This homemade pastrami recipe is perfect for those who crave the classic New York deli flavor but don’t have access to a smoker. Tender, juicy, and encrusted with signature pastrami spices, this method is surprisingly simple yet incredibly delicious.

Use your homemade pastrami to create generous sandwiches or iconic Reuben sandwiches!

Homemade Pastrami Recipe

For anyone who’s ever tasted a New York pastrami sandwich, recreating that experience at home becomes an obsession. This recipe strives to capture the tender, juicy, and robustly spiced pastrami found in the legendary delis of New York.

This isn’t your average deli counter pastrami. It’s a labor of love, taking cues from traditional methods but adapted for a home kitchen.

Ingredients for Homemade Pastrami

  • Store-bought corned beef (brisket or silverside)
  • Homemade pastrami spice mix: includes black pepper, coriander, and smoked paprika
  • Aluminum foil for wrapping


1. Start with a store-bought corned beef brisket.

2. Prepare the homemade pastrami spice mix, ensuring plenty of cracked black pepper.

3. Coat the beef generously with the spice mix and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil.

4. Slow cook or pressure cook until the meat is tender.

5. Once cooked, allow the meat to cool before briefly baking it to seal the flavorful crust.

6. Thinly slice the pastrami and serve it piled high on rye bread.

*Note: Corned beef refers to beef brisket that has been brined, available in the fresh meat section of supermarkets.

Pastrami from Scratch

How to Make a Pastrami Sandwich

A pastrami sandwich is a celebration of flavors, with thinly sliced pastrami layered on toasted rye bread, slathered with mustard, and optionally topped with melted cheese.

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Homemade Pastrami (Oven-Roasted)

This variation of homemade pastrami utilizes an oven-roasting method instead of smoking, ensuring rich flavor without the need for specialized equipment.

The beef brisket is brined, rubbed with a spice mix including black pepper, coriander, and smoked paprika, then slow-baked to perfection.

Smoked Pastrami Variation

For those seeking the authentic smoky flavor, this variation involves smoking the pastrami using an outdoor smoker or grill. It requires more time but delivers a depth of flavor that enthusiasts will appreciate.

My Spice Rub Variation

Enhance the traditional pastrami spice rub with additional ingredients like mustard powder, garlic powder, and brown sugar for a more robust flavor profile.

Common Questions

What is the difference between Pastrami and Corned Beef?
Pastrami is seasoned similarly to corned beef but is typically smoked or slow-baked after brining, whereas corned beef is usually boiled or steamed.

Where did Pastrami and Corned Beef originate?
Pastrami, originally known as pastrima, originated in Turkey and traveled to the United States with Romanian Jewish immigrants, becoming popularized in New York City. Corned beef evolved similarly, with Irish immigrants adapting traditional recipes to use affordable beef brisket.

What kind of meat is pastrami?
Pastrami is traditionally made from brined and cooked beef brisket, though it can be prepared from other meats like goose, goat, or mutton.

Is pastrami healthy?
While pastrami offers protein and essential nutrients like iron and vitamin B12, it is high in saturated fat and sodium, so moderation is advised.

Why should I weigh my salt before brining?
Different types of salt have varying crystal sizes, which affects their density. Weighing the salt ensures consistency in brine saltiness, regardless of the brand used.

Helpful Tips

  • Have your butcher trim the brisket’s fat cap to 1/4-inch for easier preparation.
  • If the brisket is too large for your brining container, cut it in half.
  • Allow the brisket to cool before slicing for best results.
  • This recipe is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets.