Homemade Pastrami Without a Smoker
Recipe video above. This is an easy homemade Pastrami for all the poor sods like myself who don't live around the corner from a New York Jewish deli. Tender, juicy and with the signature pastrami spice crust, this is astonishingly straight forward to make - and is outrageously good!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time11 hrs
Total Time11 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 6 - 8
- 4 lbs / 2kg good corned beef, with a thick fat cap (Note 1)
- 4 tbsp fresh coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp liquid smoke (optional)
Mix Spice Mix and spread out on a tray. Pat beef dry then roll in Spice Mix, coating well all over. Sprinkle with liquid smoke it using (I rarely use this).
Place beef fat cap side down and wrap in a large sheet of foil. Repeat again with another sheet of foil and flip the beef so the fat cap is on the top.
Place rack in slow cooker (Note 2), place beef on rack. Slow cook for 10 hours on low or electric pressure cook for 1 hour 40 minutes (see notes for oven).
Remove beef, cool then refrigerate for 6 hours +. Reserve juices in slow cooker.
Unwrap beef. Place rack on tray, place beef on rack. Bake 30 minutes at 180C/350F until spice crust is set.
Remove from oven, slice thinly - pastrami will be tender. Place some pastrami in a dish, spoon over a bit of reserved juices. Cover and microwave to warm (I like to add a slice of Swiss cheese).
Pile high on toasted rye bread slathered with plenty of mustard of choice. Serve with pickles on the side.
1. Because this is an easy Pastrami recipe, I start with a store bought corned beef. This is beef that's been brined and is sold vac packed, and it's an economical cut.
Note for UK: The corned beef used in this recipe is called Salt Beef or Pickled Beef in the UK. In the UK, corned beef is like beef SPAM sold in cans. Do not use that in this recipe!
2. Or use scrunched up balls of foil to elevate off the base (otherwise bottom of pastrami cooks in liquid = uneven cooking)
3. COOKING METHODS:
Electric Pressure Cooker -you don't need to add liquid because corned beef is plump with extra liquid it has absorbed from the brining process so it drops liquid as it heats up, and it's that liquid that creates the steam that creates the pressure cooking environment. If for some reason it doesn't come to temperature (ie that whistling noise never occurs, pop in 1/2 cup of water - but I've never had to do this). You end up with the same amount of liquid at the bottom of the pot whether you slow cook or pressure cook.
Stove top pressure cooker: add 1/2 cup of water.
Oven - I haven’t tried this myself, but this is what I would do: wrap with foil one extra time, add 1/2 cup water in pan, put wrapped beef on rack in pan, cover pan tightly with foil. Recipe I reference (see below) says 110C/225F for 6 hours which sounds about right compared for the slow cooking time I use.
4. General notes: The slow cooking part tenderising the meat and allows the spice flavours to infuse. The cooling in the fridge makes it easier to slice thinly - if you try to slice hot corned beef, it crumbles. The baking seals the crust - it doesn't heat through, you want the centre cold for easier slicing.
5. SERVINGS: The corned beef will shrink by about 30%, so 2kg/4lb yields about 1.4kg/2.8lb cooked meat. Allow 300 g / 10 oz per serving for large pastrami sandwiches, as pictured.
6. Recipe loosely guided by this Allrecipes.com pastrami recipe.
7. Store leftovers for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat slices per recipe.
Originally published May 2014, recipe updated June 2018 with a more streamlined, better recipe.