Top Barbecue Rub Recipes

Kansas city rub

Claire Cohen

These rubs cover everything from pulled pork to brisket. Most can be made ahead of time in large quantities and stored in the cupboard.

These spice blends are designed to flavor meats while creating a crusty surface as the meat cooks. The amount to apply is the amount that sticks; simply pat dry your meat before applying a rub, sprinkle over the entire surface and gently pat in place (as in this pork shoulder roast with dry spice rub). Some pitmasters think the rub amount should be one tablespoon per pound of meat, while others think that the amount should be eyeballed until you think it looks "right." In either case, over-applying won't hurt much, so stick with your instincts.

Take a look through these fantastic rub recipes and find the one that suits your palate best.

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  • 01 of 09

    Carolina BBQ Rub

    Spices for Carolina BBQ Rub
    Claire Cohen

    Chuck Ozburn sent in this fantastic, classic-style Carolina barbecue rub recipe. It's perfect for pork because it's a well-balanced rub that goes light on the salt and spice, with just a touch of sweetness from white and brown sugar.

    Try this rub next time you want to make a traditional Carolina Pulled Pork, or experiment and use it on chicken or turkey breast.

  • 02 of 09

    Memphis Rub

    Memphis Rib Rub
    Claire Cohen

    In Memphis, the rub is the most important ingredient aside from the meat. Often ribs are served with only a rub and without sauce. This means that the barbecue rub has to provide all the flavor in order to make Memphis-style barbecue.

    This rub starts with a generous portion of paprika and then builds a slightly spicy, but definitely savory profile. This is particularly good on ribs but can be used on any smoked meat; try it on Memphis-style ribs.

  • 03 of 09

    Magic Dust

    Magic Dust
    Claire Cohen

    Who would have thought that just 9 ingredients could make such a delicious seasoning? There's a big shaker of Magic Dust next to the salt and pepper in my own kitchen and at all my restaurants. This incredibly flavorful rub can be used on any meat, but also on fries or oven fries, either classic or sweet potato.

    To make it more hot and spicy, increase the mustard powder and black pepper to 1/4 cup each. Try adding the rub to these crispy chicken thighs, or sprinkle it on white fish fillets before grilling.

  • 04 of 09

    Basic Pork Rub

    Basic Pork Rub
    Claire Cohen

    This basic rub recipe goes great on any cut of pork, and because it has some salt in it, it's a convenient and simple mix of spices to have at hand. We love this mix for its high black pepper content, which gives the rub a nice heat without a lot of the chili pepper effect.

    This is a great rub for ribs or pulled pork, so try it when you make pulled pork sandwiches or rub it on pork ribs before grilling.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Best Odds Brisket Rub

    Best Odds Brisket
    Claire Cohen 

    This basic rub will give you the perfect balance of sweet and salty to make your beef shine. Commonly used in Texas, it is easy to make and contains everything you need for a delicious smoked barbecue brisket. Experiment with the measurements and check other brisket rubs to find what suits your palate best.

    Because this cut of meat is tough, although very flavorful, it benefits from long cooking times that help break down the collagen and tenderize the meat. Perfect for the rub to kick in and infuse the meat with rich flavors.

  • 06 of 09

    Memphis-Style Rib Rub

    Memphis Rib Rub
    Claire Cohen

    Memphis ribs are traditionally served without sauce, though this doesn't mean that the meat is tough and dried out. It's just the common practice not to serve a ​barbecue sauce with this cut of meat. With just 5 ingredients, and sugar-free, this rub is all flavor without the sweet and is great for ribs in the smoker, grill or oven.

    This traditional dry rib rub is great for Memphis-style ribs or as a base for a rack ​of pork ribs.

  • 07 of 09

    Kansas City Rib Rub

    Kansas city rub
    Claire Cohen

    Kansas City knows its BBQ ribs. Unlike Memphis ribs, which are served without sauce, you can finish Kansas-style ribs off with a good barbecue sauce.

    This rib rub recipe is largely comprised of brown sugar, so it makes a deliciously sweet rub. It's not recommended, however, for hot and fast cooking because the sugar will burn, so avoid high temperatures when using it.

  • 08 of 09

    Best Odds Pulled Pork Rub

    Spices for Best Odds
    Claire Cohen

    Like its name says, this traditional pulled pork rub will provide you with the best odds of making a great batch of Carolina-style pulled pork. Once the meat is cooked, feel free to sprinkle some more on top for a fantastic punch of flavor.

    The dry mustard in the mix won't overpower the meat, but certainly adds a lot of flavor with just a touch of heat. Check our suggested sauces for pulled pork to create an out-of-this-world sandwich or taco bar.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Brisket Brown Sugar Rub

    Brisket Brown Sugar Rub
    Claire Cohen

    If you have enough time, rub your brisket with this rub and keep overnight in a bag in the fridge before smoking. Adjust the heat by using mild or hot chili powder, or experiment with the amount of sugar to find your preference.

    Because of its sugar content, this rub will crystallize and become hard, so it's best to prepare enough each time for one-time use. If you do have leftover rub, keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container.