The Perfect Smoked Brisket Rub Recipe (No Sugar)

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Welcome to the world of delicious smoked brisket. If you’re looking to cook up some great brisket, the secret starts with a perfect Brisket Rub. This recipe will guide you through a simple brisket rub recipe that’s easy to follow, even if it’s your first time. Get ready to Vindulge into a world of flavor.

Brisket Rub in a mason jar

We have smoked hundreds of briskets throughout our careers between years of catering events, being featured chefs at national BBQ events, and simple backyard cookouts. And while we often love to keep it simple with beef seasoning, a brisket can be taken to another level with a good brisket rub.

What is a Brisket Rub?

A brisket rub is a mix of spices that you rub onto your beef brisket before cooking. This brisket seasoning is perfect for a whole brisket, brisket flat, or beef brisket burnt ends. It’s what gives the brisket its delicious flavor. Our focus today is on a homemade dry rub recipe that’s great for beginners and experts alike.

Ingredients + Substitutions

This homemade brisket rub combines simple spices to create a flavorful mix that’s sure to make your brisket a hit. It’s built on the classic SPG rub, which is equal parts kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic.

The goal is a coarse rub with larger granules that are consistent in size for even flavor. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Kosher Salt – The larger crystals in kosher salt are better for flavor. Do not use fine table salt. We use Diamond Crystal brand.
  • Coarse Black Pepper – Note you want to use the coarser grain. You can buy these in any store versus the finer powder of table pepper.
  • Granulated Garlic – We opt for granulated garlic because the size is similar to the coarse black pepper and kosher salt. If all you have is garlic powder use 2 tablespoons versus the full portion in the recipe.
  • Regular Paprika – Smoked paprika can taste bitter as it smokes on brisket so opt for regular, or Hungarian, paprika.
  • Onion Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper – You can adjust your heat level as you would like. The portions in the recipe card or for a very mild heat flavor.

Best Salt for Brisket

Hands down the best type of salt for brisket is kosher salt. Kosher salt is larger in size than your typical table salt and has better flavor. Because of the combination of the larger granule sizes with the pepper and garlic you have a more pronounced flavor that shows through when the brisket is done.

In general you should ditch iodized table salt for kosher salt or large crystal sea salt. The smaller and more intense table salt is too “salty” and if used in this recipe will overpower the seasoning with too much salt.

Why No Sugar in a Brisket Rub?

Some recipes recommend adding brown sugar to a brisket rub. But when smoking a brisket low and slow for 12 – 16 hours the sugar adds a sweetness to the meat that we simply do not like. We want the savory beef to shine through, not sweet flavors.

So we opt for savory flavors and avoid using any sugar at all in our brisket seasoning. We recommend you consider not adding any sugar.

Seasoning Portions

These are general recommendations on seasoning a brisket based on its size.

Brisket WeightQuantity of Seasoning
< 5 pounds1/4 cup seasoning
5 – 10 pounds1/2 cup seasoning
10 – 15 pounds1 cup seasoning
15 – 20 pounds1 1/2 cup seasoning

Step 1: Mix Together

  1. Mix the Spices: Grab a medium sized bowl and mix kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.

Step 2: Preparing Your Brisket

Before applying your rub, be sure the brisket is properly trimmed and pat the brisket dry with paper towels. Then apply a thin layer of a binder as a base for the rub. This helps the spices stick to the meat better. For brisket binders we use olive oil or beef broth.

Step 3: Applying the Brisket Rub

Seasoning a Brisket using the Best Brisket Rub

Spread your brisket seasoning generously over the entire brisket. Don’t forget the fat side. For the best results, let the rub sit on the brisket overnight. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat, like a dry brine.

If seasoning in advance, then season and wrap in plastic wrap. Store wrapped brisket on a sheet tray in your refrigerator until it’s ready to cook.

Myth: You do not need to let the brisket come to room temperature prior to cooking. Just take it out of fridge, unwrap and get to cooking. It will not warm up in an hour.

Storing Brisket Rub

If you are making in advance or have leftovers, put your brisket rub in an airtight container or a mason jar. Keep it in a cool, dry place. This way, you can use it anytime you want to make a great brisket. It will last for up to six months if properly stored.

Tips for the Best Brisket

We have an entire article on the top brisket tips. We’ve also highlighted the following.

  • Quality Matters: Use a quality brisket for best results. You can even buy brisket online.
  • Trim: Be sure the brisket is properly trimmed before it’s seasoned.
  • Rub in Advance: For a more potent mix, apply the rub a day in advance and wrap the brisket in plastic wrap.
  • Resting Time: Let your brisket rest after cooking to keep it juicy.
Smoked and sliced brisket.

Get Vindulging

Making a good brisket rub is simple and fun. With these easy steps and our unique recipe, you’re sure to cook up a flavorful brisket that everyone will love. Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and the delicious results.

Looking for more ideas? Check out our guide on brisket tools you need for perfectly smoked brisket.

Other Uses For this Brisket Seasoning

You can also explore more of our seasoning recipes.

About Vindulge

Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.

cookbook cover

Now on 2nd edition

Fire + Wine Cookbook

“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
San Francisco Book Review

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beef seasoning in mason jar.
5 from 1 vote

Easy Brisket Rub Recipe

This brisket rub is savory and packed with great flavor. We avoid using sugar so you taste the beef flavor and avoid any bitterness. We use this on all of our brisket cooks.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 cups


  • 1 Mason Jar


  • cup kosher salt, (Do not use fine table salt. Specifically use kosher salt.)
  • cup coarse black pepper
  • cup granulated garlic, (If using garlic powder reduce the portions to 2 tablespoons.)
  • cup paprika, (We do not recommend smoked paprika)
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, (You can opt out if you want no heat. But this is a mild flavor portion. For heavier heat go with 1 tablespoon cayenne.)


  • Combine: In a medium size bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well.
  • Apply: Apply a binder, like olive oil or beef broth, to allow the seasoning to stick. Then liberally apply the seasoning to all portions of the brisket. Season the evening prior to cooking and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator until ready to smoke.


Try this seasoning on our Smoked Brisket recipe. 


Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 18900mg | Potassium: 1130mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1201IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 247mg | Iron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American, barbecue, bbq
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 261
Keyword: brisket rub, brisket rub recipe, brisket seasoning, brisket seasoning recipe, smoked brisket rub
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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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