Is Pastrami Beef or Pork? You Might Not Know This

Pastrami is one of the famous deli meats which people like to stuff in their sandwiches. Those who love Subway sandwiches must have also heard about the Pastrami Sub. But not many people know what pastrami is made of.

It is important to know this because not everyone can eat meat. Jews look for Kosher, and Muslims look for Halal meat. If you are here, then it means you also want to know whether the Pastrami is beef or pork.

Pastrami is made from beef, not pork or other meat. It is mainly cut from the navel region, and it can also be made from the brisket flat. However, there are now non-beef Pastramis available too, but they cannot be called true Pastrami. Only the one that is made from beef navel is the real Pastrami.

Want to know everything about this meat? I’m discussing everything here- from its nutritional value to how you can cook it yourself. So, stay till the end.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pastrami comes from the cow’s belly/ breast or the naval region that is below the ribs.
  • It is both Halal and Kosher.
  • As it is a thin cut, it is also called a short plate.
  • Pastrami is often confused and exchanged with Corned beef in recipes, but both are a lot different.
  • Other types of pastramis are also available, but the genuine one is made from beef only.

Beef Pastrami- Everything You Need To Know

As Pastrami is a thin cut from the beef navel, it is also called a short plate. So, don’t get confused if you read “short plate” anywhere. Some people also cut the Pastrami from the flat brisket.

Both beef areas are acceptable for making Pastrami slices, but chefs prefer the navel region as it is a lot tender and juicier.

It is reported that Pastrami was first made during the Ottoman Empire era in the 1700s. The butcherers at that time used to cut this deli meat from below the cow’s ribs and cook it with garlic and pepper.

In a short span, this meat quickly became popular throughout the world because of its spicy yet delish taste. It was first introduced in America in the 1800s and was at an extreme height of popularity in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Now, Pastrami is eaten all around the world. It is super easy to cook, and people love to make sandwiches with it.

How Is Pastrami Made?

Cooking Pastrami is super simple. A fine cut is first made from the beef’s breast or navel, and then it is treated with salt brine. After that, you will have to do some smoking. Smoke this short plate at a low temperature until it is perfectly cooked.

Do not get confused when you still see a deep red hue after smoking the meat. Pastrami has a natural redness that stays even when it is cooked thoroughly.

Moreover, if you used pink curing salt during the treatment, the pastrami cut would be even redder. I’m discussing the cooking recipe for Pastrami in detail later. But first, you must know some nutritional facts.

Pastrami Nutritional Facts

A slice of Pastrami has the following nutritional content:

Sodium300 mg
Cholesterol20 mg
Iron3.5% of DV

It is clear from the table that Pastrami is healthy to eat! But still, some people avoid this beef cut, and the reason is religion.

Which Religion Doesn’t Like Pastrami?

Eating beef is prohibited in Hinduism, so Pastrami is not a popular choice among practicing Hindus.

However, since it is both Kosher and halal, Jews and Muslims love to eat it.

Can You Make Your Own Beef Pastrami At Home?

Yes, you can make your own Pastrami. Generally, health-conscious people don’t like to buy much food from the market. They like to cook their own at home with better ingredients. If you are one of them, the good news is that Pastrami can be easily made home.

However, it won’t be made from beef navel. You will have to use brisket flat as it is easy to get from the supermarket and simple to handle during the cutting & cooking.

Here’s what you will do:

Ingredients Required

  • Brisket flat
  • One and a half cups of kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp Pink curing salt
  • A cup of sugar
  • Garlic (10 cloves)
  • Yellow Mustard
  • A gallon of water
  • A tablespoon of Paprika, coriander seeds, ground ginger, and allspice berries each.
  • Coarsely ground black Peppercorns (¼ cup)
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Have all of them in your kitchen? Great! Then, begin the cooking process.


