Delicious Armenian Basterma: Perfect for Any Occasion

Looking for a meaty, delectable and flavourful snack to impress your guests? Look no further than Armenian Basterma, the air-dried cured beef that is well-known in Middle Eastern cuisine. As an Israeli chef, I’ve perfected this recipe for Armenian Basterma and I’m excited to share it with you.

Basterma is similar to beef jerky in that it’s air-dried and cured, but it has a unique taste due to the spiced rub it’s cured in. The rub includes garlic cloves, allspice, black pepper, salt, paprika, and other spices that complement the beef wonderfully. This recipe is perfect if you want a spicy-beef jerk-like snack served with pita bread or Armenian string cheese.

Basterma is commonly used as an appetizer or a snack but can also be part of an entree or even incorporated into soups and sandwiches. You’ll find variations of it throughout the Middle East under different names such as pastirma in Turkey or pastrami in the United States.

Homemade basterma is a labor-intensive but rewarding process. It involves curing and air-drying the beef for up to two weeks with a unique blend of spices. But trust me, the result is worth every step. When done properly, this dish can add a gourmet touch to your charcuterie board.

So why not try making your own Armenian Basterma at home? You’ll be delighted by its mouth-watering flavor and your guests will be impressed by your culinary skills. This recipe has been passed down through generations and now I’m happy to share it with you.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef)
Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef)

Are you a fan of cured meats? Do you love trying new and exciting flavors? Then you’re going to absolutely love this Armenian basterma recipe! Trust me when I say, this spiced beef is a game changer.

What makes this recipe so special and unique is the way the beef is cured and dried. The meat is air-dried, which gives it an irresistible chewy texture that’s similar to beef jerky, but with even more depth of flavor. And speaking of flavor, this beef is packed with it! A blend of allspice, black pepper, garlic cloves, paprika, and other spices make for a wonderful spicy kick that will win over any spice-lover.

Not only does the basterma taste delicious on its own, but it also pairs perfectly with pita bread and Armenian string cheese. In fact, serving it alongside bread and cheese is a traditional way to enjoy this cured beef in Armenia. Talk about a party in your mouth!

But wait, there’s more! This recipe is incredibly versatile, making it perfect for experimenting with substitutions and variations. For example, you could use it as an ingredient in other recipes to add depth and complexity to dishes like salads or pastas.

If you’re looking for a homemade charcuterie option or just a new go-to appetizer for your guests, then I highly recommend giving this Armenian basterma recipe a try. It’s bold, flavorful, and oh-so-impressive. Once you take the first bite, you’ll understand just why it’s such a popular dish in Armenia and beyond.

Ingredient List

 A feast for the eyes: beautifully-curled slices of basterma
A feast for the eyes: beautifully-curled slices of basterma

Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious Armenian Basterma (dried cured beef) recipe:

  • Water
  • 10 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of allspice
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 3 pounds of beef (sirloin or rump)

These simple ingredients will give life to the spicy beef that is so well known in the Middle East. This Armenian cured meat recipe is also called ‘basturma’ in Armenia. The beef needs to be thinly sliced and then coated with a mix of spices before being air dried for two weeks.

Some variants of the recipe say that it should be prepared with beef jerky or even beef short ribs, but we believe that sirloin or rump work best!

It may look intimidating, but I promise that this homemade basterma or Armenian cured beef is achievable and easy to follow.

The Recipe How-To

 A work of art: the intricate weaving of spices and flavors
A work of art: the intricate weaving of spices and flavors

Step 1: Prepare the Beef

To make the Armenian Basterma, we need a 2-pound piece of beef. To begin with, we have to rinse the beef and pat it dry using paper towels. Now, remove the fat from the beef and get rid of any connective tissues.

Step 2: Create the Flavorful Spice Blend

To make the flavorful spice blend, we need to combine 1 tablespoon of allspice, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 2 tablespoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 5 cloves of minced garlic in a bowl. Make sure to stir them all together until properly combined.

Step 3: Apply Spice Blend

We need to apply the spice blend liberally onto the surface of the beef. Ensure every side is coated with spices. Cover it using plastic wrap and let it sit in a fridge for around two weeks.

Step 4: Air-Dry

After waiting for two weeks, take out the meat from refrigerator and wipe off any of the remaining spices then tie a string around one end of meat so that you can hang it somewhere cool and dry. Hang it somewhere where there is enough air flow without direct sunlight access. In order to achieve that unique flavor that Armenian Basterma is well known for, we have to allow it to dry in open-air for another week or so.

Step 5: Cut into Thin Slices

Your Dried Cured Beef (Basterma) recipe will be ready after one more week.. Take down your meat and cut your Armenian Cured Meat into thin slices using a very sharp knife careful not to destroy its shape.

