Corned Beef Nilaga


My version of the Instant Pot Corned Beef Nilaga using the corned beef brisket warrants a try, and you will not forget these simple beef chunks and vegetables. It’s so easy you won’t need a recipe the next time you make it. This is my happy bowl on rainy days, cold seasons, or when I miss my Mom’s hugs.
Nilaga means boiled in Tagalog. So it technically is boiled beef until tender, then add the veggies. Cook time is lesser because of the instant pot (or pressure cooker). I also provided a stovetop version just in case you want to go the traditional route.

Combining the spice packet from the corned beef and the aromatics from the Filipino recipe makes this soup packed with flavor. Naturally, you will want this over rice. Oh, almost like a hug from your Lola (grandmother).


Enjoy your favorite boiled soup in minutes! Corned beef nilaga is easy to make with simple pantry ingredients yet turns out super tasty. It’s the perfect comfort food on its own or with steamed rice.

This nilagang corned beef is my Pinay take on the classic New England Boiled Dinner, a one-pot dish made of corned beef brisket, cabbage, and root vegetables such as potatoes carrots, and turnips.

The boiled dinner is one of our favorite holiday meals, but I don’t make it other than on St. Patrick’s Day when the dish is traditionally served. Why take forever and a day to simmer the brisket to tenderness when I can use tinned corned beef for instant gratification?

Corned beef nilaga delivers the same comforting flavors but with less work and less time. It’s ready in a matter of minutes yet turns out full of flavor.

I know it sounds like a strange idea, but try it before you knock it! You’ll be surprised how well the recipe works. It tastes just like corned beef guisado but in soup form!

This recipe is super easy, but there are two things to note for best results.

  1. Use a chunky variety of canned corned beef. My favorite brands are Martin Purefoods, Palm, Ox & Palm, and Argentina.
  2. Gently break the corned beef into large pieces and limit stirring the soup to keep the meat in chunks.


How to cook beef nilaga is almost always debatable. Old school is to cook it long slow. For convenience, others opt for the pressure cooker or instant pot. I say, do whatever works for you best. The important thing is to not skimp on the aromatics because it gives the depth of flavor to this otherwise simple beef in broth.

Cooking Tips

  • This corned beef nilaga is meant to be a quick recipe and uses canned corned beef. You can swap it with corned beef brisket if available. Cut the meat into 2-inch chunks, cover with water, and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until fork-tender. Add the vegetables and cook until tender. Season with salt and peppercorns.
  • The recipe uses potatoes, cabbage, and green beans. Feel free to add common nilaga vegetables such as carrots, sweet corn on the cob, and scallions.

How to serve and store

  • This nilaga soup is delicious on its own or with steamed rice. Enjoy it as main dish for lunch or dinner.
  • Store leftovers in container with lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat to 165 F, keeping stirring to a mininum.


1. Follow the directions on the package. Add the spice packet.
2. Once the meat is tender, pull it out and cover it.
3. SKim off the fat.
4. Add potatoes and carrots. Let it come to a boil, and then lower heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Then, add the green beans and cabbage.
5. Slice the corned beef.
6. Assemble beef and veggies in a serving bowl. Pour Broth.
7. Serve with rice and a dipping sauce of fish sauce, lemon, and chili.

Stove Top (3 hours)

  • Cut corned beef in half to fit—no need to rinse.  Add the spices that come with it. Add the following: peppercorn, ginger, onions, leeks. Cover with water. Let it come to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for about 2 -3 hours. Check the tenderness on the second hour, and then every 30 minutes, until it is tender.
  • Remove corned beef when tender. Slice and cover.
  • Skim off the fat from the pot.
  • Add fish sauce to taste. Add carrots, sweet potato, and green beans. Let it simmer for 5 minutes until carrots are tender. Add cabbage and cover. Turn off heat.
  • Remove corned beef from the pot and slice. Serve with the soup vegetables over rice.
  • Optional: a dipping sauce of fish sauce and lemon.


There is no need to rinse the meat. But if you want the extra umami flavor, rinse out excess salt. Then augment with fish sauce later on.
You can tenderize the beef a day ahead. Refrigerate and remove the fat from the pot. It’s easier to remove the fat when it cools down.
If this is served in one go, add all the veggies in. If not, estimate veggies to be consumed in one meal. Then when reheating the meat, add the vegetables, so they are not too wilted on the reheat.
Other options on vegetables: corn, bok choy (pechay), sweet plaintains or Thai bananas, green onions or scallions.


In the olden days, the curing process of beef uses kernels of salt. Hence salted beef is called corned beef. There were conflicting issues of Irish or English (when they took over Ireland) origins. Still, I am not going to delve into that right now because we are, after all, here to talk about the easy instant pot corned beef and cabbage soup Filipino style.
Americans brought the popular canned corned beef to the Philippines during their occupation.
When I moved here, I was happy to try the popular St. Patrick’s Day, Corned beef brisket during St. Patrick’s Day. It is boiled with spices, carrots, potatoes, and beans.  Now, I consume corned beef nilaga regardless of the Irish traditions. I honor the corned beef through Filipino tradition, cooking beef when it rains (or cold). haha

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