New England Boiled Dinner

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.

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


  • 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).

Corned Beef in Pot of Water for Boiled Dinner

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.

Cabbage, onion, and carrot in Pot ready for Boiled Corned Beef

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.

Boiled dinner corned beef slab showing grain of meat Illustration of how to cut corned beef across the grain

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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  • J.

    you HAVE TO include beets if this is truly NEBD…..

  • Mark Frekki

    Mom made this, but with codfish. I would get up at 5 AM to finish the leftovers, cold, right from the fridge.

  • timjjoebillybob

    I’ve a question. When people are referring to smoked butt/shoulder and using it interchangeable with picnic, what cut and how is it cured/smoked? Where I’m from a butt/shoulder is a way different hunk of meat than a picnic. Here, when we refer to a smoked butt/shoulder we are talking BBQ, a picnic or picnic ham can refer to a cured or “fresh” front leg of the pig. Usually when someone is talking about smoked butt/shoulder it’s fully cooked shredded pork.

  • Joan

    I’m from Taunton, MA and make it mostly like yours, but like my mother I add the veggies a half hour before the meat is done and also a cup of Uncle Ben’s rice in a cheesecloth bag (or you can make your own bag with 3 new men’s handkerchiefs hand sewn together & a new shoestring minus the plastic ends). Tie tightly & balance the bag of rice on the veggies, get it boiling again, then back to simmer for a half hour. 20 minutes before the end of cooking I add the quartered cabbage around the bag of rice and get it boiling again, then simmer. I empty the hot bag of cooked rice in a separate bowl for serving. SO good in the plate with a generous pat of butter on top of the rice. Also, we mash the carrots together with the potato in our plate w/ a pat of butter. Bag can be used over and over again – I hand wash it really good then in the washing machine with the towel load on hot.

    • Elise Bauer

      What a brilliant idea to use a cheesecloth bag to cook the rice. Thank you Joan!

    • timjjoebillybob

      The rice is a good idea, never thought of that, especially cooking it in a bag. You just opened up a whole new world of cookery for me.

  • Shelley

    To keep the kids from eating the meat and leaving the vegetables on the plate, I’ve taken to cutting everything up and turning it into a Corned Beef and Cabbage Stew. It cooks faster, is eaten with gusto, and nothing is left behind!

  • Fran Romeo

    My Mother made this with a smoked pork shoulder. She would save the water and make pea soup with it. Just delicious with the little bits of vegtables in it. So good

  • Jim King

    What I missed in all the comments as well as some videoed instructions from others who were winter camping is… what does anyone do with all this delicious broth. I envision various soups.

    • Cindi S.

      I boil the ham ( leftover from baked ham) first for an hour then add vegs… cabbage at the end. When I serve it I use a ladle and try to get some of everything in the bowl. Broth and all! Delish!!

  • Kim McCulley

    I loved this recipe, it’s the same way my Mother cooks hers. I love the taste of Corn beef, so I wouldn’t think of adding sausage. It’s great with mustard and horseradish.
    Thank you for sharing!


  • 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.

    • Leo Rousseau

      Just stumbled across this… I also grew up in New Bedford, and now I am living in Fall River… I think that it’s time to make a boiled dinner!

    • Cronan

      My dad would use a smoke shoulder, make a boiled dinner, trim off the bone, use some of the leftover meat in a large Dutch oven of scalloped potatoes & the rest of the meat & bone to make his delicious homemade split pea soup! One large shoulder, 3 great meals!

  • 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.

  • Jess Gordon

    I just remembered, I was going to also tell you that my family wouldn’t serve it with the broth – just chunks of the corned beef and veggies. My dad all four kids love to pour a little white vinegar on top of everything – I swear this makes it taste sooo much better! But my mom thinks that’s gross and I’ve never seen anyone else do it LOL!

