Should You Put Mustard On A Chicken Before A Rub?

Wondering if you should put mustard on your chicken before applying your rub? I’ll let you in on a little chef’s secret, adding mustard will produce the juiciest most flavoursome chicken ever! 

Adding Mustard To Chicken Before The Spice Rub 

You should apply a mustard layer on your chicken followed by a spice rub before smoking your chicken! Combining mustard and a rub on chicken pieces transforms a simple recipe. But why is this technique really necessary?

Mustard Acts As A Binder For The Rub

Has your carefully blended chicken rub fallen through the grill grates? There is nothing worse than wasted flavor like burning garlic powder!

Mustard is an essential ingredient in many BBQ rubs because it acts as a binder. The mustard helps bind together other ingredients forming a flavourful and cohesive rub!

Ensuring your tasty rub is consistent throughout the entire cut of chicken. So don’t skip out on including mustard before applying a rub, it makes all the difference.

Note: Just cooking chicken thighs or chicken breasts? It doesn’t matter if it’s just a cut or the whole chicken! Get that mustard tub out!

The Benefits to Using Mustard As a Binder

As well as an effective binder, there are some other benefits of adding a layer of mustard, we will explore these benefits as well as best types of mustard to use for chicken.

How Mustard Boosts The Flavor Of Your Chicken

Added flavor to chicken should be a top priority when cooking. We know all too well a piece of meat from chicken has a record for being bland. 

Mustard has a tangy flavor and is typically processed with spices and acid. Think of onion powder, white pepper, and even hot pepper flakes. This hot, tangy, and acrid flavor burst won’t leave you with bland white meat!

Have you tried horseradish cream with beef and loved the burn? Mustard seeds contain similar chemicals that deliver a nasal flaring sensation. 

Fun Fact: The active chemical responsible for ‘burning’ is Allyl Isothiocyanate. Different from capsaicin in chili powder! 

Mustard Helps You Get Crispy Chicken

The last flavor-enhancing feature of mustard is helping the chicken skin crispy. Perfectly cooked chicken skin should be golden brown.

This means it has been rendered and has the right texture in your recipe. The mustard ingredients help extract excess moisture from the skin through chemical processes.

A crust on chicken won’t be as thick as brisket in traditional barbecue but enough to help crisp up and flavor the skin. We also have found that mustard of one of the best binders for brisket when we smoke it for a cookout.

Read further to find out the most flavorful types of mustard to use.

How Mustard Makes The Chicken Tender

If you think of mustard as a marinade it is easy to see its tenderizing qualities.

Acid from vinegar causes a chemical process called denaturing. This unwinds and softens the protein molecules resulting in a loose protein structure for tender meat and moisture retention.

Are There Cons Of Putting Mustard On Chicken Before A Rub?

Your Chicken Recipe Contains Too Much Acidity 

A delicious dinner is comprised of balancing the key tastes your brain loves! We touched on the vinegar content in mustard and how it will enhance the chicken.

Be careful if you are using an acidic component in other stages of the recipe. An example would be lemon zest in the chicken rub recipe.

Deciding to marinade before you start cooking? Lime juice in a chicken marinade recipe followed by mustard can overpower your dish.

Mustard Allergy’s Can Be Serious 

Don’t add mustard before the rub if you or your guests are allergic!

It might be obvious but people forget that an allergy to mustard can be fatal.

Fresh mustard seeds, mustard powder, or processed condiments can cause a reaction. 

Check before cooking to avoid disaster!

Are There Alternatives For Binding A Chicken Rub?

If you don’t fancy adding mustard before a rub then consider the following:

– Brown sugar dissolved in cider vinegar

– BBQ sauce

– Hot sauce

– Cooking spray

What Kind Of Mustard Should I Use On My Chicken?

Mustard comes in so many varieties and each country will tell you theirs is the best! Favouritism aside, below are the types of mustard perfect before adding your chicken rub:

English Yellow Mustard 

Layer English mustard with care as it is very hot and sharp! Most of this will be removed when cooked but it does have a strong flavor!

It will tenderize your chicken and makes a great binder and ensure your rub sticks to the chicken.

French Dijon Mustard

My next choice is to adding Dijon mustard to the chicken before applying the rub.  A great balance of sweet and sharp with a slightly watery consistency, which makes it easy to spread in all those hard-to-reach places!

German Grain Mustard

The last pick is grain mustard but with a modification. Grain mustard is best mixed with another liquid before adding a rub, think of a touch of honey or even mayonnaise!

The grains will caramelize and help form a crispy skin under the spice rub.

More Chicken Recipes

Pit Boss Smoked Teriyaki Chicken

Smoke Chicken Quarters on Pit Boss

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
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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