I can’t believe in all my years of grilling and smoking that it’s taken me this long to make Turkey Pastrami!!! 

My Turkey pastrami journey began when I first made Duck Pastrami in an attempt to figure out what to do with all this duck my husband, who is an avid duck hunter, brings home during duck season. 

And just like that when I thought Duck season was finally over and I might have a reprieve from what I call “bird brain” aka, my husband’s obsession with duck hunting where he thinks about nothing but birds ALL THE TIME, Turkey Season starts.

Wild Turkey Pastrami

Here is my proud Husband, known as @marshdoodle on instagram, with his Turkey.

And so the cycle begins again. When you are married to a hunter, it seems there is always a season for something! And that’s how I ended up with the idea to make (Wild) Turkey Pastrami.

When Scott harvested a Turkey, Scott originally wanted to make Turkey Schnitzel, a breaded and fried German Dish that he saw Steven Rinella of the Meater Show/Podcast make.

“But wait, what not make Turkey Pastrami instead and get more meals out of it?” I suggested. The ability to get a few meals out of the Turkey Pastrami on sandwiches versus eating all the Turkey in one sitting for dinner is also appealing as it lasts longer!

Truthfully, the Turkey Pastrami is SOO GOOD on its own but then when you make a Reuben out of it and smother and cover it in Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian Dressing, you again ask yourself, Pastrami, where have you been all my life?

turkey pastrami

The seasoning for the brine makes it a fragrant perfume bath for the Turkey.


Making Turkey Pastrami is super easy, you just need to plan. First, you will make a brine which essentially cures the Turkey in a bath of fragrant spices overnight.

Next, make a fragrant rub and apply it to the Turkey.

Lastly, and the most fun part is smoking the Turkey! You’ll smoke this Turkey for up to two hours, pulling it when the thickest part hits 160 degrees. I smoked this on my Green Mountain Grill Pellet Smoker, essentially pushing the easy button but you can smoke on any kind of grill, including a gas grill with the addition of some wood chips.

turkey pastrami on smoker

Turkey Pastrami on the Smoker.

The Reuben or a Turkey Melt is such a great weekday sandwich to make, especially for those of us who work from home and can make a quick midday Turkey Pastrami melt. I’m not even a sandwich person as I try not to eat too much bread, but I have to admit that I can’t stop thinking about Reubens lately.

I make mine with Ezekiel Bread which is organic and highly nutritious sprouted grains so you don’t have to feel guilt about that delicious Reuben you made with your very own homemade Turkey Pastrami.

Turkey pastrami

Turkey pastrami is my new favorite way to enjoy sandwiches and as a great addition to snacking platters.

Turkey Pastrami is also great for snacking on or adding to a charcuterie board. Trust me when I tell you that this Recipe will go onto the rotation on the regular. This is the perfect recipe to make with Turkey Breasts from the grocery store and it will get you through the week for Turkey Melts, Reubens or whatever makes you happy. This Turkey Pastrami makes me happy and it will make you happy too! Enjoy!

NOTE: This Turkey Pastrami does not use Prague Powder aka Nitrates for the brine. Instead, I just use Pink Himalayan Salt. In my opinion, the Salt does the job just fine and we live in the age of modern refrigeration and adding Prague Powder, aka Nitrates is not needed. I’m not a fan of preservatives, and by skipping that you keep this Paleo, #whole30 approved and JUNK FREE!

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Turkey pastrami

Turkey Pastrami

  • Author: Robyn
  • Total Time: Overnight brine plus 2 hours on the smoker
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


This turkey pastrami recipe is going to change the way you think about turkey sandwiches forever! Make your own Turkey pastrami with no nitrates or preservatives and enjoy this fragrant brined and smoked turkey in sandwiches and charcuterie boards all week!




2 Turkey Breasts, plus the Turkey tenderloins


  • 1 gallon water, divided in half
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp pink Himalayan salt (as an alternate to curing salt /Prague Powder)
  • 2 tbsp corander seed
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard seed
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon OR one a cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp red chile flakes
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves


  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground rosemary
  • 2 tsp red chile flakes


Combine the brine ingredients and bring to simmer just long enough to help the ingredients dissolve. After the ingredients have dissolved, turn the pot off and add the remaining water. Add a few ice cubes to help it cool down.

Once the mixture has cooled, add the turkey. Let it brine overnight.

The next day, you smoke the turkey. It won’t take longer than two hours. But first you need to make your rub. Combine all the rub ingredients and apply it to all sides of the meat. Set your smoker for 25o degrees and smoked the turkey until it reaches 160 degrees in the breast. The tenderloins will cook faster since they are smaller and therefore you should watch them and pull them once they have hit 160 internal which will before the breast is ready.

Remove the turkey from the smoker and tent under foil until ready to slice. Slice as thinly as possibly against the grain and prepare to be amazed at the awesome flavor of this Turkey Pastrami!


This recipe was adapted from a Garden and Gun recipe and includes no nitrates or curing salt and easy to find ingredients.

  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Turkey, Smoked Turkey, Pastrami, BBQ, Sandwiches, Deli Meat
  • Method: Brine, Smoke
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Turkey Pastrami, turkey pastrami recipe, turkey Reuben, best turkey melt, homemade pastrami recipe