How To Fix Tough Corned Beef (Reason, Solution & Prevention)

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Not long ago, my guests were on their way when I found out that my corned beef has turned tough beyond serving. But, I wasn’t going to let go of the dish I prepared with so much love and care. So I started searching for solutions. 

Different sources kept telling me different things about how to fix tough corned beef. So, obviously, I got confused about which way to go. Fortunately, I was able to fix my corned beef before the guests arrived, but that was a close call.

Using my years of experience, I shortlisted and modified the solutions presented to me and created my own guideline. 

Let’s hope that no one else will have to run crazy before they’re about to serve corned beef. 

How To Fix Tough Corned Beef After Cooking

The easiest way of fixing tough corned beef has to be the extended simmering method. So let’s see what steps it entails. 

Many people believe, the longer you cook corned beef, the tenderer it becomes. That’s not entirely true. Overcooking the meat is what causes the toughness in the first place. 

However, you can fix the corned beef by extending the simmering. The process is pretty straightforward. 

First of all, you’ll need half a cabbage head or some carrots and a diced onion. It’s not a mandatory ingredient. But, these make the meat tender more efficiently. So, if you want the best outcome, I’ll recommend you use them. 

  • Use a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or stockpot to go through the process. 
  • First, place the vegetables, put the meat on top, and pour enough water so that the meat is entirely under the water. 
  • If you’re using a stovetop or electric pressure cooker, set it to two bars and let it cook for about thirty minutes. 
  • If you’re cooking with a slow cooker, cook it for 60 to 120 minutes if you’re using a low-temperature setting, and 35 to 60 minutes if you’re using a high-temperature setting. 
  • As for stockpot, simmer the corned beef for about thirty minutes, keeping the lid closed. 
  • Once the time is over, check for the internal temperature. 
  • If it matches the ideal temperature, you’re done. 
  • If not, simmer it for a bit longer.  
Related: How To Fix Over Smoked Meat (3 Ways You Can Follow)

How To Fix Tough Corned Beef Before Cooking

If you cook the beef using the proper steps and care, there’s no reason for it to be tough. So, to summarize the whole process, there are three steps to fix corned beef before cooking. And as they all say, prevention is always better than cure. 


Rinsing is essential to remove excess salt from corned beef. First, rinse the beef two or three times using cold water. Then, drain the beef off the water. 

You can also soak the beef in cold water and keep it in the refrigerator overnight if you wish to skip the rinsing part. Both ways are effective in removing excess salt from the meat. 


If you have experienced tough beef, you’ve already cooked it before. So, I won’t get into the recipe. However, I’ll emphasize you pay extra attention to the parts where you can go wrong. 

Remember not to boil corned beef. Instead, simmer the meat and slow cook it. Use water or any other liquid your recipe demands, but make sure the beef is entirely under the water. 

Monitor the process. If you notice the liquid drying, add more. 


Letting the corned beef rest can benefit you both ways. Even if you’ve overcooked the beef, letting it rest can make it tender again. 

As for the general cooking procedure, resting the beef in a cooler allows the moisture to get soaked up inside the meat, making it tender and juicy. 

Many people don’t understand the importance of resting the meat. I must emphasize this step because it also works as extended cooking. 

The meat keeps getting better with time, even after you’ve removed it from the heat source. However, the duration isn’t too long. Resting it for about 15 minutes should be enough. 

Also Read: How To Select Quality Meat For Barbecuing?

Why Is My Corned Beef Tough – The Reason

There could be several reasons why your corned beef is tough. If you fail to follow specific steps while cooking the beef, it can become tough. 

Cooking the beef for longer won’t necessarily make it tender. Beef is dense and tends to get tough when overcooked. 

So, if you cook the meat longer than you’re supposed to, it can become chewy and tough. Using high heat and boiling the corned beef can also toughen the meat. 

Another reason you may be ignoring is the amount of water. If you use less water than you’re supposed to, the meat loses its tenderness and becomes chewy. 

For the same reason, you should keep an eye out for when the water level decreases due to the heat. If you notice such a thing, add some more water to it. 

Other mistakes are significant but also have an impact on the meat’s texture. So, I recommend following the tips and avoiding the mistakes I’ve mentioned further to play it safe. 

These are some probable causes of tough corned beef. So, fixing them will create a significant change in the meat’s tenderness. 

Also Read: How To Cut Frozen Ground Beef (7 Simple Ways)

How To Make Tender Corned Beef

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned, scattered through the article. These tips will make your corned beef as you want and remove the toughness from the meat. 

  • Rinse the beef with cold water to remove excess salt. Or, soak it and store it in the fridge the night before. Don’t boil, simmer.
  • Use vegetables like potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and onion to make the meat tasty, tender, and juicy. 
  • Slow cook the meat instead of rushing the procedure. 
  • Use enough liquid to submerge the beef. 
  • If you notice the water drying during the procedure, add some more to keep it going the way it’s supposed to. 
  • Let the beef reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. 
  • Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before eating. 
  • Cut against the grains, and Follow the recipe without altering the time and ingredients.  

