Best Binder for Brisket (5 Delicious Things to Use for Binder)

Applying a binder is one of the most overlooked aspects of smoking brisket. Its helps the rub to stick to the meat which ensures you develop a good bark on your brisket.

But, what is the best binder for brisket? Our favorite binder for brisket is mustard, olive oil, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and even plain water.

If you want that delicious brisket bark, you need to ensure you follow the steps below to apply the binder like a pro!

What Is a Binder? 

A binder is a thin layer of paste applied to the meat so rub sticks during smoking.

Yellow mustard is the most common binder for a brisket recipe. 

However, there are many other binders used, such as olive oil, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and even plain water.

While a binder isn’t necessary for the cooking process, it does help to ensure a more uniform bark. 

The binder is designed to keep the brisket rub in place to retain the natural smoke flavor.

Additionally, the binder also helps contribute to a beautiful bark.

Depending on the type of binding you use, it’ll add another layer of flavor to your bbq brisket. 

Why Should You Use a Binder for Brisket?

Applying a binder to your tender brisket prevents the uneven and dry patchy bark, thereby creating a uniform layer of crispiness to the meat.

As mentioned, it can also add a subtle extra flavor to the meat. If you choose not to add a binder and apply the brisket rub directly on top of the meat, some of the spices may fall off.

As a result, the entire brisket may lose its natural flavor and affect its texture. 

Do You Need to Use a Binder?

No, you can choose to skip out on the binder. However, simply adding a layer of mustard can make a big difference in the taste and texture.

That’s why we recommend adding the binder on all cuts of meat that you plan on smoking. If you’re worried that the mustard binder may overpower the flavor of the rub, you can opt for a neutral ingredient.

Water and olive oil are two great replacements for the standard yellow mustard binder. 

However, you may not even notice the flavor of the binder once it’s cooked. The flavor of beef brisket and the rub will likely be the predominant taste.

Conversely, the binder ingredient will simply blend into the other flavors.

Difference Between Spice Rub and Binder 

It’s common for people to confuse the binder with the seasoning.

The seasoning rub is used to season the brisket as it is cooking, while the binder ensures that the seasoning rubs stay on the meat. 

A binder isn’t used as a replacement for the seasoning rub. However, it helps to improve the effectiveness of the seasoning.

The result is a smoked brisket with irresistible flavor and aroma. 

What Can I Use as a Binder?

When it comes to using a binder for smoked brisket, yellow mustard is the best choice.

It’s easy to find, inexpensive, and complements the ingredients of the seasoning rub.

Avoid using a whole-grain version of mustard since the seeds and grains don’t hold the spices and could interfere with the other flavors. 

Other popular binders include: 

  • Olive oil 
  • Water
  • Beef broth or stock 
  • A1 sauce 
  • Mayonaise 
  • Ketchup
  • Canola oil 
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Hot sauce 

If you’re searching for a good dry rub recipe, consider the following ingredients:

  • seasoned salt 
  • brown sugar 
  • granulated garlic
  • cumin
  • ground black pepper 
  • garlic powder
  • white granulated sugar 
  • steak sauce
  • paprika
  • cayenne pepper 

Combining a layer of mustard along with this combination of seasoning will help to maximize the flavor of your smoked brisket.

If you plan on wet brining your bbq beef brisket, then you’ll likely use a form of saltwater solution and possibly even apple juice. 

What Not to Use as a Binder

We recommend avoiding binder ingredients that contain a lot of salt or sugar.

Your seasoning rub should already contain a lot of salt, and therefore, it can ruin the flavor of the brisket.

On the other hand, sugar increases the chance of charring or burning the meat, causing the bark to taste bitter. 

Does the Binding Ingredient Soften the Bark?

It’s important to know that the type of binding you use can affect the texture of the brisket bark.

An ingredient like yellow mustard will soften the bark compared to a neutral one like olive oil.

If you’re looking for a crispy bark, consider using olive oil instead. 

Additionally, wrapping the brisket inside a foil will generate a lot of steam that can soften the bark.

One way to mitigate the risk of the bark softening is to throw the brisket back onto the grill for another 10 minutes before slicing.

It’ll harden the bark and turn the soggy texture into a more crispy and hard exterior. 

What You Need to Smoke A Brisket

There’s a lot that goes into cooking the perfect seasoned brisket.

Here are our favorite tools to use during or before the cooking process:

Brisket Rub: It’s typically better to make your own brisket rub since you can customize the seasoning. However, there are many on the market that taste amazing. 

Note: Don’t use an excessive amount of rub. Once it starts to fall off you have enough on the brisket.

Meat thermometer: This tool is great for determining the internal temperature of your smoking briskets. You know your brisket is finished when the internal temperatures reach 200 to 205°F.

Butcher Paper: Thanks to Aaron Franklin, wrapping brisket inside a butcher paper has become a new trend. It provides a nice brisket bark and helps create a crispy texture. Make sure to ensure an unwaxed food-grade butcher paper for best results. 

A binder isn’t completely necessary for making delicious brisket.

However, it does minimize the risk of losing the rub, especially during the early stages of the smoking process.

There’s no way of knowing whether the seasoning rub will stick on the meat without lifting the lid.

Of course, that will only allow some heat and moisture to escape. 

Using a bind helps remove the guesswork and let the rub stay on. 

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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