Pork & Brisket Binders. How To Get Your Rub To Stick!

Rubbing Binders

When I first started smoking meat, I kept seeing everyone put mustard on their meat before smoking it. Now, I like mustard, but even this threw me off. I didn’t understand why they were doing it and thought that couldn’t taste good. Now that I am much more experienced, I am here to share with you what I have learned about using a rubbing binder.

What Is A Binder In Smoking?

A rubbing binder, sometimes also known as a slather, is a thin layer of paste that is applied to the outside surface of your meat to help the rub adhere for smoking. Mustard and olive oil are the two commonly used binders; however, you can use just about anything as a binder.

What Can I Use As A Rubbing Binder?

When it comes to rubbing binders, the sky is the limit. Binders, for the most part, will not affect the meat in anyway. Their only real purpose is to help the rub stick to your meat. In fact, a lot of people opt out of using a binder entirely. Here is a list of some of the most common binders used when smoking meat.

No BinderMustard
SyrupHot Sauce
A1 SauceOlive Oil
Vegetable OilCanola Oil
Apple Cider VinegarMayonaise
HoneyChick Fil A Suace
Water Worcestershire Sauce

Does A Binder Effect The Taste Of The Meat?

Many people, like myself when I first started smoking meat, worry about the binder effecting the taste of the meat; however, a binder is going to have minimal to no effect on the taste of the meat.

You could possibly see a slight difference in the smoke ring formation, and some binders might enhance the flavor of the rub more than others, but you will not be able to taste the binder when you are done smoking your meat.

In the video below, 4 identical pork butts are smoked. The only difference between the 4 is the type of binder used. As you can tell from the video, there is minimal difference between the 4 finished butts.  

Does Brisket Need A Binder?

While using a binder for brisket will help the rub adhere to your meat, you do not need use a binder for your brisket. In fact, in a recent poll conducted, 46% of participants said they don’t use a binder for their brisket. There is enough moisture already in the brisket to keep your rub from falling off.

Brisket Binder

Does Pork Need A Binder?

While using a binder for your pork butt will help the rub stick to your meat, you do not need to use a binder on your pork butt. There is enough moisture in the pork butt to allow for your rub to stick to the meat. In a recent poll conducted, 56% of participants said they don’t use a binder on their pork butts.

Pork butt binder

How To Apply A Binder To Your Meat?

To apply a binder to your meat, simply take your preferred binder and apply a thin layer to cover the surface. Remember, a binder is there to help the rub stick and doesn’t help with flavor. When applying your rub, less is better. We want the rub and smoke flavor to take precedence.

Once your binder is applied, apply your rub liberally on top of the binder and your meat is ready for the smoker!

Can You Taste Mustard On Brisket?

Using a mustard binder on your brisket will not affect the taste of your brisket. You will not be able to taste the mustard on the brisket as the rub and smoke flavor will cover it.

Does Aaron Franklin Put Mustard On His Brisket?

When talking about brisket, who look to more than one of the most notable pitmaster’s, Aaron Franklin. According to his master class, Aaron Franklin uses mustard or hot sauce when slathering up his brisket.

Michael W.

Half of my family lives in Texas and we would visit them often. As a food lover, naturally I fell in love with smoked meat. Smoked brisket and peach cobbler is a staple around where my family grew up and quickly became a favorite of mine. Unfortunately we didn't have good BBQ where I grew up. After enough years, I finally decided to get a smoker so I didn't have to wait for good BBQ until I went to Texas. Getting into a new hobby can be overwhelming. When I first started smoking meat, there was so much conflicting information and so many different styles and techniques that I didn't know where to start. I started this website to help people BBQ better and learn the ropes by sharing my knowledge and experiences.

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