There are many methods to make pastrami, this is the one that I was taught by my grandfather back in the day. It's very similar to the old world style you would find at some of the best known Kosher delicatessens in N.Y. This is a very time consuming method that teaches you how to cure your own beef as well. If you are in a rush (want it in 3 days) Start with a store bought raw corned beef and jump to the desalination stage.

For a 5-8 lb brisket

Curing time 5-7 days

Desalination 1-2 days

Smoke time 4-5 hrs

Recommended rest 8-24 hrs

Steam time 2 hrs

Total time 11-12 days

For the brine

1 gallon of distilled or purified water

8 oz of kosher salt (about 1 c)

2 t of pink curing salt

1 cup brown sugar

5 T of The Killer Cook's Lower East Side Brisket Rub + 2-4 oz for rub (or more to taste)

4 Cloves of garlic smashed skin on

1 cinnamon stick

5-10 all spice berries

1/2 lb of ice


In a large sauce pan bring 1/2 gallon of water to a simmer, stir kosher salt, curing salt, brown sugar and The Killer Cook's Lower East side Brisket Rub.

Bring pot to boil and stir till all the salt and sugar is dissolved about 5 minuets.

Take pot off heat and add the cinnamon sticks, garlic and all spice berries. Add ice to rapidly cool down the brine. Transfer the cooled brine to a large container and add the trimmed brisket, cover with remaining water. Place a weight on top of the brisket to ensure it is submerged adding additional water if necessary. Cover and place in your refrigerator. Check to make sure the brisket is submerged daily.

At the end of 5-7 days we are ready for the next step (You can brine even longer if you'd like we do enjoy a nice 14 day brine once and a while)


At the end of the 5-7 days pull the brisket from the brine and rinse well, Then place the brisket in a pot slightly larger then itself and cover it with clean cold water. Let it sit for 8 hrs, then change the water and repeat. We recommend  doing this for 24 hrs, if you brine longer then 7 days 48 hrs is recommended.

Drain and rinse your meat, pat dry.


Rub your meat thoroughly giving a generous coating, then place meat on a cooling rack in your refrigerator for another 24-48 hrs. This is to make sure the rub adheres to the meat.

Next fire your smoker to 225 f with your choice of wood (we prefer cherry) and smoke the brisket to an internal temp of 160 f.

At this point you can store your pastrami for up to a week in your cold chest before steaming it.


Set your oven for 325 degrees.

In the bottom of a broiler pan place 2-4 inches of water then place the grate on top. Place the brisket on top of the rack and wrap in foil being extra careful not to let the foil touch the meat if the pan is steel. (This could create a fireball and although it sounds cool it really sucks!)

Pull the meat when it reaches a internal temp of 205-209 don't rush this and check the water ever so often to make sure it doesn't dry out.

Once you pull the pastrami your ready to slice and eat. Cut it like corned beef perpendicular to the grain by hand about 1/8th of an inch thick. Serve it with rye bread and mustard. Russian and kraut or slaw if you like, but never ketchup or the old world gods will be angry! 

Photo by Buttered Rollz BBQ team