Kansas City Rib Rub

A rack of ribs with row of spices for making Kansas City rub

The Spruce / Claire Cohen

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
48 Calories
0g Fat
12g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 48
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 605mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 1g
Calcium 19mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Kansas City knows barbecue ribs. The city lays claim to this beloved smoked rib and has its own combination of spices for rubbing on the rack. This barbecue pork rib rub recipe for traditional Kansas City-style ribs is an excellent way to season the meat. It includes a variety of common spices along with brown sugar for sweetness. Inexpensive and quick to mix up, the made-from-scratch rub has an impressive flavor and is enough for six rib racks.

Eat as is, or brush these ribs with a good barbecue sauce if you prefer the finger-licking finish. This dry rub is so good that you'll want to keep a shaker bottle handy to sprinkle on chicken, pork chops, and sweet potatoes, too.


Click Play to See This Kansas City-Style Dry Rub Recipe Come Together


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Kansas City rib rub
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients together.

    Kansas City rib rub ingredients are combined in a bowl
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  3. Either use immediately or transfer to an airtight container. The rub can be stored up to six months in a cool, dark place.

    Cooked ribs on a slate alongside Kansas City rib rub in a Mason jar
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

How to Use the Rib Rub

When you're ready to use the rub, be sure that the ribs are dry to the touch. Use paper towels to wipe the ribs dry before applying the rub evenly and generously. As a general rule, the amount of rub that sticks to the meat is perfect; stop adding it once the spices begin to fall off. The dry rub is designed to be cooked slow and low (barbecued or smoked rather than grilled; high heat can burn the rub). While a smoker is preferred in Kansas City, use your preferred method to cook the ribs:

When Should the Rub Be Added to the Ribs?

Salt and sugar are the key ingredients to a good barbecue rib rub. If you leave the rub on ribs too long, the salt can actually begin to cure the meat and result in a "hammy" flavor. Rather than letting it sit for hours like a marinade or with other meats, dry rib rubs like this are best applied just before cooking—between 10 and 30 minutes is ideal. Although, it won't hurt to rub the ribs an hour in advance.

Is a Binder Like Oil or Mustard Necessary?

In some barbecue recipes, mustard or oil is added before the rub to bind the spices to the meat. Kansas City ribs rely on the natural moisture of the meat instead. Even when patted dry, there should be no problems getting it to stick, so a binder is not needed.

What's the Difference Between Kansas City and Memphis Ribs?

The two cities are famous for their barbecue ribs. Both are delicious, but each takes a different approach. Kansas City ribs use a sweet rub with more spices, and many people enjoy them slathered in a Kansas City rib sauce that's also on the sweeter side. For Memphis-style ribs, the rub skips or significantly reduces the brown sugar. Instead of chili and garlic powders, it spices up the rub with more cayenne, and the preference is for a dry rib without sauce.

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