The right seasoning rub can help your brisket develop a nice crisp bark. It should also impart an extra layer of flavor, bolstered by the smoke. But is it possible to go overboard on the seasoning? And if so, how much rub on brisket is too much?
How Much Rub On Brisket Is Too Much?
We like to estimate about 1 tablespoon of rub for every pound of brisket. However, you want to make sure there’s a generous layer of seasoning on the meat. In general, as long as the spice rub is sticking to the meat without falling off, you’re on the right track.
About Seasoning Rub
The spice rub is designed to season the brisket, making the flavors more complex. It also helps contribute to the bark, that crunchy exterior coating that’s one of the hallmarks of perfectly cooked brisket.
Other popular ingredients for brisket rub include paprika (either smoked or sweet), garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and coriander.
Brown sugar is another common ingredient, but if you use one in your brisket rub, it’s best to proceed with caution. Sugar will burn when it’s exposed to heat for a long time, which can make the brisket bark turn out too hard.
Dry vs. Wet Rubs
A dry rub consists of salt, spices, and sometimes sugar. Pitmasters will often apply a layer of prepared mustard or olive oil to the brisket before adding a dry rub. This is called “binding” or “slathering” the meat.
By contrast, a wet rub contains some form of liquid already—usually oil or water. This helps it stick to the meat on its own, with no binder required.
We enjoy experimenting with both wet and dry rubs, and don’t necessarily prefer one over the other. Be aware, however, that wet rubs may drip off the meat during the initial stages of the smoke, increasing the risk of flare-ups.
How Much Rub on Brisket?
In general, we recommend using about 1 tablespoon of rub for every pound of brisket. That means a 16-pound whole packer brisket will need an entire cup of spice rub. This rule serves as a useful guideline, but the measure doesn’t need to be absolute.
Unlike ribs, which benefit from a lighter coating, brisket can hold up to excess seasoning. That’s partly because beef has a stronger flavor than pork, but it’s also due to the fact that cooked brisket will have a higher meat-to-bark ratio than ribs.
Feel free to coat your brisket with as much seasoning as you can get to stick on the surface. Press gently to make sure the rub adheres, but don’t force it. If a lot of the spices are falling onto the work station, the meat probably has enough rub on it.
The Two-Layer Approach
In order to ensure that the brisket is properly seasoned, we recommend taking the two-layer approach.
After you’ve applied a generous coating of spice rub to the entire surface of the brisket, wait a few minutes to let the seasonings penetrate the meat. Then add a second layer, making sure to cover all the same territory as before.
At this point, you can either fire up the smoker right away (see the section below) or cover the brisket and refrigerate it overnight.
Should I Apply Brisket Rub the Night Before?
It’s fine to season brisket just before adding it to the smoker. We can’t discern a real difference between brisket that’s been seasoned in advance versus one that only had the spice rub on it for a few minutes beforehand.
On the other hand, applying the rub in advance can help you save time on the day of the barbecue. Should you opt to take advantage of this shortcut, try to season the brisket 6 to 12 hours before you put it on the smoker.
Tip: When you’ve applied the rub in advance, remove the brisket from the fridge about an hour before cooking.
What Should I Do With Leftover Spice Rub?
If the spice rub has already come into contact with the raw meat, you’ll have to discard it. Therefore, any seasonings that have fallen onto the work station should be thrown out.
When you’ve prepared a seasoning rub only to find that the yield was way too high for your brisket, you can save it for a later use. Find an airtight container and use it to store the rub in a cool, dry place. Kept in this manner, it should last for 6 months.
How To Make Dalmatian Rub
Looking for a simple way to season your brisket? If you want to make it Texas-style, you probably already have the ingredients on hand.
To make a Dalmatian rub, combine equal parts kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can adjust these quantities according to taste, especially if you’re trying to cut back on salt, but the 1 to 1 ratio is preferable.
It’s important not to use regular table salt when following this formula. The crystals are smaller, which will give the rub a higher proportion of salt than you want. In turn, your finished brisket will taste too salty.
Brisket Rub Recipe
This rub contains additional seasonings that will give the brisket more complexity in terms of flavor. You can also use it to season pork, chicken, or vegetables.
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Store the rub in an airtight container, taking care to keep it in a cool and dry spot, for up to 6 months.
While it’s difficult to over-season a brisket, it is possible to overdo it with certain ingredients. Too much brown sugar can result in burnt bark, while excess amounts of salt will overwhelm the other flavors.
In the end, you should rely on your instincts when seasoning a brisket—or any large cut of meat. The rub should form a generous coating on the surface without falling off.