How To Smoke Corned Beef Brisket

How To Smoke Corned Beef

Learn how to smoke corned beef brisket, make a homemade pastrami-style deli rub, and create juicy thin slices of smoked corned beef (aka pastrami) for sandwiches, hashes, and more!

While corned beef is a classic come St. Patrick’s day, you do not need any excuse to celebrate the deliciousness that is smoked corned beef. Before we really dive into this cook it is essential to note a few things about this recipe.

  1. Smoked corned beef is technically called pastrami, no judgment here if you use these terms interchangeably.
  2. Make your own homemade pastrami rub. A few simple spices blend together to create a solid flavor and bark.
  3. While you can brine your own (see notes below for this process) but this recipe was done with an uncooked pre-brined grocery store brisket. Please see details on how to prepare your corned beef for the grill utilizing either method below in the preparation steps.

Don’t want to smoke a whole corned beef brisket? Try this Turkey Pastrami recipe too!

Why This Recipe Works:

  • Flavor: Smoked meat always comes down to the flavor profile, and smoking corned beef to make deli-worthy pastrami is absolutely heaven. The meat not only takes on the flavor from the brine and the smoke from the grill, but the black pepper, yellow mustard, and garlic flavors in the spices really complement the meat.
  • Low and Slow: Traditional corned beef is boiled whereas pastrami is slow smoked. The slow cooking process allows the denser connective tissues in brisket to slowly break down to become tender, juicy, and delicious.
  • Versatile: This recipe will work on any style grill or smoker. I have prepared it on a pellet grill, electric smoker, and on charcoal grill as well. I will say you get a more intense smoke flavor and a better bark on charcoal smokers, but good end results no matter what grill you use.
How To Smoke Corned Beef

Supplies Needed:

  • Sharp Knife
  • Paper Towel
  • Baking Sheet
  • Meat thermometer (Use one for tracking the smoking process and a temperature probe for testing tenderness)
  • Aluminum Foil, Deep Foil Pan, or Butcher Paper
  • Pastry Brush
  • Spice Grinder
  • Small Bowl


Pastrami Dry Rub

  • Black Peppercorns
  • Juniper Berries
  • Coriander
  • Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • Brown Sugar
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder

Smoked Corned Beef-

  • Fully Brined and Cured Brisket Flat (though you can still use the entire brisket if you prefer)
  • Yellow Mustard or Whole Grain Mustard
  • Beef Broth and Beef Tallow (bot hare used to build the bark)
Ingredients for smoking a corned beef brisket

How To Brine A Brisket For Corned Beef:

You can brine your own brisket at home, but please note that the curing process is long and can take several days. Brining is a simple process that tenderizes and adds flavor to the meat by making a saltwater solution and utilizing pink salt (not Himalayan salt but a curing salt) to get the iconic color and flavor you see in corn beef and pastrami.

Home Cured Brisket:

  • 1-gallon water
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. In a large pot, combine the water, kosher salt, brown sugar, pickling spice, garlic, and bay leaves. Stir well to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Place the brisket in a large container or zip-top bag and pour the brine over the top, making sure the meat is completely submerged.
  3. Cover the container or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 5 days, and up to 10 days. Flip the brisket over every day to ensure that it’s evenly brined.
  4. After the brisket has finished brining, remove it from the brine and rinse it well with cold water to remove any excess brine and salt.
  5. Place the brisket into a large container filled with enough water to cover the top. Let it soak in the clean water outside of the salt solution for an hour and then dump the water and repeat this again for an additional hour with new water. This removes some of the intensity in the salt brine so the smoked beef is not too salty to enjoy.

Pro Tip: Using a store bought corned beef (usually just the flat cut) that’s already brined? Remove it from the packaging (discard the spice packet) and rinse it under cold running water to remove the seasoning on the outside from curing and then follow step 5 listed above to soak it and remove excess salt.

