Good corned beef is a salty, flavorful delight that works well on a sandwich or just plain sliced. Smoked corned beef is even better because the smoke imparts a flavor that only enhances the meat’s flavor. A generous rub gives the meat a different dimension of even more flavor.
My journey to the recipe below was a long one. I love pastrami sandwiches which are made from corned beef cured with specific spices. I played around with a few recipes trying to recreate my favorite pastrami at home. Then, I decided to start completely from scratch.
Corned beef gains another dimension of flavor in the smoker. I created a simple spice rub that brings the coriander of traditional pastrami into the mix while also gaining the flavors of garlic, onion, and paprika. The results are mouth-watering. In fact, I would put this recipe in my top 10 smoked recipes.
I had a friend try this recipe. This friend had spent many years in NYC and enjoyed plenty of corned beef in his time. As soon as he bit into my smoked corned beef, he started humming, a true sign of pure enjoyment. He even asked for the recipe.
What Makes A Good Corned Beef Recipe
Corned beef is normally made from brisket cuts. When you go shopping for corned beef, you are likely to find it offered in three cuts: the flat, the point, and a whole. The “flat” offers a consistent thickness and is usually the leaner cut. The “point” is from the thicker end of a typical brisket, offering flavorful marbling. The “whole” is the entire brisket, which includes both of the other cuts.
Most experts recommend the “whole” cut. You may think that a whole cut is too much, but a typical corned beef brisket is going to have up to 40% shrinkage during the cooking process. For this particular recipe, I used the pointed cut brisket.The term “corned” comes from the fact that the meat is salted using large kernels or “corns” of salt. That means the corned beef you pick up is going to be very salty, which is why most recipes call for soaking the meat overnight. This helps reduce the saltiness of the meat in the final recipe.
Corned beef typically comes with a generous layer of fat included. This fat helps flavor the meat while tenderizing it at the same time. If you want to reduce calories, you can trim the fat, but don’t remove it all. Removing that fat will make the meat tougher and less flavorful.
Because corned beef is made from the brisket, it contains long, strong muscle fibers which make the meat notoriously tough. It is much easier to smoke chicken or pork. That is why low and slow cooking is such a good choice for corned beef.
How To Make The Best Smoked Corned Beef
As I mentioned above, it is important to soak the meat overnight to reduce the saltiness. If you skip this step or try to just soak it for an hour, your corned beef will come out too salty.
Depending on the size of the meat, the smoking time will vary. Once the internal meat temperature reaches 160F, we then wrap the meat with foil or butcher paper. Smoke it until meat reaches the temperature of 195F. This whole process will take about 4-5 hours.
For the wood chips, I used hickory for this recipe. You can also use oak, pecan, or apple wood.
Smoked Corned Beef
Tender and delicious smoked corned beef.
- 3-5 lbs Corned Beef Brisket
- 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 tbsp Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tbsp Coriander Powder
- 2 tbsp Paprika
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
Place meat in a bowl and cover with water.
Place the bowl containing the meat and water in the refrigerator overnight.
Add hickory wood chips to the smoker.
Preheat smoker to 275F.
Place rub ingredients into a shallow bowl and mix together.
Remove the meat from the water and pat dry.
Trim meat of excess fat if needed.
Coat the meat generously with the spice rub.
Place meat in the smoker and smoke until internal temperature reaches 160F. This takes about 2-3 hours.
Wrap meat with foil or butcher paper. Place meat back in the smoker and cook until internal temperature reaches 195F. This will take an additional 2-3 hours.
Let meat rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.