Battle of the Deli Meats: Pastrami vs Roast Beef

When it comes to deli meats, nothing beats the classic options of pastrami and roast beef. Both are popular choices, but which one is the best? Pastrami is seasoned and smoked beef, while roast beef is a simple cut of roasted until tender. Each has its unique flavor, texture, and appearance. Though both are tasty and filling, some key differences between the two meats make them stand out. Whether you prefer a traditional pastrami sandwich or a classic roast beef dinner, knowing the key differences between these two beloved deli meats is worth knowing. So, let’s explore the world of pastrami vs roast beef and discover which one comes out on top.

What Is Pastrami?

What Is Pastrami

Pastrami is a smoked, cured, and seasoned beef, usually made with brisket, that has been a staple of Jewish and Eastern European cuisines for centuries.

Pastrami’s’ origin can be traced back to the Jewish immigrants who first brought the dish to the United States in the mid-19th century. The immigrants originally made pastrami by curing and smoking beef in the same way they would make corned beef. However, they added seasonings to give it a unique flavor, which we now recognize as pastrami.

Today, the pastrami is still made similarly to the original recipe. The beef is cured with salt, sugar, and spices, then smoked and steamed before being thinly sliced. The unique flavor of pastrami comes from the combination of the spices used for curing and the smokiness of the beef.

Pastrami is most commonly enjoyed on a sandwich, usually with slices of Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw. While pastrami sandwiches are classic and delicious, this tasty meat can also be served in other dishes, such as hash, pastrami-stuffed potatoes, and pastrami-loaded omelets.

What Is Roast Beef?

What Is Roast Beef

Roast beef is a classic dish that has been around for centuries. It’s a popular dish in many parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Roast beef is usually cooked in the oven, although an open fire or grill can also be used.

Roast beef is typically made from the beef chuck or shoulder roast. The beef is seasoned with various herbs and spices and cooked slowly for a few hours in the oven. Roast beef is generally served with gravy, horseradish, or mustard and is often accompanied by potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables.

Roast beef is a versatile dish that can be served in various ways. It can be served as a main course with all the fixings, or it can be served as a side dish, sliced, and served as an appetizer or snack. Roast beef can also be served cold in sandwiches, salads, or wraps.

When it comes to nutrition, roast beef is an excellent source of protein, iron, and zinc, as well as vitamins B6, B12, and selenium. It is a lean cut of meat, making it a healthy choice. Roast beef is also low in fat and cholesterol.

Pastrami vs Roast Beef – What’re The Similarities

Pastrami vs Roast Beef - What're The Similarities

When it comes to similarities, the two cuts of beef share a lot in common. Both come from the same family of cattle, the Angus breed, and both are cured and smoked using similar techniques. Additionally, both cuts of beef are commonly served in various sandwiches and other dishes.

The main difference between pastrami and roast beef is their preparation and curing. Pastrami is made by taking a cut of beef, usually brisket or a shoulder, and curing it in a combination of salt, sugar, and spices. The meat is then smoked for several hours, giving it a unique flavor and texture. Roast beef, on the other hand, is usually prepared by roasting the cut of beef in an oven or over an open flame.

When it comes to taste, pastrami has a distinct flavor from the curing and smoking process, while roast beef has a more subtle flavor. Additionally, the texture of pastrami is usually denser and chewier than roast beef.

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When it comes to nutrition, both cuts of beef are high in protein and low in fat, making them both an excellent choice for a healthy meal. One exception is pastrami, which is higher in sodium than roast beef due to the curing and smoking process.

What Are The Main Differences Between Pastrami vs Roast Beef?

When it comes to Pastrami vs Roast Beef, there are a few differences to note. First and foremost, the meat cut used in each dish differs – Pastrami is made from the navel end of the beef brisket, while roast beef can be made with different cuts. Roast beef is much easier to make, whereas Pastrami is brined, partially dried, seasoned, smoked, and steamed.

