Brisket Rub Guide – The Best Dry Rubs On The Market (Plus 3 Homemade Recipes)

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.

Key Points

  • The rub is an important part of the smoked brisket process because it adds flavor and helps form the bark
  • There are many homemade and store-bought brisket rub recipes available, but it can be difficult to determine which ones are the best
  • Some highly recommended homemade rub recipes include the Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe from Meathead Goldwin and the recipe from Townsend Spice & Supply
  • Pitmaster Aaron Franklin uses a simple kosher salt and black pepper rub on his briskets, proving that sometimes simplicity can be best
  • A comprehensive guide to brisket rubs, including information on making your own and recommendations for store-bought options, can be helpful in finding the best rub for your brisket.
  • Malcolm Reed, creator of the YouTube channel “How To BBQ Right,” produces his own line of rubs called “Killer Hogs BBQ” that are popular for use on brisket
  • “Killer Hogs BBQ” rubs can be purchased on Amazon or on the Killer Hogs website
  • Harry Soo is a multiple-time champion of smoked brisket competitions and was featured on the television show “Barbecue Pitmasters.”
  • Soo’s “Slap-Yo-Daddy” rubs can be purchased on Amazon.
  • Butcher BBQ, a company owned by champion BBQ competitor David Bouska, offers a variety of rubs and injection marinades for use on brisket
  • Meat Church, a well-regarded company in the meat smoking community, offers the Gospel All Purpose BBQ Rub and the Holy Gospel BBQ Rub as options for brisket rubs
  • McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning, available at many supermarkets and on Amazon, can also be used as a brisket rub
  • Homemade brisket rub recipes can be found online, but it can be difficult to determine which ones are the best; seeking out recipes from well-known pitmasters is a good starting point.

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.

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.

Standard Barbecue Rub

Standard Barbecue Rub

I found this great rub recipe through How To BBQ Right. I use this recipe and alter it slightly depending on what I'm cooking. Made by the guys at Townsend Spice & Supply:

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • - ½ Cup Paprika
  • - ½ Cup Salt
  • - ½ Cup Sugar
  • - ½ Cup Granulated Garlic
  • - ¼ Cup Granulated Onion
  • - ¼ Cup Chili
  • - ¼ Cup Cumin
  • - 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • - 2 Tablespoons Dry Mustard
  • - 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper


  1. Combine all the spices together in a large mixing bowl
  2. 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.

  1. Apply the binder to the brisket.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. Should I Brine Brisket?

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.

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Author and founder at Meat Smoking HQ

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