Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe

"I adapted your brisket rub recipe this summmer to and my customers love it (8,000 pounds served in the past 6 months)! My brisket even won 'best beef' in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair this year (2010)."Larry Vito of BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastapol, CA

In Texas many barbecue joints use just plain old salt and pepper, called Dalmatian rub. But beef brisket can and BBQ beef ribs handle, and benefit from, a more potent mix. The rub creates a rich, flavorful, crunchy crust, called the bark or Mrs. Brown.

Beef rub is different than pork rub. Pork loves sweetness, but beef does not. The best pork rubs have of more sugar in them, like Meathead's Memphis Dust. Black pepper, on the other hand, works great with beef.

You can make this BBQ dry rub recipe days or weeks in advance. It makes more than you need for even a large brisket, so you can just put it in a clean jar or zipper bag.

with rub before cooking

A beef brisket flat with heavy rub, before (above) and after (below) cooking.

with rub after cooking

This rub creates a rich, flavorful, crunchy crust, called the bark or Mrs. Brown.

Makes. About half a cup

Preparation time. About 10 minutes


3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons mustard powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons chili or ancho powder

1 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne powder

About the black pepper. Lately I've been grinding my black pepper and then sifting it. I use the coarse stuff, and put the fine stuff in a pepper shaker.

About the chile powders. I'm looking for complexity with two different flavors and two different levels of heat. Most American chili powders and ancho powders do not have a lot of heat, but good flavor. In fact, ancho is usually in a lot of American chili powders. Go with ancho if you can find it. It has a nice raisiny character. With chipotle or cayenne I'm after a kiss of heat. Chipotle has better flavor though.


1) Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Store the rub in a tightly sealed bottle in a dark place. It will slowly start to decline in quality but should be fine up to a year later. Taste it first.

2) If your meat has not been pre-salted, shoot for about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat and apply it heavier on thick spots. When possible, apply the salt the day before, but even an hour or two is enough to get it moving inward, and the science advisor Prof. Greg Blonder has shown that when the meat heats, the salt moves deeper and faster. Click here to read more about this process, called dry-brining.

3) You can apply the rub in advance, some people like to apply it the night before, but the fact is, most molecules in the rub are too large to penetrate more than a fraction of an inch, just like marinades. And they don't have the electrical properties that salt has. The rub is mostly a surface treatment for flavor and bark. So you can apply the rub just before cooking if you wish. Moisture and oils will mix with the spices and herbs, heat will work its magic on them, and all will be wonderful. I like to lightly wet the surface with water before the rub because many of the flavors in the rub are water soluble. Spread the rub generously on beef brisket, not so thick on other, thinner cuts.

Also, be aware that the drippings from a salted meat for use in a gravy or jus will probably not need salting, so be sure to taste before you add salt. Remember, you can always add salt, but you can't take it away.

brisket rub

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