What Is: A Binder

For years, BBQ cooks have used “binders” to help “glue” their seasoning onto their food. From mustard to olive oil, it seems people have tried everything possible to help keep their seasoning intact. Opinions on whether binders are necessary or not varies greatly but, until you try it for yourself, it’s hard to really gauge it. 

Mustard may seem like the oddest one. Why am I putting mustard onto my raw pork butt; won’t it burn?! The answer is: no, it won’t burn. It won’t taste like mustard, either. It will help keep your seasoning on the pork butt. Mustard is actually a smart idea for pork because it is vinegar based and, as many of us know, pork and vinegar are a match made in BBQ heaven!

I’ve personally used pickle juice a few times as a binder for my chicken. This is a great pairing and works well for my copycat Chick-Fil-A smoked chicken sandwich recipe.

Olive oil is an effective binder when dealing with poultry. It’s one of the more expensive option but it has a great burn point and will help keep your dry rub on the product. 

The one I’ve been saying more and more on our group page is: mayonnaise. Mayo is a fantastic binder and you cannot taste it’s “mayo-y” (is that even a word?!) flavors. Try it sometime on grilled cheese (as a substitute to butter) and you’ll quickly learn the taste dissolves away during the cooking process.

What do I personally do? I go with: no binder. I, in turn, season my product a few hours before I plan to smoke (overnight is best) and let the rub permeate into the meat. Wrapping in plastic wrap helps the process, too.

Overall, a binder isn’t really necessary but it is fun to try. Give it a whirl and go with your own personal opinion!


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