Pastrami-Style Roast Turkey

Many years ago, I was introduced to pastrami-style roast turkey breast at a local Jewish deli and loved it so much that I set out to make a version at home. It is now one of our family favorites, and a recipe I often double to enjoy for dinner and then in sandwiches for several days after. The classic peppery spices are key, but a huge part of the appeal of this dish is also how simple it is to prepare. Boneless turkey breast is commonly sold at supermarkets in a variety of sizes, and you can ask to have it butterflied, or easily do this at home. The simple technique allows you to spread the spices evenly over the meat, which is then rolled and tied. This results in a perfect distribution of spices, as well as a pinwheel effect once the meat is sliced. Serve it with roasted vegetables, sweet potatoes, or a tangy slaw on the side.

Pastrami-Spiced Turkey
Photo: Carolyn Jung /
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
4 to 6


  • Canola oil, for brushing

  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 skin-on boneless turkey breast half (2 to 2 ½ pounds), butterflied


  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle. Lightly brush a small roasting pan or medium oven-safe skillet with oil.

  2. Thinly slice the garlic, then mound with 1 teaspoon salt on a cutting board; using both the blade and the flat side of a chef's knife, chop and scrape the mixture into a paste. Place in a bowl. Add the sugar, pepper, coriander, paprika, and mustard and stir to combine.

  3. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and bay leaves over medium until the butter is melted; set aside.

  4. Spread the butterflied turkey breast on a cutting board skin-side up. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh of the turkey from one end, being careful not to pull the skin completely off. Spread about a quarter of the spice rub under the skin, then turn the turkey skin-side down. Spread about half the remaining rub over the meat. Roll and tie firmly with twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder (skin should be facing out). Spread the remaining rub all over the outside of the meat. Season generously and all over with ¾ teaspoon salt. Place seam-side down in the prepared roasting pan.

  5. Spoon about half of the butter over the turkey, then place in the oven and reduce the temperature to 400 ̊F. Roast, basting with the remaining butter halfway through, until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 ̊F in the center, 40 to 50 minutes.

  6. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes. Slice the turkey and serve.


Reprinted with permission from Bringing It Home by Gail Simmons. Copyright 2017 by GMSMedia. Published by Grand Central Publishing.

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