17 Best Cheese For Pastrami Sandwich & Why They Are

Your pastrami sandwich can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. You can make it as easy as slices of pastrami in rye bread or a warm, meat-filled hoagie with lots of cheese. I’ll tell you that the latter is the best way to enjoy the rich, smoky flavor of this deli meat.

If you have also considered cheesing up your pastrami sandwich, I guess that’s why you are here. You are in good hands.

When considering what type of cheese would be best for your pastrami sandwich, the first thing to consider is the overall flavor you are trying to create.  

Pastrami has a bold flavor. You should be looking for a type of cheese that will create a perfect balance for the pastrami flavor. On that note, below is a list of the best cheese for pastrami. You will also get to know more accompaniments for pastrami.   

What is pastrami?

Pastrami is beef made from the point brisket. The beef is wet-cured in brine, seasoned with black pepper and coriander, smoked, and steamed.

Pastrami can also be made with other beef cuts such as the deckle (the shoulder) or the navel (beef belly) but the point brisket is most preferred because it has more marbling and fat than these other cuts.

The most common use of pastrami is for making sandwiches. It can be served hot or chilled and sliced as cold-cut meat.

What is a pastrami sandwich?

pastrami sandwich - millenora

A traditional pastrami sandwich or pastrami on rye is a sandwich made with rye bread, pastrami slices, mustard, and kosher dill pickles. Modern pastrami sandwich recipes include cheese and sauerkraut in between the bread.

The best cheese for pastrami

When looking for the best cheese to add to your pastrami, there are some things you should consider.

You should consider the flavor, texture, and aroma of the cheese. Pastrami needs cheese that will elevate its flavor but not overpower its bold, smoky flavor.

Your choice of cheese should be one that can balance the saltiness of pastrami and create a complex taste. Also, it should not be too soft or too hard. Choose a type of cheese that will hold up well in the sandwich yet will not be too hard to bite into.

That being said, below is a list of the best cheese choices for pastrami sandwich:

1. Swiss cheese

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Swiss cheese has everything pastrami needs. It has a nutty and slightly sweet taste and a firm texture that will hold up well in the bread slices. It is also soft enough to bite into. This will create a perfect balance for the smoky flavor of pastrami.

2. Cheddar

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Cheddar cheese is very versatile; pastrami is just another use for cheddar. Its flavor works well with most dishes, including meat. The best way to use cheddar for pastrami sandwiches is to melt it over pastrami and add other fillings like pickles.

This cheese has the perfect flavor that balances the saltiness of pastrami. A good match!

3. Pepper jack

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Thinking of a little kick of heat in your pastrami sandwich? Pepper Jack will do that for you. You can melt it over pastrami or top it with whole slices. Pepper jack has a semi-soft and creamy texture which is perfect for a sandwich.

4. Mozzarella

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Mozzarella is another versatile cheese that finds use in a wide variety of dishes. It has a mild, creamy flavor, and its signature stringy texture pairs well with the bold, smoky flavor of pastrami.

5. Provolone

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Provolone is highly preferred for its smooth texture and mild taste. The mild taste allows you to savor the rich, smoky flavor of pastrami and other fillings in your sandwich. The creamy texture also balances the tanginess of mustard and sauerkraut.

6. Blue cheese

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Blue cheese is soft, creamy, and crumbly. Not everyone will like this cheese choice because of its texture. But if you want to create a strong, complex flavor, blue cheese will help you out with its sharp, piquant flavor.

7. Muenster

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The taste of muenster cheese is a cross between mozzarella and cheddar. It has a slightly nutty flavor and adds a rich creaminess to pastrami sandwiches. Its rich creaminess is a perfect pair for the tangy taste of mustard.

8. Havarti

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Havarti is a semi-soft cheese with a mild taste and buttery flavor. It melts easily and effortlessly adds a gourmet feel to your sandwich. This is a perfect choice for people who love to see creamy cheese ooze out of their hoagies.

9. Gouda

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Gouda melts well too. Unlike Havarti, it is gooey and softer but equally delicious. It has a mildly sweet taste with nutty notes.

