How to Make a Pastrami Sandwich: A Step-by-Step Guide

pastrami sandwich

The pastrami sandwich, a staple of New York delis, is beloved by many for its rich flavors and satisfying textures.

This iconic sandwich combines spiced, smoked beef with rye bread, mustard, and sometimes coleslaw or sauerkraut, creating a mouthwatering meal that’s hard to resist.

Whether you’re a seasoned sandwich maker or new to the culinary arts, this guide will walk you through the steps to create the perfect pastrami sandwich at home.


  • 8 slices of rye bread
  • 1 pound of high-quality pastrami, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons of spicy brown mustard (or to taste)
  • Optional: Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, or coleslaw
  • Butter (for toasting the bread)


Prepare the Bread

Start by lightly buttering one side of each slice of rye bread. This will give your sandwich a crispy texture and rich flavor. Heat a skillet over medium heat and toast the bread, buttered side down, until golden brown. Set aside.

Warm the Pastrami

Pastrami is best served warm to bring out its flavors and tender texture. You can warm the pastrami in a steamer, in the oven wrapped in foil at 275°F (135°C) for about 10 minutes, or quickly in a skillet over low heat. Be careful not to overcook, as this can make the meat tough.

Assemble the Sandwich

    1. Spread mustard on one side of each slice of toasted rye bread. The mustard is key to adding a tangy contrast to the rich pastrami.
    2. Pile the warmed pastrami high on one slice of bread. If you’re adding Swiss cheese, place it on top of the pastrami now and briefly melt it under a broiler or in a microwave.
    3. If using, add a layer of sauerkraut or coleslaw on top of the cheese or directly on the pastrami for a crunchy texture and additional flavor.
    4. Top with another slice of bread, mustard side down, pressing gently to compact the sandwich slightly.

Serve and Enjoy

Cut the sandwich in half, if desired, and serve immediately. Pastrami sandwiches are best enjoyed fresh, with the warm meat and toasted bread creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures.

Tips for the Perfect Pastrami Sandwich

  • Quality Ingredients: The key to a great pastrami sandwich lies in the quality of the pastrami. Look for well-marbled, spice-crusted pastrami from a reputable deli or butcher.
  • Mustard Matters: Don’t skimp on the mustard. A good quality spicy brown mustard will add depth and a slight heat that complements the pastrami beautifully.
  • Balance is Key: While it’s tempting to pile on the pastrami, remember that balance is crucial. Too much meat can overwhelm the other flavors and make the sandwich difficult to eat.

Making a pastrami sandwich at home is a simple yet rewarding culinary adventure. By following these steps and tips, you can recreate a deli classic that satisfies your cravings and impresses your guests. Whether enjoyed as a hearty lunch or a comforting dinner, a well-made pastrami sandwich is a testament to the joys of simple, flavorful cooking. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to enjoy one of the most iconic sandwiches right from your kitchen.

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