This is a fantastic step by step recipe to make homemade pastrami! Fantastic flavor and perfect for sandwiches, rarely are there any leftovers.
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4.32 from 22 votes

How to Make Pastrami

This is a fantastic step by step recipe on how to make pastrami! Incredible flavor and perfect for sandwiches, rarely are there any leftovers.
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time1 d 8 hrs
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine: American, Western
Keyword: brisket pastrami, homemade pastrami, how to make pastrami
Servings: 6
Calories: 518kcal
Author: Kevin Is Cooking


  • 4.25 lb corned beef or beef brisket
  • Dry Rub:
  • 4 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder See Note 1


  • Take the corned beef out of it’s packaging and rinse with cold water. Place in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Keep refrigerated overnight or 8 hours to remove the excess salt. This is the desalinating process. I like the corned beef flavorings so use this kind, but feel free to use a beef brisket of same weight and go straight to the dry rub.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the dry rub ingredients: black pepper, coriander seed, ground mustard, brown sugar, garlic and onion powders and chili powder of choice. Rinse desalinated corned beef or fresh brisket in water and allow excess to drip off and apply dry rub mixture evenly over all sides. Place on a platter and refrigerate over night or 8 hours. No need to cover with plastic wrap because when you remove it most of the dry rub sticks to the wrap and is wasted. Air cured is fine overnight, but feel free to go right to the smoker. I have found overnight adds more flavor then straight to the smoker. Use your own discretion.
  • I use a The Masterbuilt 30" Digital Electric Smoker, but follow your smoker instructions. Add an inch of water to the water tray, and using cherry wood chips, smoke the brisket for approximately 6 hours at 225°F. We will want an internal temperature of 180°F for that tender meat. 
  • Allow meat to cool and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours covered with a loose fitting piece of aluminum foil (We don’t want the dry rub to come off), if not steaming right away. Otherwise take directly to the steamer. (See below instructions).
  • If refrigerated, remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, then steam for 2 hours. I use a bamboo steamer with the meat resting on a bit of aluminum foil (See Note 2). In a large pot over medium low heat pour enough water in pot that there is an inch gap between steamer rack and water and steam for 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure water does not evaporate and refill as needed. We want an internal temperature of 204°F. Just before it hits that I turn off the heat because the meat will continue to cook. (See picture, it rose all the away to 207°F while resting.)
  • Feel free to discard whatever fat cap is still there and not rendered down completely. With a sharp knife be sure to slice across the grain into about 1/8" and serve! Slicing across the grain will ensure a tender, fall apart piece of pastrami.


  1. Unless a chili powder is specific, like Ancho Chili Powder, it can be made up of various ingredients. Basic Chili Powder mixes include Ancho, New Mexico, California or any other mild chili pepper, cayenne powder, ground black peppercorns, cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano.
  2. Cover loosely with aluminum foil over night and lay meat on top in steamer. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer a metal one will do fine that you use for steaming vegetables. Another steamer method is propping the plate and beef on top of rolled up prices of aluminum foil to raise it up and pour water in pot up to plate and steam.


Calories: 518kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 67g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 199mg | Sodium: 264mg | Potassium: 1116mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 3.5mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 6.7mg