Buckle up for the ultimate meat match, a carnivorous clash of titanic proportions, as we pit pastrami against brisket in an epic battle of flavors!

So, you’re in the mood for some delicious meat, huh? Well, you’ve come to the right place because today we’re diving into the age-old debate of pastrami vs brisket.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love sinking my teeth into a juicy, flavorful sandwich. But when it comes to choosing between these two mouthwatering options, it can be a tough call. So, let’s break it down together.

Pastrami, that smoky and peppery deli meat, and brisket, the versatile beef cut that can be used to make pastrami, both have their own unique qualities. From appearance to flavor, nutritional value to popular uses, we’ll explore it all.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of which one suits your taste buds and cooking preferences best. So, are you ready to make a decision? Let’s get started on this flavorful journey of pastrami vs brisket!

Key Takeaways

  • Personal preference determines whether to choose pastrami or brisket.
  • Brisket is more versatile than pastrami.
  • Brisket is generally healthier than pastrami.
  • Pastrami has a smoky, peppery flavor, while brisket has a rich, beefy taste.

Pastrami vs Brisket

I personally find it difficult to choose between pastrami and brisket because they both have their own unique characteristics and flavors.

Pastrami is a smoked and fully cooked deli meat seasoned with spices, while brisket is a primal cut of beef that can be used to make pastrami.

Brisket is more versatile than pastrami, as it can be used in various dishes like barbecued beef sandwiches or as a main course.

On the other hand, pastrami is best enjoyed in sandwiches with rye bread and mustard, or in a pastrami Reuben sandwich with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut.

Both have their own distinct appearance, with brisket being deep red and pastrami having a pinkish hue.

In terms of flavor, pastrami has a smoky, peppery taste, while brisket has a rich, beefy flavor.

Ultimately, personal preference plays a big role in deciding which one to choose.


When comparing pastrami and brisket, the appearance of the meats is quite distinct. Brisket is deep red, almost purple in color, while pastrami has a pinkish hue and may retain spice traces. To help visualize the difference, here is a comparison table:

ColorDeep red, almost purplePinkish hue
TextureCan be marbled and fattyLeaner and denser
SurfaceSmooth and glossyMay have spice rub or crust
SlicesCarved into thick slicesThinly sliced deli meat
AromaRich, beefy aromaSmoky and peppery fragrance

This table highlights the visual differences between brisket and pastrami. The deep red color of brisket indicates its raw, uncooked state, while the pinkish hue of pastrami is a result of the smoking and curing process. The table also mentions the differences in texture, surface appearance, thickness of slices, and aroma. Overall, the appearance of these meats can give us a clue about their flavors and preparation methods.


Comparing their prices, brisket is generally more affordable than pastrami due to the additional time and effort required to make pastrami. Brisket, being a primal cut of beef, is readily available and can be purchased at a lower cost.

On the other hand, pastrami requires a specific process of brining, dry-curing, and smoking, which adds to its production costs. Additionally, the quality of the meat used for pastrami can also impact its price. Higher quality cuts of beef will naturally be more expensive.

So, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, brisket is the way to go. However, it’s important to consider that the cost of pastrami can vary depending on the location and the specific deli or butcher shop you purchase it from.


Flavor-wise, it’s important to note that pastrami offers a smoky, peppery taste with a tang from spices like coriander, while brisket provides a rich, beefy flavor with smoky undertones from the cooking process. When comparing these two options, there are a few things to consider:

  • Pastrami has a distinct smokiness that adds depth to its flavor.
  • The peppery notes in pastrami provide a nice kick of spice.

  • Brisket, on the other hand, offers a more pronounced beefy taste.

  • The smoky flavors that develop during the cooking process enhance the overall flavor profile of brisket.

Ultimately, the choice between pastrami and brisket comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy a smoky, peppery flavor with a tangy twist, pastrami is the way to go. However, if you prefer a rich, beefy taste with smoky undertones, then brisket is the better option for you.