In terms of fat content, Pastrami contains slightly higher amounts of fats compared to roast beef, but both contain low amounts of fat overall. Pastrami is known for its reddish-pink color, which results from curing, while roast beef is roasted meat. Finally, pastrami has a little extra spice and flavor compared to the plainer taste of roast beef. Both dishes have unique origins and serving options, making them excellent choices for meat lovers.

We will discuss the main differences between pastrami and roast beef so that you can decide which one to enjoy.

What Is The Origin Of Pastrami vs Roast Beef?

Pastrami originated in Romania and is made from beef, which is cured and smoked. On the other hand, Roast beef is a more traditional style of beef preparation and is roasted in the oven.

Preparation and Cooking Time

Pastrami is usually prepared by curing the beef in a spiced brine, then smoking it for hours. This process can be time-consuming, but the result is flavorful and tender meat. Roast beef, on the other hand, is much easier to prepare. All required is to season the beef and then roast it in the oven. This process typically takes much less time than preparing pastrami.


Pastrami is usually served thinly sliced with rye bread and mustard. Roast beef is usually served in thick slices and is accompanied by various sides, such as mashed potatoes, vegetables, and gravy.


Pastrami pairs well with a wide range of flavors. It’s’ often served with mustard, pickles, and rye bread, but it can also be enjoyed with various cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. Roast beef is usually served with potatoes, gravy, and other hearty sides. Both meats go well with a variety of beers and wines.


Pastrami is quite a bit higher in calories than roast beef. A 3-ounce serving of pastrami contains about 310 calories, while the same size of roast beef contains only 130 calories. This means that if you are watching your calorie intake, you may want to opt for roast beef over pastrami.

Pastrami vs Roast Beef: Taste

Pastrami vs Roast Beef: Taste

Pastrami and roast beef differ in their taste as well. Pastrami has a much stronger flavor due to the curing and smoking process it goes through before it is eaten. It has a salty, smoky, and slightly sweet flavor. Roast beef, on the other hand, has a milder flavor with a subtle sweetness.

Fat content

Regarding fat content, the pastrami is higher than roast beef. A 3-ounce serving of pastrami contains about 17 grams of fat, while the same size of roast beef contains only 7 grams. If you are counting your fat intake, you may want to opt for roast beef over pastrami.


When it comes to minerals, pastrami, and roast beef are almost equal. Both proteins contain a good amount of zinc, iron, and selenium. However, the pastrami is slightly higher in magnesium than roast beef.


When it comes to protein value, the pastrami is the clear winner. Per 3-ounce serving, pastrami contains 12 grams of protein, while roast beef lags with 9 grams. However, when it comes to price, roast beef is the cheaper option. This is because pastrami is usually smoked and spiced before it’s served, which adds to the cost.

Roast Beef vs Pastrami: Protein value

When it comes to popularity in American cuisine, roast beef is the clear winner. Roast beef is one of the most popular meats in the United States, with sandwiches, salads, and other dishes featuring the meat. On the other hand, the pastrami is much less common in American cuisine.


The price of pastrami and roast beef also differs. Pastrami is usually more expensive, as it is processed meat and, therefore, more expensive to produce. Roast beef is usually cheaper and a leaner and healthier option.

Which One Is More Popular In American Cuisine?

When it comes to popularity in American cuisine, both pastrami and roast beef are popular. It depends on personal preference. Some people prefer the smoky taste of pastrami, while others prefer the leaner taste of roast beef.

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Is Pastrami Or Roast Beef Easier To Cook?

When it comes to cooking, roast beef is the easier option. Roast beef is generally easier to cook than pastrami, as it requires less preparation and has a shorter cooking time. However, the pastrami is more difficult to cook, requiring smoking and spicing before cooking.

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How Do You Properly Store Pastrami Compared To Roast Beef?

Storing pastrami and roast beef is both relatively straightforward. To begin, you should always store them in the refrigerator. This helps to keep the meats at optimal temperatures and prevents them from becoming spoiled.

