Just Salt and Refrigerate Overnight or All of the Spices and Refrigerate?

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Nov 25, 2023
Hello! I have a chuck roast going on the smoker tomorrow and will season it tonight and let it sit in the fridge. Should I just salt it tonight and then season it the rest of the way before being smoked, or is is better to do it all tonight (salt, pepper, garlic, onion, etc.)?
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I salt then add rub of choice wrap in plastic over night. Next mornin I hit it with my black binder and atomic dog rub. Let it sit till grill heats up.
I went with the salt only this time. I will add the pepper and all before I put it on the smoker. Next time I will add it all at once and let it sit overnight to see if I can tell a difference. Thank you for the advice!
Well, here is the update on the chuck roast.

I salted the night before and added pepper and garlic right before I placed the meat on the smoker. I cooked the meat ant 250-265 until the center of the meat reached 150-degrees (ran out of dry wood due to the wind making the fire look like a blow torch at times, but was shooting for 160). The bark was decent at 150 as the meat had been on the smoker for over 4-hours at that point. I wrapped with butcher paper and placed it in the over at 275 until the internal temp reached 205.

The chuck roast looked excellent and had a nice smoke ring. However, it was just ok at best. It needed more seasoning, something to have given it more of a BBQ-type Taste. Not BBQ sauce type flavor, but something else was needed. I was hoping the paper would preserve the bark and maintain some fluids, but I believe aluminum foil would have worked a bit better. I was trying to prevent the pot roast taste by braising in foil, but the roast was dry in spots. Overall, maybe a 6/10.
A couple of things... Doesn't matter if wrapped in foil or paper... Your still gonna lose the bark ...

Next time go by probe tender and not just the IT (internal temp)... You'll thank us later...

If I rub the night before... I will still give it another coat before going on the smoker...
As others have said, putting just salt on before putting meat in the fridge overnight, or putting on salt and all of the spices shouldn't make much of a difference. Only the salt is water soluble, and so only the salt will migrate slightly into the meat. It won't make it very far in a short time, but it will soak in a bit. That's why brining or dry brining works. MSG and/or sugar, if used, will also migrate slightly into the meat because they are also water soluble.

Spices (pepper, garlic, paprika, etc. etc) are generally insoluble in water, so they'll just sit on the surface of the meat, whether applied shortly before cooking, or the night before. It doesn't matter.*

*Ok, there are a lot of flavor molecules in spices; a few may have just enough water solubility to slightly soak into the meat given enough time, but the effect would be fairly subtle.
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Not certain what your definition is of more BBQ taste. Running chuckies like brisket is a good approach. Sounds like you had some heat swings which generally are ok but the key is similar to briskets, they need time to render the connective tissue. Personally, I would suggest a more steady grate temp in the 250-275º for at least 5-6 hours or more until the IT is around 175-180º before you decide on wrapping. Less chance of getting the pot roast flavor the closer you get to 180º. As said wrapping will affect the bark, more so with foil than butcher paper. Regardless, getting tender and done is ONLY determined by probing, NOT by temp. Just like brisket, once its probed as done, remove and let sit open on the counter for a number of minutes to stop the cooking. The IT should fall 5-10º. After that you can re-wrap and rest in a cooler with towels for 1-2 hours. Regarding spices/seasoning, this is strictly up to the individual. We go with a basic Texas approach, 50/50 cracked black pepper and kosher salt, and somewhat heavily applied.
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Maybe I missed it, but what wood did you use? I'm a fan of a little mesquite when it comes to beef. Seems to bring out that good beef flavor. Sometimes I mix with some post oak too.
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