Marinade Monday: Pastrami Brine

by Kevin on March 11, 2013 · 40 comments

Marinade Monday: Corned Beef Brine

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Marinade Monday:  Corned Beef Brine


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 teaspoons pink curing salt #1 (I sometimes use Morton's Tenderquick)
  • 5 tablespoons pickling spices
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed or pressed


  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Let cool completely before adding to meat.
  3. Let brisket brine in mixture for 2-3 weeks before cooking.
  4. Some recipes call for changing the brine every week. I'll leave that up to you.

Marinade Monday

Want to talk about unique?  How about a brine that turns your ordinary brisket into corned beef/pastrami.

Pastrami Brine 2

This is so cool I can’t even deal with it.  Take the ingredients pictured above (and listed in recipe box), boil them together, then let that cool to room temperature.  Dump them in a large container or bag, and add your beef brisket.

Pastrami Brine 1

And in just three short weeks, your brisket will be brined into a pastrami and ready for smoking.

Yep.  Three.  Weeks.  But believe me when i say it’s worth it.  SO worth it.



Leave a Comment

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Aidan March 11, 2018 at 4:04 pm

I could only find Morton’s tender quick, should I use the same amount of it


Kevin March 13, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Yep! It doesn’t work as well as the pink curing salt, but it will get the job done.


Terrie Winkle October 29, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Hi Dan, I am giving your recipe a whirl with some venison roast. My question is; do refrigerate the meat when brining? Currently our temps here in the Mitten State are in the 40’s to 35 in the evening’s. Thanks, can’t wait to see how they turn out!


Kevin November 13, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Terrie – If it’s that cold, you’re probably fine leaving in garage or other safe outside area! But otherwise, yes, I always refrigerate when brining.


Dan B August 19, 2017 at 2:40 pm

So I have made a brisket before from store bought corned beef, soaked it overnight and then put on a rub, smoked to 170 and then refrigerated until cool, then finished it off with steam. It came out great but I wanted to try to brine my own brisket next time. For your recipe, which I plan to try, I wanted to know if you go straight from brine to smoker, or do you go from brine to soak, then rub and then smoke. Just curious. Love the site by the way!


Kevin August 22, 2017 at 10:52 am

Great question, Dan. I let it soak for at least 24 hours, then proceed with rub and smoke. And if possible, I put the rub on the night before to let that sink into the brisket before smoking.
Good luck!


Joseph Zarb-Cousin March 20, 2017 at 1:05 am

I’m kind of late to the game here. I have a small catering job for 20 people tomorrow. They want corn beef and cabbage. I’ve only had the 2 whole briskest in the brine for 3 days. How do I save this? Can I smoke it? Thank you!


Kevin March 27, 2017 at 2:11 pm

So sorry for my late reply – I’ve been without a computer for over a week! I think you’re safe to smoke or bake it. Ideally you want to brine it for at least 7-10 days, but I bet it’s still good after 3.


el sos March 2, 2018 at 1:44 pm

So Joseph –
How did the short brine work out?


tom sitton March 10, 2017 at 4:30 am

i will let you know when i taste it. it should be delicious with my home made hot beer mustard.


Dan February 13, 2017 at 9:04 am

Quick question? Can I use prague powder #1 instead of Mortons?


Kevin February 14, 2017 at 3:20 pm

I’m not sure, Dan! I’ve never used prague powder, but as long as it’s some type of salt – pickling salt – you should be safe.


Denise February 14, 2017 at 3:46 pm

yes Dan i did with wonderful results ~~i did a full album on the process step by step on my Facebook page awhile back ~~i adjusted some of the recipe quite a bit per what i was attempting to do so it is not the same recipe but you can sub out the Prague powder # 1 for the tender quick and be just fine ~~i cure and home smoke all the time under ~`Miss ~~Belle ~`a~~Que ~` my alter ego ~~ smile


Paul Batcha December 30, 2016 at 5:54 am

Im anxious to try this. What is the weight of the brisket for this recipe? So long Carnegie deli.


Kevin January 30, 2017 at 11:15 am

Probably about 10lbs. Enjoy!


Jlow June 27, 2016 at 10:46 am

Giving this brine a shot. Any issues with using Tender quick in metal bowls and boiling it in a metal pot? I’ve seen information stating that Tender Quick and curing salts cause a reaction with metal and can alter meats and make them rancid and discolored. Thanks! This looks and sounds great!


Kevin June 29, 2016 at 8:14 am

Good question and I’m not sure of the answer. I have never boiled tender quick. Whenever I use tenderquick, I add it AFTER I’m done boiling. But I do add it to the brine while the brine is in the metal pot, hot. I’ve never had any issues.


Matt April 9, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Getting ready to try your recipe wanted to try this forever. Do you change out the brine every week?


Kevin April 10, 2016 at 7:22 am

Yes, I sure do!


Matt May 12, 2016 at 9:47 am

I just want to say wow. Everyone said that was the best they ever had. I did use pink curing salt # 1. Almost gone getting ready to start brining another one. Thank you for sharing your recipe


Anne April 6, 2015 at 10:52 am

Do you put the meat and brine in the refrigerator in the bag or put the meat and brine in a crock?