Congratulations! You’ve just made some delicious homemade Armenian Basterma! Serve with Pita bread or on top of some Armenian String Cheese for an unforgettable culinary experience that tells you more about Armenia’s heritage than any history book ever could!

Substitutions and Variations

 The perfect addition to any charcuterie board
The perfect addition to any charcuterie board

Looking for ways to change up the flavor of this Armenian Basterma recipe? Here are some ideas to try.

– Substitute the beef with lamb or venison for a different taste and texture. Keep in mind that the amount of spices used may need to be adjusted based on the meat used.

– For a milder flavor, reduce the amount of garlic cloves used in the spiced beef mixture.

– Add in additional spices like cumin or coriander for a more complex flavor profile.

– Slice the Armenian Basterma thinly and serve it on top of a salad for a lighter meal option.

– Instead of serving with pita bread, try pairing the cured meat with crackers or sliced baguette for a delicious appetizer.

– Make mini Armenian Basterma sliders by placing small pieces of spiced beef on top of toasted brioche buns with a slice of armenian string cheese and some pickles.

– Experiment with different cooking methods such as grilling or smoking to create your own spin on this classic Middle Eastern cured meat.

These substitutions and variations allow you to add your own personal touch to the Armenian Basterma recipe while still keeping its delicious spiced beef flavors intact.

Serving and Pairing

 Excite your taste buds with this Armenian delight
Excite your taste buds with this Armenian delight

Once your Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef) recipe is ready, you’re in for a treat! This wonderful spicy beef makes a perfect appetizer to share with friends and family. You can serve it with pita bread, Armenian string cheese, or even on its own. The salty and flavorful taste of the basterma is complemented by the mild creaminess of the cheese and the softness of the bread.

For a more interesting platter, you can also experiment with adding different cured meats, such as sausage or pastrami. This will give a more diverse range of flavors and textures to your meal.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try pairing your Armenian basterma with some Middle Eastern dips, such as hummus or baba ghanoush. The nuttiness of the dips will balance out the spiciness of the beef and create a well-rounded flavor palette.

You can also pair your basterma with wine or beer. A full-bodied red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, would be perfect for this dish. If beer is more your thing, a dark ale or IPA would also work well.

Overall, serving and pairing your Armenian Basterma is all about finding what works best for your personal taste. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different flavors and textures until you find your perfect combination!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A taste of history: basterma has been enjoyed for centuries
A taste of history: basterma has been enjoyed for centuries

Once you’ve prepared this delicious dish, you’ll be happy to know that it can easily be made ahead of time and stored for later use. In fact, the Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef) Recipe can actually taste better if allowed to sit in the fridge for a day or two so that the flavors can fully develop.

To make ahead, simply prepare the dish as instructed and let it cool at room temperature before storing in an airtight container. You can store Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef) for up to 2 weeks in the fridge or even freeze it for up to 3 months.

When reheating, it is best to let the Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef) come to room temperature by taking it out of the fridge for approximately 30 minutes before reheating. You can reheat the dish in an oven at 350°F or on a stovetop over low heat. Make sure not to overheat as this may cause the beef to dry out and become tough.

For serving, I recommend serving Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef) with pita bread and Armenian string cheese for an authentic experience. You may also use it as a topping for salads, sandwiches or pizzas to add some savory flavor.

When it comes to storing Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef), an important tip is to keep it separate from other foods as it has a very strong aroma that might transfer onto other foods. That’s why I always recommend storing your cured meat under lock-and-key.

Once you have mastered this recipe, you’ll want to make it again and again. And thanks to its easy make-ahead, storing, and re-heating abilities, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy throughout the week!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Impress your guests with homemade basterma
Impress your guests with homemade basterma

Now that you have learned how to make this delicious Armenian Basterma, let me give you some tricks that will help you achieve the perfect result. Making your first cured meat can be challenging as it takes time and effort, but with these tips, you will feel like a pro.

First and foremost, be conscious about hygiene. Keeping everything clean while handling meat is crucial to avoid any contamination. Make sure all your equipment is disinfected before starting and wash your hands frequently while handling the beef.

When it comes to the spices, don’t hesitate to experiment with different proportions until you find the flavor that works best for you. It’s important to keep in mind that the amount of spice should balance well with the flavor of the beef.

Another essential tip is to use high-quality beef. The taste can vary depending on the cut of meat you choose. So, if possible, select premium grade cuts such as rib-eye or sirloin. It’s worth investing in good meat since it’s the main ingredient in the recipe.

