The rub is an important part of the smoked brisket because it not only adds to the flavor profile, but it helps form the bark. The internet is flooded with brisket rub recipes, but it’s hard to know if they are any good. Also, there are dozens of good pre-made rubs in stores, but which ones are the best? In my search to find the best brisket rubs, I went straight to the world’s best barbeque experts to find out which rub recipes they use on brisket in barbeque competitions. Plus, I’ve put together a Top 5 list of the best pre-made brisket rubs created by some of the most famous pitmasters.
The best homemade brisket rub recipe is the Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe from food writer and barbeque chef Meathead Goldwin. Another great homemade recipe is from the guys at Townsend Spice & Supply which is made with common ingredients found in most homes, and has the seal of approval from legendary pitmaster Malcolm Reed. Brisket guru Aaron Franklin uses a simple kosher salt and cafe ground black pepper rub on his famous smoked briskets, which proves you can keep it simple. I’ve put together a complete guide to brisket rubs with everything you need to know about making brisket rubs, pre-rub binders, and the best store-bought rubs on the market.
The Best Pre-Made Dry Rubs on The Market
I’m a firm believer in experimentation, and brisket is a great cut of meat to try out some different rubs.If you want a good ready-made brisket rub, start by trying out rubs that have won prizes at barbeque competitions, or have positive feedback in the barbeque community. Here are a few to get you started.
|Dry Rub||MSG||Size||Description||Ingredients||Price||Where To Buy|
|Killer Hogs||Yes||12 Oz||Championship winning rub made by Malcolm Reed, the guy with the number 1 barbecue YouTube channel ‘How To BBQ Right’.||Brown sugar, sugar, paprika, salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, oleoresin paprika, dehydrated orange peel, natural flavor, and less than 2% tricalcium phosphate added to prevent caking||$20||Amazon|
|Slap Yo Daddy All Purpose Rub||No||12 Oz||Multiple barbecue world champion Harry Soo now shares his competition-winning secrets with his line of barbecue rubs.||Sea salt, cane sugar, garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, chipotle powder, black pepper, rosemary, cayenne pepper, rice concentrate, spices, parsley flakes, natural flavors||$20||Amazon|
|Meat Church||No||14 Oz||Well respected name in barbecue. Southwestern style rub. Versatile, works on beef, chicken, pork and seafood. Adds great color to your meat.||Sugar, salt, spices including paprika, dextrose, dehydrated garlic, celery, silicone dioxide & spice extractives. Gluten free. No MSG.||$15||Amazon|
|Butcher BBQ||No||16 Oz||Works on great on beef, pork, chicken, wild game, and vegetables. Championship winning formula made by David Bouska, World BBQ Champion and featured on TV show Barbecue Pitmasters.||Sugar, salt, garlic, onion, spices, lemon powder, corn syrup solids, natural flavors and BHA as an antioxidant||$20||Amazon|
|Kosmos Killer Bee Honey Rub||13 Oz||Award winning rub. Sweet, savory rub. Works well on brisket, chicken and pork.||Sugar, Salt, Honey Powder (Refined Syrup, Honey), Spices Including Paprika, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Celery, No Greater Than 2% Silicon Dioxide To Prevent Caking, And Extractive of Paprika||$16||Amazon|
|Killer Hogs Texas Brisket Rub||Yes||16 oz||Award-winning Championship brisket rub made by barbecue guru Malcolm Reed.||Salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, dehydrated parsley, refined soybean oil, and less than 2% calcium silicate added to prevent caking||$20||Amazon|
|McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning||No||29 oz||Made with all natural herbs and spices. Very popular seasoning from a well-known brand.||Garlic, extractives of paprika, and coarsely ground pepper.||$20||Amazon|
Malcolm Reed’s ‘Killer Hogs’ Brisket Rub
Malcolm Reed is arguably the largest barbeque content creator with the hugely popular YouTube channel ‘How To BBQ Right’. Malcolm produces his own range of rubs under the brand name Killer Hogs. Malcolm is the master when it comes to barbecue and has been on the competition circuit for many years, and his Killer Hogs BBQ rub is the best for brisket. Check out Killer Hogs on Amazon here, or visit the Killer Hogs website here.
Harry Soo’s ‘Slap-Yo-Daddy’ Brisket Rub
Harry Soo has won multiple smoked brisket competitions and was world champion several times. Harry was also featured in the reality television show Barbeque Pitmasters. Mr Soo is now sharing his secret rub recipes with his ‘Slap-Yo-Daddy’ rubs that can be purchased from his Amazon store here.
