Best Binder for Brisket (9 Delicious Things to Use for Binder)

Applying a binder is one of the most overlooked aspects of smoking brisket. It helps the rub stick to the meat, ensuring an even crust and a good bark.

But what is the best binder for brisket? Our favorite binder 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 it rubs sticks during smoking. Yellow mustard is the most common binder for a brisket recipe. However, many other binders, such as olive oil, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and plain water, are used.

Do You Need to Use a Brisket Binder?

While a binder isn’t totally necessary for the cooking process, it does help to ensure a more uniform bark. Depending on your binder, it’ll add flavor to your BBQ brisket. 

If you’re worried that the mustard binder may overpower the flavor of the rub or brisket, you can opt for a neutral ingredient like water and olive oil. These two are great replacements for the standard yellow mustard binder. 

Best Binder for Brisket

Yellow mustard is one of the most popular binder options for smoked brisket. It’s easy to find, inexpensive and complements the seasoning rub’s ingredients.

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

How to Apply a Binder for Brisket:

  1. First, you need to prep the brisket. Trim the brisket and leave 1/4 of the fat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels.
  2. Pick one of the binders from above and apply it evenly over the brisket. You will need about 1/2 cup of binder for a 10-pound brisket, so ensure you have enough to cover it fully.
  3. After applying your binder, you can apply the rub, gently sprinkle it, and press it onto the meat to ensure it sticks.
  4. If possible, place your brisket in the fridge for up to 24 hours to allow it to permeate.

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, which can ruin the brisket’s flavor. On the other hand, sugar increases the chance of charring or burning the meat, causing the bark to taste bitter. 

Why Should You Use a Binder for Brisket?

Applying a binder to your tender brisket prevents the uneven and dry patchy bark, 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 onto the meat, the rub may fall right off.

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 cooks, 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 seasoning’s effectiveness.

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 want a crispy bark, consider using olive oil instead. Additionally, wrapping the brisket inside foil will generate a lot of steam, which 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.

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, many on the market 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. Your brisket is finished when the internal temperatures reach 200 to 205°F.

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

A binder isn’t essential for making delicious brisket; however, it minimizes the risk of losing the rub, especially during the early stages of the smoking process.

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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