    • Mary

      I am definitely from a vinegar family too! I haven’t heard of too many people adding it myself, but it sure tastes amazing! I am also from New England! :)

  • David M Emery

    I am retired and now do most of the cooking around the house, as my wife still works. I cooked a New England boiled dinner last week, I used everything often spoken of except, I put a small amount of celery salt to add to the flavor. I cooked the cabbage in a separate steamer untill the last few minutes then layed it in on top to add some of the taste. I think my grandmother told me this dish originated in England. But who really knows–it is good never the less.

  • Barb Williams

    Terry Pelletier: Please post your recipe and spices used for the Portuguese New England Boiled Dinner your grandmother used to make. It sounds very close to the recipe my grandmother made. She grew up in New Bedford, Mass. She passed away last Christmas before she wrote that recipe out for me. I am missing it as it was our New Years tradition.

  • Rhonda Piasecki

    Originally from Boston area, my family, mostly Italian (though I’m a mutt with irish & polish in me) make a boiled dinner with smoked shoulder. We put the whole meal in the same huge pot and boil it all together. No extra seasonings, the ham is all you need. We add extra water as it boils out, but don’t rinse. We like turnips, potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage. I make it in the winter time. It’s my favorite meal!

  • Terry Pelletier

    My family always made New England Boiled Dinner with Pork Smoked Shoulder with Linguica or Chourico and cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions. I am from New England and that is how we make it up here. I have added my own spices and not the spices used to make it with corned beef brisket. It is one of our favorite meals.
    My family was from Portugal and that is the way my Grandmother cooked this meal. We all loved it…no matter the season.
    I live now in Florida and every chance I can find the smoked shoulder…It is one of my favorite meals when growing up in Fall River, Mass.

  • lillyseven7

    My family is from New England and my Mother often made this dish. FYI this is an Irish dish as far as I know. I am only the second generation of my family born in the US previous generations are all from The Emerald Isle. My Mother always added a 1/4 cup of catsup to the water the corned beef is boiled in to eliminate having to soak the beef over night. It hads some flavor and works great to reduce salt. Also we never removed the meat before adding the veggies, this allows the cabbage to sit on top and steam rather than become too soggy. To prevent the cabbage from being bitter be sure to carefully remove the core stem completely!

  • Lisa S.

    You’re lucky you have leftovers to make hash with the next day. I added the McCormick pickling spice this year and WOW did that make the house smell wonderful – juniper berries I think. It was one of the best corned beef dinners I’ve made in a long time. And I used a flat cut, not a point cut. This stuff is so good that I vote to have another St. Patty’s day 6-months from now just so we can all eat it again! Sept 17th work for you too? It’s a great holiday to repeat – no gift giving, no decorating, no combustible materials. Just cooking corned beef and cabbage and eating it.

    Great idea! ~Elise

  • Leah

    Like Richard from the coast of Maine (I was central Maine), I too wondered that nobody mentioned “red flannel hash”! It’s an important Part II to the traditional New England boiled dinner. In our parts of the state of Maine, the beets are usually cooked and served at the same time as the dinner, albeit separately as the beet broth would bleed and turn everything an unappealing color. As to the origins of the dish no matter where in the world, I believe the conditions of climate had a great deal to do with it. Generally, the area would be too cold in winter to provide fresh produce. The meat was corned to preserve it and the vegetables were all those able to be kept in the root cellar. The old-timers even knew how to keep cabbage for months at a time. Apple sauce works well as a side dish. There again, apples kept well in the cold cellar.

  • norma martin

    Being originally from Massachusetts, I can remember having New England Boiled Dinner all my life, at any time of the year, only instead of corn beef my mom cooked, Boston Smoked Shoulder and she didn’t marinate the meat, so, maybe thats why it’s called New England boiled dinner. I still make it, and love my friends and family love it.

  • Tina

    My New England family and I have always used a smoked shoulder for our boiled dinner. Boil the meat for an hour, change the water, do this three times. On the fourth time, we add the carrots, potatoes and cabbage. Reminds me of my grandmother!

