It’s fine to resort to store-bought brisket rub when you’re on a tight schedule, especially if you’ve found a brand that you like. If you’ve decided to make your own, however, you might be surprised by how easy it is.
It’s not difficult to find the right salt pepper garlic ratio for brisket rub. Once you’ve figured that out–and determined what other ingredients you want to include–you’ll be able to whip up a great seasoning rub in no time.
How Much Salt and Pepper for Brisket?
As a rule of thumb, try for a ratio of 1 to 1 for kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use 1 tablespoon of this blend for every pound of brisket. For example, an 8-pound brisket flat will need 8 tablespoons (or 1/2 cup) of the salt and pepper mixture.
How Much Salt and Pepper To Use Per Pound
In general, we like to assume that we’ll need 1 tablespoon of rub for each pound of brisket. If you’ve purchased a 12-pound whole packer brisket, you should expect to use 12 tablespoons–that is, 3/4 cup–of seasoning rub.
When you opt for a simple salt and pepper blend, it’s easy to make exactly as much rub as you need. If you add other ingredients, you’ll increase the overall volume of the mixture, which means you could end up with more than you need.
Fortunately, dry spice rubs can keep for up to a year if stored in a tightly sealed container, away from heat and light. Feel free to make a large batch so you’ll have some pre-made seasoning rub the next time you fire up the smoker.
Salt Pepper Garlic Ratio For Brisket
In the recipe below, we’ve kept things simple by using equal parts coarsely ground black pepper to kosher salt. This is known as a “Dalmatian rub” because of the black and white color combination.
If you add crushed red pepper flakes to the rub, it becomes a “newspaper rub” because the mixture will be black and white “and red all over.” Adding other ingredients (see separate section below) will make it a “dirty Dalmatian rub.”
If you opt to use garlic powder in your recipe, try adding 1 teaspoon for every 1/2 cup of straight Dalmatian rub. For example, if you’ve used 1/4 cup each of kosher salt and black pepper, add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. This formula also works when adding onion powder to the rub.
The Importance of Using the Right Ingredients
You may have noticed that we advocate using kosher salt in rub recipes, not just regular table salt. There’s a reason for this, and it’s important not to confuse the two.
If you compare kosher salt to table salt, you’ll notice that the former is made of large, thick flakes, while the latter is very fine-grained. That means that table salt will penetrate the cells more deeply, which could lead to a salty finished brisket.
Another aspect to consider is that table salts often include iodine, which imparts a noticeable taste of its own, particularly when used in large quantities. This will interfere with the flavor profile that you’ve worked hard to create.
As for the pepper, you should always start with whole black peppercorns and grind them yourself. Pre-ground black pepper loses its potency over time, so your brisket will be far less flavorful if you opt for this shortcut.
Can You Just Add Salt and Pepper To Taste?
Some experienced pitmasters find that they can just “eyeball it” and add as much kosher salt and cracked black pepper as they find appropriate. Once you’ve smoked enough briskets, you might be able to do the same.
However, it’s never a bad idea to have a basic formula in mind. While you can generally use a heavy hand with the black pepper and still turn out a fine brisket, using too much salt can yield disappointing results.
Other Ideas for Brisket Seasoning Rub
Although a Dalmatian rub makes a tasty brisket, it can be fun to experiment with other flavors when making a spice rub.
Paprika is a popular choice, as it complements the natural sweetness of the beef. Using smoked paprika will provide an additional layer of flavor. Use about 2 tablespoons of paprika for every 1/2 cup of Dalmatian rub.
As we pointed out, 1 teaspoon of garlic or onion powder per 1/2 cup of Dalmatian rub is a good rule of thumb. These aromatics will add savory depth to the seasoning blend.
Ground cumin is another option. It has a warm, toasty flavor that boosts the complexity of the rub without being overpowering. Try adding 1 teaspoon of cumin per 1/2 cup of Dalmatian rub.
Smoked Brisket With Dalmatian Rub
We like to use hickory wood chips or pellets for this particular recipe. The rub itself is subtle, which allows the rich smoky taste of the hickory to shine through. If you find that hickory alone is too intense, try adding some oak to the mix as well.
- 6 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 whole packer brisket (10-12 pounds)
1. Mix the salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
2. Trim the brisket, if desired, and pat the meat dry with paper towels.
3. Apply the seasoning mixture to the entire surface of the brisket. Make sure to cover the sides as well as the top and bottom.
4. Set the smoker to 225 degrees.
5. When the smoker is hot enough, add the brisket, making sure the fat cap is facing the heat source. Close the lid and let the brisket smoke until the internal temperature reaches 195-200 degrees. This may take anywhere from 15 to 24 hours.
7. Separate the point from the flat and carve the flat into slices. Shred the meat from the point and mix with barbecue sauce, if desired. Serve at once.
The Bottom Line
No matter what ingredients you use in your seasoning rub, try to use 1 tablespoon of the finished product for every pound of meat.
If that sounds like a lot of salt and pepper to you, remember that kosher salt won’t taste as salty as the table variety, and that freshly cracked black pepper has a far superior flavor to the pre-ground version. The end result should enhance the natural beefy flavor of the brisket and the delicious smoky taste.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!