What Does Pastrami Taste Like?

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If you’ve ever heard of pastrami but haven’t tried it yet, you might be curious about its taste. Pastrami is a beloved deli meat that has a distinct flavor and texture.

In this article, we will explore what does pastrami tastes like, how it is cooked, its nutritional benefits, and the best ways to store it. So, let’s dive in and discover the mouthwatering world of pastrami!

What is Pastrami?

what is pastrami

Pastrami is a highly seasoned and cured meat that is typically made from beef, although variations with turkey or other meats are also available.

It originated in Romania and became popular in Jewish delicatessens in the United States. The preparation process involves marinating the meat in a flavorful brine, coating it with a mixture of spices, and then smoking or steaming it until it becomes tender and flavorful.

What Does Pastrami Taste Like?

Pastrami is a highly seasoned and flavorful deli meat made from beef (usually brisket or navel cut). It undergoes a unique curing and smoking process that gives it its distinct taste.

The flavor of pastrami can be described as:

Rich and Smoky: Pastrami is traditionally smoked, which imparts a delightful smokiness to the meat. This characteristic sets it apart from other deli meats.

Spicy and Peppery: The beef is coated with a blend of spices, such as black pepper, coriander, garlic, paprika, and others. This spice rub gives pastrami its signature tangy and peppery taste.

Savory and Salty: The curing process involves using salt to preserve the meat, resulting in a savory and slightly salty flavor.

Tender and Juicy: When properly prepared, pastrami is moist, tender, and juicy, making it a favorite choice for sandwiches.

Umami: The curing and smoking process enhances the umami flavors in the beef, contributing to its overall depth and richness.

Overall, pastrami has a unique and robust flavor profile that appeals to many people, making it a beloved ingredient in sandwiches, salads, and various deli dishes.

How to Cook and Serve Pastrami?

how to cook and serve pastrami

Cooking pastrami typically involves two main steps: preparing the pastrami and then cooking it.

Here’s a basic recipe to cook pastrami at home:


  • 4-5 pounds of beef brisket (uncured)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (optional)
  • Instructions

1-Prepare the Brisket

  • Choose a good-quality beef brisket, preferably with a nice layer of fat on top.
  • The fat will help keep the meat moist during cooking.
    Rinse the brisket under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.

2-Apply the Rub

  • In a bowl, mix the kosher salt, black pepper, coriander, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard seeds, and thyme (if using).
  • Rub the spice mixture evenly all over the brisket, making sure to coat all sides.
  • Place the seasoned brisket in a large resealable plastic bag or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate the brisket for at least 5 days. During this time, the spices will penetrate the meat, creating that distinctive pastrami flavor.

3-Cooking the Pastrami

  • Preheat your smoker or oven to 225°F (107°C).
  • If using a smoker, you can add wood chips like hickory or mesquite for additional smoky flavor.
  • Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

4-Smoking (Preferred Method)

  • Place the pastrami on the smoker rack fat side up.
  • Cook the pastrami at 225°F (107°C) until it reaches an internal temperature of 190°F (88°C), which usually takes around 6-8 hours, depending on the thickness of the brisket.
  • After reaching the desired temperature, remove the pastrami from the smoker and let it rest for about 30 minutes before slicing.

5-Oven Cooking

  • If you’re using an oven, place the seasoned brisket on a baking sheet with a wire rack insert.
  • Cook at 225°F (107°C) until the internal temperature reaches 190°F (88°C).
  • After cooking, let the pastrami rest for about 30 minutes before slicing.
  • 6-Slicing
  • To achieve the best texture and tenderness, slice the pastrami against the grain.
  • This will help break up the muscle fibers and result in more tender slices.


  • Serve the pastrami on rye bread with mustard, or use it in various dishes like sandwiches, wraps, or salads.
  • Keep in mind that making pastrami at home takes some time, but the result is well worth the effort. Enjoy your homemade pastrami.

Does Pastrami Taste Like Roasted Beef?

While pastrami and roasted beef both come from the same animal, they have distinct differences in taste and preparation.

Roasted beef is typically seasoned with simple herbs and spices and cooked to retain its natural flavors. On the other hand, pastrami undergoes a more complex curing and smoking process, which gives it a deeper and more intense flavor profile.

Pastrami has a spicier and more robust taste compared to roasted beef, making it a unique culinary experience.

Nutritional Benefits of Pastrami

nutritional benefits of pastrami

Pastrami offers several nutritional benefits, although it is important to consume it in moderation due to its higher sodium content.

It is a good source of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair. Pastrami also provides essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.

However, it is worth noting that pastrami is typically high in saturated fat, so it should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

Is Pastrami Healthy?

While pastrami can be enjoyed as an occasional treat, it is not considered a health food. Its high sodium and saturated fat content may contribute to health issues if consumed excessively.

If you’re watching your sodium intake or have specific dietary restrictions, it’s advisable to consume pastrami in moderation or opt for lower-sodium alternatives. As with any food, balance and moderation are key to maintaining a healthy diet.

How to Store Pastrami?

Proper storage is crucial to maintain the quality and freshness of pastrami. If you have leftover pastrami, it’s best to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container.

This will help prevent it from drying out or absorbing other odors in the refrigerator. Pastrami can typically be stored for up to five days in the refrigerator.

Alternatively, you can freeze pastrami for longer-term storage. Make sure to wrap it securely in freezer-safe packaging to prevent freezer burn.


Pastrami is a flavorful and savory deli meat that offers a unique taste experience. Its robust flavors, tender texture, and aromatic spices make it a beloved choice for sandwiches and other dishes.

While pastrami should be enjoyed in moderation due to its higher sodium and saturated fat content, it can be a delicious addition to your culinary repertoire. So, why not give pastrami a try and savor its delectable flavors?

what is pastrami

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