    • Leslie Raymond

      Curious ….do you keep changing the water to reduce the salt from the meat ?

  • Filipe Antolin-Teixeira

    If I can add a different hint regarding the roots of this dish, I would say it seems like a variation of portuguese «Cozido»… which means «Boiled»…It’s an historical dish in Portugal using cabbage and potatoes, and sometimes white beans, and radish, with some sort of meats. Regarding the emigration of portuguese commuity to New England it may have had an influence!

    Bye for now

  • Sam

    I love this meal.I also bake the meat afterwards. I slice it thin and and drizzle maple syrup over it.Delicious.

    Oh, and I include onions with the vegetables.

  • Gregrie

    By doing it in a pressure cooker it only takes about one hour or so for the meat Let the cooker cool til the top comes off, add the veggies and 15 mins later your eating. If the cooker is too full cook the veggies by themselves for about 10 mins.

  • Coralie UK

    Sometimes Elise, I’m convinced you choose these dishes just to raise the contention levels in here! Still, that was a wonderful whirlwind of culinary origins. Here in England I’d say variations of the dish are a mainstay for a lot of families for its simplicity, efficiency and tastiness. Anything-one pot is always a winner for me and I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t the same in Ireland. As for the Origins, like noodles & pasta, this is a truly timeless classic I think, and by that I mean it’s one of those dishes that is created over and over by resourceful home cooks for a variety of reasons and audiences with no specific nod to the past.

    Well said Coralie, well said. ~Elise

  • Susan in WV

    My Mom taught me how to cook this dish & her recipe is very similar. Try adding a few mustard seeds & garlic to the mix. I also make a glaze of brown sugar & mustard for the meat & bake it for the last 20-30 min. of cooking time. This was one of my Dad’s favorite meals.

  • blowback

    Corned beef is most definitely associated with Cork in southern Ireland:

    “She adds that corned beef has a particular regional association with Cork City. From the late 17th century until 1825, the beef-curing industry was the biggest and most important asset to the city. In this period Cork exported vast quantities of cured beef to Britain, Europe, America, Newfoundland, and the W. Indies. During the Napoleonic wars the British army was supplied principally with corned beef which was cured in and exported from the port of Cork.”

    Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson, [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (page 218)

    Although it was produced in Ireland, it was rarely eaten in Ireland due to the cost and the poverty of the Irish.

    As I child in the UK, I regularly consumed boiled beef and carrots with cabbage and mashed potatoes mostly at school but occasionally at home. The boiled beef was either cured brisket or cured silverside.

  • Peggy

    My very Irish grandmother (we are also from the Boston area) made our boiled dinner with a pork shoulder. To us, the boiled dinner was a different meal from our corned beef and cabbage.

  • dewesq55

    My father, an old “Connecticut Yankee” LOVED this meal. Not an irish bone in his body but this was old new england comfort food to him.

  • Tracy

    I cook my brisket in a mixture of half water, half dark beer, and throw in some pickling spices. Mmmmm mmmm good!! I usually serve it with sauerkraut cooked in beer as well.

  • Sarah

    This is very similar to what we call “Boiled Dinner” here in Nova Scotia. We usually use salted pork riblets, they come in a bucket and you can find them in any grocery store around here. Or you can buy whatever cheap meat you want and salt it yourself. ie stewing beef or pork whatever. We cook it the same way,rinse the meat, boil it, test the water for saltiness after the first hour, change the water if need be, add your veggies (potatoes,carrot,cabbage,turnip and parsnip) to the pot when your meat has boiled for about 2 hours, in an hour you have a delicious supper. Usually served with loads of vinegar and mustard. Yummy.

