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It’s upsetting if your corned beef isn’t cooked to its proper tenderness. But hey you can still fix the tough corned beef!

So, how to fix tough corned beef effectively? 

Well, if the meat got tough before cooking, you’ve to rinse it with water. You can also pound it. And if it’s tough after cooking, you need to cook it for a little longer. For that, you can simmer it in a slow cooker, stockpot, or pressure cooker. You can use the oven to cook it too.

Now to help you, we’ve discussed how to bring back the tenderness. We’ve also explained how the situation actually took place.

Thus, we hope you’ll spare us some time and read our piece.

How To Know If Corned Beef Is Tough?

So, you think your corned beef is tough. But are you 100% sure? 

Well, if you aren’t, then you’ve got to check the texture. And this time, you’ve to be

completely sure whether the beef is tough or not. 


Now for this, you can use two methods-

Fork Method 

You can use this method to easily find out if you’ve cooked the corned beef properly or not. 

Now, here’s the thing- 

If the meat is tender, the fork should easily slide in and out of the meat. You can even use the fork to pull apart the meat fibers. And if the fibers fall apart easily, that means the meat is tender.    

However, if you don’t see the same results, you’ve failed to cook corned beef properly. Because when corned beef gets really tough, the fibers get tough and all. Hence, it gets hard to pull the meat apart.                                                

Thermometer Method

Using a meat thermometer is another way to know the texture of the meat you’ve cooked.

If the meat is tender, it should be a piece of cake to insert the thermometer. Furthermore, you’ll get an internal temperature of 145-160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

On the contrary, you can’t even poke a hole in corned beef that turned tough with a thermometer. So yeah, you probably won’t get the right internal temperature too. 

Also, there are several other ways to test the piece of meat. For example, you can check the doneness of meat by doing a finger test. Interesting, isn’t it? 

Anyway, if you’re now sure about the toughness, you can move on to the next segment. 

Why Did Your Corned Beef Get Tough?

Before getting to the fixing part, aren’t you curious why your corned beef got tough? 

Well, you should be. Because you’ve to learn from these small mistakes. Only then you’ll be able to cook corned beef properly. Furthermore, these reasons behind the toughness can help you figure out how much work you’ve to do. 

So yeah it’s super important to know the reasons to save your precious time.

Before Cooking

There’s a fair chance that the corned beef might be already tough. To identify it, you can check the color. If you didn’t know, deep red meat is actually known as tender meat. Therefore, if your corned beef isn’t in that color, it might’ve become tough. 

And this toughness can take place mostly because of two reasons. Firstly, you might’ve added too much salt to the beef. For example, for five-pound beef brisket, you’ve to mix 1 cup kosher salt and ½ cup sugar in 1-gallon water.

Or secondly, you’ve refrigerated it for more than 5 days. 

After Cooking

Now, most people come across tough corned beef after cooking. And that’s because they have cooked it in the wrong way. 

That’s why we’ve gathered some mistakes you might’ve made when you’re cooking.

Did You Cook the Meat in High Heat?

Now, if you didn’t know, corned beef doesn’t like high heat. Therefore, you need to cook corned beef slowly at a low temperature. It’s kinda similar to the cooking process to avoid wobbly creme brulee

You’ve to provide low heat regardless of the way you want to cook the meat. For example, let’s say you’re going to cook it by using a slow cooker. Now, you’ve to cook the meat at a low/gentle simmer temperature. Or less the meat won’t be tender.  

Some of you might want to finish cooking it in the oven afterward. If that’s the case, you can’t cross 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Did You Cut the Meat incorrectly?

The cutting of the beef brisket is an important factor. Because if you use the flat cut of brisket, the meat will never be tender. Thus, you should go for the point cut of brisket. 


Furthermore, we discourage cutting the cooked corned beef with the grain. You should always slice your corned beef against the grain after cooking it. Because if you cut through the muscle fibers, the meat will be easier to chew. 

Now, what cut did you use? Did you slice the meat properly after cooking?

Did You Cook the Meat for a Short Time?

As you already know that corned beef needs to be cooked slowly. Therefore, it requires more time. 

For example, you’ll be left with undercooked tough meat. If you stop cooking it before it reaches its internal temperature. And as we’ve mentioned, the internal temperature is 145-160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Hence, you’ve to check the temperature very often. And to make things easier for yourself, you can use a meat thermometer. So, on that note, here are some of our top picks-

ThermoPro TP03 Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer 
Char-Broil Instant-Read Digital Thermometer 
CDN DT450X Digital Pocket Thermometer 

Now, you know how to get to the right temperature. However, we wanted to give you a clearer knowledge of the cooking time.

Therefore, we’ve provided the time corned beef needs for two cooking processes-

Meat amount Cooking processRequired time 
3 pounds Stovetop3 hours
3-4 pounds Slow cooker7-9 hours 

Did You Not Put Enough Water?

You should know how essential water is for simmering meat. But do you know how much water you should use?

Well, to achieve perfect tenderness, you need to cover the meat with water completely. You’ve to add enough water to the stockpot/cooker so that the meat is totally submerged. Otherwise, it’ll come out as dry and tough. 

