Happy St. Patrick's Day!  This week we are going to learn how to make smoked corned beef quesadillas.

I am going to show you how to make some of the best smoked corned beef or pastrami you have ever eaten and then we will slice that up thin and use it to make some extraordinary quesadillas that your family and friends will be talking about for weeks to come.

Let me show you how to prepare and smoke up a corned beef to perfection then I'll show you how to make them into quesadillas below.

What You'll Need
Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats-- you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.
How to Prepare the Corned Beef Brisket

Remove the corned beef brisket from the packaging and discard the seasoning packet if there is one.

Rinse the corned beef brisket under cold water and place it in a foil pan fat side down.

Corned beef brisket fat side down

Optional Step: The corned beef is pretty salty by default due to the corning process.

Removing Some of the Salt

If you want to remove some of the salt, you can soak it in cold water in the fridge replacing the water every 30-45 minutes or so.

Do this for at least 3 hours but it can be continued for as long as it takes to remove the sodium.

Once you feel that enough salt has been removed, slice off a small piece and throw it in the frying pan, give it a good sizzle and taste it to see if your assumptions are correct.

At this point, you can choose to soak longer or move on with the preparation of the corned beef.

Seasoning the Corned Beef

I love to use my original rub (purchase recipes here) on corned beef but I always make a fresh batch and omit the salt from the recipe.

Even if you soak the corned beef as described above, it will still have enough salt so that you will probably want your rub to be salt free.

Lucky for you, my rub is low on salt anyway;-)

With the corned beef brisket in a foil pan fat side down, or laying on a cutting board or counter if you don't have a foil pan, apply about 1 heaping tablespoon of dijon mustard to the top of the meat.

Spread it out with your hands or use a brush to make it easy. Be sure to get some on the sides as well.

Brush on some Dijon mustard

Apply the mustard to the top and sides

Sprinkle a generous amount of my original rub (purchase recipes here) on the top and sides of the corned beef brisket.

Apply rub to the top and sides of corned beef brisket

Flip the corned beef over to fat side up and repeat the steps with the Dijon mustard and my original rub.

We are going to be placing the corned beef directly on the smoke grate for maximum smoke penetration but the pan makes a great way to carry the meat out to the smoker.

Tip: You can also use a Bradley rack for this purpose (which I love) and you never have to remove the meat from the rack until it's done cooking and ready for slicing.

At this point the corned beef brisket is ready for the smoking part of this recipe. If you have not done so already, go get the smoker ready.

Getting the Smoker Ready

I opted to use the Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain smoker (GOSM) for this recipe so I filled the water pan with about 1 gallon of hot water and lit the burner. I also filled the chip box with pecan pellets and set it aside.

As I have mentioned before in previous articles, I have been using pellets instead of wood chips/chunks in this smoker and I am consistently getting 3-5 hours of smoke out of a single fill.

I am going to be shooting for about 250°F so I turn the gas knob to HIGH and that is where it will stay untit the meat is in place on the bottom grate just above the water pan where it will get plenty of smoke as well as steam action which I hope will help to make it tender and tasty in the end.

Once the smoker is heated to 250°F and climbing, I add the wood chip box to the smoker which gives me just enough time to go get the meat and place it on the grate before the smoke starts.

Smoke Time

The meat is placed directly on the grate, fat side up.

Corned beef brisket placed directly on grate

If you are using the Bradley rack, lay the rack with the brisket fat side up on the grate of the smoker and close the door.

If you are using the propane smoker like mine, leave it on set on HIGH until you see smoke coming out of the top.

If the smoker starts getting too hot, you can crack the door open just a bit to keep it at bay while the smoke is getting going.

Once the smoke starts and the smoker is up to temperature, you can back the heat off enough so that it maintain 250°F throughout.

Below are some other wonderful and recommended smokers that I use regularly and have written information about..

Information on Popular Smokers

Here's some information that I have written on various smokers. I hope to include more very soon.

Note: In colder weather, it is advisable to preheat the smoker at least an hour or more before you are wanting to use it. Keep the door closed as much as possible and even skip basting if necessary to maintain proper smoking temperatures.

You can expect this corned beef brisket to take about 7-8 hours to finish but if you are using an electric, charcoal or gas smoker, you only need to apply smoke for about the first 4 hours.

After that, you can finish with just heat if you so desire.

To help the brisket to tenderize and to help power it to the finish line, you can place it in a foil pan fat side up once it reaches about 160°F.

Into pan at 160 degrees

Leave it in this configuration until it reaches 195-200°F.

Let it rest for about 30 minutes before attempting to slice it.

Finished smoking

Rested and cut in half

Slicing for Quesadillas

Slice the corned beef into 1/8 inch slices using an electric slicer or a very sharp knife.

All sliced up

Tip: Keep everyone out of the kitchen while you are slicing. I ended up being a little short on slices due to everyone grabbing slices and stuffing them into their mouth as it came out of the slicer.

Apparently the smoky flavor of the corned beef with the crusty mustard/rub exterior made it impossible to wait!

Making the Smoked Corned Beef Quesadillas
  • Large flour tortillas (2 per quesadilla)
  • Olive oil, butter or other cooking oil
  • Swiss cheese
  • Smoked Corned beef
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spicy mustard sauce (recipe below*)

*Spicy Mustard Sauce

Combine well and place into a condiment cup or small bowl for dipping

Place a tortilla on your cutting board or counter top

Flour tortilla

Add the cheese

Add cheese

Tear the smoked corned beef into pieces and lay them randomly on top of the cheese.

Smoked corned beef brisket pieces

Add some sauerkraut here and there.

Add the sauer kraut

Top with more cheese (can't have too much of the good stuff!)

Top with more cheese

Top with another flour tortilla

Top with another flour tortilla

Brush oil onto the pizza stone right where you plan to place the quesadilla. (helps the browning process)

Lay the pizza stone onto the pizza stone on the Big Green Egg or other ceramic cooker set at 375°F.

Note: You can also place on a pizza stone or cookie sheet in the oven preheated to 375°F.

Cooking the quesadilla on the Big Green Egg

Wait about 5 minutes or until it gets brown enough for you.

Brush oil onto the top of the quesadilla and flip over onto pizza stone.

Quesadilla flipped over

Remove from pizza stone when finished and cut into about 8 equal slices

Finished quesadillas

Serve hot with my spicy mustard sauce*


These were delicious and the mustard sauce that I made using my own barbecue sauce really made them even more special in my opinion.

You could change these up a little by using a different kind of cheese such as cheddar, a mexican mix or even provolone.

If you don't like sauerkraut, you can use another form of sour such as pepperoncini's.

And here's a link to a page on how to make smoked corned beef rollups using flour tortillas, cream cheese, sauerkraut and of course, smoked corned beef served with that delicious spicy mustard sauce

Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats-- you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.
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