How To Smoke A Corned Beef Brisket:

  1. Preheat the smoker to a low temperature between 225-250 degrees F. Add your favorite wood chips and set the smoker for indirect heat.
  2. After following the brining or rinsing method listed above, pat the corned beef as dry as possible with paper towels. Premix the homemade pastrami dry rub spices together.
  3. Lightly coat the entire brisket in yellow mustard as the binder.
  4. Sprinkle an even layer of homemade pastrami dry rub over the entire corned beef and let the meat rest briefly while the grill comes up to temperature.
  5. Place the corned beef brisket onto the grill grates fat side up and smoke for 3-4 hours to build the bark. After the first hour, you can lightly spray the outside of the beef with beef broth. Do this every hour or so until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
  6. When the smoked corned beef brisket hits the stall wrap it tightly in foil (I prefer foil for this cook over butcher paper but you can use butcher paper too). Before wrapping lightly brush some melted beef tallow or spray again with beef broth over the bark of the brisket. Place it back on the smoker and increase the grill temperature to 275 F. and let it cook until it’s tender and reaches a temperature between 195-203 F. Use a thermometer probe to check for tenderness in the meat.
  7. Remove the smoked corned beef from the grill and keep it wrapped in the foil. Wrap it in a clean hand towel and place it in a small cooler to stay warm and finish carry over cooking to rest for at least an hour before unwrapping.
  8. After the resting period, remove it from the foil and slice the smoked corned beef into thin slices and serve with your favorite sides, rye bread, sauerkraut, and dressing.
Steps for smoking a corned beef brisket on the grill.

What To Serve With Smoked Corned Beef:

When the smoked corned beef is freshly sliced off the grill I love to make a big platter and serve it family style. You can eat it as is or with some grilled cabbage steaks. The leftovers make amazing Reuben sandwiches loaded with corned beef, swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and sauerkraut, on thick bakery rye bread with pickles on the side.

Here are some other ways I like to use smoked corned beef:

what to make with leftover smoked corned beef

Pro Tip: Reheat leftover corned beef slices in a steamer basket on the stove to keep the beef tender and juicy and not too dry!

How To Smoke Corned Beef

How To Smoke Corned Beef

Learn how to smoke corned beef brisket, make a homemade pastrami-style deli rub, and create juicy thin slices of smoked corned beef (aka pastrami) for sandwiches, hashes, and more!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Grilling, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Irish
Keyword: homemade smoked pastrami recipe, How to smoke corned beef
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Resting Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12
Calories: 452kcal
Author: Bon Appeteach


  • Thermoworks Thermometers


  • 1 6 lb. Corned Beef Brisket Flat see notes in the article to brine your own if desired
  • 4 tbsp. Yellow Mustard
  • 8 oz. Homemade Pastrami Dry Rub
  • Beef Broth for spraying the bark
  • Beef Tallow optional – for basting


  • Please note that this recipe is for a store bought corned beef brisket. See notes in the article above to brine your own (it will take 5-10 days).
  • Preheat the smoker to 225-250 degrees F. Set it for indirect heat and add your preferred wood for smoking.
  • Begin by remove the brisket from the packaging and discard the seasoning packet. Rinse the corned beef brisket off under cold running water. Fill a container or bowl large enough with water and submerge the corned beef brisket in the water for 30 minutes to pull out some of the salt. Discard the water and repeat again for another 30 minutes. If you skip this step you may have very very salty smoked corned beef (pastrami).
  • While the corned beef brisket is soaking, pre mix your homemade pastrami dry rub and set it aside (a spice grinder is best for this).
  • Remove the brisket from the water and pat it dry with paper towels. Coat the whole corned beef brisket in a thin layer of yellow mustard for the binder.
  • Next, evenly coat the beef in the pastrami rub on all sides in a fairly thick layer.
  • Place the corned beef brisket onto the smoker grill grates and smoke for about and hour. Begin spraying the outside of the bark with beef broth every hour or so to build the bark until the brisket hits about 165 F. internally. This usually is about 3-4 hours.
  • Remove the corned beef from the grill and baste with beef tallow (or more beef broth) and wrap it tightly in foil and place it back on the smoker. You can increase the grill temperature to 275 F. if preferred at this point to help speed up the cooking process (smoke is no longer penetrating the meat).
  • Continue to smoke the corned beef until it is tender (around 195-203 F.) Insert a probe to check for tenderness in the meat and then remove from the smoker, keeping it wrapped in the foil.
  • Place a clean kitchen towel around the foil wrapped smoked corned beef and place it a small cooler or into the oven to rest for at least an hour before slicing. Do not skip the resting process!
  • Remove the foil after resting and thinly slice against the grain to create thin slices of smoked corned beef. Serve as desired or make homemade Rueben sandwiches and enjoy!


Need to reheat leftover smoked corned beef brisket? I recommend steaming the meat in a steaming basket on the stove fro best results. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 452kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 2814mg | Potassium: 681mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 61mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 4mg

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