Smoked Brisket Pastrami

Smoked Brisket Pastrami

Smoked Brisket Pastrami

Pastrami was first made as a way to preserve meat. A brine is used to first cure the brisket; then it’s smoked, and typically steamed until tender. In the past, I’ve used a short cut to create pastrami by starting with store bought, corned beef brisket; but I wanted to see if I could brine my own and turn it into mouth-watering Pastrami.

The first step for my Smoked Brisket Pastrami recipe was to come up with a Brine. The basics of a pastrami brine include salt, sugar, and spices; but the most important part is the pink curing salt. It needs to be used in an exact ratio to achieve the desired result. 1 tsp per 5lbs of raw meat is required along with 1 gallon of water. The seasonings in the pickling spice and garlic can be adjusted. I used a store bought pickling spice but you could easily come up with your own version.

Smoked Brisket Pastrami

For the brisket, I trimmed most of the fat and sinew off to expose the meat. This allows the brine to penetrate and cure it from top to bottom. It weighed 10lbs after trimming (so I needed 2 teaspoons of pink salt).

To make the brine get a large stock pot going over medium heat. Add 1/2 gallon of water to the pot along with the salt, sugar, and pink salt. Bring it to a simmer to dissolve everything and add the pickling spices and crushed garlic. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes just to make sure everything is dissolved and then remove it from the heat. Add the remaining water and allow it to cool.

Place the brisket in a container large enough to hold it and the brine. I used a XL Ziplock bag. Pour the brine over the brisket and get as much air out of the bag as possible to ensure the brisket stays submerged. Fasten the top of the bag with a zip tie and weight it down if necessary. Set the whole container in the refrigerator for 5 nights checking on it every day to make sure it’s covered in the brine.

Smoked Brisket Pastrami

On the 6th day remove the brisket from the brine solution and pat any excess seasoning off the surface. Place the brisket on a cooling rack inside a full size pan to dry. Let it hang out in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning take the brisket out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temp. Season the outside with a good dose of Pastrami Seasoning (recipe below).

Smoked Brisket Pastrami

Fire up your smoker and bring the temp to 275 degrees. Place the brisket on the pit and add pecan wood to the fire for smoke (use your favorite wood if you prefer). Smoke the brisket for 4-5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees.

Smoked Brisket Pastrami

At this point traditional Pastrami is steamed until it’s tender (that’s deli style Pastrami); I’m going for more BBQ style Pastrami. Wrap it in Pink Butcher Paper and place back on the pit.

Smoked Brisket Pastrami

Insert a meat probe into the thickest part of the flat and continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 204 degrees. For a meat probe, we are using a Thermoworks DOT (check them out here>>) At this point it needs a couple hours to rest and you’re ready to eat.

Smoked Brisket Pastrami

Homemade Smoked Brisket Pastrami is absolutely fantastic. It’s tender, juicy, and has all the flavors of the spices used in the brine and seasoning. It’s great on its’ own or stacked high on a sandwich. However you eat it, you have to give this recipe a try!

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Smoked Brisket Pastrami
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Smoked Brisket Pastrami


  • 1 whole brisket - 10lbs
    For the Brine:
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt

  • 1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Pickling Spice
  • 5-6 cloves of Garlic smashed

  • 2 teaspoons of Pink Curing Salt #1

    Pastrami Seasoning:
  • 1/2 cup Corse Ground Black Pepper

  • 1/4 cup Raw Sugar
2 Tablespoons Granulated Garlic

  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Coriander

  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Onion


  1. Combine 1/2 gallon of water, Kosher Salt, Sugar, and pink salt in a large stock pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a slight boil and add the pickling spice and garlic. Stir the mixture to ensure the sugar and salt dissolve and remove from heat. Pour in the remaining 1/2 gallon of water and allow the mixture to cool.
  2. Trim excess fat from the whole brisket and place in a XL Ziplock Bag. Pour the brine mixture over the brisket and squeeze all of the air out of the bag. Secure the top of the bag with a zip tie. Make sure the brisket is completely submerged in the brine solution.
  3. Place the bag in a large plastic container and refrigerate for 5 nights (check on the brisket daily to make sure it is submerged). On the 6th day remove it from the brine and pat off any excess seasoning. Place the brisket on a raised rack in a large pan and allow it to air dry in the refrigerator.
  4. Prepare smoker for indirect cooking at 275 degrees with pecan wood added to the hot coals for smoke flavor.
  5. Combine the black pepper, garlic, coriander, mustard, and onion in a jar. Season all sides of the brisket with the seasoning mixture.
  6. Place the brisket on the pit and smoke for 5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches around 165 degrees.
  7. Wrap the brisket in butcher paper (non-waxed) and place it back on the pit. Insert a meat probe into the center of the flat to monitor internal temperature.
  8. Continue to cook the brisket until it reaches 202-204 degrees or when a meat probe slides into the brisket with no resistance.
  9. Rest it in a dry cooler lined with old towels for 1.5 - 2 hours before slicing.

Malcom Reed
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Smoked Brisket Pastrami

Comments 19

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      1. I can’t thank you enough for sharing all this greatness with us. My sons and I have enjoyed many a great day prepping, cooking and sharing your teachings. Thanks again!
        Hank Cote

  1. Malcom, love your site, this is my bbq electronic bible. I (aka my wife) just started brining 3 venison roasts. I can’t wait to smoke them next week!

  2. I love pastrami and can’t wait to try this recipe. I noticed that one reply was using venison. Would love to know how that turned out, I’m concerned it might be too dry as venison is so lean. Love your posts

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  3. When you wrap it and put it back in the smoker how much longer does it need to cook before being done? Just trying to figure out time wise. Thanks

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  4. This sounds great. One thing I can’t figure is, what does the dotted square with L SEP in it stand for? Thanks for all the help you have given me. Love your videos.

  5. Excellent recipe Malcom. We served it smothered with onions and topped with grated Jarlsberg on toasted marbled rye.

  6. Malcom, I see you have two pastrami videos. One where you brine the brisket yourself and the other you use an already supermarket corned beef (and then soak the salt out of it.) But you smoke them both differently. One you wrap in butcher paper and the other you put in a pan on a rack covered in foil. Why the difference and can you take the supermarket corned beef and smoke it like the one you corned?


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  7. There was a run on briskets here in SE Texas last week, so I ended up with a small, trimmed brisket to start (9 lbs before removing the point). I ended up with a pastrami around 5 1/2 lbs after smoking on my Traeger @ 225* & wrapping in butcher paper. This was excellent. It is a little heavy on the black pepper but otherwise, I could eat this all day.
    We ate it right off the cutting board first, then made rubens w/ cole slaw, provolone, mustard & a little Russian dressing. I wish I could post a photo, but you really can’t post the taste. Next time, I’ll start with a 15 lb packer.

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