Pastrami Burnt Ends: Flavor Bombs, Cooked Tender

Pastrami burnt ends ingredients

You know we love burnt ends. Whether it’s the original brisket version or something more experimental, like Asian-sticky pork-belly burnt ends, we love it and want to eat it. Well, one day while we were brainstorming new ways to burnt-end things, someone said “pastrami burnt ends,” and that was that—the idea never left us. And why wouldn’t we want to make them? They’re pastrami burnt ends.

Here, we’ll take you through the simple process you need to follow to get flavor-packed mouth bombs, and we will, of course, be talking about the temperature tips you’ll need to know to get the optimal gelatinous texture. You’re going to want to make this one sooner than later. Let’s get to it.

Pastrami—a review

As you may or may not recall from reading our post about making homemade smoked pastrami, pastrami is basically corned beef with a coat of spices that is mostly composed of black pepper and coriander. It’s a cured meat, so no additional salt will be needed for this dish. Pastrami is traditionally smoked and then steamed. The smoking imparts flavor, the steaming breaks down the collagen to make the meat tender. We’ll talk below about how we recreate that cooking in burnt-end form.

Taking a picture of burnt ends

Pastrami burnt end basics

Though you can start with a fresh brisket and cure it to make homemade corned beef to start with, we decided to use a pre-made corned beef. We bought a cured piece of brisket and cubed it up. If this sounds to you more like our instructions for pork belly burnt ends, you’re right. As we wanted maximum pastrami falvor, it made sense to coat each piece in pastrami spice. So we cut them all up and spiced them together in a bowl with a little yellow mustard as a binder.

Seasoning burnt end meat

As noted above, we’re starting with pre-cured corned beef, so no salt is added to the seasoning. Making the seasoning is easy and smells amazing, so I’d eschew a pre-made version. Once you’re all seasoned up, it’s just a matter of cooking them the right way.

How to cook pastrami burnt ends

As noted above, pastrami is usually smoked for flavor and then steamed for doneness.

We get the smoking part. Easy. Set up Billows™ BBQ Control Fan with your Smoke X2™ and its accompanying air probe and get the smoker temp to 250°F (121°C). Smoke the cubes of soon-to-be pastrami for 2 hours. Boom! Smoky goodness.

But what about steaming? The steaming process is where most of the collagen dissolution happens, resulting in meltingly tender cubes. We didn’t want to break out the steamer basket for this one, and we wanted to keep the kitchen from warming up. Thus smoke braising became the best choice. We packed the burnt ends into one layer of a disposable aluminum pan and filled in between them with beer that had been mixed with brown sugar and grainy brown mustard. (Pastrami goes amazingly well with coarse mustard, so we tried to put a good dose of it in the dish.)

Pastrami cubes to be braised

With the meat doused and covered, we could turn up the smoker. A quick adjustment to the set temp on Smoke X2 got us up to 350°F (177°C) very quickly. Now we had a steam/braise chamber in which we could cook the meat and even leach out some of the excess salt in the cured beef. We inserted the optional traight 3.5″ Pro-Series® probe through the foil and set our meat channel’s high-temp alarm for 207°F (97°C).

probing meat

Burnt end pull temp

Why not set that channel for 203°F (95°C), as we would when cooking a whole brisket? Because collagen dissolution is—say it with me now— a function of time and temperature. The small size of these cubes means that they increase their temperature in the braise very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that by the time they reach a normal pull temp for larger cuts, they haven’t had time for all that connective tissue to melt yet. Increasing our pull temp a few degrees gives them time to loosen up and gel out a bit more.

temping burnt ends

Of course, we always verify doneness temperature (as well as tenderness) with Thermapen® ONE.

Pastrami burnt ends pack a lot of flavor and that flavor is good. Pastrami is usually sliced and piled high on a sandwich, topped simply with mustard, and we liked serving it with that in mind: the cubes piled up with a dollop of mustard on the side for dipping them in. But these burnt ends, like their “actual” pastrami counterparts, can also be used in a pastrami Reuben—a variation I highly recommend. You can cut or tear them in pieces and put them on the bun, or just place one big cube on each bun and top appropriately.

