Homemade Pastrami

by | Mar 21, 2022

fresh cut pastrami


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While this recipe isn’t particularly difficult, it does require a bit of patience: a smoker and a few special ingredients. We simplify the ingredients by using our Turkey Brine and Pastrami Rub. Briskets vary in size and cut. We prefer to use a full packer brisket and the ones we like tend to be about 12 pounds.

The corning (curing) process can take anywhere from 7-10 days, and you will need to prep it the night before you smoke it, then on cooking/eating day, plan for it to cook a full day on the smoker. Give yourself plenty of lead time before you plan to serve your pastrami.


  • Author: Thomas McGee
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8-9 hours
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: A lot
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Smoking and Curing
  • Cuisine: American


  • Full brisket 915 pounds (we like 12 pounders)
  • 3 cups Turkey Brine
  • 12 grams or 2 teaspoons pink curing salt AKA Prague #1 salt
  • 1 cup Pastrami Rub
  • About 1 gallon of water
  • Plenty of charcoal and your favorite smoking wood


  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 cups of water, our brine mix and curing salt until completely dissolved. Pour the dissolved brine over ice into a large container that will fit your brisket. We use a large bucket with a lid but you can also use an extra, extra large Ziplock bag (the huge kind).
  2. Pour the additional water completely cover the brisket in the container. You can use a plate to keep the brisket submerged.
  3. Place in the fridge for 7-10 days. If you have a smaller brisket (9-11 pounds), 7-8 days will be enough. For a larger brisket (12+ pounds) you’ll need the full 10 days.
  4. The night before you smoke your brisket, take it out of the fridge, and completely rinse off the brine. Dry off the excess moisture, then place on a cookie sheet or cutting board.
  5. Coat the brisket completely with the pastrami rub (it will stick by itself, no oil needed), then place in the fridge overnight. Do not cover it, as we want it to dry cure overnight.
  6. Day of smoking: Build a fire in your smoker and preheat it to 250-300 degrees (we’re aiming to smoke at 275 degrees).
  7. Smoke the brisket for 5 hours at 275 degrees.
  8. Wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper and increase the smoker temperature to 350-400 degrees. You can use mostly charcoal at this point, as we are no longer adding smoke flavor and rather we’re focusing on cooking to the final temperature of 205 degrees. Use a probe thermometer and cook until the center of the brisket reaches 205 degrees. This usually takes around 2 hours, but can take longer depending on cut/size. 
  9. Keep the pastrami wrapped and rest for at least 1 hour, and up to 2 hours. We like to put ours in either a dry cooler or an unheated oven during the rest period.
  10. Unwrap and slice as thin or thick as you like. Enjoy! You just made pastrami!


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