A great barbecue brisket is built by having layers of flavor, and those layers begin with a barbecue rub. Brisket rubs can be simple or complex in a wide range of barbecue styles, from wet to dry rubs that span from sweet to spicy.
But before you choose a barbecue rub for your brisket, there are a few things to consider, like how much rub you need and when to apply it. When it comes to the amount, there really is no special formula—you can put on as much rub as the meat will hold. Pat dry your brisket with paper towels and then sprinkle with the rub (you don't actually have to rub it on). Whatever adheres to the brisket is the amount needed.
The timing, however, does need some consideration. If the rub you are using contains a lot of salt, you will want to apply it right before you put the brisket in the smoker. If the rub is low in salt or doesn't have any, then you can apply it several hours in advance to let the flavors sink in. Leaving a large amount of salt on meat will cause it to cure and the flavor will be more like jerky and less like barbecue brisket.
Watch Now: How to Make Authentic Texas-Style Brisket Rub
01 of 07
Smoked barbecue brisket works great with sweet flavors. This brisket brown sugar rub starts with brown sugar (choose a dark brown sugar for added molasses flavor) and then picks up the salt and seasoning that finish off a good rub. You can adjust the heat of this rub by choosing a hot or mild chili powder. Because of the brown sugar crystallizing, it will only last a few days in the pantry.
02 of 07
This easy brisket rub is built on the basics of barbecue. The combination of paprika, sugar, and salt give it the color and the flavor effect you want while the garlic and onions powders, as well as oregano, add depth. This is a simple rub and the perfect place to start if you are new to smoking brisket.
03 of 07
This brisket rub has the spicy heat that makes Texas-style barbecue rub great. You can add sugar to this rub if you want to cut the heat a bit, but what makes it Texas-style is the spice. This rub also has a rich layer of herbs and spices, like cumin, coriander, and oregano, that will make your brisket really stand out.
04 of 07
This barbecue brisket rub starts with a good portion of salt, but don't worry—by using a coarse salt, it will absorb more slowly into the meat without picking up too much of the saltiness. Don't apply this rub too early or the surface of the meat will begin to cure.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Chipotle chilies add a smokey heat that is perfect for brisket. Use dried chipotles to keep this chipotle dry rub dry. (You can buy chipotle chili powder but it is a bit more expensive.) A hint of orange in the form of dried orange peel is the perfect companion to the chipotle, helping to bring all of the flavors together.
06 of 07
This is a wet rub, or as you might call it, a spice paste. The "glue" in this barbecue rub is a small amount of lemon juice; the acid helps break down the seasonings so that the flavors can be absorbed into the brisket. This chili wet rub recipe calls for hot chili powder, but you can switch to a mild one if you want to tone down the heat.
07 of 07
This chili pepper rub for brisket packs a little punch. What makes this one different is the finely ground green chili; by using a fresh chili, you get more than just a touch of heat. Simply chop up the chili and then grind it into the other ingredients. It adds a fresh herbal flavor that really makes this rub stand out.