The 10 Best Brisket Rubs

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This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in April of 2018. No one else will tell you this, so it's best you hear it from us: Other people will judge you based on how well you grill. If you want to take your barbecue game to the next level, adding these brisket rubs before cooking will unlock a whole new world of flavor. Don't worry, we won't tell anyone about your secret weapon — provided you share some of that tasty smoked meat, of course. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Flavor Seed Cocoa Butt'er

2. Dead Rooster Co. Black Gold

3. John Henry's Texas Blend

Editor's Notes

October 27, 2019:

Smoked meat, especially brisket, is a point of pride for many cooks across the USA. You'll find a lot of brands that tout theirs as the very best, although of course there's an endless range of combinations you can use on your brisket to create your own flavor profile. If you've started with high-quality beef and are looking for something simple that will let the meat's flavor shine, check out John Henry's Texas Blend or Miner's Mix Original. If you like spice, try out Pitmaster Harry Soo's Slap Yo Daddy, which -- in addition to a funny name -- packs a considerable amount of heat. Oakridge BBQ Signature Black Ops also has a noticeable about of red pepper flavor, but it's more on the side of sweet paprika rather than the super-spicy kind. It's also available in very large bags, which makes it great for large banquets.

A few of the ones we included, such as Plowboys BBQ Bovine and EAT Barbecue Most Powerful Stuff, are frequently used on the competitive BBQ circuit (yes, that's a real thing). They're not particularly unique, but they are well-traveled and quite delicious, so they're very popular as bases that experienced chefs will then add their own unique ingredients to.

That said, there are three that you should absolutely check out if you want to make the tastiest smoked meat you've ever had. I've personally smoked an immeasurable amount of meat -- whole chickens, massive pork butts, high-end prime rib, ultra-flavorful beef ribs, and of course brisket, and my friends, family, and guests have agreed across the board that my coffee-based rubs (in particular my signature coffee-chocolate blend) are truly next-level seasonings. To that end, you will have a hard time topping Flavor Seed Cocoa Butt'er, as its simplicity and ideal ingredient list are almost undeniably the tastiest way to rub meat. It's not especially complex, but it really doesn't need to be, especially if you're using quality wood chips and taking your time with a good smoker, whether conventional or propane-fueled. Now, while the Flavor Seed is probably the simplest on our list, the Dead Rooster Co. Black Gold is actually a little closer to the blend I've been making in my kitchen most recently. Instead of chocolate, it has a touch of cinnamon and cumin that combine to really make earthy, oaky flavors pop. And if you want that one-of-a-kind roasted bean flavor but you need a high-volume option to coat a bunch of slabs, check out Jansal Valley Coffee Chili, which delivers a touch of heat as well as a complex blend of traditional seasonings underneath a strong coffee base. Also, keep in mind that if you want that classic bark on your smoked meat, you'll need to choose a rub that has a touch of sugar and salt in it -- the salt draws out the moisture from the outer quarter-inch of meat while the sugar caramelizes and forms the chewy, delectable crust that a good brisket needs.

Finally, some of the best rubs use MSG, some use combinations of chemically similar substitutes, and still others use mushroom powder. Despite rampant fear-mongering, there's actually no reason to believe that MSG allergies actually exist, and in fact, shittake mushrooms have a considerable amount of naturally occurring MSG. Nonetheless, some people prefer not to use the chemical, and most of our top selections don't explicitly use it -- although they might use mushroom powder, which isn't made in a lab, but from actual mushrooms.

Special Honors

Serious Eats Simple Mix Here you'll find a relatively traditional but reliably delicious blend that's perfect for both beef and pork. It doesn't have the most complex flavor profile, but as long as you start with quality brisket, it's hard to go wrong -- though of course you'll have to mix it all yourself.

Emeril's Texas Style Emeril Lagasse gets a bad rap from some chefs, partially just because he's so incredibly popular. The fact is, the man really knows how to cook, and any recipe he offers is sure to satisfy. If you're willing to put in the work, his classic Texas-style rub will give you just about the closest look into traditional southern-style brisket flavors, and because it's so refined, it's easy to repeat every time you have a cookout.

4. JB's Fat Boy

5. Jansal Valley Coffee Chili

6. Oakridge BBQ Signature Black Ops

7. Plowboys BBQ Bovine

8. Miners Mix Original

9. Pitmaster Harry Soo's Slap Yo Daddy

10. Eat Barbecue Most Powerful Stuff

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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