This is the only BBQ Dry Rub recipe you’ll ever need! This rub is an all-purpose blend of sweet, savory and spicy barbecue seasonings. It’s so simple to make and perfect for all of your grilling and barbecue needs!
It’s incredibly versatile and pairs perfectly with everything – from beef and pork to chicken and fish, or even vegetables and potatoes! Simply sprinkle it on and await an explosion of American BBQ flavor!
Homemade BBQ Dry Rub
This homemade spice blend is the perfect way to infuse bold barbecue flavor into meats, pork, chicken, seafood, vegetables and more!
This multi-purpose BBQ rub is savory, sweet and spicy in taste with subtle notes of smokey and earthy flavors. It’s the perfect mix to have on hand when you want bodacious BBQ, but don’t want to leave the comfort of your home! It’s easily mixed together in a matter of mere minutes and perfect for all of your grilling and barbecuing needs! Or, you can use it to jazz up roasted chicken, crock pot brisket, instant pot pulled pork and more!!
Plus, this barbecue spice rub recipe is totally customizable and allows you to be in control of the flavor profile! Make this rub as hot and spicy or mild and sweet as you and your family like! (Scroll down to read about how to customize this blend.)
While store-bought rubs can be convenient, they are often overloaded with salt and unhealthy additives. This rub is made with common pantry spices and seasonings – and zero weird or unhealthy ingredients! It’s all about brilliant barbecue flavor with little to no effort and absolutely zero additives! Plus, it’s a great way to use up any seasonings you have hanging around your kitchen!
What is bbq rub?
A rub is a mix of various spices, seasonings and flavoring ingredients applied directly to the outside of raw meat, poultry or seafood before cooking. The rub forms a coating on food and is used to provide flavor and develop texture. A great rub can easily transform a plain piece of meat from boring and bland to outstanding and flavorful!
Rubs can be dry or wet. A dry rub is made of a blend of spices and seasonings, without any wet ingredients; whereas a wet rub includes some type of liquid flavoring ingredient(s).
What’s the difference between a rub and a brine?
While rubs and brines both provide flavor and enhance the texture of meat, they are not the same thing.
A brine stays on a piece of meat for a long period of time before being rinsed off and cooked. However, a rub is applied directly to the meat shortly before it is cooked – it is never rinsed off or removed.
Why use a dry rub?
While there is nothing wrong with wet rubs, dry rubs have a couple advantages!
- Perfect sear: Dry rubs don’t add any additional moisture to the outside of meat. Moisture on the surface of meat needs to evaporate before any sear can develop. Therefore, dry rubs are a faster way to develop a beautifully caramelized crust on a piece of meat.
- Complex flavor: You can still incorporate a liquid element, such as a glaze or BBQ sauce, during the last few minutes of cooking! By layering a dry rub with a wet sauce or glaze you can achieve a more complex flavor – meaning, meat with a well-seasoned, caramelized exterior and a concentrated, saucy finish.
What spices are in bbq rub?
Barbecue rubs are made up of two primary flavors – salty and sweet – which delivers a solid foundation of seasoning and flavor, plus a base for caramelization. The simplest dry rub is made from salt, pepper and brown sugar. However, a great dry rub will incorporate more taste elements, such as spicy, smoky or earthy flavors.
This all-purpose barbecue dry rub combines a good dose of salt, pepper and sugar with other flavor enhancers to create a mixture that provides an explosion of flavor!
Ingredients in rub:
- Brown sugar: Sugar is essential for sweetness and caramelization. You can use light or dark brown sugar depending on your preference. Use dark brown sugar if you want a more intense molasses flavor.
- Cumin: Ground cumin lends a delicious earthiness to the mix.
- Salt: Salt is an absolute necessity as it enhances the flavor of food! Make sure you use kosher salt for the best flavor!
- Smoked Paprika: This variety of paprika provides a smoky flavor that is still slightly sweet without any heat. You can substitute sweet or hot paprika if desired!
- Black Pepper: Coarsely ground black pepper provides a subtle earthiness and woody flavor.
- Onion Powder: While onion powder doesn’t taste exactly like fresh onions, it does provide a good amount of savory flavor.
- Garlic Powder: Made from dehydrated and ground garlic cloves, garlic powder adds a subtle fullness of savory flavor.
- Chili Powder: A high quality chili powder adds a depth of flavor and a good amount of heat.
- Cayenne: Cayenne offers plenty of kick without overpowering other flavors.
What can I add to bbq seasoning?
This BBQ spice rub recipe is very flexible and easily customizable! You can get as involved and creative with your seasoning mix as you’d like! No matter what you decide to add, just remember to keep a balance between all the elements – sweet, savory and spicy. No one is going to enjoy a rub that’s 95% heat!
- Sugar: Play around with the varieties of sugar in your rub. Try adding granulated or turbinado sugar to the mix!
- Mustard Powder: Ground mustard can add tangy heat and sharp flavor.
- Crushed Fennel Seeds: Toasted and ground fennel seeds add a slightly sweet, licorice-like taste.
- Dried Oregano: Aromatic oregano lends a slightly bitter, earthy flavor.
- Coriander: Ground coriander provides an earthy and floral taste.
- Sumac: Fragrant sumac lends an acidic flavor that can bright up a dry rub.
- Spicy elements: Crushed red pepper flakes, ground chipotle pepper or hot paprika are a great addition if you want a spicy rub!