Butcher BBQ by David Bouska
If you want a brisket rub from another champion BBQ competitor, Butcher BBQ makes several rubs and injection marinades to give your brisket a competition-grade flavor. David Bouska, the man behind Butcher BBQ won the World BBQ Championship in 2012 and 2018. Dave also featured in 5 episodes of the reality TV show, BBQ Pitmasters. David is in the Oklahoma BBQ Hall Of Fame, and you can find David’s rubs at the Butcher BBQ Amazon store here.
Meat Church Rubs
The Meat Church has an excellent reputation in the meat smoking community and makes several excellent rubs. The Gospel All Purpose BBQ Rub and The Holy Gospel BBQ Rub are superb brisket rubs. Check out there website here.
McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
I’ve come across several high-level pitmasters who just use extra virgin olive oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning as a brisket rub. Montreal Steak Seasoning contains ingredients that are found in basic rub recipes which includes onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper, paprika and coarse salt. The great thing about this seasoning is that it’s available in most supermarkets. If you can’t find it at your local store, Amazon sells large bottles of Montreal Steak Seasoning here.
Homemade Rub Recipes – Make Championship Rubs Yourself
Once you’ve smoked a few briskets, you’ll realize how much rub you go through and want to try making your own. A basic brisket rub is fairly straightforward and can be put together with a handful of simple ingredients. When you do a Google search ‘brisket rub recipes’, dozens of recipes appear on the search results page, and it’s difficult to know if those rub recipes are any good. I find the best place to start is with the barbeque experts, and there are several well-known pitmasters who happily share their brisket rub recipes. I’ve done the hard work for you and found the best of the best!
Meathead’s Famous Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe
Meathead Goldwin is a chef, food writer, and content creator from Amazing Ribs, which is possibly the largest barbeque website on the internet. Meathead also wrote a New York Times bestseller, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling. Meathead really knows his barbeque, and shares his brisket rub recipes on his Amazing Ribs website. Here is Meathead’s Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe:
Big Bad Beef Rub
- Ground black pepper – 3 tbsp
- Granulated white sugar -1 tbsp
- Onion powder -1 tbsp
- Garlic powder-2 tsp
- Mustard powder-2 tsp
- Chili powder-2 tsp
- Cayenne powder – 1 tsp
For more information on this recipe, click here.
Big Bad Beef Rub Variation
Jeremy from Mad Scientist BBQ changed the Big Bad Beef Rub by removing the salt. Jeremy makes a great argument for controlling salt content by adding it separately. The other tweak he made was adding a full cup of ground black pepper, which is more than the original recipe.
Linn Brothers BBQ Rub Recipe
The Linn brothers from Townsend Spice & Supply had their rub recipe featured on Malcolm Reed’s How To BBQ Right, one of best and largest YouTube channels for barbeque and smoking meat. Shane and Lawson shared a basic barbeque rub recipe perfect for brisket using spices that most people already have in their pantry. This recipe got Malcolm’s approval, so it must be good.
What Brisket Rub Does Aaron Franklin Use?
We know Aaron Franklin is the master of brisket, and even has a Masterclass on the subject. Franklin’s is a popular restaurant chain in Texas where Aaron shares his briskets with the world. It surprised me to find out Aaron uses a simple rub recipe of salt, pepper. Aaron is a believer in allowing the smoke flavor to be the star of the show when smoking brisket, but keep in mind that he does his smoking on a stickburner (offset smoker) which can generate a beautiful wood smoke flavor. For more information on the black pepper Aaron Franklin uses, check out this article.
Aaron Franklin’s Rub Recipe
You can just keep it simple with a very basic rub recipe by following Aaron Franklin’s recipe. Although his recipe is simple, Aaron doesn’t just use any old pepper. Since the pepper is only one of two ingredients, he uses a fancy 16-mesh “café grind” black pepper. The peppercorns used in the cafe grins are stronger than standard ground pepper and have larger grains which help form the texture on the brisket bark.
Aaron Franklin’s Rub Recipe
- Kosher salt – ¼ cup
- Ground Black Pepper (16-mesh “café grind”) – ¼ cup
- Mustard or hot sauce for a binder.
- Ground black pepper - 3 tbsp
- Granulated white sugar -1 tbsp
- Onion powder -1 tbsp
- Garlic powder-2 tsp
- Mustard powder-2 tsp
- Chili powder-2 tsp
- Cayenne powder - 1 tsp
- Combine all the spices together in a large mixing bowl
- Store rub in rub shakers
Applying The Rub – Do You Need A Binder?