Nutritional Value

From a nutritional standpoint, it’s important to consider the differences between pastrami and brisket.

Pastrami tends to have higher levels of sodium, sugar, and saturated fat compared to brisket. This is due to the brining and smoking process that pastrami goes through, which adds flavor but also increases these components.

On the other hand, brisket is generally healthier as it contains less sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.

Both pastrami and brisket have similar mineral levels, so there isn’t a significant difference in terms of their nutritional value in that aspect.

If you’re looking for a healthier option, brisket would be the better choice. However, it’s important to note that moderation is key and enjoying these meats as part of a balanced diet is always recommended.

Preparation Techniques

When preparing these meats, it’s important to consider the different techniques involved.

  1. For pastrami, the preparation process is already done, making it a convenient option. It can be served cold or heated, depending on personal preference. Simply slice the pastrami and enjoy it in a sandwich or use it in a delicious Reuben with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut.
  2. On the other hand, brisket requires more time and effort. It needs to be cooked for a long period to tenderize the meat. You can slow cook it in the oven, smoke it on a barbecue, or even braise it in a pot. The result is a flavorful and juicy cut of meat that can be used in various ways, such as barbecued beef sandwiches or as a main course.

  3. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even use brisket to make your own homemade pastrami. This involves additional steps like brining, dry-curing, and smoking the meat. It’s a time-consuming process, but the end result is a delicious and unique pastrami flavor that you can enjoy.

In summary, pastrami is already prepared and ready to eat, while brisket requires more cooking time and effort. Choose based on convenience or if you want to try your hand at making your own pastrami.

Popular Uses

Now that we’ve discussed the preparation techniques for pastrami and brisket, let’s move on to their popular uses.

As someone who loves to explore different flavors and experiment in the kitchen, I find the versatility of brisket truly captivating. It can be used in so many ways, from being the star of a barbecued beef sandwich to being the hearty centerpiece of a main course.

But don’t underestimate the power of pastrami! This deli meat shines when paired with rye bread and mustard in a classic sandwich. And let’s not forget about the iconic pastrami Reuben sandwich, with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut adding even more layers of deliciousness.

When it comes to leftover brisket, the possibilities are endless – stews, chili, breakfast hash, fajitas, casseroles, pot pies – you name it!

The distinct flavors of pastrami and the versatility of brisket make them both incredible choices, depending on the culinary adventure you’re looking to embark on.

To Sum Up 💭

When it comes to choosing between pastrami and brisket, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both meats have their own unique flavors and uses.

If you prefer a smoky, peppery taste, pastrami is the way to go, especially in sandwiches or a classic Reuben.

On the other hand, if you want a rich, beefy flavor that is versatile in various dishes, brisket is the better choice.

Consider your taste preferences and desired uses to make the best decision for you.

FAQs For Pastrami Vs Brisket

Is pastrami only made from beef?

No, pastrami is not only made from beef. It can also be made from turkey, which is a healthier alternative. The meat is brined, seasoned, dry-cured, and smoked before final cooking.

Can brisket be used in sandwiches?

Yes, brisket can be used in sandwiches. It is a versatile cut of beef that can be sliced and served on bread. It is commonly used in barbecued beef sandwiches and is delicious when paired with condiments and toppings.

How does the cooking process affect the flavor of pastrami?

The cooking process greatly affects the flavor of pastrami. It is dry-cured, smoked, and then fully cooked, which gives it a smoky, peppery taste with a tang from spices like coriander.

Are there any health benefits to eating brisket?

Yes, there are health benefits to eating brisket. It is a good source of protein and contains essential vitamins and minerals. However, it should be eaten in moderation due to its higher levels of saturated fat.

Can you freeze pastrami or brisket for later use?

Yes, you can freeze both pastrami and brisket for later use. Freezing them will help preserve their flavor and quality. Just make sure to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or freezer bags before freezing.

If you liked this article then you might like to check out some of the other beef-related articles we have written!