Mastering Quick and Delicious Smoked Pastrami: A Time-Saving Twist on a Classic

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I went to New York for the first time when I was 16 and if I remember correctly, it was the first time I ever had pastrami. I’ve been in love with it ever since. Whenever I see a pastrami sandwich on a menu somewhere. I have to have it!

We’ve had a Traeger grill/smoker for a few years now, so I’m constantly thinking of different proteins I can smoke. Pastrami has been on the top of my list for a while now, but I wanted an alternative to the traditional recipe. 

Traditionally, brisket is brined in a wet brine that’s made from a mixture of water, curing salt, sugar, and additional herbs and spices. The bring process can take anywhere from 5-7 days. After brining the brisket is then coated in spices, and then smoked for 10-12 hours… and THEN it’s steamed. So making pastrami in the traditional way can take as much as 8 days from start to finish.

My shortcut recipe uses a corned beef packer. A corned beef packer is a pre-packaged cut of meat (typically brisket), that is sold already brined in a curing mixture. I’ve found that they’re much more affordable than buying an entire brisket and the curing process is already done for you!

I recommend the following tools/supplies when making this recipe

Cheater Smoked Pastrami Recipe

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Indulge in the delightful flavors of smoked pastrami with this easy cheater recipe. Whether enjoyed on its own or in a classic pastrami sandwich, this dish is sure to impress.


  • Water
  • 3.5 to 4 lb Store Bought Corned Beef Packer
  • 6 Tablespoons Pastrami Rub, adjust according to taste (recipe follows)
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. Start by removing the corned beef packer from the packaging and give it a thorough rinse under cold water. Place the brisket in a large container and ensure it’s completely submerged in water. Cover the container and let it chill in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours. This step helps draw out any excess saltiness from the brisket.
  2. After the brining period, take the brisket out of the water and pat it dry. Get your smoker ready by setting it to a temperature of 225°F.
  3. Place the brisket on a tray or cookie sheet, and generously coat it with olive oil. Then, evenly spread the pastrami rub across the entire brisket, adjusting the amount based on your flavor preference.
  4. Lay the brisket directly onto the smoker grates. Smoke the brisket until its internal temperature reaches 160°F. Keep in mind that smoking duration can vary depending on meat thickness and other factors, usually taking anywhere from 5 to 7 hours.
  5. Once the internal temperature hits 160°F, carefully remove the brisket from the smoker and increase the smoker’s temperature to 280°F.
  6. Grab a large pan and insert a wire cooling rack. Pour water into the pan until the base is covered, ensuring it doesn’t touch the rack. Place the brisket on the rack inside the pan, and fully cover and seal the pan with aluminum foil.
  7. Return the pan to the smoker and allow the brisket to steam until its internal temperature reaches 200°F. This steaming process usually takes about 1 hour.
  8. Once done, take the brisket out of the pan and set it on a cutting board. Gently tent it with foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before you start slicing.

  • This smoked pastrami is perfect for standalone enjoyment or as the star ingredient in a delicious pastrami sandwich served on marble rye bread, paired with Swiss cheese and brown mustard.

Pastrami Rub Recipe

  • Servings: N/A
  • Difficulty: easy
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Elevate your pastrami experience with this flavorful homemade pastrami rub. Add depth and richness to your dishes with this simple blend.


  • 4 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Coriander
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika


  1. Begin by placing the black peppercorns, whole coriander, and whole mustard seeds in a spice grinder. Pulse the mixture until you achieve a coarse consistency.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ground peppercorn mixture with the remaining ingredients: brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and the smoked paprika.
  3. Mix the ingredients thoroughly until the flavors are well distributed.
  4. Transfer the pastrami rub into an airtight container for storage.

  • This versatile pastrami rub can be used not only for smoking but also to add a burst of savory goodness to various dishes.

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