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Scott Phillips

Yield: Makes about 5 lb. of pastrami

Making pastrami at home takes time—a little over a week, in fact—but very little effort. The long brine and slow smoking infuse the beef with flavor and keep it tender. This recipe makes a lot, and while you can certainly use a smaller piece of brisket, why not make enough to share with friends and family? The unsliced brisket will keep for at least 10 days, too.


For the brine

  • 4-3/8 oz. (6-1/2 Tbs.) fine sea salt (measuring by weight is most accurate)
  • 5 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. curing salt
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 5 to 6 lb. untrimmed beef brisket, cut from the flat portion (see Tip)

For the spice rub

  • 1/4 cup whole black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 1/4 cup whole coriander seeds, coarsely ground

For smoking

  • 1 cup hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size Per 2 oz.
  • Calories (kcal) : 100
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 25
  • Fat (g): 3
  • Saturated Fat (g): 1
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1
  • Cholesterol (mg): 45
  • Sodium (mg): 280
  • Carbohydrates (g): 1
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 16


Brine the brisket

  • In a food-safe container large enough to hold the brisket, whisk the sea salt, sugars, honey, curing salt, garlic, and mustard and coriander seeds with 6-1/3 cups warm water to dissolve the salt and sugar. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  • Rinse the brisket, and then submerge it in the brine. Weigh the brisket down with a plate or a bowl to make sure it stays completely submerged. Refrigerate for 7 days, agitating the brine and turning the brisket every other day.

Season the brisket

  • Remove the brisket from the brine, pat it dry, and put it on a large baking sheet. Coat evenly on all sides with the peppercorns and coriander. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours to air-dry the surface.

Smoke the brisket

  • Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking over low heat (200°F to 275°F) or prepare a smoker according to manufacturer’s directions. Add half of the hickory chips to the coals or to a smoker box. Place the brisket fat side up on the cooler side of the grill, cover, and cook until it registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part, 4 to 6 hours, adding the other half of the hickory chips halfway through. Let cool.


  • To serve, slice the pastrami thinly against the grain. To reheat, steam slices in a vegetable steamer until warm, 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, microwave slices on high in 15-second bursts until warm.

Make Ahead Tips

If not using right away, wrap the unsliced pastrami in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 10 days. (You can also freeze sliced pastrami for up to 2 months.)


A whole brisket has two parts, the flat and the point (also called the deckle). The flat is the meatier part.


Rate or Review


  • suburbangeorge | 03/04/2018

    Made this recipe when I first saw it in Fine Cooking. Absolutely great!! My only real problem was how to make room in our already pretty full refrigerator for a week to brine a whole brisket(flat and point). Partially solved this by brining it in a large plastic bag rather than a rigid container. This way it could conform to the shape of a medium refrigerator drawer. Kept thinking "What is the result after the brining?". Answer is corned beef. So Saturday I thawed a packaged corn beef left from last St Patrick's Day. Seasoned it and smoked it on a Weber Kettle. It was raining out and maybe that accounts for why it took 8-9 hours to reach 170 rather than 4-6. Worked very well so it's a good short cut.

  • opinionatedcook | 11/20/2015

    This was a very good recipe. I did not use curing salts at all, because I don't want nitrates in my food. Further, the refrigeration during brining is sufficient to ward off the nasties. I have only tasted the slices, which were pretty darn good, and hoping they will be better on a reuben. I used a 5+lb brisket and smoked in my Big Green Egg at ~225F, but it took seemingly FOREVER (6+hours) to achieve 170F. The result was an amazingly tender piece of pastrami, YUM.

  • user-3238474 | 07/15/2015

    I love doing hard things, which is why I subscribe to Fine Cooking. This recipe was a lot of fun, and the result was perfect! I'm not an experienced smoker, but I managed to get buy with my gas grill and wood chips in a foil pouch.Also, the only curing salt I could find locally was Morton brand "Tender Quick". I used only this salt for the cure, instead of a mix of sea salt and curing salt. It worked, as I had a juicy brisket with a lovely pink color.

  • mvlsi | 06/13/2015

    This pastrami is amazing. Very strong flavor. I slice, vacuum seal and freeze portions so I can make sandwiches when I get the urge. Best ever.

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