Homemade Turkey Pastrami {Whole30, Paleo Compatible}

Turkey Pastrami, recipe, Whole30, paleo, healthy, DIY, homemade

Let’s eat lunch meat, Guys.

Luuuuunch Meeeeeat!! Where have you been for the last 18 days?!

Not up in my grill, that’s fo’ shizzle.

Until now.

Until I could make it, at home, free of funky stuff.

Funky-stuff-free lunch meat is darn near impossible to find.

And this poses a problem for us.

Cold cuts were another staple in our house pre Whole30.

Maybe that’s bad. . . .

Cheese, sugar, cold cuts, COFFEE WITH CREAM AND SUGAR!!!!

Ech. . . .

I’m drowning under guilt over here.

This is only one problem as of late.

The other problem is that I’ve been diagnosed by my daughter, in a game of Doc McStuffins, to have “Big Facehole-itis”.

She had to look it up in The Big Book of Boo Boos.

Don’t doubt her.  It’s a real thing.

And it’s tragic.

Apparently, nothing can be done to fix it – I’m just doomed with a big face hole.


Don’t cry for me; I’m coping all right.

Another problem? My husband claims the Whole30 program turns me into an old person – as in, ready for bed by 7pm. (I guess that could make me a toddler too. . . .)

I don’t really take offense to this though.

Let’s be honest: Old people are awesome, and they’re way smarter than younger people.

If you are in fact a genuine old person (age varies – it’s a self-determined designation, after all. . . ), please know that I think you are the bees knees and look forward to the day I’ve got it figured out like you do. Some of you have been doing this early bedtime thing for who-knows-how-long, and I JUST figured it out.

What other life secrets have you decoded??

Aaaaaaand. . . I’m on week three of physical therapy for my knee.

Not joking.

Running pain. . . .

But to all the O.P.’s (Old Peoples) out there:

You rock. Advice welcome.Turkey Pastrami, Whole30, paleo, thyme, smoke, brined, lunch meat, homemade, DIY

Back to turkey pastrami.

It’s salty, smoky, thyme-y, and free of weird additives!!!!

YAY! for easy-pack lunch meats.

Here we go, make your own, and get to bed early tonight folks.

You’ll feel better.

It’s truth to live by.

Turkey Pastrami

This pastrami is a great lunch meat to have in the house, and the whole family likes it. It's definitely worth the time it takes to brine. I gave liquid smoke an asterisk because, if you are making this as a Whole30 compatible meat, then you are going to have to make your own judgement call. Some say yes, liquid smoke is approved, some say no. I just looked for the brand with ONLY smoke and water in the ingredient list, and justified it to myself with the argument that cavemen cooked over an open fire (Right?!), as do we when we when we grill.Their food was, and our food is, exposed to smoke, therefore, smoke was/is on our food anyway. Other ways to get that smoky flavor? Use wood chips when you grill, or try smoked sea salt.


  • 4 turkey breast halves (mine were labeled "turkey breast tenderloins)
  • 3 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup medjool dates, chopped
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke*


Start at least two days ahead of time so you have time to brine!

Prep the dates:

In a small saucepan, add chopped dates to 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer till dates are soft, but some liquid remains. Add dates and liquid to a blender (I used the Magic Bullet), and puree. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, combine water, date mixture, and salt, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add in all remaining ingredients EXCEPT the liquid smoke. Stir till salt is dissolved. Let mixture cool completely.

Once mixture is cool, rinse turkey tenderloins under water. Prick each breast several times with a fork. Place them in a larch zip top bag. Add liquid smoke to the brine and pour the mixture over the turkey. Place the bag in a large bowl or dish and refrigerated for at least two days. Every once in a while, pick up the bag and move the contents around so all areas of the turkey are exposed equally to the flavoring ingredients.

After two days, remove turkey from the brine. Pat dry. Brush or spray with olive oil.

If you wish, you can create a rub from fresh thyme and fresh cracked pepper. I omited this step out of sheer laziness, but it would be a nice touch.

Grill the meat covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170°.


Adapted from Danquole at 10thKitchen


7 thoughts on “Homemade Turkey Pastrami {Whole30, Paleo Compatible}

    • Yes, dates are healthy people approves, and me approved too. Dates abide in the shaded portion of the me+healthy people Venn diagram! 😉

  1. This sounds so good! I am a little bit addicted to liquid smoke–I actually add a teensy bit to lots of my soups and bean dishes. Just a dash but it makes a big difference! Now I need to make my own lunch meat so I can play with my fave ingredient (and keep up with you and D, of course!)

    • I just watched a little Alton Brown grilling episode this weekend too, where he says studies are showing too, that liquid smoke may just be healthier than true grill smoke too. Lucky us. See we are SO healthy. 😉

    • I’m sure you could! I just cannot speak to what the cooking times would be because I haven’t tried it yet. I would probably start with an oven temp of 350, then try baking for 25-30 minutes or so, then finishing off with broiling for a nice crispy outside. Just test it with a meat thermometer – 170 F degrees is you goal! Good luck!

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