How to make bbq spice rub?
Homemade bbq dry rub seasoning is incredibly simple to make! In just a few minutes you can create a glorious, aromatic combination of spices that will add an explosion of barbecue flavor to various meats, chicken and fish!
(Scroll down for the detailed measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.)
- Gather spices: Collect all of the spice ingredients needed to prepare rub.
- Measure: Measure each ingredient into a medium-sized bowl. Or, if you are a little clumsy (like me!), measure each spice into a small prep bowl before adding it to a larger bowl – this helps if you measure something incorrectly and need to fix it!
- Mix: Use a whisk or fork to fully combine all ingredients. Optional: For a rub with a super fine texture, combine all the ingredients together in a food processor or spice grinder. Process until mixture resembles a coarse powder.
- Store: Transfer rub to an airtight container or resealable bag. Store in a cool, dry place.
- Use: Sprinkle the rub onto meat. Use your hands to vigorously rub the spices into the meat.
How to store it?
Store dry rubs in an airtight container or resealable bag in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight. The pantry or a dark cabinet are excellent places to store homemade bbq rubs.
Properly stored, a rub will keep for up to 6 months. However, for the best flavor, use the rub within 2 months.
Pro-tips on storage:
- If you use a resealable bag, make sure you remove as much air as possible before sealing.
- Make sure you label and date the bag or jar so you know when it expires!
- The mixture may slightly harden overtime due to the moisture content in brown sugar. Stir or shake the rub to loosen it up. Or, add the rub to a food processor and pulse it!
Can BBQ spice rub go bad?
While a dry rub will never actually spoil, the spices will lose their flavor and become bland.
How to use a BBQ dry rub?
Barbecue rub is an incredibly versatile ingredient! You can use it on ribs, burgers, pork, steaks, lamb, chicken, shrimp, salmon – literally anything you want to taste like American barbecue.
The most popular cooking method used with spice rubs is barbecuing. However, any dry heat method of cooking may be used, such as grilling, smoking, baking, roasting or sautéing. Or, you can apply the rub to meat and add it to the slow cooker, crockpot or instant pot!
How to apply it?
Dry rubs are the best way to infuse flavor into your meats! While there are no hard or fast rules, rubs should be applied directly to meats before cooking.
- Dry meat: Blot the meat dry by patting it with paper towels.
- Drizzle with oil – optional: You can drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil onto the meat to help the dry rub adhere if desired. Just make sure you massage the oil into the meat to evenly coat.
- Coat meat: Shake or sprinkle the spices evenly over the meat.
- Rub: Use your hands to vigorously rub the mixture into the meat, taking care to get the seasonings into any nooks and crannies! Also, make sure you lift up any thick skins, like those found on chicken, so you get the rub directly onto the meat!
- Chill – optional: You can cook the rubbed meat right away. Or, you can transfer the rubbed meat into an airtight container or resealable bag and store it in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours. As the rub sits on the meat, the more the flavor will develop into the meat. Keep in mind meat needs to come to room temperature before cooking.
- Cook: Transfer meat directly to barbecue and cook as you normally would. Enjoy!
How much to use?
You should use 2 to 4 teaspoons of barbecue seasoning per pound of meat, depending on how much flavor you want.
For example, a 3-pound rack of ribs will need 2 to 4 tablespoons of rub.
This barbecue dry rub recipe is incredibly easy to prepare and made with simple pantry seasonings, yet it packs tons of flavor! It will become your go-to blend for all things BBQ!
Make a big batch to have on hand, or package it in little jars and give it as gifts! Either which way, you are sure to get rave reviews!
Until next week, friends, cheers – to bodacious BBQ!
Looking for more grilling recipes?
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The best Homemade BBQ Dry Rub recipe👇
BBQ Dry Rub Seasoning
- Mixing Bowl
- Whisk or Fork
- Food Processor (optional)
- 2-3 TBS Brown Sugar (SEE NOTES)
- 2 TBS Cumin
- 1 ½ - 2 TBS Kosher Salt - to taste
- 1 TBS Smoked Paprika
- 1 TBS Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Cayenne
- Gather and measure spices: Collect all of the spice ingredients needed to prepare rub. Measure each ingredient into a medium-sized bowl. (Or, if you are a little clumsy, measure each spice into a small prep bowl before adding it to a larger bowl – this helps if you measure something incorrectly!!
- Mix: Combine all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Stir well to fully combine. Use a fork, spoon or your fingers to make sure all of the brown sugar is completely broken up and no large clumps remain.
- Optional - For a fine textured rub: Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor and process until combined. (SEE NOTE)
- Store: Transfer mixture to an airtight container or resealable bag. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
- To use: Generously sprinkle the seasoning onto meats, pork, chicken, shrimp, etc. Use your hands to rub the mixture into the meat just before grilling or cooking.
- Sugar is essential for sweetness and caramelization. If you prefer a sweeter BBQ rub, use 3 tablespoons of sugar. You can use light or dark brown sugar depending on your preference. Use dark brown sugar if you want a more intense molasses flavor. Or, you can play around with granulated or turbinado sugar if desired!
- Salt is an absolute necessity as it enhances the flavor of food! Make sure you use kosher salt for the best flavor!
- Food Processor: The brown sugar in the spice rub has a tendency to clump together when stored. I find that running the rub through the food processor not only gives the rub a better, finer texture, it also helps prevent the brown sugar from clumping.
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