These Corned Beef Melts are the perfect solution to your St. Patrick's Day leftovers. But they're so delicious, they'll have you making corned beef just so you can enjoy these sandwiches!
(This recipe for Corned Beef Melts was originally published in March 2010, but has been updated with new photos and content in 2019).
What's your favorite part of St. Patrick's Day? (please, please don't say green beer!!) For me, it's a tie between corned beef and Lucky Charms. And when I say corned beef, I think I actually mean leftover corned beef.
Because my favorite thing is really these corned beef melts that are just the best in the world. Kind of like Thanksgiving dinner sandwiches (which are my other favorite thing in the world), these corned beef sandwiches are chock full of St. Patrick's Day dinner leftovers. And cheese.
But you should know that I didn't put cabbage in them. Though I actually think that may be delicious, I fear it would turn many of you away. And as is, these corned beef melts are perfection.
Though my family is just a little bit Irish (just a wee bit, if you will), we do have one major St. Patrick's Day tradition... And that's always eating corned beef with cabbage, carrots, and potatoes at some point around the holiday.
I've always really loved corned beef, but I don't think I've met anyone who loves corned beef quite as much as my husband! Now, we usually have corned beef twice a year: at St. Patrick's Day and on Chris's birthday.
But every time I make these corned beef melts with the leftovers, I say we need to have corned beef more often throughout the year. It's such an underrated dinner.
How to Make Corned Beef for Sandwiches
I developed this sandwich in the event that you need something to do with all those corned beef leftovers... But! It's so delicious that it's worth making corned beef from scratch just so you can enjoy a corned beef melt.
If you're making these sandwiches from scratch and don't yet have leftover corned beef waiting for you, don't worry... Corned beef is easy to make! Basically, all you need in order to make it is 1) corned beef and 2) time. It will take about 3 hours to boil, so make sure you leave time. If you bake it, it will take about 2 hours, depending on how big your corned beef is.
If I'm making corned beef solely for the purposes of this sandwich, I don't do anything fancy to it.
For boiled corned beef: just bring a large pot of water to a boil with the corned beef in it. Then reduce to a simmer and leave for about 3 hours (or until tender). Then turn the flame off and leave the beef in the water for 15 more minutes.
For baked corned beef: start by rinsing it under cold water. Then dry it and rub a little brown sugar/mustard and salt and pepper mixture over the top . Wrap it tightly in foil and and bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour per pound. You can broil it for a few minutes if you want to get it a little crispy!
What Cheese Goes with Corned Beef?
I honestly don't think you can go wrong when it comes to pairing corned beef with cheese. I use provolone for these corned beef melts because I think it's a nice mild complement to the beef and mustard.
But traditionally you'll find Ruebens made with Swiss cheese, which I also love (ruebens also have sauerkraut and Russian dressing) and which works really well for these melts.
I also think cheddar cheese would work well, especially if you can get a nice Irish cheddar!
How to Make Corned Beef Melt Sandwiches
And now for the sandwiches. These corned beef sandwiches are pretty simple and consist of just your leftover corned beef, provolone cheese, caramelized onions, and grainy mustard... All on rye bread slathered with some butter.
It's hard not to fall in love with them and I have to admit I enjoy them more than I enjoy the actual corned beef dinner itself.
If you have your corned beef already made, you'll want to start by caramelizing the onions. Easiest thing ever.
All you do is add a couple tablespoons of butter and some brown sugar in a medium skillet with the sliced onions. Cook on medium heat for about 20-30 minutes until the onions are deep brown and caramelized.
Now it's time to construct the sandwiches! Butter one side of all your bread slices. And put one from each sandwich on a skillet over medium heat. I'm making 2 sandwiches below.
Spread a thin layer of mustard on the bread slices. Place a slice of provolone cheese on top of the mustard. And top with caramelized onions. And some of that beautiful corned beef.
Top with the other slice of buttered bread. And after cooking a few minutes on one side, carefully flip the corned beef sandwich over. Cut in half. And enjoy.
With a beer or something. But hopefully not a green one. Maybe even some whisky or some Baileys. Actually, save those for dessert.
You need to focus on these corned beef melts and they go perfectly with a nice cold beer.
Anyway, let's talk these corned beef sandwiches. They are seriously awesome. I love pretty much any kind of melt (tuna, grilled ham and cheese, etc.), but this is no lie, one of the best I've ever had. I always think I'm not the biggest rye bread fan, but then I realize that when it's all buttery and toasted, it's so, so good!
Aside from the corned beef, the caramelized onions totally MAKE this sandwich, but everything about it is totally perfect. I do kind of wish I had added cabbage to it, because that would have been fun. Next time.
I'm legit about to run out to the store to buy more corned beef just so I can make these again. There are still a few more weeks before St. Patrick's Day, but it's certainly not too early to wear your green, pour yourself a beer, and salute the Irish with this sandwich.
But really, I'd eat this absolutely any time of the year, leprechauns or not!
More St. Patrick's Day Recipes
While these corned beef melts are a St. Patrick's Day staple in my house, there are so many delicious Irish recipes that are perfect for the season! Plus, I'm always sure to pair corned beef with a fun dessert. Here are some of my favorite St. Patrick's Day recipes:
- Lucky Charms Ice Cream
- Slow Cooker Dublin Coddle (from All That Jas)
- Irish Beef Stew Pie (from Real Food by Dad)
- Guinness Doughnuts with Irish Whiskey Frosting
- Corned Beef Hash (from Bowl of Delicious)
- Mint Macarons with Bailey's Buttercream
- Irish Soda Bread (from Annie's Noms)
- Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Filling and Baileys Frosting
- Lucky Charms Martini (better than green beer!)
Do you have any St. Patrick's Day food traditions?
Corned Beef Melts
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divded
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 4 slices rye bread
- 3 Tbsp grainy mustard
- 4 slices provolone or Swiss cheese
- 4 slices leftover corned beef
- Add 1 Tbsp butter to a large skillet over medium low heat. When melted, add onions and stir until well coated in butter.
- When onions are turning transparent, after about 10 minutes of cooking, stir in brown sugar. Continue cooking for 20-40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until onions are well caramelized. Stir in salt and pepper.
- Spread remaining 2 Tbsp butter on one side of all four slices of bread. Spread a thin layer of dijon on the other side of the bread slices. Place two slices of bread bread butter-side-down on skillet over medium-low heat.
- Place 2 slices cheese on each slice of bread. Top with corned beef slices and caramelized onions.
- Top with the other slice of buttered bread. And after cooking a few minutes on one side, carefully flip the sandwich over. Cook until bread is toasted and cheese is melty.
View Web Story for recipe.