Pastrami Vs Brisket: Which One to Buy?

August 06, 2023 6 min read

Pastrami Vs Brisket: Which One to Buy?

Brisket is better in almost every factor compared to a serving of pastrami. It is not only cheaper but also has more nutritional value than pastrami. Brisket is also used in a wide range of recipes prepared with beef. Pastrami, on the other hand, is previously brined and smoked meat. So, it’s not suitable for all types of recipes.

Still confused about the differences betweenpastrami vs brisket?Then keep reading the full piece to unravel all the differences. Let’s begin!

Pastrami Vs Brisket: Quick Differences 

Here’s a brief mention of the basic differences between both types of meat.







Cuts of Meat

Below rib cage, shoulder, navel

Lower chest area of the cow

Type of Meat 

Beef, Mutton, Veal, Lamb, Turkey


Condition of The Meat

Brined and Smoked 



Pinkish color

Deep red/purple

Seasonings Used

Cloves, coriander, bay leaves, dill, juniper berries, etc.

Kosher salt, mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic, rubs, barbecue sauce, etc.

Prepared With 

Salt, sugar, honey, and seasonings

Salt, sugar, honey, and seasonings (optional)

Cooking Methods

Needs to be slow-smoked on hardwood 

Can be boiled, roasted, smoked, or baked

Popular Uses 

For side dishes 

Both main & side dishes


$13 per pound

$2-$5 per pound

Let’s move on to the detailed discussions.

Pastrami Vs Brisket:  Detailed Differences 

The following sections explain the differences between both kinds of meat. So, read on!

Origin of the Meat:

Corned beef originated in Ireland. It is often eaten on St. Patrick's Day as a tradition. Pastrami on the other hand is said to have originated from either Romania or Turkey. 

In Romania, it is called Pastrama which is made from veal, beef, or mutton. In Turkey, it’s called Pastirma which is made from beef.

Winner: No winner here.

Cuts of Meat:

Although both brisket and pastrami are beef, they come from two different sections of the cow. The brisket is cut from the cow's lower chest area. 

Whereas Pastrami is cut from below the rib area taking parts from the shoulder and navel. However, Pastrami can be made from brisket that is cured, spiced, and processed with cold smoked and later steamed.


It's always beef in brisket. But pastrami can be made out of lamb or turkey as well.

Winner:No winner here.

Color & Texture: 

Beef brisket and pastrami are distinguishable solely by appearance. Brisket is rich crimson or almost purple in color as it’s raw meat. Even after being cooked, it carries a hue that’s similar to that of the majority of well-done beef cuts.

Pastrami has a rosy pinkish hue to the flesh because it has been previously smoked. Although this is typically not the case if it was boiled before packaging.

Winner:No specific winner to announce.

Seasonings & Flavor:

The type of spice to be used on pastrami brine depends on the outcome you desire. Mostly used spices are cloves, coriander, bay leaves, dill, and juniper berries.

People usually use more flavorful seasonings for brisket. Such as kosher salt, mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic, rubs, and barbecue sauce.


Because brisket is full of connective tissues and natural fats. It has a rich beefy flavor which goes well with flavorful seasonings. They bring out the meaty flavor best.

It is frequently served with barbeque rubs maintaining theSalt-Pepper-Garlic ratio. Using wood chips with a smokey flavor, such as hickory or oak, brings out the meaty flavor. 

But ultimately, the choice of seasonings for brisket depends on one’s personal preference. The flavor of pastrami is spicy, smoky, and accented with whatever spices and herbs are used. 

Unlike brisket, pastrami needs these seasonings to develop a unique flavor.

Winner:Brisket, because it’s more flavorful.

Preparing Methods:

Both pastrami and brisket can be marinated with salt, sugar, honey, and seasonings. Although it’s a must for pastrami, marinating is optional for brisket.

To improve the flavors, pastrami is coated in sodium nitrite combined with a blend of herbs and spices. After curing, the pastrami is given a spice rubdown to create a delicious, black crust. 

Winner:Pastrami, since it’s already half prepared.

Cooking Methods:

The biggest difference between these two types of meat is the cooking procedures.

Brisket can be prepared in a number of ways, including boiling, smoking, roasting, and baking. 

Brisket is raw while pastrami is partially dried after it’s brined. So it is usually slow smoked on hardwood, with a water pan nearby. By doing so, steam is produced, keeping the meat from drying out.

It needs to be cooked slowly so the connective tissue in the meat completely dissolves. Cooking brisket can take about 1.5 to 2.5 hours based on the internaltemp to bring out the brisket. But cooking pastrami can take even longer sometimes.

Winner:Brisket, because of the diversity.

Popular Uses:

Pastrami is best enjoyed with sandwiches. The traditional sides of rye bread and mustard let the pastrami's flavor stand out. One of the most well-matched combinations would be with the Reuben sandwich.

To make aReuben sandwich with pastrami, cut two slices of rye bread and spread them in Russian dressing. Add pastrami with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. 

Grill both sides of the sandwich before serving and you’re done. Brisket is well suited for both main and side dishes. You can make some excellent barbecued sandwiches with brisket. They'll pass as the main dish.

Leftover brisket can be used in any kind of recipe that requires cooked beef. Chop the brisket meat into cube sizes to make breakfast hash, stew, or chili. 

You can use the flat-end slices of the brisket to make fajitas. You can also include the meat shreds in a pot pie or casserole afterfinishing the brisket in the oven

Winner:Brisket, because the uses are many.

Nutritional Value:

Brisket is always the better option compared to pastrami. Because it contains more protein, a higher amount of sodium, fat, sugar, and less carbs than pastrami.

Both contain similar levels of minerals. The following table shows the nutrition value for 100g of meat for both types of beef meat.





1078 mg 

79 mg


4.98 mg

4.31 mg


17 mg

23 mg


175 mg

201 mg


210 mg

330 mg


2.11 g

3.46 g



Brisket prices range from $2-$5 per pound. It costs higher based on the meat quality. However, pastrami is even more expensive. Per pound of pastrami costs around $13.


Pastrami Vs Brisket: Which One to Pick in this Beefy Battle?

The buying decision comes down to one’s taste buds along with the recipe. Brisket goes well with any type of meat recipe. It can be used for both main or side dishes.

It is also cheaper than pastrami and more nutritious. So, we would say brisket will always be the better choice here. You can buy pastrami once in a while to enjoy the change of taste.

You can also keep them to prepare sandwiches or side meat. Both are delicious. But brisket can be used in more recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Can pastrami be halal?

Pastrami can be halal if it’s beef, mutton, veal, lamb, or turkey meat. If it’s made from pork then it’s not halal. Then again, for the pastrami to be halal the animal needs to be slain with proper religious etiquette. Also, the meat has to be brined with halal ingredients.

Is corned beef and pastrami the same?

Corned beef is made of beef brisket that has been brined with salt and spices and later got boiled. Whereas pastrami can be cut from several places of the beef and then brined and smoked for a day. It needs to be steamed before serving.

Is corned beef and brisket the same meat?

Although both are beef, they are not the same. Brisket is raw meat whereas corned beef is brine cured and later boiled. It can be made from brisket. But brisket can’t be made from corned beef. Both have a distinctive flavor and different appearance. 

End Note

That was all regarding pastrami vs brisket. Remember, pastramis can be made from brisket but brisket can’t be made from pastramis. So, that gives you another reason to buy brisket instead of pastrami.

But there’s no problem with tasting both! We will leave you with that thought for now. See you soon!

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