  • Slowly heat the cast iron skillet, and then add Paprika, coriander seeds, and other spices to it. Heat them until you smell a fragrance. Make sure you don’t over-toast or burn them.
  • Then, put all of these spices in a napkin or in any neat clothing and ground them with a rolling pin.
  • Next, add coriander and black pepper to a new bowl and mix them.
  • After that, add kosher salt, pink salt, sugar, and a gallon of water to a big bowl and mix them thoroughly. Then, boil them until everything is dissolved.
  • Next, add ice to a bucket (for meat) and add the boiled mixture there. Keep stirring it until the ice gets melted.
  • Now, put the brisket there and refrigerate it for at least five days.
  • After five days, begin the process again by preheating the smoker at 250 Fahrenheit. Then, take out the brisket from the refrigerator and rinse it with cold water. Use a towel to dry it.
  • Carefully smear the mustard on the meat. Then, apply the mixed spices which you ground with a rolling pin earlier. Due to the mustard, the mixture will cling.
  • Next, it’s time to smoke. You should first smoke this brisket for five hours at 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, wrap aluminum foil around it.
  • After that, put the meat back into the cooking grate for a few more minutes and heat it at 200 Fahrenheit until it turns tender. If it does, take it out and let it stay for 30 minutes. Lastly, make the slices.

That’s it. It’s that easy to cook Pastrami.

There are now different Pastrami available too, but they don’t taste the same as beef. Let’s see their details!

What Other Meat Pastrami Is Available In?

Let me clarify one thing first- A Genuine Pastrami is Beef Pastrami. It’s the only true Pastrami that people have been eating for centuries. But for those who don’t eat beef or for someone who wants to try something new, this meat is also cut from other animals.

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Let’s have a look at them.

Turkey Pastrami

Turkey Pastrami is the most popular non-beef Pastrami today, and it is really a great choice for those who don’t like beef. It is made from Turkey thighs cured with salt brine (like in the case of beef pastrami).

Pork Pastrami

Pork Pastrami is made from pork belly. The whole cooking process is also the same as the beef one. It is brined and then smoked at high temperature until it becomes pro-tender.

However, since it is neither kosher nor halal, its demand is not that much around the world. Still, pork pastrami belly sandwiches are a popular cuisine among Pork meat lovers.

Lamb or Mutton Pastrami

Lamb Pastrami is very rare to get. Not everyone offers it. However, it is now gaining popularity as it is perhaps the healthiest Pastrami you can eat. If you want to try it, go to famous restaurants as the Mutton or Lamb Pastrami sandwiches are not on every restaurant menu.

However, note that Pastrami is not the same as corned beef. Usually, people confuse Pastrami with it and add it to their sandwiches.

Both are different, and you should know about them if you want to know more about Pastrami.

Difference Between Pastrami And Corned Beef?

Pastrami is a lot different than Corned Beef due to many factors. Let’s have a look at them in the following table:

DifferencesPastramiCorned Beef
OriginPastrami was first made in Turkey.Corned beef has a British origin. That’s why people prefer to eat corned beef on Saint Patrick’s day.
Meat PartPastrami comes from the beef navel (or sometimes, brisket flat).Corned beef comes from brisket.
ColorCooked Pastrami looks pure red.Corned beef is a bit pinkish.
SeasoningPastrami is usually seasoned with Garlic, black pepper, cloves, and mustard seeds.Corned beef is seasoned with laurel leaf, corn, and all spices.
Cooking MethodPastrami is smoked and then it is stuffed into a sandwich.Corned beef, on the other hand, is either boiled or steamed.  

Now, you know everything about Pastrami!

Final Remarks

All in all, Pastrami is made from beef navel. It is also available from the brisket flat, but the real one is around the belly area. It is often confused with Corned Beef, but both are a lot different.

Nowadays, you can also get Pastrami made of other kinds of meat: Turkey, Pork, and lamb. However, they are not called genuine or true Pastrami as it is already established that true Pastrami is only made from the Beef navel or brisket flat. 

So, if you love beef and haven’t tried Pastrami yet, I say you go for it without any hesitation!