New England Boiled Dinner

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

New England boiled dinner is a one pot dish consisting of corned beef or plain beef brisket or smoked picnic ham shoulder, with cabbage, carrots and potatoes.

When made with corned beef, it’s an Irish-American corned beef and cabbage dish, traditionally made around St. Patrick’s Day.

My parents like to make it with plain, uncured brisket. Others make it with smoked ham shoulder. The following recipe is for boiled dinner made with either corned beef or plain beef brisket.

New England Boiled Dinner Recipe

  • Cook time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Corned beef can be pretty salty, so if you are making boiled dinner with corned beef you may want to put it in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and then discard the water before starting the recipe. If the broth ends up being too salty, you can serve just the meat and vegetables, without the broth, or add water to the broth to dilute it.


  • 3 1/2 pounds corned beef brisket or plain beef brisket
  • 15 peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, if using plain brisket
  • 2 medium sized turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 4 red new potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3 large carrots, cut into thirds and the thickest pieces quartered lengthwise
  • 1 small head cabbage, cut into fourths


1 Put corned beef in a pot, cover with water, add seasonings, simmer: Put the brisket in a 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven and cover with an inch of water.

If you are using corned beef brisket and it does not come already packed in seasoning, add peppercorns, cloves, and a bay leaf to the pot.

If using plain brisket, add a teaspoon of salt for every quart of water.

Bring to a simmer and then cover, lower the heat until it is barely simmering. Keep at a low simmer for four hours or until the meat is tender (a fork goes through easily).


2 Remove meat, add vegetables, simmer: Remove the meat and set aside, keeping the meat warm. Add the vegetables to the pot. Check the broth for taste. If it is too salty, add a little more water to taste.

Raise the temperature and bring the soup to a high simmer. Cook at a high simmer until done, about 15-30 minutes longer, depending on the size of the cut of your vegetables.


3 Slice meat across the grain: Slice the meat in thin slices across the grain. You may find it easier to slice if you first cut the roast in half along the same direction as the grain of the meat. Then slice smaller lengths across the grain.

new-england-boiled-dinner-method-3 new-england-boiled-dinner-method-4

Serve in bowls, a few pieces of meat in each, add some of the vegetables and some broth. Serve with horseradish or mustard or both.

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New England Boiled Dinner

Showing 4 of 37 Comments

  • Richard Dougherty

    It is not surprising that this dish is so controversial as to its origins, because it’s an old one with many variations. I recommend adding turnips near the end of the cooking proces. And also make more than you can eat on Saturday, because on Sunday you can chop up the leftovers, squeeze out the liquid and fry up the best corned beef hash you’ve ever had. (Poached eggs over, and dry toast.)

  • Ken Baroa

    I grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We had New England Boiled dinner several times a year. Once in a while it was Corned Beef but most of the time it was Smoke Shoulder. It was done with Cabbage, Potatoes, Linguica & Chourico (Not Chorizo). That’s the way most people I knew in Souteastern Massachusetts cooked it. I now live in California and mostly use Corned Beef only because it’s not too often I find whole Smoked Shoulders but when I do find it I usually buy at least 3 and freeze 2 of them.

  • Darlyn

    Such a super recipe! I used a picnic ham (as my mother did) and adapted it to my large pressure cooker and ended up with the same wonderful meal in far less time. It is exactly what I was looking for. Tossed in a few extra potatoes to flesh it out. To convert, I simply cooked meat in water and spices as directed by the pressure cooker: 15 minutes per pound at high pressure, brought it back down to zero just before the end and added the vegetables, pressure cooking for five more mintutes before releasing steam for the final time. Great broth with only the slightest bit of added salt.

  • tremayfreon caudwell

    I make this in pretty much the same way, with one exception: I boil everything in tomato juice rather than in water. And on the table, lots of Jewish rye bread, mustard and dill pickles.

  • robert lavoie

    Having grown up in Fall River, MA, I am very familiar with corned beef and cabbage. I use a flat piece of red corned beef, red bliss potatoes, carrot and cabbage wedges. When cooking the beef I have always put red wine vinegar in the water with the spices and always added a pound of chourico to cook with the meat. Very tasty.

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