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When curing brisket for pastrami, pink curing salt is commonly used. Although harmless when used correctly, it contains red dye, which is a bit of a deal breaker. While it’s not necessary to the curing process, it does help keep the meat pink instead of brown when cooked. Using beet juice helps give the pastrami that pink color we’re used to seeing, but the end result will be wonderful, whether or not you use it. Pastrami is similar to corned beef in flavor and is absolutely delicious as part of a Reuben sammy.

Note: Allow 4-5 days to brine before eating.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 6-8Servings


  • 3 quarts (2.8 L) water, divided
  • 1 cup (288 g) kosher salt
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • ½ cup (120 ml) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (20 g) pickling spice
  • 2 cups (435 g) ice
  • ½ cup (120 ml) beet juice, optional
  • 4–5 pounds (1.8–2.2 kg) beef brisket
  • 2 tablespoons (14 g) black peppercorns, toasted and ground
  • 2 tablespoons (11 g) coriander, toasted and ground
  • 1 tablespoon (7 g) smoked paprika


1. In a medium saucepan, boil 1 quart (950 ml) of the water and add the salt, garlic, honey and pickling spice. Stir to dissolve the salt. Combine with the remaining 2 quarts (1.9 L) of water, ice and beet juice, if using. Pour it into a container that has a tight-fitting lid and will fit the brine and pastrami. Allow it to cool completely before adding the brisket. 

2. Trim the brisket of any excess fat, but make sure to leave about ¼ inch (6 mm) on the top. Once the brining solution is cooled completely, add the brisket, cover the container and refrigerate.

3. Allow the brisket to brine for 4–5 days, turning it daily if it is not evenly submerged in the brine. After 4–5 days, remove the brisket, rinse and pat dry. Allow it to come to room temperature for about an hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 250°F (121°C) and prepare a large roasting pan with a rack.

5. Combine the ground pepper, coriander and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Once the meat is room temperature, place it fat side down on the rack. Pat about half of the spice mixture onto the meat, trying to get as much to stick as possible. Flip the brisket and repeat on the other side. Pour 2 cups (475 ml) of water into the roasting pan and cover tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.

6. Cook for 4–5 hours, about 1 hour to 75 minutes per pound of brisket. Allow the brisket to rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

7. To reheat the pastrami: Place thin slices in a small pan with a bit of water and cover. Heat on medium-high for 2–3 minutes, or until heated through.

Bubbe’s tip: What, you like corned beef for your Reubens instead of pastrami? That’s easy. After brining the brisket, simmer it in water with some carrots and onion for 2 ½ –3 hours instead of cooking it in the oven.

Recipe posted with permission from The New Yiddish Kitchen: Gluten-Free and Paleo Kosher Recipes for the Holidays and Every Day , by Simone Miller & Jennifer Robins