black pepper because it’s a perfect size and that’s what Arron Franklin (James Beard Award for Best Chef winner and member of the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame) uses.
Beer: Depending on my mood and the time of year I will use a variety of different beers. Stouts have more body and flavor but any beer will do just fine. Here, I recommend picking your favorite, especially to start.
Corned Beef Seasoning Packet
Don’t have a seasoning packet, looking to add more seasoning, or want to make your own homemade seasoning, use peppercorn, bay leaves, mustard seed, and dill seed.
Cooking Process for Smoked Corned Beef
Preheat. Set your Pellet Grill to 275 Degrees F.
Drain excess liquid. Cut open packaging of corned beef and drain off excess liquid. When draining be sure to grab the spice packet included with the brisket. Gently rinse off corned beef and then pat dry with a paper towel.
Season the beef. Open the spice packet included with your corned beef and sprinkle contents over the brisket. Once you have done that, sprinkle a light dusting of black pepper. Note: you can use as little or as much black pepper as you like.
Insert temperature probe. Once the Pellet grill has reached temperature insert probes into corned beef brisket pieces. If you only have a single probe place that probes in the center of the smallest piece because it will cook the fastest.
Cook/Smoke. Smoke for 3-4 hrs until corned beef reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Next transfer briskets to an aluminum pan and pour just enough beer in to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil leaving one corner open to let out steam.
Continue cooking. Continue cooking for another 2-3 hours until internal temperature reaches about 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant-read thermometer and poke different parts of the brisket checking for tenderness. If the probe goes into the meat with very little tension then it is done. If not continue cooking until tender.
Let meat rest. Once the meat is tender and fully cooked remove the pan from the pellet grill and let the corned beef rest for about 30 minutes still covered with one corner open to prevent overcooking.
Slice and enjoy. Slice corned beef into ⅛ inch slices cutting against the grains of the brisket. If brisket crumbles make slices a little thicker, on the flip side of that, if the meat seems tough then cut thinner slices.
Corned beef is traditionally boiled whereas Pastrami is normally encrusted with black pepper and coriander then smoked and then steamed. Both start off as cured beef and have similar flavors.
My Top 5 Favorite Pellet Blends
When picking wood chips, it is important to pick a blend you like. Below are some of my personal favorites:
- RecTec Ultimate Blend
- Lumberjack Competition Blend
- Camp Chef Competition Blend
- Traeger Texas Blend
- Pit Boss Competition Blend
If you are looking for a mild wood blend, I recommend using Hickory or Oak Pellets.
What to look for when buying Corned Beef at the Grocery Store or Butcher
Most people prefer a corned beef brisket that is fairly lean and slices into uniform cuts. At most grocery stores you will find 3-6 pound brisket portions that have been trimmed down from a much larger piece.
This makes it a lot easier to cook because it requires almost zero trimming ahead of time. The only trimming I recommend is if you see any oddly shaped pieces hanging off or a hunk of fat that wasn’t removed.
When looking for a brisket at the store look at the bottom of the brisket in the packaging. It should look lean with a thin fat cap.
It should be flat (brisket flat) and squared off. If the corned beef looks like a rounded misshaped hunk of meat it will cook and slice unevenly.
Depending on how many portions you will need will determine how large a section to buy.
If buying and smoking multiple pieces try to buy similar-sized pieces so they cook in roughly the same amount of time. Also, remember that you will lose about 40% I total weight after the corned beef is fully cooked.
My 3 lb hunk of brisket ended up weighing in at 1 pound 10 ounces when I pulled it off the smoker.
I recommend a least 6-8oz of cooked brisket per person so factor that in when figuring out how much to buy.
Keep in mind leftover smoked corned beef is never a bad thing because there are so many things you can make with the leftovers.
What to serve with Smoked Corned Beef??
Obviously, cabbage is the first thing people think of to serve along with corned beef. I have a great recipe for butter-roasted Everything but the Bagel cabbage wedges that are one of my favorite cabbage recipes.
Potatoes are not your friend if you’re keto but you can always substitute my Cauliflower Colcannon.
I would also recommend my Jameson Mustard Glaze that I serve over pork chops normally but are a fantastic sweet contrast to the smoky salty corned beef.
How to slice Corned Beef
When using small sections of a whole brisket it can be a little tricky on what direction to slice the corned beef. You want to slice across the grains of the beef others you will have stringy slices of meat.
The best way is to turn the corned beef upside down on the lean side to see which direction the grains are heading on the brisket. Then flip it back over and make ⅛ inch thick slices.
Feel free to cut them thicker if you feel the brisket crumbling or thinner if you feel like the smoked corned beef isn’t as tender as you would like.
Make sure to have a sharp knife and always let the brisket rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
A few last tips for smoked corned beef
Once the smoked corned beef has reached about 170 degrees F you may hit a stall. The beef temperature seems to get stuck and stays the same temperature for a while.
This is the temperature where the connective fibers in the meat start breaking down. To help push through this phase
I place the corned beef into aluminum pans and pour about ½ a beer…The rest you’ll have to dispose of on your own…wink wink!
Cover the aluminum pan with foil but it doesn’t need to be sealed tightly. This will help the meat push through the stall and finish cooking.
Plus the beer along with the natural juices from the brisket will collect to make a great au jus. This will keep the sliced corned beef moist after it’s fully cooked.
There is no magic time or temperature when smoking corned beef. It’s all about the feel. You should always have an instant-read thermometer that will not only let you know the internal temperature of the brisket but will also act as a probe to check the tenderness of the meat. Once the brisket has reached about 200-205 degrees F.
It’s time to start checking for tenderness. Poke the brisket with the probe in different places to see how tender the meat is.
If the brisket feels tough then you need to keep cooking but if the probe slides in with very little effort you know it’s done. Make sure to let the corned beef rest in the aluminum pan covered with foil for at least 30 minutes.
Open one corner of the pan just a little to let the steam out so the brisket doesn’t overcook.
More Pellet Grill Recipes
- Smoked Eye Round w/ Beef Au Jus
- Cedar Plank Smoked Crab Cakes
- Texas Style Beef Ribs
- Reverse Sear Tri Tip w/ Smoked Tomato Salsa
- Pellet Grill Texas Brisket
Smoked Corned Beef
- Pellet Grill/Smoker
- 6 lb Corned Beef Brisket Raw
- 2 tbsp Black Pepper
- 8 oz Light Beer
- Set your Pellet Grill to 275 Degrees F.
- Cut open packaging of corned beef and drain off liquid. be sure to grab the spice packet included with the brisket. gently rinse off corned beef and then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Open the spice packet included with your corned beef and sprinkle contents over the brisket. then sprinkle a light dusting of black pepper. you can use as little or as much black pepper as you like.
- Once Pellet grill has reached temperature insert probes into corned beef brisket pieces. if you only have a single probe place that probe in the center of the smallest piece because it will cook the fastest.
- Smoke for 3-4 hrs until corned beef reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees f. Next transfer briskets to a aluminum pan and pour just enough beer in to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil leaving one corner open to let out steam.
- continue cooking for another 2-3 hours until internal temperature reaches about 205 degrees F. Use an instant read thermometer and poke different parts of the brisket checking for tenderness. If probe goes into the meat with vwry little tension than it is done. If not continue cooking until tender.
- Once meat is tender and fully cooked remove pan from pellet grill and let the corned beef rest for about 30 minutes still covered with one corner open to prevent overcooking.
- Slice corned beef into ⅛ inch slices cutting against the grains of the brisket. if brisket crumbles make slices a little thicker. if meat seems tough then cut thinner slices.