Kevin April 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I always put the meat and brine/marinade in a 2.5 gallon Ziploc bag in my fridge.


Yvonne March 20, 2015 at 11:11 am

Can one use more salt and cure for less amount of time. I saw a Martha Stewart recipe that is similar to yours but says to use 2 cups of any picking salt.
I was hoping to brine for 7 days.


Kevin March 23, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Hi Yvonne – great question. I believe the answer is yes. I’ve done a one week brine and a three week. Both have been very good – though the 3 week brine definitely gave the brisket a more thorough pink color throughout. Either way, you’ll end up with a very tasty product. If you do one week, I would suggest changing out the brine mid week to enhance the flavors.
Good luck and let me know how it turns out!


Jared April 26, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Just to make sure, you are using 4 teaspoons of Morton’s Tenderquick correct? I’ve seen other amounts suggested when using pink salts. Thanks!!


Kevin April 27, 2014 at 7:31 am

Correct, that’s what I did. You can start off with a smaller amount if you prefer. Better less salt than too much!


Denise Lynn March 21, 2014 at 12:54 am

Kevin ~~another question if you will ~~I finally found some pink curing salt in Boise Idaho~~not easily done i might just add ~~:)~~so needless to say i am really late to the party here~`smile ~~as per your directions of using equal proportions of either tender quick or the pink curing salt~~I find i do have a question~~on the back of the salt cure which is salt and sodium nitrite (6.25%)propylene glycol and sodium bicarbonate added as a processing aid Red 3~~well it states to use 1/3 rd of a teaspoon of curing salt per pound of sausage ~~~but since i am making pastrami and using a 5 pound roast would you still have me use the 4 teaspoons of pink curing salt ??? i do realize sausage and a big hunk of beef are quite different in mass but felt the need to ask the question all the same ~~you have been so helpful ~~i value your opinion~~Miss~~Belle ~a~~Que


Kevin March 21, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Good question…and I’m not sure of that answer, as I’ve only really used the Tender Quick. To be safe, I’d follow their instructions. I’d hate for your finished product to end up too salty!


Denise Lynn March 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Kevin another question since i will be making pastrami from this ~~in place of the tender quick have you ever used Prague powder #1 or pink salt ~`if not if one were to adjust this recipe with that ingredient would you use the same amount as the tender quick ?????~~~will tender quick give you the same pink meat after smoking that we are so familiar with for pastrami ??? thanks once again ~~you are so very good about answering your comments ~~i know we are all so appreciative of that ~~sincerely Miss~~Belle ~`a~~Que


Kevin March 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Pink salt definitely works…I think that was actually in my original recipe I changed to tender quick! I would stick with same amounts. Tender quick definitely gives the pink color. Thanks so much for the kind words!


Steve October 16, 2013 at 11:24 am

Hi Kevin

Great website! My question is, do you store in the fridge during brining process?


Kevin H. October 16, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Hi Steve! Yes, I store in the fridge since it is such a long brining process. Have you checked out the full recipe? If not, take a look at this for a more detailed description:


denise March 13, 2015 at 8:49 pm

do you think you could use a pot roast instead of brisket for this ~~ just curious ~~ i was going to do corned beef from a pot roast but now think i would like to do pastrami


Kevin March 14, 2015 at 8:26 am

I absolutely think you could. That might be awesome, actually. From what I understand, you can turn any meat into pastrami. If you end up doing the pot roast, please let me know how it goes – I might have to try that!


denise March 14, 2015 at 11:59 am

you are awesome at getting back with folks so quickly Kevin~`no wonder you run such a stellar blog ~~ another question if you will ~~do you have a pickling spice recipe you use as i kind of do like making it all from the get go and not using generic store bought ~~i could not see a link for that info but it would be so appreciated to have if you do ~~ smile ~~ be sure and wear green on St’ Patty’s Day 🙂

denise March 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Kevin i had thought i left another message about a pickling spice recipe ~~ you have one for the rub and for the brine ~~but did not see one for the pickling spice itself ~` just curious as to what you use recipe wise ~~ thanks ~` mine happen to already be in the brine now ~`found a dif pickling spice recipe and then made it my own but for future reference it would be nice to have ~~ thanks much~~ really appreciate all the time you do take in answering questions ~~ smile

Kevin H. March 18, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Denise – I do not have a pickling spice recipe! I’m spoiled with a great meat market Down the street that sells an awesome fresh one.
Thanks for reaching out and Happy St. Patty’s day to you!


Denise April 7, 2015 at 11:29 pm

well i did the pot roast Kevin ~` posted a whole album and photo opp of the process on face book ~~ would post a photo here for you and your readers but do not see an application for doing so ~`just wanted to let you know that it turned out amazing and tastes just like the expensive cuts i have paid huge amounts for at the deli counter ~`it is not your recipe since i made up all my won rubs and pickling spices but the process is for the 3 week cure ~~ smile


Kevin H. April 8, 2015 at 3:15 pm

That is great that you had such awesome results, Denise! Thank you for sharing with us. If you wanted to share your pictures, you could post them to our Facebook page:


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