Make sure your beef is dry before applying the spice rub. Any moisture on the surface could hinder the curing process and affect the final outcome. Pat it dry with paper towels or let it air-dry for a few minutes before seasoning.

During curing, adjust the room temperature and humidity depending on your preferred result. If you are aiming for a drier texture, then a lower humidity level would be ideal. On the other hand, if you prefer a softer texture, keep the humidity higher for a better outcome.

Once your Basterma has finished curing, let it rest inside your fridge for at least a day before slicing it thinly. This resting time allows for more flavor development and makes slicing easier.

Lastly, don’t forget to serve your Basterma with some pita bread and Armenian string cheese – they are perfect additions that complement this dish excellently.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make incredible homemade Armenian Basterma without much difficulty – enjoy!


Now that you’re familiar with the recipe’s basic steps, let’s explore some common questions that may arise while preparing Armenian Basterma. In this section, I’ll answer frequently asked questions and provide tips for perfect results every time. So, let’s dive in!

Does basterma need to be cooked?

For the best taste and texture, it is recommended to cook the Basturma slices before consuming them. There are different ways of cooking Basturma, including frying or grilling lightly on a charcoal fire, adding it to stews as an ingredient or combining it with scrambled eggs. Additionally, if you prefer to have whole beef Basturma that is ready-to-eat, it can be pasteurized and vacuum packed.

Is basturma the same as pastrami?

There’s an interesting similarity between Turkish pastirma and the Italian pastrami: both are made using a similar curing process. Pastirma, which goes by different names such as pastırma, pastourma, bastirma or basturma, is a beef dish that is heavily seasoned with salt and spices and commonly enjoyed in Turkey. Meanwhile, pastrami is a type of luncheon meat that shares the same curing technique as pastirma, but hails from Italy.

Can you eat basturma?

Basturma can be prepared in different ways to suit various cultural preferences. Palestinians opt for thin sliced Basturma, which is fried in olive oil. They usually have it as part of their mezze feast or as a breakfast accompaniment with warm pita bread. Meanwhile, Cypriots prefer their Basturma to be grilled whole.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Armenian Basterma is a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in a number of ways to add depth and flavor to any dish. The process of making this dried cured beef takes some time and effort, but the result is well worth it. Not only is it a staple in Armenian cuisine, it has also become a popular food item across the Middle East and beyond.

I hope you found this recipe article helpful and informative. So, roll up your sleeves and give it a try! Make your own homemade basterma or basturma with this recipe and you won’t be disappointed. With just a few ingredients and time, you can enjoy this wonderful spicy beef jerky or serve it on pita bread with Armenian string cheese for an authentic taste of the Middle East.

Don’t hesitate to experiment with different seasonings, spices or cuts of beef to create your own unique version of Basterma. The possibilities are endless! And remember, whether you’re serving Basterma as an appetizer or using it in a main course, its distinctive taste will add a touch of Armenian flavor to any meal.

So why not try making Armenian Basterma today? It’s a truly delicious air-dried cured meat recipe that is sure to become one of your favorites. Trust me – once you’ve had basterma, you’ll never look back!

Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef)

Armenian Basterma (Dried Cured Beef) Recipe

This is Armenian cured spiced beef. It is a wonderful, spicy beef jerky. Serve with Pita bread and Armenian string cheese. Heaven. You must serve this very thinly sliced as humanly possible. It is a rare delicacy.
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Prep Time 3 d
Cook Time 30 d
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Armenian
Servings 2 pounds
Calories 5.3 kcal


  • 1 slice beef (about 2 lbs.)
  • 1/4 cup bagged granulated salt

Chairnen mixture

  • 3 tablespoons chaimen
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon kimion (cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 -4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup water


  • Select very tender cut of beef from rib part, about one and a half inch thick, any length you desire (approx. 8").
  • Insert heavy string through one end and make a loop.
  • Rub meat with salt and let stand in refrigerator for 3 days placing a heavy item on top and turn once a day.
  • Wash meat well with cold water and leave in clear water for one hour.
  • Then drain and press between towels to remove moisture.
  • Continue until meat is quite dry.
  • Hang in cool airy place to dry about two weeks.
  • Combine all above ingredients to make the Chairnen.
  • Add water a little at a time to make thick paste.
  • Soak meat in it for 2 weeks.
  • Hang in airy place for 2 more weeks.
  • May be used immediately, refrigerated, or frozen.
  • NOTE: A cheese cloth casing may be used to slip meat into before hanging.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 28gCalories: 5.3kcalCarbohydrates: 1.1gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.2gSodium: 2455.8mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.1g
Keyword Asian, European, Lunch, Meat, Middle Eastern, Southwestern, Spicy, Weeknight
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