When it comes to a rub for brisket, keeping it simple is best, like they do in central Texas. And the best rub for brisket gets no simpler. It’s just two ingredients. Seriously, just two! You don’t need to add a bunch of spices and other flavors when you buy a quality brisket and smoke it low and slow all day long to perfection.

It’s a combination of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and coarse 16 Mesh Ground Black Pepper in a 50:50 ratio is all that’s needed to bring out the natural flavors of the beef and complement the smoky flavor from smoking with wood.

The Ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card for all the specifics and instructions.

  • Kosher Salt – I prefer Diamond Crystal brand. The salt will not only help bring out the beef flavor, but it will draw out moisture from the brisket, which attracts smoke.

    Salt is the absolute most important ingredient when it comes to seasoning meat. If you were only to use one thing, salt would be it and it would turn out great. Adding in pepper gives texture and flavor contrast with a little heat.

    Note that different salts have different sodium levels by volume.
    1 teaspoon table salt = 1½ teaspoons Morton kosher salt = 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • Coarse Ground Black Pepper16 mesh (which is the measurement of coarseness). If using freshly ground pepper or a finer grind, you will want to reduce the amount of pepper that you use.

Optional Add-Ins

More ingredients don’t always make for a better brisket. It’s really a matter of your flavor preferences, so start basic and mix in new ingredients based on the flavors you love.

  • Granulated Garlic and Onion – Savory and slightly sweet, these can complement smoked meat well. Just don’t go overboard or they can overpower the flavors.
  • Smoked Paprika – Made from ground peppers, then smoked. It has a wonderful flavor and a deep color that will help create a beautiful rich-colored bark on your smoked brisket.
  • Chili Powder – There are different flavors and heat levels depending on the types of chilis used.
  • Ground Coffee – Add some rich roasty notes of coffee.
  • Brown Sugar – Generally avoid adding sugar to brisket. However, if you are using a pellet smoker, it can help form a better bark. It will also add a bit of sweetness.
seasoning a brisket flat with salt and pepper

How to Apply the Rub

Seasoning your brisket evenly is key. It’s a big piece of beef, that can take quite a bit of rub, so don’t be shy with it.

After trimming the brisket, it’s time to combine equal parts Kosher salt and black pepper (plus any other add-in ingredients you choose to add) in a leftover spice container, small bowl or a dry rub shaker. Season the brisket at least one hour before cooking (or up to 24 hours before) to make sure the salt is fully absorbed. You can season it the night before if you prefer.

  1. Use a binder (optional) such as oil, beef tallow, mustard or even water to help the rub stick to the surface (I personally don’t use a binder).
  2. Sprinkle the rub from about 12″ to 18″ above the meat’s surface for even coating. Avoid getting the rub into crevises or below flaps, as it won’t cook as well in the smoker.

Learn more about beef brisket by checking out the Beginner’s Guide Brisket guide.

After the main meal, the brisket leftovers are out of this world as well. This simple rub isn’t just great for brisket, it’s also wonderful on pork ribs, steak and lamb.

prime grade brisket point seasoned


How far in advance should the rub be applied to the brisket?

The rub should be applied to the brisket at least 1 hour prior to cooking, but the day before or overnight works great, too.

What’s a slather?

A slather (sometimes referred to as a binder) is simply something applied to the surface of the meat that helps the dry rub stick (or bind). A slather can be as simple as water, oil, mustard, or even tallow (made from brisket trimmings).
I personally find using a slather necessary for brisket, as the rub sticks just fine. But if you want to get some extra stickiness, just apply a little slather right before you sprinkle on the dry rub.

What’s the difference between a dry and a wet rub?

A dry rub is a mixture of dried spices, herbs and seasonings that is applied to the surface of the meat and helps make for a flavorful crust.
A wet rub might include similar ingredients to a dry rub, but it also includes liquids such as oils, vinegar, citrus juice or other strong flavored liquids. Combining wet and dry rubs creates a paste that can easily be applied to the meat’s surface.

brisket rub 50-50 kosher salt and pepper mixed
brisket rub 50-50 kosher salt and pepper mixed

Brisket Rub

This super simple two-ingredient rub enhances the brisket's natural flavors and helps to create a super flavorful bark.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 brisket
Calories: 148kcal


  • 1/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper (16-mesh coarse ground)

Optional Add-Ins

  • granulated garlic
  • granulated onion
  • smoked paprika
  • chili powder
  • brown sugar


  • Combine all ingredients together in a container or small bowl.
  • Use it right away on your brisket or store it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.


  • Makes 1/2 cup of rub, which is how much you need for an 8 to 12-pound brisket. If it is larger, just make some extra rub.
  • Add-in ingredients: Use 1 to 2 tablespoons for any that you want to add.
  • Apply to the meat at least 1-hour prior to cooking.
  • Can be stored in an airtight container for 3 months without sugar added.
  • For pellet smokers, sugar can help develop bark which is normally harder to get in this type of smoker.


Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 28305mg | Potassium: 792mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 324IU | Calcium: 280mg | Iron: 6mg

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