Smoked Brisket Pastrami

Smoked Brisket Pastrami Recipe

Smoked Brisket Pastrami Recipe

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 Recipe

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).

Seasoning 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 Recipe

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 in Smoker

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.

Sliced 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 Recipe


  • 1 whole brisket – 10lbs

For the Brine:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Pickling Spice
  • 56 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.

Keywords: pastrami, brisket pastrami

Malcom Reed Connect on Facebook Follow me on Twitter Subscribe to my YouTube Channel Find me on Google+ Follow me on Instagram Buy Killer Hogs Products Here Smoked Brisket Pastrami

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64 responses to “Smoked Brisket Pastrami Recipe”

  1. Edward says:

    Me all barbecue recipes try that

  2. Ron says:

    Can this be smoked on a green egg at 275 degrees?

  3. Ryan says:

    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!

  4. Lee says:

    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

  5. Adam says:

    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

  6. Allen says:

    How do you use the brisket pastrami (i.e. as a stand-alone entree, in sandwiches, any other suggestions)?

  7. Steve says:

    If you are using a smaller brisket do you need all that salt?

  8. PM says:

    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.

  9. Randy says:

    Venison roasts and backstrap make great pastrami

  10. roger goller says:

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

  11. Alan Hariton says:

    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?


  12. Craig H says:

    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.

    • Duane Jones says:

      I plan to try this recipe in the next couple days.
      In your video the brine looks brownish in color.
      But none of the ingredients would cause it to be that color so what’s the reason for the color?

  13. Mike says:

    After taking the brisket out of the
    Brine is it really salty? does it need to be rinsed or soaked in water to remove any saltines? Or is it good as is?

  14. Mike says:

    Will your recipe work using a Pit Boss pellet smoker?

  15. Tony De Vito says:

    Hi Malcom,
    Im making a pastrami brisket and my question to you is the amount ingredients that you used to make your brine is for a 10lb brisket. Im making a 18 pounder do i use the same amounts or do i up the amounts to compansate for the size. this is my first pastrami.

  16. Gary says:

    In your prior pastrami videos you soak the meat in water overnight to remove some of the salt, why in this version did you not soak it overnight?


  17. Paul Hale says:

    Malcom always enjoy your work/ craft my friend.

    Do you guys ever plan on teaching some classes out in Southern California?

  18. Whipple Newell says:


    What pickling spice did you use? Store bought or your own? Last question, I have a Morton Meat cure that use for Jerkey. Can I use that instead of the pink one?


  19. Brian says:

    Hi! I can’t seem to find any butcher paper but I found freezer paper. Can I put this on the smoker even though it had a polyurethane coating on the inside?? Cheers!

  20. Ronald Shrout says:

    Do you steam your pastrami as the last step ??

  21. Ronald Shrout says:

    Why do you wrap it instead of just letting it cook to 204 ??

    • Malcom Reed says:

      Just speeds up the process and pushes through the stall faster. If you don’t want to wrap – just keep cooking.

      • Ronald Shrout says:

        Ok Thanks Mine just came out of a 3 week brine it’s soaking overnight then I’ll rub it up good in the morning let it come to room temp then in the smoker not sure if I’m gonna wrap or not I’m not pressed for time and I don’t want to mess up the bark.

  22. Michael says:

    Malcolm, after watching your video and following your directions I’ve smoked a brisket at least three times now and I’m wondering why it doesn’t come out as red as yours. Any suggestions?

  23. Bryon says:

    Fourth time I’m cooking this. My family and friends get really excited every time I start this recipe. It’s awesome

  24. Jon Shultz says:

    Opening a new store in down town Wetumpka. This is going to be one of the items. Thanks for sure.

  25. Scott Pohler says:

    I’m going to try this recipe this week. Instead of putting the brisket in a bag and then the plastic container, can you just submerge the brisket in the container instead? Thanks!

  26. Damon N Lofgren says:

    I’m currently making a pastrami and was wondering if Instead of patting the meat I should rinse off the cure and salt the sodium nitrate prior to drying in refrigerator seems like a lot did anybody wish they had done so prior to seasoning and smoking

  27. Nancy bouchard says:

    Hi Malcom,
    I’ve been trying to make pastrami (Montreal smoke meat) many times but steaming it after smoking. Unfortunatly I always failled the meat was dry. I’ve gotten a new smoker, Pit boss vertical and will try to smoke all the way. Do you think it will make a big difference without steam? I own a cattering bussiness in France and have lots of request for Montreal smoke meat…
    Thank you and love your work!

  28. Jorge Cancel says:

    About how many hours after the wrap to reach 204? Trying to plan for dinner

  29. Jeff Puffenbarger says:

    Malcolm, I was wondering – does this recipe turn out just as well if you only use a brisket flat? Or do you recommend using a whole packer? Could I remove the point and brine that and the flat separately? I can’t wait to try this! I am going to Costco in a few hours to get my brisket and pink salt!

  30. TomAce says:

    Man, I was super excited about this one. Everything I’ve smoked from your site has been amazing… But this pastrami was a massive fail. It looked right, felt right, but when I put that awesome looking piece of meat on my taste buds and took a bite, the overwhelming salt taste prompted me to gag!

    I followed your recipe perfectly, just as I do with all of your other amazing recipes.

    Having friends over today for a football game with all the fixins…Guess I’m off to the deli for some store-bought pastrami… Sucks!

  31. Jean says:

    I inject my peameal bacon with the brine that I make can I do the same with this brine for more flavor Thur out the brisket

  32. Michael says:

    Can I substitute the butcher paper with foil. Nobody in my town has butcher paper so I have to find something else.

  33. Scott B. says:

    MR – I’m a big fan of all that you do on the grill! Originally from the northeast and now living in the Nashville suburbs, I’ve become an avid Egger and follower. I decided to jump all-in on this recipe – even though you have to have some patience (brining). And boy I’m glad I did. It was a grand slam. The instructions are spot-on and the final product brought me back to the Stage Deli in NYC. Sliced it up and threw it on some rye w/ homemade slaw and Russian dressing. Topped it off with giant deli pickles. Brought down the house. Keep the grillin’ magic coming, brother. SJB

  34. RON LABELLE says:

    Love your recipe, I thank you so much. My wife and Friends absolutely loved the way I copied your style. Again Thanks.

  35. Patty A Paulsen says:

    Just pulled my smoked brisket off , IT 204. Kept it between 250 – 275. Cooked faster than I thought it would, I’ve got it in a cooler for a rest My probe didn’t slide in like melted butter and when I pulled the wrapped package off the rack, it didn’t “bend”. Since it was probably close to 8.75 pounds after I trimmed it, I get that it might have cooked quicker. But now I am concerned that it will be tough. Should I have let it go longer? Thanks for any suggestions.

  36. Jim says:

    The pastrami rub included raw sugar but instructions omitted using it?

  37. JC says:

    I’m on my 4th Pastrami, I noticed
    After I finished with the resting period, and I slice the Pastrami the
    color changes from a pink to brown. Typically over a little time.
    Because it gets eaten very quickly I haven’t used curing salt, could this be the cause. I’m trying to stay away from the nitrates in the curing salt.

  38. JC says:

    Loved the recipe, to reduce the salt can you just reduce brine time?

  39. Just smoked this recipe yesterday, let it chill overnight and sliced on a deli slicer this AM. Perfect lunch special, grilled rye, Swiss and choice of yellow or ground mustard. Delicious! Recommend this recipe.

  40. Courtland says:

    So I have a 5lb brisket, after trim. I read you recipe to say 1 should use 1tbsp of pink curing salt. That said to I halve the salt, sugar and pickling in the brine also?

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