When it comes to pastrami, you should wrap it in plastic or an airtight container. This will help keep it from drying out. It would help if you also tried to use it within 3-4 days of purchase.

When it comes to roast beef, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. However, it’s’ important to note that you should always cut or slice the roast beef before storing it. This will prevent it from becoming dried out.

Finally, it’s’ important to note that you should always keep these meats away from raw foods such as vegetables and fruits. This will help prevent cross-contamination and potential food-borne illnesses.

How Do You Make A Perfect Pastrami Sandwich?

Making the perfect pastrami sandwich is all about the ingredients. To start, you’ll need high-quality pastrami. The pastrami should be thinly-sliced and have a deep, smoky flavor. You can find high-quality pastrami at most delis or butcher shops.

Next, you’ll need some high-quality bread. Rye bread is the traditional choice, but you can use a variety of breads, such as sourdough, multigrain, or whole wheat.

Once you have your bread and pastrami, it’s’ time to assemble the sandwich. Start by adding a layer of pastrami to the bottom slice of bread. Top the pastrami with a layer of mustard and any other desired condiments, such as mayonnaise, pickles, or relish. Add a second layer of pastrami and top with the second slice of bread.

The next step is to toast the sandwich. Toast the sandwich on each side in a hot skillet until the bread is golden-brown and the pastrami is heated. This will give the sandwich a nice crunch and enhance the flavor of the pastrami.

Finally, it’s’ time to enjoy the perfect pastrami sandwich. Serve the sandwich with potato chips and a cold beverage for the perfect meal.

What Are The Best Side Dishes To Pair With Pastrami And Roast Beef?

What Are The Best Side Dishes To Pair With Pastrami And Roast Beef

You have plenty of options when it comes to the best side dishes to pair with pastrami. Here are a few of the most popular sides that pair perfectly with pastrami:

  1. Potato Salad: Potato salad is a classic side dish that pairs perfectly with pastrami. The creamy texture and tangy flavor of the salad complement the savory, salty flavor of the pastrami. You can make a classic potato salad with mayonnaise, mustard, and herbs, or mix in some chopped celery, pickles, and onion for a heartier salad.
  2. Coleslaw: Coleslaw is another classic side dish that pairs well with pastrami. The crunchy, tangy slaw perfectly accompanies the savory, salty pastrami. Mix shredded cabbage with a mayonnaise-based dressing to make a classic coleslaw and season with salt, pepper, and sugar.
  3. Pickles: Pickles are an essential part of the classic Reuben sandwich and the perfect accompaniment to pastrami. Whether you’re making a sandwich or a platter, pickles provide an added crunch and freshness that pairs well with the flavors of the pastrami.
  4. Macaroni Salad: Macaroni salad is a popular side dish for pastrami. The creamy, cheesy flavor of the macaroni is the perfect complement to the savory, salty taste of pastrami. You can make macaroni salad or buy a prepared version at the grocery store.
  5. Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables are a great way to add color and flavor to a meal. Roasted vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini pair perfectly with pastrami. The sweetness of the vegetables complements the savory flavor of the deli meat.

Roast beef is a classic main dish perfect for everything from Sunday dinner to a special holiday meal. When it comes to side dishes, you can go with classic recipes that have been served alongside roast beef for generations or mix it up with something new and exciting. Here are some of the best side dishes to pair with roast beef.

  1. Potatoes: Roast beef and potatoes are a classic pairing, and there are many delicious ways to prepare them. Consider roasting potatoes in the oven with olive oil, herbs, and garlic for a simple side dish full of flavor. Or, try mashed potatoes for a comforting side dish that’s sure to please.
  2. Vegetables: Roast beef is an excellent entree for dinner, packed with nutrients. Consider steaming or roasting a variety to round out the meal with healthy vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans are all terrific side dishes to pair with roast beef.
  3. Salad: A fresh, green salad is the perfect way to add crunch and color to your roast beef dinner. Make a bowl of your favorite greens and toss it with your favorite dressing. Add some chopped vegetables or fresh fruit for extra flavor and nutrition.
  4. Stuffing: If you’re looking for a side dish that’s a little more filling than a salad, try making a savory stuffing. Bread cubes, vegetables, and herbs are all combined with broth and baked until golden brown. Stuffing is a great way to add more flavor to your meal.
  5. Rice: Rice is another great side dish that pairs nicely with roast beef. Try making a simple wild rice pilaf, or get more creative with flavorful Spanish rice.
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You’ll surely have the perfect meal with these delicious sides every time.

