This easy vegan corned beef recipe can turn tofu, tempeh, seitan or any meat substitute into a delicious corned beef dish.  Serve with cabbage and potatoes, sliced in a vegan Ruben sandwich or chopped up in a vegan corned beef hash.  It’s perfect for a special St. Patrick Day dinner or just a delicious sandwich! 

A white plate filled with vegan corned beef and cabbage.

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I was never a big meat eater, but I did love that salty flavor of corned beef that my mother would make on St. Patty’s Day, and my favorite sandwich has always been a grilled Ruben!  I wanted to recreate that same flavor – without the meat of course.

The secret to that authentic corned beef flavor is in the seasonings that you put into a salty brine to cook your “meat.”  You can then marinate any vegan meat substitute in this flavored broth.  When I first attempted to make a vegan corned beef, I just boiled tofu or Butler soy curls in the brine and then served it.  It tasted good, but the texture was too wet.  Then, I had the idea to bake it after it marinated and that’s when it went from good to great!  The seasonings baked in even more and the texture was wonderful!

What do you need to make vegan corned beef?

  • Water – for the base of your marinade.
  • Salt – to make a salty brine.
  • Pickling Spice – for flavor.  This can be purchased in the spice section of most grocery stores.  (I put it into a metal tea ball to keep the strong spices from getting stuck on the “corned beef.”)
  • Mustard Seeds – for flavor. There is some in the pickling spice, but I like more.
  • Coriander Seeds – for flavor.  There is some in the pickling spice, but I like more.
  • Bay Leaf – for flavor. There are some bay leaves in the pickling spice
  • Beet – for color and a little sweetness.  I use the pre-cooked ones that come in a vacuum-sealed pack in the produce section. You can also use a fresh beet, but just blanch it and peel it before adding it to the pot. (You can also add a few drops of red food coloring and a tsp of brown sugar instead).
  • “Meat” – I like to use tofu since it has a nice flavor and texture when cooked this way and it’s gluten-free, but you can also use tempeh, jackfruit, soy curls, or seitan.

For a vegan corned beef and cabbage meal…

  • Cabbage – cut into big wedges. (1 small cabbage).
  • Potatoes – small potatoes or potatoes that have been peeled, cut into smaller pieces work best.  (about 2-3 cups).
  • Carrots – peeled and cut into big pieces. (about 3-4 carrots).

A plate of vegan corned beef and cabbage with a cabbage behind it.

How do you make vegan corned beef?

  1. Make a flavored brine by adding water, salt, pickling spice, mustard and coriander seeds, a bay leaf, and beet to a medium-sized pot.
  2. Boil the brine for about 10 minutes to get the spices to release flavor.
  3. Add sliced tofu (or another meat alternative).
  4. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. (or cover and put in the fridge until you are ready to bake).
  5. Bake the tofu on an oiled cookie sheet at 375°F for about 1 hour until it starts to get crispy at the edges.
  6. Serve with cabbage and potatoes, mashed potatoes, or use as sandwich “meat” to make a vegan Ruben.

*You can also put all the ingredients into a crockpot and cook it on low for about 6 hours to allow the tofu to soak up the flavor. 

A series of 2 pictures showing the pot of water filled with salt, spices, and a beet to make the brine to cook the vegan corned beef.

The seasoned brine before and after adding the beet and tofu.

For a vegan corned beef and cabbage meal:

  1. Add potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, plus and an additional cup of water to the brine once the tofu has been removed.
  2. Simmer the vegetables covered with a lid for about 30 minutes until potatoes are soft in the middle.
  3. Serve with the baked vegan corned beef.
The potatoes, carrots, and cabbage before and after cooking in the corned beef brine.

The potatoes, carrots, and cabbage before and after cooking in the corned beef brine.

Tips to make perfect vegan corned beef:

  • Allow the tofu or vegan “meat” to sit in the brine for at least 30 minutes.
  • Refrigerate the tofu and brine if you will not be baking it within about 30 minutes of it cooling down.
  • If you don’t want mustard or coriander seeds sticking to your tofu, you can put those in the tea ball as well.
  • If you don’t have a tea ball, you can wrap the spices in a piece of cheesecloth and then tie it up with a cotton string.
  • Bake until slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
  • Bake time with vary slightly depending on how much brine drips onto the tofu when you are putting it on the cookie sheet.
  • Use a cookie sheet with edges to catch any drips.
  • If you have extra tofu corned beef, make it into a Reuben sandwich or add it to onions and potatoes for a vegan corned beef hash!

Vegan corned beef made with tofu on a white plate with potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.

How do I make a vegan Ruben out of the vegan corned beef?

Layer your baked corned tofu pieces with sauerkraut, vegan swiss cheese, and vegan 1000 Island dressing and then grill until golden brown.  (Official recipe coming soon)!

Can I make this tofu corned beef into a corned beef hash?

Yes, it’s delicious fried with potatoes to make a vegan corned beef hash.  Makes a perfect hearty breakfast food!

Want to try some other meaty gluten-free vegan recipes?  Try my homemade vegan sausage, vegan buffalo chicken, or my homemade vegan soyrizo!

Slices of vegan corned beef made out of tofu on a white plate.
5 from 26 rating

Vegan Corned Beef

A gluten-free and vegan method to make a corned beef flavored meal from tofu, tempeh, or seitan.

Ingredients

For the basic vegan corned beef:

For a vegan corned beef and cabbage meal…

  • 1 small Cabbage
  • 4-6 small Potatoes
  • 3-4 medium Carrots

Instructions
 

Basic vegan corned beef:

  • Make a flavored brine by adding water, salt, pickling spice, mustard and coriander seeds, a bay leaf, and a beet to a medium-sized pot.
  • Boil the brine for about 10 minutes to get the spices to release flavor.
  • Add thinly sliced tofu (or another meat alternative).  (Cut about 1/4 inch thick).
  • Simmer for about 5 minutes and then turn off heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. (or cover and put in the fridge until you are ready to bake).
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Bake the tofu on an oiled cookie sheet at 375°F (190°C) for about 1 hour until it starts to get crispy at the edges. (exact cooking time will vary depending on moisture level and thickness of tofu or vegan "meat").
  • Serve with cabbage and potatoes, mashed potatoes, or use as sandwich “meat” to make a vegan Ruben.

For a vegan corned beef and cabbage meal:

  • Wash and cut the desired vegetables into big pieces.
  • Add potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, plus and an additional cup of water to the brine once the tofu has been removed.
  • Simmer the vegetables covered with a lid for about 30 minutes until potatoes are soft in the middle.
  • Remove from the cooking water and serve with the baked vegan corned beef.

Notes

Tips:
  • Allow the tofu or vegan "meat" to sit in the brine for at least 30 minutes.
  • Refrigerate the tofu and brine if you will not be baking it within about 30 minutes of it cooling down.
  • If you don't want mustard or coriander seeds sticking to your tofu, you can put those in a tea ball. 
  • If you don't have a tea ball, you can wrap the spices in a piece of cheesecloth and then tie it up with a cotton string.
  • Bake until slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
  • Bake time with vary slightly depending on how much brine drips onto the tofu when you are putting it on the cookie sheet.
  • Use a cookie sheet with edges to catch any drips.
  • If you have extra tofu corned beef, make it into a Reuben sandwich or add it to onions and potatoes for a vegan corned beef hash!
Serving: 4slices, Calories: 169kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 8g, Sodium: 38mg, Potassium: 60mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin C: 0.9mg, Calcium: 251mg, Iron: 2.5mg
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