Mistakes To Avoid When Making Corned Beef

Now it’s time to discuss what we’ll avoid if we want our corned beef to be tender. Let’s look at some common mistakes even experienced cooks make.  

Not Rinsing The Meat Before Start Cooking It

When you get a store-bought packaged corned beef, you’ll notice that it’s been preserved. You can identify it by noticing the slimy nature of corned beef. This excessive salt messes up with the taste and texture. 

That is why you should rinse the meat several times before you can start cooking it. Every time you feel the urge to start cooking instantly after unpacking the meat, remember that the whole process will be worth nothing if the dish is too salty. 

If you want to avoid the rinsing part, you can keep the meat soaked in water. Take a container and soak the meat. Place the container in the refrigerator overnight. 

The next day, drain the water and start cooking your beef. If you’ve ever cooked the meat right out of the package, you’ll notice how much better it tastes when you wash off the salt. 

Not Resting The Meat After Cooking

Resting the meat allows it to cook even after the heat source isn’t present. The meat gets cooked with its own warmth and soaks all the moisture slowly. 

Even if you’ve overcooked your corned beef a bit, resting the meat can help it get tender again. 

However, people avoid this part and get straight to eating because they’ve been cooking the beef for so long. So I would say, wait a few more minutes if you want it to be worth all the time. 

Using The Wrong Cut 

Do you know the way you should slice the meat after you cook it? If you don’t care about the cut, you may end up with a piece that’s chewy and tough. So yes, cutting the beef using the proper way is crucial. 

You should always slice the meat against the grains. The grains refer to the direction of the muscle fibers of the meat. So avoid cutting it with the grains. Instead, cut against. 

Not Using Enough Liquid

No matter what liquid you’re using according to your recipe, using the right amount makes a huge difference. If the meat isn’t submerged fully with the liquid, there’s a chance that it’ll be unevenly cooked. 

As a result, you’ll end up with tough and chewy meat. So, use enough liquid. Mix water or use plain water if necessary.

Not Letting The Meat Simmer Long Enough

Simmering the beef long enough is essential. If you use high heat and rush the procedure to get the brisket on the plate a bit early, it can become chewy. Also, you shouldn’t boil the meat. Instead, simmer it using the right directions from your recipe. 

Check for the internal temperature of the beef using any of the good quality digital meat thermometers. Even though the meat is safe to eat when it reaches 160 degrees F, if you’re looking for tenderness, go for 190 degrees F. 

Adjust the cooking time depending on the internal temperature. But, remember that no recipe can tell you the specific duration to result in a perfect dish. 

So, it’s always better to use the internal temperature as a standard to determine whether the meat is done or not. 

Related: How Long To Let Brisket Rest In Cooler (Answered)

How Do You Make Sure My Corned Beef Comes Out Tender With My Slow Cooker

Cooking corn beef using the slow cooker is almost similar to all other methods. However, there’s a slight deviation in the temperature. 

Place the veggies first. You can use potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onion, etc., depending on the recipe you’re following. These vegetables are most suitable to keep the meat moist and tender. That’s why most recipes suggest these when you’re cooking corned beef. 

Now, it’s time to bring your meat on top. If you’re using some other cooking liquid than water, add a few cups of water before placing the beef on top. 

  • Add spices. Sprinkle your recipe’s spices on top of the meat. You can also customize your own spice ix if you wish to go innovative with your dish. However, be careful not to ruin the taste with excessive spices. 
  • Then add water or any other liquid your recipe demands to the meat. Make sure it submerges under the water completely. 
  • Set the cooker on high. Let it cook for eight hours. When using a stovetop, you can’t use a high temperature for cooking the beef. However, the slow cooker allows you to set the temperature to high. 
  • Ensure not to cut the duration to a lower period, or the brisket won’t be properly cooked. 
  • Before you serve the corned beef, stir all the ingredients together. Now, simmer it for another one hour. 
  • Let the beef rest for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the meat to become a bit tender. 
  • As I’ve mentioned before, cut the meat against the meat before serving. 

Should You Cover Corned Beef When Cooking?

You can have deliciously tender corned beef if you cook it covered, using low heat. However, rushing it with a high temperature and boiling it instead of simmering can result in the exact opposite of what you’re expecting. 

Why Is My Corned Beef Slimy?

If it’s packaged corned beef, there’s a possibility that it has been brined. Brining means preserving the meat using salty water. That’s why I recommended washing the beef before cooking to remove the unnecessary salt. Also, brining can make corned beef slimy. 


Did you find all your answers on how to fix tough corned beef? I certainly hope so. The thing I always tell other cooking enthusiasts is to never lose hope when you mess up. There’s almost always a way out, especially if it’s connected with meat. If you’re not sure about a source, do your research and look for other sources to verify your collected information. Then, if you still fail to fix the beef as you expected, next time, try to follow the preventive measures to avoid toughening the corned beef in the first place. 

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