Homemade pastrami
Print Recipe
4.72 from 7 votes

Homemade pastrami

Making your homemade pastrami is a week-long labour of love but the delicious results are very rewarding! Read on to see how to make pastrami at home with or without a smoker.
Prep Time5 d
Cook Time6 hrs
Steaming3 hrs
Total Time5 d 6 hrs
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Homemade pastrami
Servings: 10
Author: Lucy Parissi | Supergolden Bakes


You will need

  • 2.25 kg | 5 pounds flat brisket
  • 1 x 10 litre container
  • 4 cups wood chips (Oak or Alder)
  • 1 large roasting tray with a rack
  • Foil

For the brine

  • 5 litres | quarts hot water
  • 30 g | 2 tbsp Prague Powder no 1
  • 600 g | 1 pound 5 oz salt
  • 250 g | 9oz brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 thyme sprigs

For the spice rub

  • 30 g | 1/4 cup tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp Demerara (Turbinado) sugar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp Ancho chilli powder

To serve

  • Rye bread
  • mustard
  • pickles
  • Sauerkraut


STAGE 1: Brining (4 days)

  • Combine all the brine ingredients with hot water in a suitable container and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Leave to cool.
  • Immerse the brisket in the cold brine. Weigh it down to make sure it stays submerged (I used an inverted lid).
  • Place the container in the fridge and store for four days, flipping over daily.

STAGE 2: Rinsing and soaking (2-3 hours)

  • If you are using corned beef start the recipe from this step onwards. 
  • Remove the brisket and rinse really well with cold water. Discard the brine and fill the container with cold water and immerse the brisket again. Leave to soak for 2 hours, replacing the water every half hour. Don’t forget this step or your pastrami may be too salty.

STAGE 3: Adding spice rub (8 hours /overnight)

  • Put all the ingredients for the spice rub in a spice grinder, pestle and mortar or mini food processor and grind until you have a slightly coarse rub.
  • Pat the brisket dry with paper towels. Rub the brisket with the spice run, pressing down on the surface so it adheres. Carefully transfer to a large tray and leave in the fridge overnight. You can tent the brisket with foil but don’t wrap it or the spice run will fall off.

STAGE 4: Smoking (oven method) 5-6 hours

  • Take the brisket out of the fridge and leave to come to room temperature for 2 hours. Mix your wood chips with plenty of water and leave to soak.
  • Line a deep roasting tray with foil, letting it some length of it hang over the sides. Make sure there aren’t any gaps by overlapping lengths of foil.
  • Preheat the oven to 120°C (245°F) and place the shelf on the bottom rack.
  • Line the bottom of the tray with the soaked wood chips. Turn the rack over so that it is raised over the wood chips by a few inches. Place the brisket fat side up on the rack.
  • Bring the overhanging foil over the top to create a sort of tent, to allow the smoke to circulate. Crimp the edges so that it is airtight.
  • Place the tray on the stove and heat on medium-high for five minutes to start the smoking process. There won’t be a lot of smoke (or any if you have done a thorough job with the foil). You will hear the steam inside, don’t be tempted to open to look.
  • Place in the oven and smoke for 4-6 hours, or until the brisket registers 70°C (160°F) on your Thermapen.

STAGE 5: Steaming (2-3 hours)

  • Now you have two options – if you have 2-3 hours you can steam your brisket now. If not, you can cool the brisket and store in the fridge to steam the following day. 
  • Remove from the tray, wrap loosely with foil and store in the fridge. Discard the foil and wood chips and clean your roasting tray and rack.
  • When you are ready to steam the brisket, preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Place the rack over the roasting tin and position the brisket over it, fat side up.
  • Fill the roasting tin with boiling water until it comes halfway up the thickest side of the brisket. Cover the roasting tray tightly with two layers of foil, leaving a little space over the brisket.
  • Steam in the oven for 2-3 hours, until the pastrami registers 70°C (160°F) on your Thermapen. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use a sharp knife and cut into thin slices, cutting against the grain.
  • Serve over rye bread smeared with mustard and top with pickles.



If you are lucky enough to own a smoker follow the manufacture’s instructions. Soak your wood chips and place your brisket directly on the shelf. Smoke at  100°C (225°F) until the pastrami registers an internal temperature of 70°C (160°F). Different smokers may have different recommendations so refer to the manual. Don’t forget to steam the brisket in the oven before slicing.