Drilling fluids show significant role in the success of drilling operations of oil and gas well. Lubricating and rheological properties are important for efficient drilling leading to improved oil/gas production. The current work deals with assessing the lubricating properties of 16 different water-based drilling fluids using five lubricants and scrutinizing their consequence on the rheology of the mud, filtration properties and mud cake thickness. Experiments are carried out at 90 °C by hot rolling the drilling fluids. After aging, the rheological, API HPHT filtration loss, and lubricating properties of mud are measured at ambient conditions. The results have been discussed in relation to the effect of lubricants on the recovery performance of oil and gas from reservoir. Increased lubrication provides enhancement in rate of penetration, with improved drilling efficiency into the oil and gas reservoir rock formation. The HPHT filter press test showed permissible fluid loss for all the drilling fluid systems containing lubricants with thin and impermeable filter cake formation. The thin mud cake and less fluid loss into the reservoir indicate less reservoir damage while drilling thus indicating enhanced recovery of oil and gas during production operation. © 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.