Which One Is More Suitable For Special Occasions- Pastrami Or Roast Beef?

When deciding which deli meat is more suitable for special occasions, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. However, based on facts, pastrami seems more flavorful and has a higher protein content than roast beef. Pastrami’s unique brining step also adds a distinct taste that may be better suited for special events. On the other hand, roast beef is a healthier option with lower calorie and fat content. It can be enjoyed as a full roast or sliced in a sandwich with Russian dressing and coleslaw, making it a versatile option for any occasion.

Ultimately, it comes down to what the individual enjoys more – a tangy and flavorful pastrami or leaner and healthier roast beef.

FAQs About Pastrami vs Roast Beef

What Is Better, Roast Beef Or Pastrami?

What Is Better, Roast Beef Or Pastrami

Roast beef is easier to prepare and has a lower fat content, making it a healthier option. However, pastrami’s unique flavor and reddish-pink color due to the curing process can be a palate-pleasing experience for some. Pastrami also contains slightly higher amounts of fat, but both meats contain low amounts overall. It’s worth noting that pastrami is typically made from the navel end of the beef brisket, while roast beef can be made with different cuts. In the end, it’s up to the individual to decide which they enjoy more.

What Meat Is Closest To Pastrami?

If you’re trying to find a meat closest to pastrami, you might be surprised to learn it’s corned beef! While they have some differences regarding the cuts of meat used and the way they’re prepared, the pastrami is just a more heavily seasoned and smoked version of corned beef. So if you’re looking for a texture and flavor profile similar to pastrami, try using corned beef instead. You might even be able to make your pastrami-style corned beef at home by adding extra spices and smoking it yourself!

Is Pastrami A Healthy Deli Meat?

According to factual data and nutritionists, Pastrami has generally considered an unhealthy option due to its high sodium content. However, it’s not entirely bad for you. A 1-ounce serving of beef Pastrami has 41 calories, which is approximately the same amount as deli turkey and ham- both of these are considered lean, low-calorie options.

Pastrami is slow-cooked beef brisket with salt and spices, unlike other deli meats, making it a high-quality cured meat. It has a low amount of saturated fat. It is also a good source of Riboflavin, Iron, Phosphorus, and Selenium, making it a decent choice for those who consume it moderately. Overall, Pastrami is not bad for your health in any way as long as it’s enjoyed in moderation.

Why Is Pastrami So Delicious?

Pastrami is a deli meat famous for its rich and savory taste. The deli meat is made of beef from various cuts, such as the navel end of the beef brisket. Real pastrami is made from the plate and brisket cuts of beef and rubbed with a dry seasoning blend of salt, pepper, coriander, and garlic. The seasoning blend brings a familiar cured twang to the beef, making it denser and slices cleaner than unsalted meat.

Pastrami is then smoked, which adds a unique smoky flavor to the already flavorful meat. Pastrami is served on sandwiches such as pastrami on rye and is typically paired with mustard for the perfect contrast of flavors. Pastrami’s deliciousness is attributed to its unique preparation process that combines seasoning, smoking, and serving with the perfect pairings.


To conclude, pastrami and roast beef are two very distinct deli meats that offer unique flavors and textures. Although pastrami is a bit more expensive than roast beef, it is certainly worth the splurge for its unique and delicious flavor. Both pastrami and roast beef are perfect for sandwiches, paninis, and more, and the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference. Regardless of which you choose, you can enjoy tasty and delicious deli meat with “pastrami vs roast beef“!


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