  • Laurel Rogers

    I realize that this is an older post, but my husband who is Mexican requests this dish at least once a month. I’m more than happy to oblige since most of the work can be done in a quality slow cooker. I do confess, however, that I do use the “round sausage”, but my husband likes it that way and with a little coaxing from broth and a few seasonings it makes my guy happy as well as my checking account happy. Keep up the good work Elise! Thank you, Laurel Rogers

  • A'tuin

    Wow, this stuff was delicious. We had the beef brisket, but didn’t know a really good way to prepare it. It was definitely one of our better ideas. Kudos to the chef.

  • Anonymous

    yes, the irish dish is made with ham, and immigrants to new england often substituted corned beef.

    i doubt it would ever have been made with lamb–this is a very simple rustic dish, and poor irish farmers did not have the luxury of eating lambs (their english landlords did…)

    pork was most often the only meat available, since a single pig could produce a litter of piglets. the piglets could then be sold off and one kept to feed the family for the winter (vs a cow or sheep, who only produces one offspring).

  • Aime

    Actually, Irish people didn’t come up with corned beef and cabbage. Irish cuisine does include cabbage, but the meat it is served with was more likely to be lamb or ham. Corned beef just happened to be a cheaper alternative for us here in the US back when we started celebrating the good green day.

    “I’ve never seen green beer in Ireland.” says Yvonne Ivory, a lecturer at San Diego State University who grew up in Dublin. “The corned beef and cabbage thing makes me laugh” she adds.

  • Sean Patrick

    The story around the table this past weekend related to me was that the Irish usually had ham not corn beef. the cabbage was cooked over the ham to hide it from the landlords. (Who has money for ham?) The cabbage would be quite odorific and the ham was not found. The corn beef is a american thing, partly related to lack of refridgeration but also the mixing of culture: Irish, British, Polish, German, and Jewish all enjoy this recipe, so does the Ukrainian part of my family as well as my Russian friends. Ahhh America.

    • Leslie Raymond

      How much do I love this story. Happy St Patrick’s Day.

  • Marsha

    My grandma always made the boiled dinner with a ham with the bone and similiar vegetables. When everything was done she put dumplings on the top. When my girls were little I took canned bisquits and quarted them on top till they puffed up and were done. Very tasty.

  • Joe

    My Polish family has made this for generations, with the addition of barley to bulk up the broth a bit. They also substitute polish sausage for corned beef and it is awesome, as long as you use REAL polish sausage (smoked or fresh), NOT something processed into a ring by oscar meyer!

  • kurt

    In my family it was made with a cured ham (whole with bone) and always included onion and rudabaugh. Other winter friendly root vegatables such as turnip or parsnip might be added if on hand. Yum.

  • jim

    It was the Boston Irish immigrants who would take beef and “corn” it (preserve with salt) in the way they’d preserved the bacon joint back home, and they cooked that with cabbage and potatoes. Hence the Irish and New England connection.
    I cook it the same way, but stud three thick onion slices with the cloves, and also add a couple of green pepper rings, a clove or two of garlic, and 1/2 tsp of dried rosemary. Comfort food, indeed!

  • Leslie

    This is very similar to a traditional Newfoundland meal called Jiggs Dinner … Salt Beef boiled with potatoes, carrots, turnips, and cabbage .. and of course peas pudding! If I’m not mistaken it most definitely has Irish roots (as does most of Newfoundland!)
    We soak the meat overnight first and throw out the water when it’s ready to cook, that removes most of the extra salt.

  • Joanne

    Thank you! My Grandmother always made New England Boil dinner for St. Patrick’s day and no matter how easy it always seems to look, I inevitablely miss something. I follwed your directions to the tee and my entire family agreed….YUMMMMMMY! Thanks!

  • Huw Raphael

    I LOVE this recipe (my English grandmother made it all the time… not so much the Irish side of the family.)

    Actually, corned beef is not an Irish dish – and not a few of them seem horrified to have it attributed to their culture: for in Europe “corned beef” is a tinned product that is rather scary. Pick one up at Safeway and open it – the smell alone will send you for a loop!

    Still, the history is vague: