Instant Pot Pastrami

If there’s one thing I know, it’s Jewish Delicatessen food (the reasons are pretty obvious). There’s nothing like some sour pickles, matzoh ball soup, a good frankfurter (that’s what we call them there) and a piping-hot knish.

And then, there’s the flagship item and true test of ANY Deli: PASTRAMI (the zesty brother of Corned Beef!)

So many places claim to have the best pastrami, and I’ve had my share (the roller coaster that is my waistline will tell you so). And so, I am confident to give you my 100% endorsement that NYC’s own Katz’s Delicatessen in the famed Lower East Side at Houston (House-ton) and Ludlow is, bar none, the GREATEST Pastrami on the face of this earth. Served tender, juicy, full of astounding mouth-watering flavor with every bite, the thing that also sets this pastrami apart from all the others is that it’s also served hot and thick-cut.

And guess what folks? You’re going to make a pastrami in your Instant Pot that is going to come as close to Katz’s as you’re gonna get WITHOUT the use of a smoker and doing such little work, it should be illegal. I guarantee you, you will be licking your fingers until they’re pruned.

Here’s How I Made It!: 

Begin with a corned beef brisket (I used a point cut but a flat cut will work fine too). These are found pre-packaged in nearly any supermarket in the meat section.

Remove the brisket from the package and discard the spice packet if it came with one (or add it to your spice collection).

Rinse the corned beef brisket real good under cold water so all of that brine gets washed off from the surface.

See all of that fat with some strands woven into the meat? This is GOOD and we call it marbling! We WANT this for a top-notch tender, juicy and incredible pastrami. Leave it on!

And when you flip it over, you’ll likely see a nice fat pad. Again, LEAVE IT ON! I know it may seem unappealing to some, but this fat is CRITICAL to achieving that perfect pastrami!

If you want more of a smokey flavor while the brisket cooks, brush a little liquid smoke onto the brisket now (although this is totally optional and not a dealbreaker at all).

Go to the Instant Pot, add in the trivet with the handles up and some water…

…and place the brisket with the excess fat side-up on the trivet (we do this so the fat will course through the meat as it cooks, making the flavor wondrous). Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.

While the brisket’s cooking, mix together a bunch of very specific (but super easy to find) spices and lay on a plate. You probably already have all of them on hand.

Remove the brisket when done by using the trivet’s handles…

…and transfer to a plate, allowing it to cool for a few minutes (again, LEAVE THE FAT on it!)

Once cooled, take a paper towel and dab the brisket so any of the meat sweats are absorbed 😉

It’s time to take that corned beef brisket and transform it into a pastrami! Forget the smoker because it’s all about the seasonings!

Generously rub the entire brisket in the seasonings…

…so that it’s fully coated once done.

Securely wrap it in foil…

…and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 2 days. This is the metamorphosis of the corned beef becoming a pastrami!

When ready to serve, allow it to sit at room temperature while still wrapped in foil for 1 hour (this isn’t mandatory, but its strongly suggested as the meat should be less chilled when put in the oven for maximized tenderness results).

Pre-heat the oven to the low temperature of 275…

…making sure we arrange the oven racks so there’s one on the center where we’ll rest the pastrami and one of the bottom with a baking sheet under it to catch any unforeseen fat drippings or seasonings. This will be a huge help if it DOES drip so you don’t have to clean it off the bottom of the oven.

When ready to pop in the oven, open the foil so the top of the pastrami is exposed and the fatty side should be down against the foil. Create cradle/wall around the perimeter of the pastrami to prevent any drippings from falling while cooking in the oven.

Place the pastrami on the center rack and allow it to cook. It’s going to cook perfectly.

When done, remove from the oven, discard the foil and place on a cutting board and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Using a great knife (I love my Wüsthof Classic Ikon), slice the pastrami against the grain…

…into nice, thick slices…JUST like they do at Katz’s!

Just look at that thing of beauty! I’m telling you, this is going to be some of the most tender, flavorful, OUTRAGEOUS pastrami you ever tasted. (This is also why we kept the fat on – it cooks down into practically nothing and tastes like butter once done, adding the most incredible touch to the experience).

Now take some Rye/Pumpernickel swirl (or just Rye) bread and put on some amazing Russian dressing…

…add in that hot, thick-cut pastrami…

…take a bite…

…and have a moment. Yes, YOU just made something very, very special. A true slice of one of NYC’s “deli”cacies right in your own kitchen!

Observe that pastrami. So tender and bursting with juicy, seasoned flavor!

Lick the fingers. Kiss the chef.

Enjoy!

Instant Pot Pastrami (Katz's Style)
Yield: 6

Instant Pot Pastrami

Instant Pot Pastrami

If you wanted the best, thick-cut Pastrami on earth, I'd tell you to go to Katz's in NYC's Lower East Side. But if you want a pastrami you can actually make yourself and share the same excellence for being home-made, look no further. Make a reuben with it!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 36 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 41 minutes

Ingredients

For The Pastrami:

  • 2.5 – 5 lb corned beef brisket (these can be found pre-packaged in the meat section. I used a point cut but a flat cut is fine too)
  • 1-2 tbsp of liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1-3 tbsp of black pepper (use less for it to be less zesty and more for very zesty)
  • 2 tbsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp of ground mustard powder

For The Sandwich:

  • Rye/Pumpernickel Swirl Bread (or any bread of your choice, but I strongly suggest a Rye)
  • Russian Dressing (I think Ken’s Steakhouse makes the best bottled Russian dressing)

For The Sides:

  • Pickles of your choice (as a side, of course)
  • Coleslaw (also as a side)
  • Magical Macaroni Salad (as an even more awesome side)

Instructions

  1. After removing the corned beef brisket from the package, rinse it off under cold water for 1 minute (we want all of the brining agents removed as they’re super salty). If it came with a spice packet, discard or save it for something else as we won’t be using it here. DO NOT cut any of the fat off the brisket. It is key to making a super tender, juicy and flavorful pastrami! If using the optional liquid smoke for that smokey flavor, brush it onto the brisket now (totally optional and not a dealbreaker) NoteIf you wish to cure your own brisket, see the yellow “Jeffrey Sez” section of the recipe).
  2. Place the trivet (handles facing-up) and 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot. Rest the brisket on the trivet fat-side up (we do this so the fat courses through the meat, providing extra wonderful flavor)
  3. Secure the lid and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 60 minutes
  4. While the corned beef brisket is cooking, mix together all 8 of the dry spices in a bowl until well-blended and then transfer onto a large plate and spread it out
  5. When the pressure cooking is done, allow a 15 minute natural release (meaning you do nothing for 15 minutes) and then follow with a quick release. Use the handles of the trivet and transfer the brisket to a plate and let cool for 10 minutes. Dab the brisket with a paper towel to sop up excess liquid and LEAVE THE FAT ON IT!
  6. Transform that corned beef into a pastrami by rubbing it in all the spices on the plate so it’s completely covered and then securely wrap in foil and place in fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 2 days. This allows the corned beef to truly undergo a metamorphosis into a pastrami! (Even without smoking it)
  7. When ready to serve, remove from the pastrami from the fridge and, while still wrapped in foil, allow it to come to room temperature for 1 hour (this isn’t mandatory, but is strongly suggested as it will make for an even more tender pastrami)
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees. Open the foil around the pastrami with the fatty side facing down (the top of the pastrami should be fully exposed and not covered with foil at this point), creating sort of a cradle/wall around the perimeter of it to keep any fat or seasonings from dripping while cooking.
  9. Once the oven is heated, place the foil-bottom pastrami directly on the middle oven rack (not resting on a baking sheet) and place a baking sheet on the bottom oven rack to catch any fat drippings or spices that may fall off the pastrami will cooking. Cook for 60 minutes and then place the pastrami on a cutting board, discard the foil and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes
  10. With a good knife, cut into thick slices (like how Katz’s does it) and serve on some Rye or Rye/Pumpernickel swirl bread with some Russian dressing or just eat on its own with some pickles, coleslaw and/or my Magical Macaroni Salad on the side OR use it for my Reuben Rotini!
  11. Enjoy!

Jeffrey's Tips

Love Corned Beef too? Check out my drool-worthy recipe here!

Make it and use it in my amazing Reuben Rotini!

Make my Magical Macaroni Salad as a great side to go with it!

Trust me, while others may disagree, you totally don’t need to smoke this to make it a pastrami. The corned beef brisket serves as the perfect base and it’s really all about the seasonings and letting it sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 2 days dressed in the seasoning and hugged in foil before cooking in the oven and serving.

To the above point, if you want a more smokey flavor, add 1-2 tbsp of liquid smoke and brush it onto the brisket once it’s rinsed just before you add it to the Instant Pot. OR if you want a lighter smoked flavor, simply just add the liquid smoke to the water in the pot instead of brushing directly onto the brisket.

Due to the two-phase cooking process, the cook times remain the same whether you use a 2.5 lb or 5 lb corned beef brisket.

To reheat any leftovers, simply place the slices on a plate, cover with a paper towel and pop in the microwave for 30-45 seconds OR add the trivet and 1/2 cup of water to the Instant Pot, place the meat on the trivet, secure the lid and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” for 0 (yes, zero) minutes and quick release when done.

Other ideas for leftovers are to make pastrami egg scramble/omelettes and/or pastrami hash – all wonderful!

If you wish to cure your own pastrami, get a brisket between 2 – 5 lbs and rub the following generously on both sides:

  • Morton Tender Quick Salt (make sure the entire brisket is totally coated in this first)
  • 2 tbsp of dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp of ground coriander

Place the rubbed brisket in a Ziploc bag large enough to hold it, get the air out, and place in fridge for 6-7 days, turning the brisket over each day.

After 6-7 days of curing (and flipping) have passed, take the brisket out of the bag and rinse off the curing rub thoroughly under cold water as it will be unpleasantly salty if you do not. Fill a large container with cold water and soak the brisket, completely submerged for 4 hours. The water must be changed every 30-45 minutes.

Once above process is complete, dry thoroughly with a paper towel by dabbing and proceed to Step 2 of the recipe’s instructions.

For a more traditional, smoker way to make a Pastrami, check out this recipe from BBQSmarts.com here!

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Raluca

    Hi, I am just now discovering the pastrami and I am at my second try. I want to cure it based on your recipe, but want some clarification:
    1. after you rub the meat with salt/sugar and spices – do you just place it in a zip lock bag without water?

    2. Coating the meat with salt – does that mean the meet needs to be white/pink from the salt cover?

    Thank you

  2. Louis S

    When I returned home from the Navy I went to work for NYS Department of Mental Hygiene. The facility was still under construction and every other month we would be visited by the chief engineer for the department, Joe H., making his trip from Albany to Brooklyn. His visits continued on the same schedule even after the facility opened.
    Fast forward two years and I am offered the position to run the engineering department at a facility on the lower west side of Manhattan. I was the youngest person in the entire department which included facilities throughout New York State. My first few weeks saw Joe stopping at the facility every week. I figured he wanted to make sure everything was good. However, his visits continued on a weekly basis. On one of his visits a couple of months into my new position I asked him why when I was in Brooklyn he visited every other month but here in Manhattan he came down every week? His answer was simple, he made the trek from Albany every week because my facility was just a few blocks from Katz’s. After that I looked forward to his weekly visit and our lunch at Katz’s. That was many years ago. I have since moved to Florida. There are a few things I miss about the city one of which is my weekly lunch at Katz’s. When I found your website claiming to make a pastrami very close to Katz’s I was very skeptical but I gave it a try. Wow was I surprised. It was a dead ringer for the pastrami I remembered from years past. After biting into that juicy, spicy, succulent pastrami I was reminded of what Soupy Sales always said, “It was so good I had to wrap a pair of suphose around my head to keep my brains from falling out.” Thank you for such a great recipe.

      • Joseph

        Keep it up, baby!! This is what you do for people, you bring em back, you help in the present, and surely help create family traditions. I must say as cook your recipes are amazing! I was born and raised in NYC, I enjoy watching you, listening to your stories, your style of humor and dialect brings me back to NYC. Keep it up Champ, you are loved!!

  3. Linda Cortez

    i was so excited to see your recipe for pastrami. Its my husband’s absolute favorite. it gets expensive at the deli so if i can make it on my own would be great. so i’m trying it today. Yay!! for one pound from the deli I can get three pounds at the same price.

  4. Beth

    Hi I am curing my own brisket as I can’t find a corned beef anywhere (apparently pandemic related). I also can’t find the Morton Quick Salt. Can I use regular kosher salt instead of the quick salt? If so, do I need to make any adjustments?

    • Helen in CA

      Morton Quick Salt is not a regular “salt” but rather a necessary preserving agent. I don’t believe you can substitute…..but google it.

  5. Lorie

    One of my favorite memories is a trip to NYC and dinner at Katz with my husband. Though my husband left me (hindsight that’s ok lol) I can’t forget the memory of the pastrami! I saw your post on your pastrami recipe and decided to prepare it this weekend while being snowed in here in Oklahoma. OMG it was absolutely fantastic! I actually called the ex and even shared your recipe with him! It’s that good that I was willing to share with him…the recipe not my pastrami!

  6. Adele

    I can’t wait to try your recipe. Born/raised in New Yawk living in San Francisco Bay Area. Your recipe looks pretty darn good. Can’t wait to try it..

  7. Bruce

    Jeffrey,

    I am looking forward to trying your recipe for pastrami this week, but had one question. When you go to heat it up after it’s been in the fridge, why have the fat side down? Don’t you want it to render through the meat on reheating?

  8. Kelly

    As luck would have it, my oven broke and won’t be fixed in time for me to finish my already pressure cooked pastrami. I realize I can leave it in the refrigerator longer but I need it ready in 2 days. I do have a smoker to finish it off… would I do at same temp as in oven? Any suggestions would be super helpful. Ty. Btw.. my pastrami crazed dad swears by your recipe

    • Jeffrey

      Oh no! Sorry to hear about the oven. Can you borrow a neighbor’s? If not, since the meat is already cooked. Smoke at 259 for no more than 2 hours or so.

  9. Kelly

    Ty so much for the speedy response. I ended up finishing in a friend’s oven b/c wasn’t sure about the pellets in the hopper( fruit blend) Anyhow, it was super, super sinfully delicious. I can’t believe I actually made it! Tons of requests for your recipe/technique. I’m marking another one right now btw. Repair man will be here Friday, so I’m all set!!! Same exact oven as in your video, but that’s an entirely different story🙄. Browsed through your recipes and they all look so good, I will definitely make quite a few. Once again… ty so much for the advice and a wickedly delicious recipe!

  10. Mick

    Hi Jeffrey! Love your recipes. I’m curious to know what would happen if the seasonings are added when it goes in the instant pot instead of adding them after? Would it make a difference?

  11. Michelle

    Is it ground black pepper, or whole peppercorns? Sorry if this is a silly question, I’m not much of a cook. Former NYer, missing great pastrami in Ohio!

  12. Francine

    Oh my goodness. We’re eating this for dinner today and it is delicious.
    I might cut back on pepper next time, I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons.
    This is a keeper.

  13. Babby

    Slight correction: the Carnegie Deli had the best pastrami – way better than Katz.

    Also, this recipe needs some coarse salt. The coarse salt helps give it the crust. And yes, I know, the corned beef is a salty meat. So, not a lot of salt, just enough to help form the crust as it interacts with the other spices. So, I would put the salt on right before going in the oven.

  14. Susan Carlson

    This recipe was fantastic! The only time my husband and I could get a truly good pastrami sandwich was when visiting family in LA. We would go to Johnnie’s Pastrami in Culver City and take them home. I made your recipe and and my husband said it’s the best pastrami sandwich he has had! No more traveling for great pastrami sandwiches.

    • HEIDI

      I wonder if corned beef briskets are different in Canada (Ottawa). My brisket was on the small side and dare I say rather dry. My S.O approved but I was hoping for a more juicy sandwich.

  15. Becky

    I want juice for my sandwich. A nice bread dipped in juice layers of meat and a side of juice from meat dripping s?

  16. Mona

    Help! I did the long version, going 7 days with the cure. Then did the soaking and pressure cooking. Just cooled it/ rubbed spices/ refrigerated. But its falling apart tender… you know. How on earth is this going to be sliced, after baking?

  17. DIANE

    I have made this recipe multiple times and it gets rave reviews. I now buy corned beef when it goes on sale for St. Patrick’s day and freeze as many as I can fit. Next year, the office wants pastrami instead of corned beef for St. Patrick’s day. Your fans are legion in my office; they love all your recipes. Thank you for making the instant pot indispensable in my kitchen.

  18. Barney Madden

    When I took it out of IP it smelled so good I had to taste it—it was so good I almost quit right there! But I dried it, rubbed it, wrapped it in cling wrap for 2 days. Instead of the oven I fired up the Big Green Egg, added some soaked cherry chips, installed the egg vector, put a pan of water on the eggvector, got it back to 210f, went the club for 2 frozen top-shelf margaritas with Gran Mariner floats, came back, temp was 243. Not satisfied with
    spice readiness, left it for another 20 mins, took it out. Juicy,Smokey, delicious!

  19. Deb

    This is fantastic! This is our go to recipe, so easy and perfect every time. This is one of my families favorite recipes and they ask for it all the time. I have like 5 briskets in my freezer right now for when the craving hits them. Never been to Katz’s, but I trust that Jeffrey knows his pastrami (:

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