How Mustard Tenderizes Smoked Meat

Smoking your meat is a delicious way to cook it! But there is a risk your smoked meat can be tough and chewy. One way to tenderize smoked meat is by using mustard as a marinade or binder.

Let’s explore how mustard tenderizes smoked meat and how to use it.

What is Mustard and How Does it Tenderize Meat?

Mustard is a popular condiment and a binder in barbecue, it is an emulsion combining mustard seed powder, water, vinegar, and oil. 

These ingredients have unique properties that break down tough protein fibers in meat, the seasonings in mustard will also make the smoked meat tender and flavorful.

The Science Of How Mustard Tenderizes Meat

Below you’ll learn how a simple layer of mustard transform meat during the smoking process?

The Acidity Of Mustard Tenderizes Smoked Meats

This acidity of mustard permeates into the meat protein and denatures. Denaturing is a fancy word for unwinding the proteins in raw meat. Adding mustard before or during smoking will help break down those tough meat fibers! Which leaves you with a tender texture in your smoked meat.

Note: You never want to add acidic seasonings to meat for more than 24 hours.

If a mustard layer is left for longer than 24 hours it can completely turn the meat mushy!

A Layer Of Mustard Binder Will Help Tenderize Smoked Meats 

Mustard is a sticky substance and is used as a binder in traditional barbecue. Go and slather the surface of meats with mustard before smoking! The mustard coating will ensure the other ingredients stick and bind to the meat.

Rubs and seasonings aren’t just for flavouring smoked meats. Brown sugar is a very popular ingredient in rubs as it caramelizes during smoking. This is called the Milliard Reaction where the smoke particles combine with sugars and fats, creating a delicious ‘bark’ around the prepared meat.

The bark acts as a protective layer and lowers the amount of moisture evaporation, leaving you with a tender and mouth-watering recipe.

What Kind Of Mustard Is Best For Tender Smoked Meat?

English Yellow Mustard 

Layer English mustard with care as it is very hot and sharp! Most of this will be removed when smoked but it does have a strong mustard flavor! The high vinegar content and thickness go great with a smoked ribs recipe.

French Dijon Mustard

My next choice is to use Dijon mustard to tenderize smoked meat. A great balance of sweet and sharp with a slightly watery consistency.

Perfect for spreading over large cuts of meat like a brisket or flank steak. In fact I always use mustard binder on brisket, I find it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the rub or leave the meat too oily. The high content of apple cider vinegar and salt will tenderize the smoked meats

German Grain Mustard

The last pick is grain mustard but with a little modification before application, mix this type of mustard with a bit of apple juice or barbecue sauce!

The grains will caramelize and help form a crispy skin under a spice rub. Adding more vinegar gives extra acidity.

Alternatives To Mustard For Tenderizing Smoked Meats 

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

– Brown sugar dissolved in cider vinegar

– BBQ sauce 

– A vinegar-based hot sauce 

How To Tenderize Smoked Meats With Mustard

– Prepare your meat by removing excess surface moisture with paper towels.

– Trim away any connective tissue, silver skin, and excess fat.

– Choose the type of mustard you need based on your meat dish.

– Use a basting brush to completely coat all surfaces of the meat with a thin layer.

– Rest refrigerated for at least an hour but not over 24.

– Apply your rub or other seasonings.

– Enjoy smoked tender meat!

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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