5 Corned Beef Substitutes You Can Use

Is there anything that hits the same as the salted, delicious delight that is corned beef? Love it or hate it, there’s nothing quite like the taste and smell of corned beef!

So, you can imagine just how frustrating it is when you need it for a recipe, only to find it completely gone from your pantry!

However, just because you’re out of this amazing ingredient, doesn’t mean that whatever meal or recipe plans you had are now in jeopardy.

It just means that you’re going to need to get a little bit creative with your cooking and look around for a good substitute.

Sounds great. Only one problem: How exactly do you substitute something with as distinctive a flavor and texture as corned beef?

Well, for starters, with one of the alternatives that we show you in this guide!

5 Corned Beef Substitutes You Can Use

What Is Corned Beef?

We know. If you’re looking for substitutes for corned beef, you probably know what corned beef is!

However, if you’re looking for the best substitute, you need to know what exactly makes corned beef such a unique food, so that you can find those same qualities in your other foods.

Corned beef, as many people will know, is some type of beef cut (usually brisket) that has been marinated and preserved in salt brine.

The ‘corned’ part of the name comes from the fact that the grains of salt that cured the beef used to be referred to as ‘corns’ of salt.

The resulting process is the meat that we all know and love, and what was once simply a way of preserving meat for longer periods, has since taken on a character of its own, being a very popular treat that is eaten around the world and for special occasions.

In terms of texture and flavor, corned beef is notably softer to cut and bite through than a typical beef brisket, on account of the moisture from the salting process.

Plus, it has that classic beef flavor that so many people love brisket for, with an extra salty punch both with its initial and aftertaste.

It’s a tricky combination to replicate, for sure, and is one of the reasons that corned beef is still so popular to this day.

However, if you are looking for alternatives, there are a few different foods that you can try.

1. Pastrami

5 Corned Beef Substitutes You Can Use - Pastrami

When it comes to overall substitutes for corned beef, pastrami has to be one of the best, both in terms of flavor as well as texture.

Pastrami is a beef dish that comes from Western Asia/Asia Minor and has been around for centuries at this point, becoming a world-popular way of preserving and eating beef.

Like with corned beef, the pastrami is a cut of beef that has been at least partially cured, usually with a mix of salts and other spices.

However, the meat is then dried and further seasoned, before it is then smoked and steamed.

The overall process does seem quite different after the initial curing. However, despite that, you’ll notice quite a lot of similarities between the two in both flavor and texture.

Many of the steps in pastrami try and lock moisture into the meat, giving it a succulent, soft texture that you don’t often see in many other beef products.

Plus, it is still a salted beef product, so you’ll find that the taste compared to corned beef is pretty similar too!

It isn’t a perfect one-to-one, of course. The extra spices that have been added to it change the flavors as they sit in your mouth a little more.

Plus, depending on the kind of pastrami that you are making/buying, it can also be a lot spicier than corned beef, so keep that in mind if you’re making a recipe with milder palettes in mind.

However, overall, it’s hard to argue that there’s a better substitute for corned beef than pastrami.

2. Roast Beef

5 Corned Beef Substitutes You Can Use - Roast Beef

Seeing as how corned beef is still a beef product, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many other kinds of beef make for pretty good substitutes.

In terms of flavor, roast beef is going to serve your needs very well as a corned beef substitute.

In terms of flavor, roast beef might be the closest, given that it carries much of that beefy flavor, without any spices to affect it in the same way that pastrami is.

Depending on how you are cooking it, you may find that roasted beef has a much tougher texture when both cutting and biting into it, especially the outside.

However, if it has been prepared right, the inside will be a juicy and succulent meat that still has much in common with a slice of good corned beef, albeit with a slightly less salty flavor to it.

Overall, in terms of flavor, and availability, roast beef is probably one of your best options when it comes to a corned beef substitute.

3. Ham

5 Corned Beef Substitutes You Can Use - Ham

Moving away from beef products for a second, we have a different kind of meat that might just be able to satisfy the meat cravings that corned beef normally scratches.

Ham is a readily available meat product that you’ll be able to find in many different vendors, from supermarkets to butchers.

The flavor of ham is often considered lighter and less rich than beef, making it a great option for people who don’t want a flavor as overpowering as corned beef can be sometimes.

Alternatively, if you are looking for an intense flavor, salting or curing ham or pork is a very popular cooking method across the world too, helping enhance the natural flavor of a good ham or pork.

There are also dietary restrictions that you’ll find on ham that you otherwise might not get with a beef product.

Outside of simple allergies and food preferences, pork is a meat that you may be restricted from eating for religious reasons.

Heck, it’s one of the reasons that beef was originally cured into corned beef in many parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe for centuries!

However, if dietary restrictions are not an issue for you, you can do a lot worse than using a fine piece of salted ham!

4. Turkey Corned Beef

If you’re looking to be a little more health-conscious with your corned beef substitutes, turkey corned beef might be the way to go for you.

Turkey corned beef tastes broadly the same as good corned beef. Only here, is the number of saturated fats that corned beef has.

Now, is it cheating to include what is effectively a type of corned beef as a ‘corned beef substitute’? We’ll let you be the judge of that.

However, you cannot deny that turkey corned beef is a phenomenal recipe to have handy, especially if you’re trying to look for alternatives that are a little easier on your body and gut’s health!

5. Flavored Protein Rolls

If you’re someone who is trying to find a good vegetarian alternative to corned beef, protein rolls use similar flavors to achieve a veggie-friendly result.

Just be careful when finding your protein rolls, either in the supermarket or making them yourself.

Some manufacturers and recipes will use the actual beef product to make their protein rolls, meaning that you may be triggering your allergic reactions or breaking your dietary schedules with this option.

Always check the packaging of your protein roll for its stated ingredients before buying!

Final Notes

So, which substitute do you want to try out first?

5 Corned Beef Substitutes You Can Use

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


Prep time


Cooking time






  • Pastrami

  • Roast Beef

  • Ham

  • Turkey Corned Beef

  • Flavored Protein Rolls


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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