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Featuring homemade pastrami using brisket flat.

Smoked Pastrami | Brisket Flat

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This process for making cured Homemade Pastrami gives you full control over the smoke and spices, with an extremely juicy pile of brisket. Read along for the entire process from curing to smoking a brisket flat, giving you the tools for the ultimate pastrami sandwiches.

  • Total Time: 6 days 8 hours
  • Yield: 10-15 1x


  • 5-pound beef brisket flat, trimmed
  • Brine

  • 3 quarts ice water
  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ cup pickling spices (optional recipe in notes)
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 ¼ cups coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Prague #1 curing salt
  • Pastrami Rub

  • ¼ cup black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds


  1. Prepare the brine. Have a large container filled with ice water prepared. Boil 1 quart of water and pour it into a large bowl containing the spices and sugars for the brine. Whisk until the sugars and salts dissolve. Add this to the ice water and allow the brine to cool completely.
  2. Brine the brisket. Place the brisket in a large container and pour in the cooled brine. Set a weight or a heavy plate onto the brisket to keep it submerged. Cover the container and place it in the fridge, allowing the brisket to brine for 5 days. Flip the brisket every day.
  3. Desalinate the brisket. After the last day, remove the brisket from the container and discard the brine. Rinse off the brisket and place it back into the container with fresh water. Place the weight back on it and allow it to soak for 8 hours, up to overnight.
  4. Prepare the pastrami rub. Lightly toast the spices in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, until they become aromatic. Grind the spices up in a spice grinder or coffee grinder until they are medium coarse. You can grind fine, but you’ll have less texture in the end.
  5. Season and smoke the brisket. Pull the brisket out of the liquid and pat it dry with paper towels. Generously cover the brisket with the prepared spice blend. Preheat your smoker to 250°F and place the brisket in when ready. Cook for about 5-6 hours, or until the meat is ready to be wrapped (around 165°F). The outside should have a nice red color.
  6. Wrap the brisket and finish. Increase the temperature to 300°F and remove the brisket when ready to wrap. Using two sheets of heavy-duty foil, wrap the brisket tight. Place it back into the smoker and cook for another 2 hours, until the pastrami is probe tender. Check for the thickest part of the brisket, and the temperature should be around 200-205°F.
  7. Remove the pastrami when ready and rest at room temperature for at least 30-45 minutes while wrapped. Slice against the grain and enjoy.


Pickling Spice Recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns (or allspice berries)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 bay leaves, crumbled
  • Lightly toast the spices in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, until they become aromatic.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 6 days
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: Beef & Lamb
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Meat
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