How Can You Tenderize Tough Corned Beef Before Cooking?

As you know there are only two reasons that can cause pre-cooked corned beef to get tough. Similarly, there are two ways you can tenderize it. 

Firstly, you can just rinse the meat before cooking. Just how you’ve to rinse vacuum packed pork to get rid of its smell. Rinsing it at least 3 times should be enough. For the rinsing, you can use clean and fresh tap water.

Lastly, you should keep corned beef in the fridge for at least 5 days. If it’s kept longer, it can get tough. To fix it, you can use a meat mallet and pound the meat gently. It should tenderize the meat, eventually. 


After following the two processes, you’ll have a deep red colored corned beef. 

How Do You Fix Tough Corned Beef After Cooking?

To make the tough cooked meat tender, you only have to let it cook for a little longer. You can even use onions and canned pineapple to tenderize the meat

Also, sometimes if you let the piece rest for 10-15 minutes, it can automatically turn tender. How?

Well, if you didn’t know, after taking the meat out of the oven or stove, it stays hot for a while. So yeah it can come out tough because of the heat. But once you let it rest, the heat goes down eventually. And the meat becomes tender. 

Nonetheless, if that doesn’t work, you can use two methods to get the tenderness back-

Simmer for a Little Longer

Simmering is the easiest way between the two methods. You can simmer your corned beef by using a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. You can even use a stockpot and cook on the stove. 

If you choose a pressure cooker then just follow these instructions-

  • Cut some onions, carrots and add them to the pressure cooker. Then place your corned beef right on top of the veggies. 
  • Pour in the liquid and make sure it’s enough for the meat to be covered. 
  • Set the pressure cooker to 2 bars. And then cook the meat for 25-30 minutes.
  • Lastly, check the internal temperature of your corned beef. If the internal temperature matches the ideal one, you’re all done. If it’s still a little less than simmer it a bit more. 

For a slow cooker, the instructions are almost the same. There are just two differences- time and temperature. To ease your pain we’ve mentioned the right time for two different temperatures. 

Temperature Time 
Low60-120 minutes 
High 35-60 minutes 

After the time is over, just check the temperature of the meat. Hopefully, the meat will turn out tender after simmering it in the slow cooker. 

Lastly, a stockpot might be the most simple way to simmer the meat. And you’ll only have to follow 4 steps here-

  • Place the tough corned beef along with onions and cabbages in the pot. 
  • Pour water into the pot until corned beef is completely covered.
  • Cover the pot and set the stove at medium heat.
  • Lastly, allow your corned beef to simmer for at least 30 minutes. 

Within this time, the tough meat will get tender gradually!

Cook in Oven at Low Heat

Now some of you might insist on using an oven. So, keeping that in mind we’ve discussed how to fix the tough corned beef by using an oven.

Now, to help you out, we’ve gathered a simple rule of thumb. Just follow these simple steps-

  • First, note down the internal temperature of the meat. 
  • Then set the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • The meat is already boiled. That’s why adding ½ cup of liquid per pound should be fine.
  • Lastly, the cooking time should be 45-60 minutes per pound.

That’s all we had on how to fix hard corned beef after cooking. We hope you’ll get tender corned beef by following these steps. 

Tips on How to Make Tender Corned Beef 

Now, some of you might have achieved the perfect tenderness. We’re definitely proud of you! Your hard work and patience have paid off. 

However, for the ones unable to make the corned beef tender, we’ve got you. So what if the meat didn’t come out perfect this time! You can surely make the corned beef tender next time. 


And to help with that, we’ve gathered some tips. All you need to do is go through them-

  • If you cook the corned beef on the stove, you need to provide 50-60 minutes for every pound of meat. 
  • Between boiling and simmering, it’s better if you choose to simmer the meat. Just be patient. And let the meat simmer till it gets to the right internal temperature. 
  • For liquid, you can use wine, water, and so on. However, make sure to cover the meat fully with liquid. 
  • It’s important to check the meat you’re cooking from time to time. Therefore, keep your thermometer close to you.

So, just remember these few things when you cook corned beef again. And you’ll hopefully get perfect-looking tender corned beef. 


How do you fix a tough corned beef brisket?

Well, as we’ve mentioned before. Simmering it for a little longer can tenderize the brisket. Also, you can cook the tough corned beef brisket in the oven at low heat. 

Question: What is the best way to cook corned beef

We recommend using gentle/low heat and simmering it till it reaches the perfect tenderness. For that, you can use a slow cooker. Corned beef can be baked as well. However, for both cases, low heat is mandatory.

Can I use corned beef and cabbage together? 

Yup, you can. Using vegetables will make the meat have more flavor to it. Therefore, don’t hesitate to add cabbage. 


So, that’s all on how to fix tough corned beef. By the way, finishing the meat in the oven after slow cooking is a good option. It makes the meat tender easily.

Now, do you have any other way to fix tough corned beef? 

Do let us know the answer by commenting down below. Hope you have a wonderful day!

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