Barbecue Beef Rib Rub

Barbecue beef rib rub in a bowl with a spoon

The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
46 Calories
1g Fat
10g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 46
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 794mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 35mg 3%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 190mg 4%
*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.)

This beef rib rub combines the flavor elements of sweet and heat. You can adjust the heat by using mild or medium chili powder. If you really want to spice it up, then add an extra tablespoon of cayenne. This is the perfect rub for great barbecue beef ribs, and it can also be used in a marinade.

When smoking or slow-grilling beef ribs, choose back ribs (which have the bone) rather than short ribs, which are best cooked by a braising method. Back ribs are less expensive and they cook similarly to pork ribs.

As this rub contains sugar, it should only be used for smoking or slow grilling at a temperature below 265 F. Otherwise, the sugar can burn and ruin the taste.


  • 1/4 cup/60 milliliters paprika

  • 1/4 cup/60 milliliters mild or medium chili powder

  • 1/4 cup/60 milliliters brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup/60 milliliters ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters cayenne

  • 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Barbecue beef rib rub ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  2. Mix all of the spices—paprika, chili powder, brown sugar, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and salt—together in a mixing bowl.

    Barbecue beef rib rub ingredients mixed together in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  3. Store rub in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to six months.

    Barbecue beef rib rub in a jar

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

How to Use

  • Prepare the ribs. While you want to leave much of the fat intact, trim off any excess, especially any hanging pieces.
  • You will also want to remove the tough membrane from the back of the rack of ribs. This membrane will keep the smoke and seasonings from infusing the ribs. It would also toughen even more during cooking, resulting in ribs that are very difficult to eat. Use a blunt knife (such as a butter knife) or even a clean screwdriver to gently lift the membrane from the bone at one corner. Then use a paper towel to get a good grip and peel the membrane off.
  • Apply about 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of the rib rub to each side of the rack of ribs. Prepare the smoker and add the ribs.
  • Whether you use a marinade for beef ribs is a matter of choice. Many cooks simply use a rub and skip the marinating step. But if you use a marinade, it's best to use one that matches your rib rub. Obviously, a great way to do that is to season the marinade with the rib rub.
  • To use rub in a marinade, simply combine 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of the rib rub mixture with 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup acid of some kind(such as lime juice, lemon juice, or cider vinegar), plus 2 tablespoons water. Mix thoroughly until well dissolved. Pour over ribs, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours.
  • Discard any leftover marinade that has been in contact with the raw meat as it will be contaminated with bacteria.

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