Is Pastrami Beef or Pork (how do you classify it)?

A common question always comes up whenever people enjoy a good sandwich – particularly one with pastrami. Is it beef or pork? As a food enthusiast myself, here’s what I know:

The real pastrami is made from the brisket cuts of beef. Generally, it is a very savory meat delicacy where the meat is sliced very thinly and layered onto slices of rye bread. Deli mustard is usually employed as the cherry on top to add to the experience.

Pastrami has for a long time been the one meat that reigns supreme in American dishes. It was adopted from the Roman and Turkish cultures, and there has been no looking back. This dish is a real delicacy offered by many food places. 

However, another question is, is there a possibility of pork pastrami? The general method that is adopted to make beef pastrami is now used for other meats. So then, read on to find out. 

Pastrami Beef vs. Pork Pastrami

Pastrami is on the top of the list of top sellers, along with corned beef everywhere. This delicacy has been on demand ever since people got a taste. And now, you can even find the Boar’s Head brand of lean pastrami in the supermarkets for home use so you can share the savory sweetness with family and loved ones. How convenient! Arguably, as far as delicious meats go, pastrami ranks first – many will agree. 

Beef pastrami 

Originally, pastrami was from Romania and was made from beef brisket and sometimes turkey or lamb. The raw meat was brined, dried partially, and then seasoned with spices and herbs. 

From there, it was taken through smoke and steam. Initially, like corned beef, pastrami was made to preserve meat before refrigerators came into play. 

Hot pastrami has since then been one of the iconic meats in New York City Cuisine and American Jewish Cuisine. Typically, it is served at delicatessens on sandwiches like the famous pastrami on rye. 

Pork pastrami 

Sandwich, Pastrami, Egg, Loaf, Having Lunch, Beef

As mentioned earlier, some chefs tend to adopt the general method of making beef pastrami with other types of meat such as pork and turkey. In fact, Kraten’s version is made from pork shoulder. 

Not many people like the idea of pastrami made of pork or turkey, but some would argue that everything feels better with pork. Some chefs have specialized in making pork pastrami. So, if you are a pork person, then here’s your chance. 

In pork pastrami, the fat-to-meat ratio is crucial as it creates a unique marbling in the pork. This makes it juicier and more flavorful than the traditional brisket. Just like beef pastrami, it is sandwiched in a traditional rye bread that can be made in-house. 

The filling, pork shoulder, is smoked, slow-roasted until tender, and then placed on the rye bread along with cabbage, Swiss, and grain mustard aioli, also house-made. 

The grain mustard aioli is preferred over hot mustard or Dijon since it gives a more subtle bite while the cabbage is served pickled, as it creates that sweet spot between slaw and sour. 

Pork pastrami is indeed a good comfort food, and it adds an element of surprise since many are so used to the beef brisket kind. 

What is the difference between pastrami, smoked meat, and corned beef

Pastrami is one of the most served meat dishes in many American delis. But many wonder if it is all that different from the corned beef and how the two compare to the Canadian counterpart, smoked meat. It would be best if we cleared this us now. 

Corned beef

Corned beef originated from Ireland and made its way to the United States from Immigrants. It is made from brisket, which is the lower chest of a cow. Firstly, this meat is brined in a traditional liquid which includes juniper berries, dill, bay leaves, cloves, black pepper, sugar, and salt. 

After it is brined, it is boiled. The final corned beef relies heavily on the initial seasoning, which forms a significant part of its flavor. It is usually served in a Reuben sandwich or with cabbage.


Pastrami may be made of beef, mutton, or pork. These products undergo curing, cold smoking and are rubbed with spices such as paprika, black pepper, and coriander. Commonly, the pastrami is made of the beef navel or beef brisket along with salmon and turkey. 

It undergoes a brining process similar to corned beef, but instead of boiling it, the pastrami is re-seasoned with the spice mixture used while brining and then smoked. Once smoking is done, the pastrami is often served in a rye bread sandwich with plenty of mustard.

