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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Smoked Brisket Rub Recipe



A great rub recipe will add amazing flavor to your brisket!
A great rub recipe will add amazing flavor to your brisket!

Everyone knows that a smoked brisket is only as good as the rub that seasons it.

To really achieve the most flavorful and tender meat, it’s important to select a rub recipe that hits all the major flavor profiles without masking the wonderful flavor and texture of the meat itself.

Throw caution to the wind and try out a rub recipe that really complements the brisket.

If this is your maiden voyage, you’re going to want to be prepared so that you don’t become discouraged.

There are a few things you’ll want to know prior to taking out the smoker to smoke your own brisket for the first time. Choosing an excellent rub is the key to ensuring you’ll come out with a richly flavorful and masterfully cooked piece of meat.


Are all rub recipes dry rubs?

Not at all! Although many recipes for rubs are indeed dry rubs where you apply spices to the surface of the meat before smoking, some recipes utilize a liquid component to enhance the rub’s flavors. Such liquids could include Worcestershire sauce or lemon juice, which add a depth of flavor without compromising the integrity of the rub.

If you fancy a spicier rub without the dryness of traditional spices, adding chipotle chilies can add a smoky and spicy flavor to your brisket. Traditional rub recipes usually include a spicier component that lends a hand in bringing out the sweet and smoky flavors.

So, what’s in a good smoked brisket rub?

The best things in life are worth the wait.
The best things in life are worth the wait.

I’m glad you asked. Many rub recipes begin with a healthy dose of salt, which helps bring out the natural flavor of the brisket. If the recipe contains a fair amount of salt, it is usually best to apply the rub right before it enters the smoker, so it doesn’t prematurely cure the meat. A super salty cured meat, which invokes the days before refrigeration when salt was the primary method of preserving food, is generally not appealing to the modern palate.

If the rub recipe doesn’t call for an excessive amount of salt, the rub can be applied a few hours ahead of time so that the brisket has ample opportunity to soak in all the flavors during its marination period. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that meat that’s been marinated results in a deliciously flavorful cut that will blow your mind.

Want the best knife for carving brisket?

Another component in your rub that will yield a superb brisket is an element of sweetness. Whether you choose regular granulated sugar or brown sugar, the cornerstone of barbecue rests on there being some sweetness to counterbalance the spiciness in your rub recipe.

Classic spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano are other ingredients that appear in many successful brisket rub recipes. Because these flavors are simple and easy to build upon, they’re sure to result in a simple recipe that will yield pleasant results, even for beginner brisket smokers.

Check out McCormick’s Gourmet Spice Three Tier Wood Rack at Amazon

What if I’m in the mood for something smoky and spicy?

You came to the right place to find a smoked brisket rub recipe that can be spicy and smoky, without being too overpowering! Traditional Texas BBQ rub recipes consist of the bare necessities of salt and pepper, also known as a “Dalmatian rub,” but I think that if you’re dedicating hours to cooking beef brisket, you should think about choosing a rub with flavors that you’ll really enjoy.

Check out John Henry’s Texas Brisket Rub at Amazon

Some brisket rubs utilize the spiciness of chili powder, black pepper, or ground-up hot peppers like cayenne or chipotle. Each option has its own distinct flavor profile, and you should use your judgment before dousing the entire brisket with spicy flavorings before cooking it—especially if not all the people who will be eating the brisket enjoy spicy foods.

The science behind the best-smoked brisket rub recipe

When you’re scouring the web for a good recipe to rub down onto your big brisket, you should be on the lookout for the four S’s. They are: sugar, spices, and herbs, savory, and spicy. When used together in harmony, these four components can yield a fantastic brisket rub.

Both brown and granulated sugar help form the coveted “crust” for which brisket is so well-known. At this time, there is no readily available substitute that will give you the same flavor and texture as sugar.

Spices and herbs are helpful in customizing your brisket flavoring, and beef brisket makes the perfect canvas for a wide array of flavors.

Savory flavors, like garlic and green herbs, are also good components to add to your brisket rub.

If spicy flavors are what you desire, a blend of dried hot pepper spices could be an excellent way to turn the heat up a notch.

Want to dry your own herbs? Check out my post on herb dehydrators.

Is there a special technique for applying a rub?

You’ll find a lot of differing information on this subject. However, it’s equally as effective to sprinkle the rub on the meat as it is to actually rub the spices in with your hands.

If you really want the flavors in your rub to shine through, consider toasting or “blooming” your spices in a frying pan to release oils and fragrances not usually accessible by using a spice that hasn’t been toasted.

Before applying the rub, be sure to coat the brisket with either water or oil so that the rub can fully attach to the brisket and permeate throughout the smoking time.

Not everyone’s tastes will always align, but there’s sure to be a rub recipe out there that’s perfect for your smoked brisket.

Now that you’re a seasoned veteran, on to the prime rib!

Don’t trim that brisket with just any knife… I’ll show you my favorite knives for the job.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Bryce Heitman

Bryce is not a real professor, but he's real nerdy in the kitchen. He's been barbecuing, chopping, and generally blazing food for many decades. He thinks there's definitely a better spatula or utensil out there that hasn't been invented yet.

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