Home Articles Corned Beef vs. Pastrami (Which Is Better?)

Corned Beef vs. Pastrami (Which Is Better?)

Corned beef and pastrami are both popular deli meats. But they differ in several ways. Corned beef is made from brisket cured in a brine solution. It typically contains salt, water, and various seasonings.

Pastrami starts as beef brisket, and it’s cured with a brine similar to corned beef. However, it’s then coated with a mixture of spices. These include black pepper, coriander, and garlic. It’s smoked before being steamed or heated.

Corned Beef with boiled cabbage and potatoes on the side

From salty seasoning to succulent texture, there are many reasons you reach for one or the other.

Let’s dive into what sets these two popular meats apart. That way, you can make the best choice for which one to devour!

Corned Beef vs. Pastrami (What Are the Similarities?)

This is a tale of two briskets, corned beef and pastrami. Both are born from a briny solution infused with a flavorful blend of spices. They include garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, brown sugar, mustard seeds, and the occasional cinnamon stick. 

These salty concoctions also boast a pinch of Kosher salt and a dash of pink curing salts. They lend a helping hand in preventing bacterial growth and aid in curing the meat. 

They also give these meats their signature rosy hue and delectably savory taste.

Corned Beef with Potatoes Cabbage and Carrots

Corned Beef vs. Pastrami (What Are the Differences?)


Corned beef hails from Ireland. Cows were revered and pork was the people’s protein of choice. It’s no wonder it’s still a favorite on St. Patrick’s Day.

Pastrami originated in Romania as “pastirma” made with goose. It was then brought to the U.S. by immigrants. They started using beef when they discovered it was more plentiful than goose meat. 

The Ottoman Turks also had a hand in the evolution of pastrami. They brined their meats and rubbed them with spices. 

Today, both dishes are beloved in the U.S., especially in New York where they’re piled high on sandwiches.

Cut of Meat

When it comes to brisket, it’s all about the cut. Corned beef sticks to the leaner flat brisket. Pastrami uses the point brisket, which packs more fat and marbling. 

But pastrami doesn’t discriminate. It’s also made with other beef cuts like deckle, a lean shoulder cut, or navel. 

Whether you prefer your meat lean or juicy and fatty, there’s a brisket cut for everyone. It’s just a matter of which cut tickles your tastebuds the most.

Sliced Pastrami Rub with Herbs and Spices

Spice Rub Mixture

The beauty of corned beef lies in its. simplicity. There are only spices in the brine. However, pastrami is well-spiced post-curing. It’s coated with a mix of coriander, mustard seeds, and fennel seeds. 

It’s the perfect marriage of salty and spicy, with each bite delivering a flavor explosion.

Cooking Method

Corned beef is boiled or slow-cooked to perfection. Put it in the same pot with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots for a boiled dinner to warm your soul. 

Pastrami takes a smokier, steamier route. It’s brined, but then it gets a smoky flavor infusion. Then, it’s finished off with a nice steaming session. 

It’s a meaty transformation from bland to bold. Each step adds more depth and deliciousness.


Corned beef is leaner, which gives it a firmer texture and a well-balanced savory flavor. Pastrami is fall-apart tender and boasts a richer, saltier, and smokier taste. It melts in your mouth while corned beef is more of a meaty chew.

Serving Style

Corned beef is a hearty companion to hashes and boiled veggies. Another favorite way to eat it is piled on a Reuben sandwich. Yum!

Pastrami is thinly sliced and stacked high between two slices of rye bread for the perfect deli sandwich.

Slices of Corned Beef on a Wooden Cutting Board

What Is Corned Beef?

Corned beef is a delicious, salty treat. It’s been around for centuries. It’s the perfect meal to satisfy your craving for something savory and hearty. But what exactly is it? 

It’s made from brisket, which is the cut of beef taken from the lower chest of the cow. The meat gets a signature smoky flavor from being cured in brine. It’s mixed garlic powder, pepper, mustard seed, and bay leaves. 

After being cured for several days or weeks, the corned beef is boiled until tender. Then, it’s sliced thinly to create deliciousness on a plate! 

It can be used in so many ways, from sandwiches to soups to stews. It’s the perfect way to add flavor and heartiness to any dish.

When you get a hankering for something tasty and salty, try corned beef! You won’t regret it.

Pastrami Sandwich with Pickles on a Plate

What Is Pastrami?

Pastrami is a mouth-watering delicacy. It’s a go-to sandwich filling for many people. 

It’s made by rubbing beef brisket with coriander, garlic, smoked paprika, and black pepper. Then, it’s cured in a brine solution and smoked. The result is tender and flavorful meat. It’ll make your tastebuds do backflips. 

Its smoky flavor pairs perfectly with tangy mustards or creamy sauces, making it an ideal base for sandwiches. You can also enjoy pastrami on its own or add it to salads for some extra oomph. It’s guaranteed to satisfy no matter how you serve it!

Corned Beef vs. Pastrami

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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