Brisket - To rub or not to rub?

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Smoke Blower
Original poster
Sep 6, 2010
Naples, Fl.
I'm also doing my first brisket the weekend. After doing a lot of reading and watching videos, I'm torn on using a dry rub or just plain old salt and pepper. I will be cooking it in my MES. I was thinking of using Sweet Rub Of Mine on the brisket. Any thoughts?
Just a thought from one MES30 owner to another. Remember a large packer will have to be cut or trimmed to fit in a MES30. Just a thought.

I use salt pepper onion and garlic usually. I don't use mustard, if you needed mustard it would be called a sprinkle. Rub is like a massage. There are numerous commercial products, one of my favorites is called Totonka Dust. One of the guys here's wife makes it. You can Google it.

Any rub is mostly sugar and salt anyway. I think the standard formula is 8/3/1/1, Sugar /salt/spice/herb, but its just a guideline.
First brisket?  Keep it simple.  Salt, pepper, maybe a little onion and garlic if you want.  I smoke on average 8-15 lbs of meat per week and have been going more and more simple on the spices.  I've tried a lot of rubs and keep coming back to SP(OG), especially on briskets.
I use mustard, but it is ground dry mustard mixed in with the Salt, Pepper, Onion & Garlic.  I never understood the prepared mustard on an uncured piece of meat.
I haven't been brave enough to try brisket yet, so I look forward to hearing how yours went. I will probably lose my brisket virginity in the next couple of
Brisket to me is one of the easiest cuts of meat to smoke, but like I say, "I'm not competing, just eating."  I go for flavor and juicy texture, not really giving much consideration to the bark because I cook for leftovers.  On the second day and following days the bark just isn't the same as right after the smoke.

I think a first brisket has the same intimidation factor as someone's first turkey because it is such a big cut of meat that can be financially costly if not done right to the proper final internal temperature.  With turkey you can food poison people too.  Much less chance of that happening with a brisket. 

I've roasted many a briskets over the years in the oven, then transferred that experience to the smoker.   In the oven you season the brisket, put it in a roasting pan, add a little liquid, seal it up, roast it for three hours or so at 325F then uncover for the last half hour or so.  Let it rest  then serve.   Tender and delicious. 

Just like any recipe though there are a bunch of ways people prefer to successfully smoke their briskets; trim/no trim, mustard/EVOO/nothing as a season sticker, season night before/season just before putting on the smoker, fat side up/down, wet/dry smoke, rubs or SP(OG), woods to use, low n'slow/hot n' fast/mid-range temps, wrapped/not wrapped/when to wrap, 190/195/200/203/205/210 final temp, butter resistance toothpick test/bend test, etc.  It is all those variables that make smoking a first brisket even more intimidating and confusing.  A sure fire way to start a word war is to post a brisket smoking process.

Let me fire the first shot.  In reality a smoker is a smoky oven.  Lower temps extend the cooking time but the process can be very similar to and practically as easy as the oven.  A dual probe wireless thermometer makes it simple.  A K.I.S.S. process for a first brisket is season the meat, wet smoke at 250F for 4 hours, wrap with a little liquid, insert the probe through the wrap, remove when the IT is 200F, let it rest wrapped for an hour or more, then slice and serve.  Trust me, for a first brisket, it will taste good, tender and juicy.

K.I.S.S. it the first time, then make changes to your personal preferences and timing with experience.  Don't fear the brisket.  LOVE the brisket.  

I did my first brisket a few weeks ago and I used Tatonka Dust for my rub..........I use that stuff on pretty much all the red meat I smoke.  My binder was I rubbed Worchester on the meat.  It had a great bark and flavor.  I've never been into rubbing with mustard, don't know why.
I will be making one this weekend, also. Always done fancy rubs, but I figured I'd go simple this time. Aaron Franklin claims to use only salt & pepper. I'll try that, but maybe add a little granulated garlic as well. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Hot Threads