Smoked Pastrami From Corned Beef

Achieve that great crusty bark and smokey taste in a fraction of the time with this Smoked Pastrami made with store-bought corned beef.
slices of smoked pastrami piled on top of each other on a wood chopping board

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Pastrami is an iconic Jewish-American staple that’s loved by many, especially served up hot on fresh rye bread. 

Originating in Romania, Pastrami is traditionally made with beef brisket that has been brined, smoked, and steamed. 

For this recipe, we are making smoked Pastrami with Corned beef which is a great way to save yourself a few days of prep time and still enjoy delicious pastrami right at home.

Easy Smoked Pastrami Using Corned Beef #Shorts

What is Corned beef?

Corned beef is essentially cured brisket that is then boiled or steamed. Historically, corned beef was a method for preserving fresh meat so that it would last longer. 

Contrary to popular belief, corned beef did not originate in Ireland – it actually originated in the United States by Irish immigrants. The immigrants could not afford the pork and bacon products traditionally served in Ireland on Saint Patrick’s Day, so they opted to create a dish out of a more affordable cut of meat: beef brisket.

Corned beef is easy to distinguish from smoked brisket because of its tell-tale pink color. The brine used to preserve the brisket and turn it into corned beef contains a salt-nitrite blend called “curing salt“. This prevents the beef from spoiling while it cures by inhibiting bacterial growth and sodium nitrite is the same substance used for curing other meats such as sausages, bacon, and hot dogs.  

Buying Corned beef vs making your own

To make Pastrami you first need corned beef. 

silver bowl with a bag
For this recipe, we started with a 4lb corned beef flat from the grocery store.  

You can buy a brisket flat and brine your beef in a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices for 5-7 days. We have another recipe if you want to learn how to brine your own beef for pastrami

raw piece of corned beef in a sliver bowl
Corned beef is rather salty, so the first step is to soak it in cool water for about 24 hours to reduce some of the saltiness of the beef.

Place your corned beef in a large plastic container and cover it with cool water, then store it in the refrigerator. Change the water after around halfway through.

Once the beef has soaked for 24 hours, remove it from the water, rinse it off, and then pat it dry.

The Pastrami rub

Once the salt has been removed from the corned beef and you have patted the brisket dry, it’s time to season it up with a great pastrami rub. 

Pastrami is known for a flavorful rub with a heavy dose of black pepper. It is also important not to add salt to your pastrami rub. 

Most barbecue rubs contain salt, but since the corned beef has already been brined in a salt solution you do not want to add more salt to the rub, or you will run the risk of the meat being far too salty to enjoy.

white bowl with, ground pepper, garlic granules, paprika and brown sugar in it
Because we have already soaked the corned beef to reduce the saltiness, we don’t want to add any to the rub.

Our homemade pastrami rub is a simple combination of fresh-cracked, coarse-ground black pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Add all the ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir them until well-combined. 

Season the beef generously with the rub mixture, so you can build up as much of that delicious, peppery bark that makes pastrami great.

seasoned piece of corned beef on the grill
It’s important to coat all sides, including the bottom.

Once your beef is well-seasoned, just let it rest on the counter at room temperature while you fire up your smoker and bring it up to smoking temperature.

How to smoke the Pastrami

As I mentioned before, the main difference between corned beef and pastrami is that pastrami is slow-smoked. This gives it a wonderful smoky flavor that really takes it to the next level. 

I smoked this pastrami on the Pit Boss Pro 1600 at 250°F. 

I used the Bear Mountain Bold BBQ Blend pellets, which are made from all-natural Oak, Mesquite, and Hickory. This combination of wood offers an extra flavorful and bold punch of smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with a robust dish such as pastrami.

seasoned smoked pastrami on the grill
Our recipe ensures you end up with a juicy piece of smoked pastrami.

Traditionally, the pastrami is steamed prior to serving, but I have found that I can achieve the same result by wrapping it in butcher paper once it hits about 175°F. 

The butcher paper creates a steamy environment and allows the pastrami to retain moisture as it finishes cooking. Your pastrami will be done cooking when the internal temperature hits between 190°F and 195°F. 

Butcher paper creates the perfect steamy environment for pastrami.

Just like with a traditional smoked brisket, it is important to let the meat rest prior to serving.

Because this was just a small piece of brisket, I let it rest for about an hour at room temperature to allow all the juices in the meat to redistribute.

cooked smoked pastrami on a wooden chopping board
It has the crusty bark of a classically cooked beef brisket.

How to serve Pastrami

By far, the most traditional way to serve pastrami is in a Reuben sandwich with rye bread, Swiss cheese, and deli mustard.

pastrami sandwich with cheese and dressing on a wooden chopping board
Can’t beat a classic Reuben sandwich.

You can serve the pastrami either hot or cold, but if you want a real New York deli experience, then the pastrami absolutely must be served hot.

cooked sliced corn beef pastrami on a wooden chopping board

You can add sauerkraut, coleslaw, or pickles to add a bit of freshness and acidity as well.

What condiments go best on a Pastrami sandwich?

1.     Mustard – mustard and pastrami pair wonderfully together, especially great spicy deli mustard. Even if you are just making a basic sandwich, the mustard adds a tangy element that really brings the flavors in the pastrami to life.

2.     Russian Dressing (or Thousand Island Dressing) – another popular condiment for pastrami is Russian dressing. If you want to make a Reuben sandwich, just add a bit of Russian dressing to each slice of rye bread, then layer on some Swiss cheese, your pastrami, and a bit of sauerkraut. You can also substitute Russian Dressing with Thousand Island dressing to achieve a similar flavor profile.

3.     Mayonnaise – mayo is also a popular condiment for a great pastrami sandwich. It can be spread in a layer on the bread to add a bit of flavor, and it will also help hold the sandwich together!

Try some of our other sandwich recipes

Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich
Cheesy Tri-tip steak sandwich
Reuben sandwich with homemade smoked Pastrami

sliced smoked pastrami from corned beef

Smoked Pastrami using Corned Beef

5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Jewish/American
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 1 day 6 hours
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 475kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger

Ingredients

  • 4 lb Corned beef brisket flat
  • 3 tbsp black pepper coarsely ground
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika

Instructions

  • Add the corned beef to a large plastic container and cover with cool water. Store in the fridge for 24 hours, changing the water out about halfway through.
  • Once the corned beef has soaked for 24 hours, remove it from the water and pat dry.
  • Combine the black pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder, and onion powder in a mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
  • Season the corned beef generously with the dry rub mixture, being sure to coat every side.
  • Allow the beef to rest at room temperature while you preheat your smoker to 250°F.
  • Once the smoker is preheated, add your beef directly to the grates and let it smoke for about 4 hours until it reaches 175°F.
  • Wrap the beef tightly in butcher paper, then place it back on the smoker until the internal temperature reaches between 190°F and 195°F (about 2 more hours).
  • Remove from the smoker and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour, then slice and enjoy!

Video

Easy Smoked Pastrami Using Corned Beef #Shorts

Nutrition

Sodium: 2763mg | Calcium: 34mg | Vitamin C: 61mg | Vitamin A: 443IU | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 748mg | Cholesterol: 122mg | Calories: 475kcal | Saturated Fat: 11g | Fat: 34g | Protein: 34g | Carbohydrates: 7g | Iron: 4mg
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