However you decide to serve them, you’re sure to love these tender flavor bombs. The coarse texture of the seasoning plays so well against the luscious tenderness of the meat, and then there’s all that classic pastrami flavor. And, with the right equipment, they’re so easy to make. Getting your temps right is critical to this dish’s success, but with Smoke X2, Billows, and Thermapen ONE, that becomes one of the easiest parts of the cook. And with all that flavor, you can make just a little bit of meat go a long way. Do try this at home!


Pastrami burnt ends with extra braising liquid

Pastrami Burnt Ends Recipe


Burnt ends, but done up with corned beef and dressed in pastrami seasoning. Yum. 


  • 2 packages of cured, raw corned beef, totaling about 4 pounds—rinsed and patted dry
  • Yellow mustard
  • Pastrami seasoning:
    • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
    • 1/3 cup whole coriander seed
    • 1.5 tsp granulated garlic
    • 1.5 tsp granulated onion
    • 1.5 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 1 Tbsp  paprika
    • 1.5 tsp mustard seed, coarsely ground
  • 12 oz beer (basic lager is fine)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp grainy brown mustard



  • Preheat your smoker to 250°F (121°C) using Smoke X2 with its air probe and Billows BBQ Control Fan. Use the smoking wood of your choice. 
  • Prepare the pastrami seasoning by coarsely grinding the pepper and the coriander (using a coffee grinder or spice grinder is perfect), then mixing all the seasoning ingredients together in a bowl. 
  • Trim the fatcap on the corned beef to your liking. 
  • Cut the corned beef into cubes, 1–2″ on a side. 
  • Place the beef cubes in a large bowl and douse with yellow mustard to act as a binder. A tablespoon or two should do it. Stir to coat the pieces thinly but evenly. 
  • Add the pastrami seasoning. You don’t need to coat everything thickly with it, the garlic, onion, and sugar will all seem to disappear on the surface of the wet meat. You might not need all the seasoning.
  • Toss to coat. 

seasoning corned beef cubes
Seasoned corned beef cubes


  • Place the cubes of corned beef in the smoker. Set your Extra Big and Loud timer for 2 hours, close the lid and let the beef smoke. 

EB&L timer

  • When the two hours are nearly up, prepare the braising liquid by combining the beer, sugar, and mustard. Stir until well combined and the sugar is dissolved. 
  • When your timer sounds, move the beef cubes to an aluminum tray that is just big enough for them to fit in one layer, but small enough to fit in your smoker. 
  • Pour the braising liquid over the top. Cover the pan with foil, and insert the optional straight meat probe through the foil into one of the largest cubes of meat. 
  • Close the lid of your smoker and turn up the smoker temperature on your Smoke X2 to 350°F (177°C). 

probing meat
Smoking braising pan

  • Set the high-temp alarm on your Smoke X2’s meat channel to 207°F (97°C). Cook. 
  • When the high-temp alarm sounds, verify temperature and tenderness with your Thermapen ONE
  • If the cubes are tender and ready, remove them from the smoker. 
  • Pile them on a platter and pour over the remaining braising liquid. 

Pastrami burnt ends with extra braising liquid

  • Serve, perhaps with small buns, sauerkraut, cheese, and dressing, perhaps just with good grainy mustard and some pickles. 

Pastrami burnt ends with mustard

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Author: AliensFaith
HighTech FinTech researcher, university lecturer & Scholar. He is studying his second doctoral degree at the Hague International University. Studying different fields of Sciences gave him a broad understanding of various aspects of life. His recent researches covered AI, Machine-learning & Automation concepts. The Information Technology Skills & Knowledge gave his company a higher position over other regional high-tech consultancy services. The other qualities and activities which can describe him are a Hobbyist Programmer, Achiever, Strategic Thinker, Futuristic person, and Frequent Traveler.
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