How Mustard Tenderizes Smoked Meat

Posted on: January 16, 2023

If you traverse the various food smoking forums, articles, and posts from your fellow pitmasters, the general consensus is that most people use mustard so that the rub adheres to the meat. Everyone also says that you can’t even taste the mustard when the meat is done, is this all true? Well, read on to find out!

Instead of letting some of a spice rub melt off with the slowly melting fat, the mustard actually binds it better to the meat. This is especially true of meats where a good volume of the meat is lost to fat. If you like smoked meat with an awesome, flavorful bark, then add a layer of mustard to it.

Long ago, someone figured out that mustard tends to lose most of its flavor if it sits in a smoker for a long period of time. However, mustard is a good sticky substance perfect for holding dry seasonings on meat. Hence, the method of mustard rubbing meat was invented. There are a couple of ways you can do this but the basic idea is the same. A thin layer of mustard on the surface of meats will hold dry rubs in place while the meat is smoked. ie. This is a perfect method for ribs or pulled pork.

This Is How Mustard Tenderizes Smoked Meat

The mustard flavor will have almost completely disappeared once the meat has completed smoking and is ready to be served. The mustard actually works to tenderize the meat and you will notice little more than a thin crust of it over the surface of the meat. In fact, mustard can help to produce the crust that is so sought after in traditional barbecue. Another way to do the mustard rub is to simply add your dry rub to enough mustard to coat the meat.

How to Use Mustard for a Rub

To successfully use mustard in your smoking, you can start by preparing the meat to be smoked, patting it dry with paper towels, and then coating it with a thin layer of mustard.

Pro tip: You don’t actually have to use expensive mustard! Cheap, basic prepared yellow mustard works great.

Now you can pat your rub all over the surface of your mustard. The dry rub will stick to the mustard. All you have to do is be a little gentle with the mustard coating to keep from wiping it off. Then wrap the prepared meat in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight. The vinegar in the mustard actually works to pick up the flavors from the rub and carry it into the meat. From this point, smoke the meat as usual.

How To Smoke Tenderized Pulled Pork

How to make smoked pulled pork in a Bradley Smoker. In this video, Joe does a little experiment to see if there’s a difference between pulled pork made with and without mustard. Watch this video to see the interesting results!

0:00​ Introduction

0:47​ Preparing the rub

4:13​ Adding the mustard for the taste test

5:56​ Smoking time

7:48​ End result and comparison Ingredients:


1.4 kilos of pork roast

For the rub:

2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Measure 1% of salt per 1000 grams = 14 grams of salt per roast portion
  2. Then add two teaspoons of paprika onto the salt and 1 teaspoon of garlic and 2 teaspoons of course ground pepper
  3. Use a shaker and baste the cure onto the one roast
  4. Then pop it onto the Bradley Smoker rack
  5. You will add mustard onto the other roast then pat the cure on
  6. Then load both roasts into the smoker.
  7. Smoke at 240F (115.6C), cook time 8-9 hours, smoke time 3 hours with 9 hickory bisquettes
  8. After 3 hours take out the roasts

We hope you learned something valuable from our tip on how to smoke meat with our mustard technique. Don’t forget to tune in weekly for new recipes and blog posts on the Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog. Happy smoking!