Friday, July 22, 2011

Use Mustard Before Dry Rub?

By Dru Chai

The other day, I was thinking about something. Why do some people slather a coat of mustard on their meats before applying the dry rub? Is it simply a method of improving the way the dry rub sticks to the meat, or does the mustard itself impart some type of flavor? Why not use something else, like olive oil, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, or heck, how about some maple syrup?

I did some research online, reading forums and articles, and the opinions are widely varied. Some are firm believers of the mustard coat, because it improves the hardening of the bark after such a long period of smoking the meat. The general consensus is that most people use mustard so that the rub adheres to the meat (which I've never had a problem with before). Mostly everyone said that you can't even taste the mustard when the meat is done.

Mustard rubbed brisket
Well there's only one way to settle things, and it's to see for myself. Many people I've seen on television only use mustard for pork butt/shoulder and spare/baby back ribs. Since all I have is a brisket, I decided to use that as my guinea pig (or cow, har har). I just took some plain organic yellow mustard that I had in the fridge and slathered it all over on both sides.

Then, I used a slight variation of my Dirty Smoke dry rub:

- Grounded black pepper (heavy)
- Seasoned salt
- Granulated garlic
- Paprika
- Cayenne pepper (very little)
- Cumin (very little)
- White granulated sugar
- Brown sugar

I put the dry rub on the top of the mustard-covered brisket, and honestly couldn't tell much of a difference if there was no mustard. The seasonings stuck onto the meat just fine. I wrapped it up in foil and it's in the fridge for now, waiting to be smoked. To be continued...

So what happened? Click here to read my update.


  1. A mustard rub is not really about the flavor of the mustard, because most of that is lost after hours of smoking. Mustard helps to create a better bark. The vinegar in the mustard also helps the flavor of the rub impart into the meat more. Although rub can adequately stick onto meat without mustard, it still does help more rub to stick onto the outside of whatever you're cooking. You're essentially creating a wet rub or paste; although, you can use any wet substance for that. I've enjoyed pastes made with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. That way, I can choose my own spices (sometimes mustard powder) and ratios.

    1. Great info!

      I've used both mustard, paste, oil, as well as nothing but rub... by the end of the long smoking process... I always get good bark now.

      Thanks for dropping by the blog!

  2. Thanks for this. I'm gonna be tackling a brisket for the first time. I've always done a French's mustard massage on my pork shoulder and ribs smokes but wasn't sure that it was supposed to be pork specific. Sounds like it works fine with beef too, and I like the results I get on the bark for my pork smokes. So I guess I'll be giving my brisket a French's rubdown.

    Wow...that sounded dirty.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I've used both a mustard rub, oil rub, no rub, and honestly they have all turned out great with a fantastic bark. In any case, giving the meat a French rubdown is the fun part!

  3. I just smoked a tri tip along with two shoulders I used my own Dry Rub that I have used for all my Q days I usually use mustard only cause thats how I learned from my grandpa but after reading this I decided to experiment and used a Mustard/Srircha chili sauce mix (about 1/4 chili - 3/4 mustard)on the tri tip before I rubbed it. after smoking it and then finishing it with a sear in my cast iron skillet (props to dirtysmokebbq !! for the info on tri tip) there was no mustard hangover yet a seriously awesome tingling garlic-chili heat on the finish that perfectley complimented the meat whithout overpwering the flavor of the beef. Thanks guys

    1. Hey Shane -- thanks for the comment and for the props on the tri-tip! That mustard and siracha sauce mix sounds awesome. I'm going to have to try that sometime.


  4. Mustard is also a natural meat tenderizer....that’s why I use it on all my meat!!