Solid gouda also holds well and is easy to bite into. So, you can use it shredded or in slices if you want firmer cheese in your sandwich. You can also use smoked gouda to add an extra smoky flavor.

10. Monterey Jack

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Monterey Jack is one of those cheeses with a mild taste that makes your sandwich melty. The mild taste of this cheese is exactly what pastrami needs. It allows you to enjoy the rich pastrami flavors with a perfect creamy complement of creamy cheese.

11. Colby Jack cheese

colby jack cheese for pastrami - millenora

This cheese is a blend of Colby and Monterey jack cheese. It pairs well with deli meats, especially when paired together in a sandwich. Colby Jack brings a mild flavor and smooth creamy texture to balance the bold pastrami flavor.

12. Fontina

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Fontina is a semi-soft cheese with a buttery flavor. In its melted form, it lends a rich creaminess to pastrami sandwiches with nutty notes.

13. Brie cheese

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Use brie cheese to add a subtle gourmet twist to your sandwich. It melts easily and makes your sandwich gooey. This is a perfect complement to the firm texture of pastrami slices. Brie cheese does not need to be melted. It is best served at room temperature.

14. Feta cheese

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Feta is a good choice too but its saltiness with the saltiness of pastrami can be overbearing. However, its crumbly texture adds a rich and exciting twist to pastrami sandwiches.

15. Asiago cheese

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Whether you use slices or melted asiago cheese, your sandwich will taste great. Melted asiago makes your sandwich gooey and creamy. Sliced asiago holds up well in the sandwich and is easy to bite into.

Asiago cheese has a sharp and nutty flavor that complements the bold, smoky flavor of pastrami.

16. American cheese

American cheeses - millenora

The cheese blend that makes American cheese what it is creates a rich exciting flavor for pastrami sandwiches. American cheese makes pastrami salty and creamy but not enough to mask the signature pastrami’s smoky flavor.

17. Gruyere

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Gruyere keeps its shape even after heating. If you do not like gooey or runny cheese in your sandwich, this is the cheese for you. Gruyere has a rich and creamy texture accompanied with a salty and nutty flavor which is good for pastrami.

Best sides for pastrami sandwiches

  • Pickles
  • Cheese dip
  • Russian dressing
  • French fries
  • Potato chips
  • Caramelized onions
  • Tater tots
  • Coleslaw
  • Potato salad
  • Corn on the cob
  • Grilled vegetables
  • White bean soup with bacon
  • Onion rings
  • Mac and cheese
  • Baked beans
  • Grilled pineapple
  • Macaroni salad
  • Tomato and basil soup
  • Baked tomatoes
  • Creamed spinach
  • Olive cheese balls
  • Roasted sweet potato wedges


Can you use cream cheese for pastrami?

Yes, you can. However, the best cheese choices for pastrami are the ones with a firm texture. Cream cheese is soft and may not give you the expected flavor and texture for your sandwich.

Is pastrami healthy?

Pastrami is a lean, low-calorie beef choice for a sandwich. It is also rich in protein, iron, vitamin B12, and copper. These nutrients help in muscle building and support the nervous system.

However, because of the curing and brining it goes through, pastrami is high in sodium. Too much sodium in your diet increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

Can you substitute corned beef for pastrami in pastrami sandwiches?

Yes, you can substitute corned beef for pastrami in pastrami sandwiches. However, you might not get the same pastrami flavor. Corned beef is thicker, drier, and has a simpler flavor than pastrami. If you do not mind these, then, you can make the substitution.

Can you eat raw pastrami?

Pastrami usually comes cooked, so, you can eat it while making sandwiches. The last step of making it involves smoking and steaming which kills any microbes that can be a threat to your health.  


The cheese you use for your pastrami sandwich can make all the difference. The cheese should not take the shine of pastrami’s bold smoky flavor. What you need cheese for is to balance the pastrami’s flavor and make your sandwich creamy.

Your cheese should also not be too soft. You need it firm and crumbly, which is why cream cheese is not always a perfect choice for pastrami sandwiches. Pair your sandwich with any side of your choice.

If you run out of Parmesan cheese while making alfredo, here are some alternatives that work just like parmesan.

Thanks for reading.