Pastrami, a beloved cured beef delicacy, originates from traditional methods of preserving meat before refrigeration. Typically made from beef brisket, pastrami undergoes a curing and smoking process that transforms it into a tender, flavorful delight.

Homemade Pastrami: A Step-by-Step Guide

What You Need to Know About Pastrami

Pastrami starts its journey as corned beef but diverges with a unique preparation method. While both are derived from brisket and use a similar curing blend, pastrami sets itself apart with its spice coating and smoking process.

The Pastrami Curing Process

The first step in making pastrami is curing the beef brisket. This involves submerging the meat in a brine solution infused with salt, spices, and Prague powder #1 (or InstaCure), ensuring thorough penetration over 5-7 days.


Applying the Pastrami Seasoning

After curing, the brisket is coated in a robust seasoning mix of toasted peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and other spices. This step enhances flavor and prepares the meat for smoking.

Smoking Your Pastrami

Next comes the smoking process, where the seasoned brisket is placed in a smoker preheated to 250°F. Smoking continues for 6-8 hours until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195°F, ensuring it’s cooked to tender perfection.

Enjoying Your Homemade Pastrami

After smoking, allow the pastrami to rest before slicing. Serve it warm for immediate enjoyment or chill it thoroughly to slice thin for sandwiches later. Pastrami sandwiches are a classic favorite!

Tips for Perfect Homemade Pastrami

  • Experiment with Different Meats: While brisket is traditional, other cuts like round or rump roasts can also be used with adjusted curing times and quantities.
  • Toast Spices for Enhanced Flavor: Don’t skip toasting the coriander, mustard seeds, and peppercorns before grinding. It significantly boosts the final seasoning’s taste.

What Goes Well with Pastrami?

Pair your freshly made pastrami with delicious sides like grilled potato salad, coleslaw, or grilled potato wedges for a complete meal.


Homemade pastrami is a labor of love that rewards with its rich flavors and tender texture. Whether enjoyed on its own or in a sandwich, your homemade pastrami will surely impress friends and family alike.