Turkey Pastrami

Turkey Pastrami
Jesse A Wanskasmith/Getty Images
Ratings (5)
  • Total: 3 hrs 20 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Yield: 2 pounds (32 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
69 Calories
2g Fat
7g Carbs
7g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Turkey pastrami is a low-fat alternative to beef pastrami and it tastes just as good. This method is easier than making your own beef pastrami. The difference between pastrami and corned beef is that pastrami is smoked. While beef pastrami starts with corned beef and you have to soak it to remove excess salt, you only need a raw turkey breast, marinade, rub, and a smoker to make turkey pastrami.


  • 2 1/2 pounds turkey breast
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt (kosher)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (whole)
  • 6 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dry juniper berries
  • 1/4 cup black pepper (coarsely ground)

Steps to Make It

  1. In a saucepan combine the water, brown sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the whole black peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, whole cloves, and garlic. Allow the mixture to cool.

  2. Place the turkey breast in a nonreactive container and pour the cooled mixture over it. Make sure that the turkey breast is completely covered. Cover the container and refrigerate for 48 hours.

  3. Prepare your smoker for a smoke at about 220 F (105 C) for 2 1/2 hours.

  4. Combine the juniper berries and coarsely ground black pepper.

  5. Remove the turkey breast from the brine mixture and rinse it under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels.

  6. Cover the turkey breast with the juniper berry and black pepper rub. Make sure you press the rub into the surface of the turkey.

  7. Place the turkey breast in the smoker, skin-side down.

  8. Smoke for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the turkey breast reaches an internal temperature of 165 F (75 C).

  9. Remove the turkey breast from the smoker and allow it to cool. The turkey pastrami will continue to gain flavor the longer you let it rest.

  10. Slice the turkey pastrami to enjoy for sandwiches or as an entree.

  11. Wrap any leftover turkey pastrami tightly and refrigerate it for up to a week.

Enjoying Turkey Pastrami

You can use your turkey pastrami in many ways.

  • For breakfast, it is delicious diced for omelets or hash. Slices can be served along with eggs as an alternative to sausage or bacon. It can also be part of your breakfast egg sandwich or wrap.

  • You have lots of sandwich options for turkey pastrami. It can be the centerpiece of a Reuben on rye with sauerkraut and Russian dressing or mustard. Use it for wrap sandwiches or pita sandwiches. If you have a meat slicer, you can make thin slices to stack.

  • Diced turkey pastrami also adds some smoky protein bites to green salads. If you heat the pastrami briefly in a pan or the microwave you will bring out even more flavor.

  • Sliced pastrami can be your entree for a simple dinner along with a potato and cooked cabbage or slaw.

  • Sliced or diced pastrami can be used in a variety of casseroles.