The pastrami sandwich, particularly the iconic pastrami on rye, holds a special place in American culinary tradition. Originating in New York City in 1888, this beloved sandwich has evolved over decades, becoming a staple in delis and kitchens across the country.

Why Cheese Matters

Cheese plays a crucial role in enhancing the flavor and texture of a pastrami sandwich. Its creamy, tangy, or sharp notes can complement the rich, salty pastrami, adding depth and balance to each bite. Choosing the right cheese can elevate your sandwich from good to outstanding.

Cheese for Pastrami Sandwiches

Best Cheese Choices

Cooper® Sharp White Cheese

One of the classic pairings for pastrami is Cooper® Sharp White Cheese. Known for its creamy texture and slightly tangy flavor, Cooper® Sharp has been a favorite since 1893. When melted over warm pastrami and onions, it creates a delightful contrast of textures and a harmonious blend of flavors.

Swiss Cheese

Another popular choice is Swiss cheese. Its nutty and slightly sweet flavor profile pairs well with the savory pastrami. When melted, Swiss cheese adds a creamy richness that complements the robust flavors of the sandwich.

Provolone Cheese

For those who prefer a milder cheese, Provolone is an excellent option. It melts beautifully and adds a subtle creaminess without overpowering the pastrami. Its mild flavor allows the pastrami to remain the star while providing a smooth texture.

Recipe: Classic Pastrami Sandwich


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 ounces deli-shaved pastrami
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 4 slices Cooper® Sharp White cheese
  • 4 slices pumpernickel or dark rye bread


  1. In a large skillet over low heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter. Add the onion, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, warm the pastrami until just heated through. Remove from heat.
  4. Butter one side of each bread slice. On the unbuttered side, place half of the Cooper® cheese on two slices. Top with pastrami and onions, then add the remaining cheese. Cover with the remaining bread slices, buttered side out.
  5. Melt the remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add sandwiches and cook until golden and cheese melts, about 4 minutes per side.


The pastrami sandwich remains a timeless favorite, with cheese playing a pivotal role in its deliciousness. Whether you prefer the sharpness of Cooper® Sharp, the nuttiness of Swiss, or the mild creaminess of Provolone, the right cheese can make all the difference. Experiment with different cheeses to find your perfect pastrami pairing!