Corned Beef & Cabbage: Traditional and Vegetarian Recipes

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d try making corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot. If I’d known how easy it was to make, I’d have made it a long time ago!

Then I started thinking: What about myself? Sometimes, being a vegetarian means I get left out of holiday traditions. But just because I don’t eat beef doesn’t mean I don’t want an Irish-inspired meal on St. Patrick’s Day! So I played around a bit and created my own version of “corned beef” using tofu and lots of spices. If you’ve never used tofu before, it doesn’t taste like much without spices, so the important thing is to cook it so it soaks up all the wonderful flavors of your broth or sauce.

I’ll share the meat recipe first since it’s crazy simple, and then move on to the slightly more complicated vegetarian recipe.

Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage


  • 1 side of corned beef, rubbed with the included spice packet
  • 1 onion (I used a sweet Vidalia because that’s what I had, but any yellow onion will do)
  • 4 large carrots
  • 1/2 of a medium head of cabbage
  • 5-6 medium red potatoes
  • 12 oz of beer (I used Yuengling)
  • 3 cups water


  1. The corned beef available at my grocery store came pre-packaged with a little spice packet. Since this was my first time making it, this seemed like the most time and cost-effective route. (However, if you make your own corned beef, I’d love to hear about it!)
  2. Prep the veggies
    • Chop the onion into bite-sized pieces.
    • Peel the carrots and chop them into bite-sized pieces
    • Chop the cabbage into shreds
    • Scrub the potatoes and chop them into large pieces. Since they’re in the crockpot so long the skins fall right off, so I wouldn’t really recommend peeling them.

      These carrots are just pretty, aren’t they?
  3. In the crockpot, make a layer of potatoes. The potatoes will shrink some as they cook, so don’t worry about crowding.
  4. Then, layer the carrots on top, followed by the onions. Lay the meat on top of the veggies, then pour the beer over the meat, followed by the water.

    I sent my husband a text with this picture with the caption “if you ever doubt my love for you remember I rubbed spice on a raw hunk of meat for you first thing in the morning.”
  5. Turn the crockpot on high and cook for about 8 hours. During the last hour, add the cabbage in and cook until it’s wilted. (I meant to take a photo of this but my toddler couldn’t wait to dig in!)

Cooking note: I cooked the vegetables (except the cabbage, of course) for all 8 hours because I made this in the morning before work. However, if you’re home while this meal cooks I think they could also go into the crockpot about four hours in for less squishiness.

Corned Tofu and Cabbage


  • 4 carrots
  • 4-5 red potatoes
  • 1 Vidalia onion
  • 1 container of extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 12 ounces beer (I used Yuengling)


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground

Note: This version is made in a stockpot and finished in the oven, so you could make it concurrently with the meat version. It also takes significantly less time.


  1. Prep the veggies (if you’re making both the meat and vegetarian recipes like I did, do all this at once for a much easier prep.)
    • Chop the onion into bite-sized pieces.
    • Peel the carrots and chop them into bite-sized pieces
    • Chop the cabbage into shreds
    • Scrub the potatoes and chop them into large pieces.
    • Shred the cabbage into strips

      Real talk, I love onions. They add such a nice flavor to almost anything.
  2. Put all the veggies in a large stock pot and combine with the beer, vegetable stock, and spices. Cover and boil on high for 35-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, open your tofu and pour out all the water in the container. You want to get as much water out as possible, so wrap your tofu in a clean towel or paper towels and let it sit. I usually put mine on the cutting board with a cookie sheet on top to press as much water out as possible while not squishing it.
  4. After the tofu is dried, cut it lengthwise with a sharp knife.

    Tofu is such a versatile cooking element. I love that it picks up flavors to combine into something new.
  5. Lay the tofu out flat in a pan. I used a glass dish, but anything that can hold the tofu, veggies and liquid will work.
  6. Once the vegetables have cooked, pour it all over the tofu and cook it at 350 for about 30 minutes.
  7. Drain the liquid, remove your bay leaf and serve hot. If you prefer crispier tofu, you could throw it in a pan and crisp it, but I chose to keep the silky texture to try to mimic the fall-apart beef.

Note: Other plant-based protein would work in this recipe as well. I originally bought tempeh, but after thinking about it, I decided the texture was wrong. Seitan would probably be the closest texture to actual corned beef, but my store was out of it.

The great thing about both these recipes is they yield plenty of food. With my small family of three, we’re still eating leftovers (Bonus! #mealprepwithouteventrying)

I realize it’s after St. Patricks Day for 2017, but I can see myself making these meals on any cold and rainy day despite the season. They’ll definitely become a tradition in our house! If you celebrate, what kinds of things do you make for St. Patrick’s Day?

As my toddler says, “Happy Patrick’s Day, little green guys!” 




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