Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Sauerkraut

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Sauerkraut is cooked low and slow in a beer bath that yields impossibly tender, flavorful beef. You’ll want to make this all year long!

Easy Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Sauerkraut

I am forever grateful I married a man who loves Reuben sandwiches. If not for that, I may never have given corned beef a second glance. I’ve never been a big fan of cabbage and therefore was also suspicious of sauerkraut. It was my husband who finally convinced me to try a Reuben (the melty Swiss cheese surely helped), and it only took a few bites for me to see why he loved it so much.

There’s nothing else quite like tender corned beef and sauerkraut. Tangy, sweet, sour, and peppery, it’s a flavor combo that I find myself craving often, especially in the cold winter months.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Sauerkraut is my favorite way to prepare this classic dish. This recipe is:

  • Easy– It only takes 15 minutes to prep everything and get it in the crock pot.
  • A one pot meal– You’ve got your veggies and meat all in one pot, which means less dishes to wash and more time to enjoy the incredible smells wafting through your house.
  • Flavorful– Cooking corned beef in a crock pot with beer makes it ultra tender and flavorful. Add the fresh, piquant flavor of sauerkraut and you’ve got an irresistible meal!

Crock Pot Corned Beef with beer is the perfect dinner for St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s so good and so easy, I think you’ll find yourself making it all year long.

Key Ingredients

Ingredients for a corned beef recipe in bowls- corned beef brisket, sauerkraut, carrots, potatoes, beer, and seasonings.
  • Corned Beef Brisket– You’ll want to look for a brisket that’s between 3 and 4 pounds. They are found in most grocery stores around St. Patrick’s Day, but can be trickier to find year round. If you want to enjoy this meal another time of year, I recommend buying a few and freezing them.
  • Carrots– You can either chop carrots into equal sized sticks or use baby carrots.
  • Potatoes– I used red potatoes, but yellow or yukon potatoes would also work.
  • Spices– Most store-bought corned beef comes with its own seasoning packet, but I prefer the flavor of my own seasoning blend, a mix of ground pepper, garlic powder, and celery salt.
  • Beer– I used a lager and loved the lighter flavor it added to the corned beef and kraut.
  • Sauerkraut– I used Boar’s Head brand, but any brand you enjoy will work.

How to Make Corned Beef and Sauerkraut in the Crock Pot

  1. Unpack and rinse the brisket. Remove the corned beef brisket from the packaging and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Place it on a plate, and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  2. Add vegetables. Put your carrots and the diced potatoes in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  3. Add the brisket. Place the corned beef brisket on top of the vegetables with the fat side up.
  4. Season. Sprinkle the top of the corned beef with the ground pepper, garlic powder, and celery salt.
  5. Add beer. Pour the beer into the slow cooker, covering the veggies and meat. 
  6. Cook. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.
  7. Add sauerkraut. One hour before it is ready, (if cooking on High at 5 hours or on low at 7 hours), add the sauerkraut). Gently place it in the slow cooker around the corned beef and submerge in the broth/liquid.
  8. Cook for the remaining time. 
  9. Serve and Enjoy!
Corned beef brisket and sauerkraut, carrots, and potatoes on a white platter.

Tips for the Best Corned Beef and Kraut

  • You don’t have to include the vegetables, but it makes for a nice one-pot meal.
  • Waiting to add the sauerkraut until the end adds just the right amount of tangy flavor without being overpowering. It also allows the kraut to soak in the flavor of the beer—delicious!
  • Choose a beer that you like to drink. I like the lighter flavor of lager, but other good options are a red ale or a stout beer, like Guinness. Stout beers will have the strongest, darkest flavor, so only choose them if that’s your go-to beer of choice.
  • Low and slow cooking is the key to tender corned beef! Plan on at least 8 hours for this to cook on low. If you have 10 hours, that’s even better!
A corned beef brisket shown on a palte with carrots, sauerkraut, and potatoes.

FAQS

What goes good with corned beef and sauerkraut?

You can serve this with an easy garden salad or sautéed spinach and onions if you’re looking for a green veggie.   We also love serving corned beef with easy drop biscuits or Amish white bread for sopping up the yummy juices.  

What do you do with leftover corned beef?

The leftovers are (arguably) the best part of this dish! First, I highly recommend making this Reuben pull apart bread. It’s an amazing appetizer or main dish that kids and adults both love!

Of course, you can also make a classic Reuben sandwich or corned beef hash.

For a twist, try these corned beef tacos or Reuben dip.

Do you rinse corned beef before cooking it?

Corned beef is a cured meat that’s kept in a salty brine solution. I always recommend rinsing the meat before cooking it to avoid an overly salty meal.

What can I substitute for beer in corned beef?

If you prefer not to cook with beer, you can substitute a dry, less sweet ginger ale, similar to my recommendations for this Slow Cooker Beer Pot Roast.

Does beer tenderize corned beef?

Yes! That’s exactly why we’re using it here. Beer contains acids and tannins, which help break down meat and tenderize it.

Sliced crock pot corned beef shown on a white platter.

Leftovers, Storage, and Freezing

  • Storage– Cool and leftovers and then store them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing– This corned beef freezes very well. After allowing it to cool, pack it in a freezer safe bag or container and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Reheating– Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave (individual portions), stove top (recommend for things like corned beef hash), or oven (for larger portions).
Sliced slow cooker corned beef on a white plate.

Complete your St. Patrick’s Day Menu

If you’re making this corned beef and kraut for a St. Patty’s feast, finish the meal with a side of Irish Soda Bread and some Lucky Charms Cereal Treats for dessert.

Cap off the night with a Bailey’s Irish Coffee, which you can prepare decaf for those of us who can’t sleep if we have caffeine after noon. It’s the perfect cozy drink to end the day.

Corned beef sliced to reveal the tender, pink interior.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Sauerkraut

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

This Corned Beef and Sauerkraut with beer cooks low and slow all day in the crock pot for fall apart tender and super flavorful beef!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped into 3 inch sticks (or about 1/2 bag baby carrots)
  • 2-3 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 2.5-3.5 lb. corned beef brisket
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 12 oz. bottle beer, lager, ale, or stout
  • 1 16 oz bag sauerkraut

Instructions

  1. Remove the corned beef brisket from the packaging and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Place it on a plate, and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  2. Put your carrots and the diced potatoes in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  3. Place the corned beef brisket on top of the vegetables with the fat side up.
  4. Sprinkle the top of the corned beef with the ground pepper, garlic powder, and celery salt.
  5. Pour the beer into the slow cooker, covering the veggies and meat.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or up to 10) or high for 6 hours.
  7. One hour before it is ready, (if cooking on High at 5 hours or on low at 7 hours), add the sauerkraut. Gently place it in the slow cooker around the corned beef and submerge in the broth/liquid.
  8. Cook for the remaining time. 
  9. Serve and Enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 569Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 2000mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 35g

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12 Comments

  1. Hi!! I’m new at cooking with beer, but I was wondering, will the alcohol cook out? I’ll be making this for my husband, but I also got a 3 year old that would be eating too, so I just want to be safe!! Thanks!!

    1. Some of the alcohol will definitely cook out. I would feel comfortable giving this to me my 2.5 year old, as the amount he would actually consume would be very minimal, but definitely use your own judgment!

      1. Ok sweet thanks for your quick response!! I will be making a salad to go with it too and he loves salad, actually askes for it daily, so I’d be happy with him just having the salad, but he also likes to eat what my husband and I are eating, so he will probably have a few bites. I just wanted safe rather than have a drunk 3 year old lol… Thanks again!!

  2. I don’t think it really matters, but light beer probably wouldn’t deliver as rich a flavor as a darker ale. The original recipe called for Guinness but we just used some leftover Scotch Ale we had on hand and it worked out fine!

  3. This sounds SO TASTY! Does it matter what kind of beer you use? We have some beer left from a St. Patty’s party Nick went to, and as neither of us are big beer drinkers, it sounds like a good way to use up the leftovers!
    Once again, you are making my tummy rumble!

    -Christina

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