Montreal Smoked Meat 

In ways more than one, Montreal smoked meat can be described as pastrami and corned beef hybrid. Like the two above, smoked meat is made from beef brisket and is first brined, then smoked. However, one key difference can be noted in the flavoring of the seasoning itself. 

Whereas both corned beef and pastrami use mustard seed, garlic, coriander, and black pepper as the fundamental seasonings, Montreal smoked meat utilizes less sugar than pastrami in the curing process. However, like pastrami, it is served in a rye bread sandwich with mustard. 

Which part of the animal is pastrami?

Often, the pastrami is made from the beef navel, which comes from the larger cut referred to as the plate. Compared to the brisket, the navel is a fattier cut and denser while remaining less stringy. All these factors make it produce a more luxurious and savory final product.

Why is Pastrami So Expensive? 

When you have a heaping pile of hot pastrami perfectly layered between two delicious pieces of rye bread and generously smeared with mustard, you do not really get to think twice- the price regardless. For those who do not order this dish regularly, the price can be a little overwhelming at first. 

To put it into perspective, if you order pastrami in Manhattan spots such as Katz’s Deli and Pastrami Queen, a nicely served hot pastrami sandwich will require you to part with a cool $20 from your wallet. So, what accounts for this high price? 

Well, the price fluctuations of our well-loved pastrami do not differ from the common uncontrollable external factors such as drought and demand. These factors lead to the inevitable rise in pastrami prices over the years. But besides that, the steep prices of the pastrami dish have to do with how it is made. 

Pastrami is processed in several different ways that can account for its high price. It is first brined like corned beef with a mixture of seasonings, as explained above. From here, it is dried, seasoned again, smoked, and then steamed. This is just part of the beginning processes before you even shave it down and finally put it in bread, cut it in two, and wrap it in a deli paper. 

However, its preparation has changed a little over the years but still retains some of the traditional preparation methods. For instance, the distinctive flavors in any pastrami are smoke, the sweet citrus tang of coriander, and spicy black pepper. 

The scrumptious version of the beef pastrami can be obtained after brining the beef n sugar, salt, and spices for at least a week, and then season it with dry spice rub and dry it for a few days and then smoke it for hours. As you can see, it is a lengthy process, but if you have tried this dish, you can affirm that it is worth every penny. 

Where to Find the Tasteful Pastrami

And now, after reading this article, it’s obvious you’d like to know where you can get a taste of this highly praised meat delicacy. Right? 

The pastrami that we all know and love today is synonymous with the Jewish culture. Therefore, several famous Jewish delis are all across New York, such as Carnegie Deli and Katz’s Delicatessen. These two have been around for over 130 years and are world-renowned for the best pastrami sandwiches. 

Given the incredible history behind pastrami, these delis have gained great honor, and they make a great hot date spot. Just ensure that you order your pastrami on rye bread with plenty of mustard. 

How is Pastrami Served?  

Pastrami Sandwich

The traditional cut of meat that was used to make pastrami was originally the beef plate. Nowadays, it is a common dish in the United States made from beef round, beef brisket, and even turkey. 

The New York pastrami is from the beef navel, the ventral part of the plate. It is generally cured in brine, with a coating of a mix of herbs and spices such as mustard seed, allspice, cloves, paprika, black pepper, coriander, and garlic. It is then smoked, and finally, the meat is steamed, so the connective tissues within are broken down to gelatin. 

Deli mustard works to add to the flavor. Some Greek immigrants are said to have introduced the cheeseburger topped with pastrami and a special sauce. This delicacy has remained to be a staple of the local burger chains in Utah. 

Pastrami is the top seller in most of the great deli capitals of the world. It is rich in history and cultural significance just as much as it is rich in flavor. Pastrami is one succulent sandwich that is worth the hype. 


If you are not from one of the great deli capitals in the world, you might not know much about what could possibly be the most remarkable things to ever lay between two slices of rye bread: pastrami.

It is ranked among smoked meat, turkey, tongue, corned beef, and salami as the best top-sellers at delis around the globe. You better get yourself a taste.