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Home Recipes Rubs and Sauces Homemade Pastrami Rub

Next time you want to make delicious pastrami or corned beef brisket try using this homemade pastrami rub. The toasted coarsely chopped spices add so much flavor to your meat.

pastrami rub in jar with some spilled on black plate.

What is pastrami

Pastrami is beef that undergoes three stages of cooking. First, it’s cured in a salt water corned beef brine. Then, it’s seasoned with a pastrami rub, and then it’s smoked.

If you skip the smoking stage, it’s technically just corned beef. The smoke is what makes it smoked pastrami.

Pastrami is known for its pinkish hue. That comes from the prague powder used during the curing stage. It’s also known for its spicy crust or bark.

It’s not spicy like a hot chili pepper. Instead, its flavor is full of warm, earthy spices often used by Eastern Europeans that are coarsely ground and combined with just a touch of sweetness.

Use this rub to make traditional beef pastrami or try it on something new like pork or even salmon.


Pastrami Rub Ingredients: Mustard seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper, smoked paprika, coconut sugar, fresh garlic.
  • Yellow Mustard Seeds: Mustard seeds are the dried seeds from the mustard plant that are commonly used to make mustard. For this recipe, we start with the whole seeds and grind them for a coarse texture.
  • Coriander Seeds: Coriander seeds are the seeds used to grow cilantro. Unlike cilantro, they don’t have a soapy flavor. Instead, the seeds taste warm and citrusy.
  • Black Pepper: Use coarse-grain. I like 16-mesh. If you can’t find that, you can use whole black peppercorns and grind them with the seeds.
  • Smoked Paprika: Paprika is a combination of ground chile spices. Smoked paprika is made by smoking those chiles prior to grinding them. If you can’t find smoked paprika, chili powder is a decent substitute.
  • Coconut Palm Sugar: This sugar is more granular than white sugar. It’s made from the sap of coconut palm trees. If you can’t find it, you could substitute brown sugar.
  • Garlic: If you’ll be using the rub right away, use fresh garlic cloves. If you plan to store it, use dried minced garlic or garlic powder.

PRO TIP: This recipe does not include any kosher salt, because it’s most likely going to be used on meat that has already been cured in a salt brine. Therefore, no additional salt is needed.

See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

How to make homemade pastrami rub

  1. STEP ONE: Start by toasting the coriander and mustard seeds along with the ground black pepper in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toasting the seeds for 1-2 minutes will release their essential oils, which enhances the flavor of this pastrami rub recipe.
toasting mustard and coriander seeds and black pepper in pan.
  1. STEP TWO: Place the toasted spices along with the remaining ingredients in a spice grinder or Ninja Foodi Blender. Pulse it a few times to blend everything together.

If you don’t have a blender or spice grinder, you can place the ingredients in a sealed plastic bag and break them up with a rolling pin.


Once your pastrami spice rub is combined, transfer it to a small bowl, if you’re going to use it right away. To store it, pour it into a small mason jar with a lid or another airtight container.

If you made your rub with fresh garlic, store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you used dry minced garlic, store it at room temperature with your other spices, preferably in a cool, dark place like a pantry. It should last a good six months.

jar of pastrami rub.

How to use pastrami rub

The most popular use for pastrami rub is to sprinkle it on salt-cured meats like corned beef brisket.

Once you remove the meat from the brine, rinse it, pat it dry with paper towels and then sprinkle the rub all over the meat.

Once you smoke the meat, you have homemade pastrami, which is great on rye bread as a pastrami sandwich with Russian dressing.

sprinkling pastrami rub on corned beef brisket.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • For best results, use fresh spices when preparing this rub
  • Check the Hispanic Foods section of your grocery store for coriander seeds
  • Toast your spices before combining to release essential oils
  • Blend to combine

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pastrami?

Pastrami is the result you get when you smoke salt-cured meat like corned beef brisket or beef navel. After it’s cured in the brine, you rinse the meat, pat it dry and season it with this pastrami spice blend. Once smoked, the pastrami slices are awesome on sandwiches with Swiss cheese.

Can I use this rub on meats that haven’t been cured?

Absolutely. There is no salt in the rub, because it is intended to be used on corned meats or pastrami; however, you can definitely use it on uncured meats. You may just want to add a little kosher salt.

You can also sprinkle it on deli meat like roast beef for a surprising twist.

What is pastrami seasoning made of?

Most versions contain yellow mustard seeds, coriander seeds and black pepper. After that, they vary. This recipe includes smoked paprika, coconut palm sugar and garlic.

You’ll find other recipes with dill, celery and fennel seeds. And some contain onion powder, dark brown sugar, chiles and even juniper berries.

More Rub Recipes

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5 from 2 votes

Homemade Pastrami Rub

Add this homemade pastrami rub to your dry rub and homemade spices collection, so you can make great corned beef pastrami anytime.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 12


  • 1/4 cup coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic*


  • Toast: Toast the black pepper, coriander seeds and mustard seeds in a skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
  • Grind: Place the toasted spices in a spice grinder or blender with the remaining ingredients. Pulse to roughly chop all the ingredients.


Yield: Makes 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) dry rub.
Use around 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of rub per pound of meat. 
*Use fresh garlic if you plan to use the pastrami rub right away. If you want to make this in advance to store in your pantry, use 2 teaspoons of dried minced garlic. 


Calories: 25kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 93mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 191IUVitamin C: 0.5mgCalcium: 32mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Rub
Cuisine: American, European
Did you try this recipe?Be sure to rate it, leave a comment and save it so you can make it again. Show off your awesome results on social by tagging @girlscangrill

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Hey BBQ Family

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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1 Comment

  1. Great recipe for a corned beef brisket, I can’t do boiled meat, I just don’t like it, and wanted to try one on my kettle grill/smoker I followed this recipe from start to finish and it came out great I did a point cut because I think they have more flavor also. Thanks for this recipe