Corned Beef Brisket: Brine (Nitrate-Free)

Nitrate-Free Corned Beef Brisket - from Against All Grain

Update from US Wellness Meats: “All the xylitol has been removed from the corned beef brisket and flatiron. The natural spices are clove, cinnamon, and allspice.”

I had originally planned on using a pre-brined brisket for this recipe so my timing would have been precise and allowed enough time for you to purchase your meat and cook it before St. Patrick’s Day. Then I pulled my brisket from US Wellness Meats out of the freezer and realized there were a few ingredients in it that I would prefer not to promote on my site because I don’t use them – xylitol and natural flavorings. Just goes to show that you still need to carefully check labels, even when the product is from such a trusted source such as US Wellness Meats! They have told me that they are in the process of removing those ingredients from all of their products and that the corned beef is on it’s way there or has been already. So that’s good news!

I needed a plan B though for the interim and that meant getting a plain brisket and then brining and corning it myself. Which takes 4 days. Kind of threw a wrench in my plans! So I’m posting this recipe for you in 2 parts. The first, being the brine. Grab your meat today and get it into the brine and then I will post the recipe for the corned beef with cabbage on Sunday morning! It’s a little bit of a time crunch, but this dish wasn’t initially created for St. Patrick’s day anyhow, so you can enjoy it all year long!

update: we had to take an unexpected trip this weekend so I am going to have to let my brisket sit in its brine until Monday. If you plan to make this for St Patrick’s Day- any corned beef preparation recipe will work. I usually slow cook mine for 8 hours with cabbage and carrots or simmer it covered for 3 hours on the stovetop. Because this brine is nitrate free, your beef will be more of a gray color than the typical bright pink you are likely accustomed to. This is also a solid recipe to use

Nitrate-Free Corned Beef Brine from Against All Grain
Nitrate-Free Corned Beef Brine - from Against All Grain
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Corned Beef Brisket: Brine (Nitrate-Free)

AUTHOR: Danielle Walker - AgainstAllGrain.com


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1½ cups kosher salt
  • ½ cup coconut palm sugar, or honey
  • 3 bay leaves, torn
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 1 small brisket, 3-4 pounds , defrosted partially


  1. Heat all of the ingredients except for the brisket over medium heat until the salt has dissolved. Bring the brine to room temperature.
  2. Trim any excess fat from the brisket. Place the meat into the brine and put 2 heavy plates over the meat to keep it fully submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 4 days.
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  • Amy U.

    If I doubled the amount of meat would I also need to double the amount of brine?

    • Against All Grain

      You should be fine using the recipe as is as long as the meat is fully submerged

  • http://www.eatstopeatdietplan.com Kate

    oooh I have always wanted to make brisket…This is going into my recipe file! Thanks… And I would have NEVER thought there would be stuff like xylitol in something like this.

  • Fionna

    Can you leave the meat in the brine for longer? Say 6 days?

    • Against All Grain

      Yes should be just fine! It may be a little more salty but just rinse it off well

  • julienorvan

    are you saying you think xylitol is not good and shouldn’t be in it? I was under the impression that it is healthy to eat instead of sugar, is a natural product, I bought it at a health food store! Please inform me,thanks!

    • Reggie Buffat

      Xylitol feeds the bad bacteria in the intestines even as it is not digested by us. It is a forbidden food in the diet that I follow (SCD).

  • Kimberly

    Do you cut the cabbage into wedges for the slow cooker? Do you add water to the slow cooker? Thanks! I needed something new; look forward to making this! Picked up the brisket and ingredients today!