Rubs and smoke rings

Tim K

I read somewhere on here that a particular ingredient helped produce a better smoke ring when used in your rubs. I know, I’m not delusional and realize no one ingredient is going to produce a magical perfect smoke ring, but if I’m leaving something simple out of my rubs that could help produce a better smoke ring, by all means, I would like to try it. I make all my own rubs, and am at a point where I have to make more before I put a brisket on the WSM this weekend so I figured now would be a great time to ask what the ingredient was...
Thanks in advance,

Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Platinum Member
I really don't like the idea of people putting cure#1 (containing sodium nitrite) on their brisket (unless you want to make pastrami). When you are actually curing meat you give the nitrite time to react with the meat and much of it is dissipated in this process. Typically you rinse off any excess. J is right in that celery seed will do the same thing. Celery seed also has "nitrates" which partially cure the meat giving you a fake smoke ring. If you put it on the night before this will give it time to partially cure. With celery seed you can at least tell yourself you did it for the flavor. I've seen pictures of briskets (not on this site) where you can tell people used some curing agent and it just doesn't look right.


Curing is darn near instantaneous reaction.
No wait time necessary unless your trying to permeate thick meat.

Add ground celery seed to rub....and i predict your smoke ring, or lack thereof, troubles will be over.

Seriously, yes, it works.

Tim K

Great info, thank you all. I watched the video from Harry Soo, he does a great job not only teaching, but also explaining as well. My last several cooks have been at higher temps due to time constraints, so that may also play part in my diminishing smoke ring. I may give the celery seed a try on my next brisket rub just to see the difference it makes. Thanks again for all the help guys; yet again another reason I love this site!

Brad Olson

TVWBB All-Star
Tim, try splitting the rub into halves. Leave one as is and add celery seed to the other, and then carefully rub the brisket in halves as well. Seems like doing it this way would give you a way to instantly compare the differences in both smoke rings and flavors.

I add celery seed to my rib rub (last night's back ribs had a nice ring) but have generally ignored it for butts. I'll have to give it a shot sometime, too.

As an aside, I crush/grind the celery seed between my palms before adding it to a rub.