Brisket Vs Corned Beef – The Differences

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Mmmm….. do you smell that? Something is cooking in the kitchen and it smells delightful! It’s got to be brisket cooking that’s got your taste buds on alert. Or wait, maybe it’s corned beef. Aren’t they the same thing anyway? Whatever, you just know it’s going to be a delicious meal when it’s ready. 

Many people commonly mistake corned beef and brisket as being the same type of meal. While it’s true that they are made with the same type of meat, there are a lot of differences between the two dishes in the end. 

So what are the differences between brisket and corned beef? Even though both are cuts of beef, the primary difference is how they are prepared before they even make it into our kitchen. Corned beef is brine-cured while the brisket is a raw cut of beef until cooked. This makes the flavors of the two vastly different. 

In this guide, we will talk about brisket and corned beef and how you can identify the differences between the two types of meat. We will share with you everything you should know about each one, giving you a good comparison tool to reference.

Keep reading to learn about brisket vs. corned beef and just what their differences are. 

The Difference Between Brisket and Corned Beef

If you walk the meat section at your favorite grocery store, you can probably easily pinpoint a corned beef compared to a brisket, especially if you’ve ever had either dish. You’re most likely familiar with the visible difference. Corned beef always has a red or pink color to it and stands out. 

Corned beef and brisket tend to be packaged differently overall at the store. Of course, then there are the labels to guide you if you’re not really sure.

What you can rely on is that brisket and corned beef are the same meat. They are both made with beef and similar in size as well as the way they’re cut. 

In fact, corned beef and brisket are often prepared similarly and even served with similar side dishes. Ever enjoyed hearty pot roast with potatoes and gravy, or maybe some carrots too? Well, that’s your traditional brisket pot roast. Corned beef is served in a similar way sometimes. 

Of course, all of these things can vary but we’re simply trying to paint you a picture to reference here. 

As we progress through this guide, we will start by talking about brisket and then corned beef. We will provide a basic overview of each one and share their unique traits with you.

Once we’ve completed that, we will round up the guide with a summary review and compare the most notable differences of corned beef and brisket. 

Let’s get started!

What Is Brisket?

Brisket is a cut of beef. It typically comes from the breast or lower chest area.

Brisket can be cooked or made in a number of different ways. You’re probably familiar with smoked brisket that is a popular BBQ option. Of course, then there is a delicious pot roast that can be made from brisket as well. 

Brisket is considered a primal cut of beef, which there are only 9 of. Brisket is by nature very muscular and strong. This is perhaps the reason it is often cooked for long periods as it is. Brisket needs to be cooked in specific ways in order to help tenderize it so that it’s not overly tough or chewy. 

Most people bake, roast, or smoke a brisket to prepare it. Brisket can also be boiled, although this is not as popular of an option. Brisket can be prepped with marinade or a good spice rub to pull out the flavor. 

There is nothing injected into brisket unless you choose to inject it with marinade. 

Making and Serving Brisket

We mentioned that you can bake, roast, or smoke brisket. It can also be cooked in a crockpot or pressure cooker as well. Ideally, it will be cooked low and slow to help the meat get more tender and delicious. 

The longer and slower it’s cooked, the better the flavor. Or at least, that’s what we hear. 

There are a lot of things you can do with brisket when you serve it. You can serve it initially as a large meal but it’s a large cut of meat that will stretch and you will most likely have leftovers to contend with. 

Here are some great uses for your brisket:

  • Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Serve with BBQ sauce
  • Loaded fries or nachos with shredded brisket
  • Make into a sandwich with cold cuts
  • Add to stew or soup
  • Stuffed peppers 
  • Top a salad
  • Brisket hash with eggs
  • Veggie bowls
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Philly cheesesteaks 
  • Street tacos

As you can see, there are a lot of options for using brisket. Whether you make it in a traditional way and then use one of these methods for leftovers or you make your brisket to be used for one or more of these purposes to begin with! 

You simply can’t go wrong with beef brisket. There are a lot of things to try and you get a lot of meat for the price. 

What Is Corned Beef?

Alright, this is the turning point of this guide. Corned beef IS brisket. Yes, you read that right. Corned beef is made directly from brisket. That’s the primary similarity to brisket. However, before corned beef ever makes it to a grocery store, it is treated and cured to make it something else entirely. 

Corned beef is salt-cured in a special brine. It’s also typically injected with various things as well. The original curing brine typically contains large “corns” of salt or grains of rock salt. Then there is a brine that is made. 

While corned beef brisket is often served similarly to a pot roast, you might also see it served with cabbage as a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. It’s also commonly served with sauerkraut on a piece of rye bread in a classic Reuben sandwich that many know and love. 

Much like brisket, corned beef is cooked long and slow to make it tender. By the time it is finished cooking, it should practically fall into shreds for you. It will remain pink in color from the brining and curing process but you will know it is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Corned beef usually comes with a seasoning packet that you sprinkle over it to prepare it. It also usually has some heavily fatty areas that add to the flavor when you cook it. 

One notable difference between corned beef and brisket is the packaging. Brisket is served in fresh meat packaging while corned beef will come in a vacuum-sealed packet and will have lots of juice around it. 

Uses for Corned Beef

Much like we did with brisket, we wanted to provide you with a few uses for your corned beef as well.

You will probably prepare it and serve it in a more traditional way but these options are great for leftovers! 

  • Corned beef hash
  • Reuben sandwiches
  • Corned beef & cabbage casserole
  • Soups and stews
  • Egg rolls
  • Make into a noodle casserole
  • Use in a potato bake dish

Summary Review: Brisket Vs Corned Beef

To round off this guide, here is a quick review of the most notable differences between corned beef and brisket. 

One thing that you will notice right away is they do not taste the same. The brining and curing process of corned beef vastly changes the flavor. Corned beef is very pink or even reddish in color, even when fully cooked while brisket will brown as it cooks. 

Brisket is very versatile since it is beef and it can be used for a lot of different things. You can do many things with corned beef as well but it’s not quite as versatile as brisket. 

Corned beef and brisket are processed and sold very differently, despite being made from the same type of meat. 

Related Questions

We hope that you’ve found this guide to knowing the differences between corned beef and brisket to be a valuable resource for understanding just how unique these two dishes truly are. 

We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that you might fund useful. 

Is Corned Beef Bad for You?

Unfortunately, the brining and curing process that corned beef undergoes makes it a not so healthy dish.

It is very high in sodium and could easily have enough sodium to be meet your maximum daily sodium levels. Be mindful of how often or how much you eat. 

Does Rinsing Corned Beef Help?

Rinsing corned beef is not a requirement for preparing it. However, rinsing it can sometimes help to remove some of the excess salt that it contains.

This could help reduce the sodium consumption when you eat it. It may also remove some of the natural cooking juices. 

How Long Does It Take to Cook Brisket?

For cooking brisket to a nice tenderness, you should plan to cook it for about 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound of meat. You will need to cook to an internal temperature of about 185 degrees. 

Up Next: How Long Does It Take To Cook Corned Beef?

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