How To Slice Corned Beef?

Short answer: After resting the cooked corned beef for 15 minutes, identify the grain (muscle fiber direction). Then, using a sharp knife, slice against the grain for tender pieces.

Corned beef, a salt-cured cut of brisket, is known for its rich flavor and tender texture when cooked properly. It’s a staple in many cuisines, from the classic Irish corned beef and cabbage to Jewish deli sandwiches. However, the way corned beef is sliced can significantly influence its texture and how enjoyable it is to eat. Cutting against the grain, or perpendicular to the muscle fibers, is key to ensuring the final product is tender and easy to chew, rather than tough and stringy.

When To Slice Corned Beef? Before Or After Cooking?

When To Slice Corned Beef Before Or After Cooking
How to Slice Corned Beef Against the Grain

Corned beef should always be sliced after it is fully cooked. The cooking process helps to tenderize the meat, and slicing it beforehand could result in a tougher texture. After cooking, you should also let the corned beef rest for about 10-15 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.

Difference Between Point Cut And Flat Cut Of Corned Beef

Corned beef is actually a brisket that weighs between eight and twelve pounds, which is then cut into two parts: one part being the point, and the other part is flat. Some people prefer the point cut because it’s fattier and more tender. As with any meat, the more fat that’s marbled in there, the more tender it’s going to be. On the other hand, flat cut, which is much cleaner and offers a better presentation after it’s cooked.

How To Slice Corned Beef?

Method 1: Slicing Against The Grain

Step 1: Let the brisket rest for about 15 minutes.

Step 2: Observe the direction in which the muscle fibers are running. This is known as the ‘grain’.

Trim off any excess fat
Trim off fat

Step 3: Trim off any excess fat, if desired.

Once you've identified the grain
Place the brisket in a position where you can slice against it

Step 4: Once you’ve identified the grain, place the brisket in a position where you can slice against it (across the fibers rather than along them).

Using a sharp knife
Using a sharp knife start slicing

Step 5: Using a sharp knife, slice the brisket against the grain.

If the grain changes direction
Adjust your slicing direction

Step 6: If the grain changes direction in different parts of the brisket, adjust your slicing direction accordingly.

Step 7:Enjoy your perfectly sliced brisket. Remember, slicing against the grain ensures tender, less chewy bites.

How To Slice Corned Beef In The Slicer?

When using a meat slicer for your corned beef, here are the steps to follow for a perfect slice:

Step 1: Let the Meat Rest: After cooking the corned beef, let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, which not only adds to the flavor but also makes the slicing process smoother.

Step 2: Prepare the Slicer: Make sure your meat slicer is clean and sharp. Dull blades can tear the meat and create an uneven slice.

Step 3: Position the Meat: Place the corned beef brisket on the meat slicer. Ensure it’s secure and won’t slip during slicing.

Step 4: Set the Thickness: Adjust the slicer to your desired thickness. If you’re unsure, starting at a medium thickness is a good choice. You can adjust to thinner or thicker slices after making a test slice.

Step 5: Start Slicing: Turn on the slicer and gently push the slab of meat against the blade. Always keep your hands on the meat handle of the slicer, and away from the blade for safety. Slice at a consistent speed for even slices.

Step 6: Slice Against the Grain: Ensure that you’re slicing against the grain. This is key for achieving tender slices, as it shortens the muscle fibers and makes the meat easier to chew.

Step 7: Collect Your Slices: As you slice, gently remove the cut pieces and set them aside.

Step 8: Clean Up: Once you’re finished slicing, be sure to thoroughly clean your slicer. This ensures it’s ready and safe for the next use.


Does cooking corned beef longer make it more tender?

Yes, to an extent. Corned beef is a cut of meat that benefits from a slow, long cooking process. This allows the connective tissues in the meat to break down, resulting in a more tender product. However, there is a limit. If corned beef is cooked for too long, it can become dry and tough instead of tender.

Can a corned beef brisket be roasted?

Yes, corned beef brisket can be roasted, although it’s more traditionally boiled or slow-cooked. Roasting can give the corned beef a slightly different flavor profile and texture. Be aware that roasting might not tenderize the meat as effectively as boiling or slow cooking, so it’s crucial to keep the meat moist and to roast it at a low temperature for a long period.

Is corned beef supposed to fall apart?

Ideally, corned beef should be tender and easily pull apart, but it shouldn’t completely fall apart. If it’s falling apart, it may be overcooked. The goal is to cook it to the point where it’s easy to slice and chew but still holds its shape.

What makes corned beef taste better?

Corned beef can be made even tastier with the right blend of spices and aromatics. Traditional ingredients include bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice, mustard seeds, and cloves. You can also use fresh garlic and onions. Some people like to glaze their corned beef with a mixture of mustard and brown sugar near the end of cooking, which adds a flavorful crust.

How long to cook corned beef?

The cooking time for corned beef depends on the method of cooking. In a slow cooker, it might take 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. If boiling, it can take about 50 minutes per pound of meat. In a pressure cooker, it could take about 90 minutes for a 3-4 pound corned beef. Always make sure the corned beef is cooked to at least 145°F as measured with a food thermometer.

What is the best method for cooking corned beef?

The best method for cooking corned beef depends on your personal preference and available equipment. Slow cooking is a popular method as it tends to yield a very tender result. Boiling with a variety of spices and vegetables is traditional and imparts a lot of flavors. Using a pressure cooker is quicker and can also yield a tender, flavorful result.


Slicing corned beef correctly is a crucial step to fully enjoy its tender, flavorful qualities. After cooking and resting the meat for 10-15 minutes, you should always slice against the grain for the tenderest serving. If you’re using a meat slicer, ensure the machine is clean, sharp, and properly adjusted for your desired thickness before starting. Slicing at a consistent speed and against the grain will provide you with perfect pieces each time.