The Best Brisket Rubs (And How To Make Them)
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A Brief History of Brisket
Brisket is a cut of meat that was actually brought to Texas by Jewish immigrants in the late 1800’s. Lots of cattle were raised in Texas and farmers needed a cheap cut of meat they could enjoy and have consistent access to.
The later half of the 1900’s saw the rise of the cut of meat’s popularity in the states grow and American pitmasters have been perfecting brisket rubs ever since.
Why Use A Brisket Rub?
A good brisket rub will provide seasoning and flavor to the end product after cooking.
The best brisket rubs seal in flavor, leave a crust or “bark” on the outside of the brisket and transform this cut of meat into a delicious work of art when done correctly. Having a great brisket rub in your barbeque arsenal will set you apart from the rest.
RELATED GUIDE: How to Smoke a Brisket
What’s In a Brisket Rub?
A common brisket rub will contain all or some of the following spices:
- Seasoning Salt (e.g. Lawry’s by McCormick is quite popular)
- Ground Black Pepper
- White Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Chili Powder
Many pitmasters apply rubs hours before the cooking process to let flavors develop within the brisket, while others (like Myron Mixon) only apply the rub shortly before throwing the brisket on the smoker.
But with any recipe, there are no rules as to what else you can add into your brisket rubs. Aaron Franklin, world renowned pimaster located in Austin, Texas, has a great introduction video to cooking brisket (below) and using a rub that really breaks down how to barbeque with this iconic cut of meat successfully.
RELATED GUIDE: How to Apply Dry Rub
Aaron Franklin’s “Secret” Brisket Rub
Being known for his work in the barbeque world, you would expect Franklin to have a complex rub with carefully selected spices. But as he says in the video, “The way we roll here in Central Texas, is half salt and half pepper.”
It’s simple as can be: Aaron Franklin’s “secret” brisket rub is a 1:1 ratio of salt and pepper, which he always cooks over oak.
This rub is also known as a Dalmation rub, after the color of the well known dog breed. This allows for the meat, wood and his technique to guide the flavors in this barbeque.
5-time World Champion Pitmaster Myron Mixon’s Brisket Rub & Marinade Recipe
Myron Mixon is a pitmaster out of Georgia. He is a 5 time Barbeque World Champion and is also a celebrated TV Host and guest on many BBQ shows.
Below is the recipe he uses for his brisket. His blend of brining, then applying the rub allows for even seasoning of the meat and a nice outer crust.
Myron Mixon's Brisket Rub (and Marinade) Recipe
- 1 Beef Brisket (12 - 15 lb)
- 64 oz Beef Broth (64 oz can)
- 1 cup Kosher Salt
Dry Rub Ingredients
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbsp Coarse Black Pepper (coarse > fine)
- 2 Tbsp Mustard Powder
- 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
- 2 Tbsp Onion Powder
- 2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
- 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
- ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
Make the Marinade
- Whisk salt into the beef broth and set aside.
Make the Dry Rub
- Combine all ingredients and mix well.
- A day before you want to smoke or cook your brisket, apply the marinade: Pour the beef broth & salt marinade over the brisket and let sit overnight in the refrigerator (large pan or roasting tin required).Pro Tip: Be sure to put the lean part of the brisket down in the marinade, with the fatty side up.
- Shortly before you’re ready to start smoking your brisket, apply the brisket rub.
Salt & Pepper Only Brisket Rub: Play Action Fake of the Barbecue World?
Jeremy Yoder of Mad Scientist BBQ on YouTube dives deep into this topic in a video that’s definitely worth watching the entire video, which runs for 19 minutes and 38 seconds:
Going Beyond Salt & Pepper
One of the most popular BBQ sites enthusiasts of the craft visit is Meathead’s Amazingribs.com. The rub recipe takes a different approach from your classic salt and pepper approach.
Their philosophy is that brisket “can handle, and benefit from, a more potent mix.” They break down exactly why they chose the rub, sharing it should be applied just before cooking to achieve that “bark” every pitmaster is chasing when cooking a brisket.
With over 1,100 user reviews and a score of 4.6/5, it’s definitely a great brisket rub recipe you can rely on to deliver great bark and great taste.
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt Brisket Rub
The Diverse Landscape of Brisket Rubs
The variety in ingredients with brisket rubs are what makes them so popular and also can give your brisket different qualities.
For example, take this chipotle dry rub, that will give your brisket a smoky quality with a little heat.
Or, try this brown sugar based rub. The sugar will offer caramelization on the meat and add a sweet yet savory taste when enjoying the brisket.
The Best Brisket Rubs Lock In Flavor, Accentuating the Natural Flavor of the Beef
The ultimate goal for a brisket rub is to create a dark crust, or bark, around the brisket as it is cooked. A great bark will lock in flavor and ultimately provide a tender, juicy and well-seasoned piece of meat.
The function of the rub recipes are all relatively the same, but the preference in flavor and overall goal of the end product is in your hands! With some practice, a willingness to experiment with dry rubs and an innate passion for smoking the perfect brisket, in time you’ll no doubt be making brisket that’s the talk of the neighborhood.