Before you season your brisket with a barbeque rub, apply a binder to the meat so the rub sticks and will help with the formation of the brisket bark. The binder won’t influence the flavor significantly, so don’t stress too much about which binder to use. The best binder for a brisket rub is mustard, however, many people also use mayonnaise, extra virgin olive oil or hot sauce. Slather the brisket enough so the rub sticks, but the brisket isn’t too moist.
When Do You Add The Brisket Rub?
Brisket rub should be added at least 30-minutes before smoking. Some people apply the rub the night before, but it isn’t necessary. Salt can penetrate meat, but herbs and spices do their work on the surface of the meat and help form the flavor profile and texture on the brisket bark. If you are dry brining the brisket the night before, the rub only needs to be added just prior to cooking.
How To Sprinkle Rub – How to Apply Rub To Brisket
You want to cover the whole brisket with a decent layer of rub. Make sure you have used a binder so the rub sticks, then sprinkle the rub on the back, front and sides of the brisket. If presentation is important, apply the rub in the correct order so the best side is covered last.
- Apply the binder to the brisket.
- Sprinkle rub on the bottom side of the brisket until the entire meat surface is covered. Press the rub into the meat so that it sticks to the binder.
- Turn the brisket onto its side, sprinkle and press until all the meat on the side is covered. Repeat the process on the other side.
- Save the best side of the brisket until last, sprinkling the top layer and gently pressing into the meat.
Use A Rub Shaker
To make life easier, get yourself a few decent rub shakers, especially if you plan on making your own rub at home. Plastic rub shakers are inexpensive, but if you want something more durable, get the stainless steel shakers. I purchased this rub shaker because it’s an Amazon Best Seller, and it does the job well.
Beware of Sugar in Rub
For beef rub, avoid sugary rubs. Beef tastes better with a savory rub and the sweet rubs blend well with pork. In one of his experimental videos, Mad Scientist BBQ explained that the sugar in a brisket rub isn’t included to add sweetness, but to help with the formation of a crispy bark. If you buy a store-bought rub, check the sugar content. If it’s high, use it on pork, not your beef.
Go Easy On The Salt in Rub
Be careful with store-bought brisket rubs because many contain a lot of salt which can ruin your brisket. I like to have full control of the salt because I’ve had several salty briskets that tasted awful. I dry brine my brisket with kosher salt the day before cooking, so if the rub is mostly salt, then it’s going to be too salty.
Dry Brine Brisket With Salt Separately
The dry rub and salt should be added to the brisket prior to cooking to allow enough time to work its way into the meat. Brisket is an enormous chunk of meat that needs to be cooked low-and-slow for several hours, so it is at risk of drying out. Salt will help the meat retain moisture during the long cook as well as adding flavor.
What is a Dry Rub? Why is it Important?
A dry rub is a combination of seasoning that is applied to the outer layer of the meat. The rub plays an important role in forming brisket bark as it blends with the meat fat and smoke on the outer layer of the meat. A brisket rub can be as simple as salt and pepper, but brisket is a tough cut of meat that can handle strong flavors. Most rub brisket rub recipes will include cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar, kosher salt and ground black pepper. Smoking meat is all about experimentation and finding what suits your tastes.
How to Store Homemade Rub
It’s easier to make a big batch of rub and then store it away in a large container that can be used to top-up the smaller rub shakers. As long as the rub is stored in a dry area away from sunlight, it should last for a few months. The most important thing is to store the rub in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
My Favorite Brisket Tools
Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.
Meat Injector: Injecting meat is a great way to take your barbecue to the next level and help you make competition-style brisket. An injector is the only way you will be able to get flavor and moisture into the middle of the meat. The Beast Injector is a stainless steel injector that is sturdy and affordable. Check the latest price on Amazon here.
Brisket Marinade: The best injection solution on the market is the Butcher BBQ Brisket Injection. This marinade is used in competitions and is made by World Barbecue Champion pitmaster, Dave Bouska. You can find the marinade on Amazon here.
Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.
Brisket Rub: These days I make my own rub when possible, but I always have a few pre-made rubs for when I’m running low. Barbecue guru Malcom Reed produces Killer Hogs, one of the best brisket rubs I’ve found over the years. Another great rub is Slap Yo Daddy, made by brisket master and multiple World Barbecue Champion, Harry Soo.
Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.
Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.
Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBooard website here.