Utah Pastrami Burger

Utah is a magical place. We set up camp about 40 miles north of Moab, in the ghost town of Thompson Springs. It’s a quiet place, with a few campgrounds and a gas station off of I-70. The views are spectacular, with red-clay mountains and desert surrounding you. It’s the perfect time of year for this area, with daily temps in the 70’s. It’s also an ATV/UTV wonderland, with trails for hundreds of miles in each direction.

So, for this cook, we chose the Utah Pastrami Burger. It’s a local favorite that is sure to please any meat lover and griller. If there are any pastrami purists out there, you may want to sit down. The biggest obstacle I faced, was finding the cut of meat to make pastrami, so I cheated. The closest thing to pastrami that I could find was a corned beef brisket, which is sometimes referred to as, “pastrami brisket”, so it’s a win in my book.

The important part, was to season and smoke the brisket, the day before the cook. I basically smoked the “pastrami brisket” just like I would a normal brisket. I used the snake method with the coals and smoked the brisket with some hickory chunks, until the internal temp was around 165 degrees.

After smoking for a few hours, to hit the 165 degree mark, I wrapped the brisket in foil to push it through the stall, and reach 200 degrees, internal temp. This took another hour or so to reach.

I let the pastrami brisket rest for around 15 minutes, then sliced it up. After a little taste-testing (who can resist), I placed the pastrami in a container and let it nap in the fridge until the next day.

Now for the easy part. We prepared some normal burgers with 80/20 ground beef. Place the burgers on the grill and cook both sides. When the burgers are just about done, I put a generous portion of the smoked pastrami and swiss cheese on top.

After the cheese melts, they are ready to come off the grill. It’s now time to “dope” or “dress” the burgers. A traditional Utah pastrami burger is dressed with some combination of: onions, lettuce, pickles, and fry sauce. What’s fry sauce, you ask? Well, it’s basically a mixture of ketchup, mayo, pickle relish, and maybe some garlic salt or other seasonings. Utes love their fry sauce, and I don’t blame them one bit!

Although this cook took an extra day, the bonus is, you should have some brisket left over for some pastrami sandwiches or a good ole reuben. This was a fun cook, and everyone loves a good burger story. The fry sauce may end up being a staple on all of our burgers from now on!

Utah Pastrami Burger

This cook is a meat lover's burger, for sure!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • 1 lbs Smoked Pastrami Brisket
  • 2 lbs 80/20 Ground beef
  • slices Swiss Cheese
  • some Dill Pickles
  • some Fry Sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's Secret Sauce)
  • 4 Hamburger Buns


  • pre-smoke a pastrami brisket the day before
  • make up some 1/4-1/2 lbs burger patties, you can season with some salt/pepper
  • place burgers on the kettle and cook both sides
  • when the burgers are just about done, place some pastrami and swiss cheese on top
  • remove the burgers when the cheese is melted
  • dress the burger with fry sauce, pickles, onions, or whatever combination you choose
Keyword burger, pastrami, utah