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.
Scroll down to the recipe card for all the specifics and instructions.
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.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
The rub should be applied to the brisket at least 1 hour prior to cooking, but the day before or overnight works great, too.
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 you are wanting to get some extra stickiness, just apply a little slather right before you sprinkle on the dry 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.
More Delicious Brisket Content
Brisket Rub Recipe
- ¼ cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ cup black pepper (16-mesh coarse ground)
- 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 ½ 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.