Mayo on Ribs: The Best Binder Alternative to Mustard?

Smoked Ribs with Mayo

I was listening to my buddy Joe on the Man Meat BBQ podcast the other day and heard an intriguing idea.

Coating the ribs in mayonnaise before applying the dry rub.


Joe mentioned he had read about the idea on one of the bbq forums and I immediately knew where this was going.

Folks have been using mayo as a base coat on their chicken for years.  Some people swear it is their secret weapon for chicken.

The oils, fats and sugars in mayonnaise just “melt” through chicken during the cooking process and results in a noticeably juicier product.  If it works for chicken there is no reason to think it wouldn’t work for ribs!

Testing Mayo as a Binder for Ribs

I decided to put this idea to the test by smoking two slabs of ribs side by side.  One slab got rubbed with a great commercial rib rub.  The other slab was painted with a 1:1 mix of rib rub and mayonnaise (on the right).

Mayo Ribs Comparison Test

I smoked these ribs low and slow for six hours.  I didn’t use any foil, apple juice, etc.

After a few hours of smoking the slabs still looked quite different.

Mayo Ribs after Two Hours of Smoking

But by the time the ribs were just about done you really couldn’t tell the slabs apart.

Side by Side Rib Comparison

I gave both slabs a thin coat of Sweet Baby Ray and let them go until the sauce set.

The end result….drum roll please……..

Sliced Ribs with Mayo Binder

Nobody could tell a single difference between the two slabs of ribs.

Same flavor, smokiness, moisture.

There still might be something to pursue in the whole mayo and ribs idea and these ribs were a nice change of pace from the usual 2-2-1 smoked baby backs.  I will let others explore those possibilities.

Other Rib Binder Alternatives

If you are one of those folks that hate using mustard as a binder then mayo is an absolutely acceptable alternative.

Other alternatives to mustard that you could consider are:

  • Olive Oil
  • Pam Cooking Spray
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Just skip the binder completely.

All in all this mayo experiment made for a nice day playing with my Weber kettle and eating ribs.

I learned a little something along the way.

That’s a good day.

Related Post: How Long to Smoke Baby Back Ribs