Whats the difference between Corned Beef and Pastrami? Need a definition

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Smoking Guru
Original poster
OTBS Member
Oct 18, 2007
West Fargo, ND / Northern MN
I was watching Man Vs. Food the past two days and I saw the same episode both days and I though I heard them wrong the first day. He was at some deli in New York and they are known for their Pastrami and Corned been sandwiches. I must be misunderstanding the difference between the two. I understood that a Pastrami was just a smoked corned beef brisket flat.

They were explaining how they make their sandwiches and how they smoke all of their meat them selves and they said that the two meats actually come from a different part of the cow. The Corned Beef was from the brisket and the Pastrami came from some cut around the belly area.  Anyone care in enlighten me on this topic. 
I was always under the impression that pastrami was smoked corned beef too.  But I suppose you could call almost any cut of beef that's been cured then smoked a pastrami.  I guess it doesn't have to be beef either.  I've had turkey pastrami before.
Pastrami (Romanian: pastramă, Yiddish: פּאַסטראָמע pastróme), is a popular delicatessen meat usually made from beef and, traditionally in Romania, also from pork and mutton. Like corned beef, pastrami was originally created as a way to preserve meat before modern refrigeration. For pastrami, the raw meat is brined, partly dried, seasoned with various herbs and spices, then smoked and steamed. In the United States, although beef navels are the traditional cut of meat for making pastrami, it is now common to see pastrami made from beef brisket, beef round and turkey.

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So basically a pastrami is a corned beef that has been smoked but it can come from various parts of the beef. But a corned beef is not smoked at all then.
From what I've seen, heard and read, pastrami is also seasoned differently than corned beef. Typically pastrami is usually rubbed with a combination of  coriander, black pepper, mustard seed, allspice and juniper berries where as corned beef is boiled with these seasonings. Resulting in Pastrami being spicier and smokier.
Yep thats about it in a nut shell

I use the same brine cure whether I am making corned beef or pastrami

I sometimes roast my corned beef to make it into deli style meat instead of

boiling it with cabbage and I season it with just a touch of pickling spice.

my pastrami I use corriander, mustard seed and black pepper. I usually smoke my pastrami

with cherry wood
I cut the untrimmed brisket in half, flat and point. I brine them both then smoke the flat section coated with cracked and toasted coriander seeds and black pepper. Smoke to 150. rest in fridge, vacuum pack, steam for 3 hours before slicing.

Boil the point for Corned Beef.

Just my version. As always there are many ways to skin a brisket.
I was just at Kroger and saw a Pastrami made from Bottom Round Roast. I almost bought some to see what it tasted like. It looked good anyway.
We would take our left over rolled rump roasts and rolled rib roasts and put them in the brine for corned beef - nothing like prime rib rolled rib roast cooked with saurkraut as a corned beef!
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