Top 10 Barbecue Rub Recipes

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.


1.  Carolina BBQ Rub

This 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.


  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper


2.  Memphis Rub

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.


  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup mild chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice


3. Basic Pork Rub

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 classic pork rub is perfect for smoked pork roasts. It's a particular favorite for pulled pork, so try it when you make pulled pork sandwiches or rub it on pork ribs before grilling.  However, this basic rub recipe can be used for ribs and chops too.


  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4. Best Odds Brisket Rub

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.

This traditional brisket rub is most commonly used in Texas. Though simple to make, this rub recipe contains what you need to make a delicious smoked barbecue brisket. Think of it as a perfect starting point if you are just beginning to experiment with making your own barbecue rub. It uses everyday, pantry staple ingredients that you likely already have (or can easily buy and will use again and again). It is easy to double or triple the recipe and once made, can be stored in a sealed container in your spice cabinet. Then it will be ready anytime you need it.

Once you taste the flavors of this rub, you can decide if you want to change the ratio of any of the spices or add additional spices for other homemade rubs. As you learn your preferences, you can add more salt, heat, or other flavors like smoked paprika, cinnamon, or anything else.

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.

Think beyond just brisket with this tasty Texas rub. This rub can also be used on steaks, ribs, and other cuts of meat. The point of rubs is twofold. They are meant to infuse the cut of meat with distinct flavors and also help form a crusty surface as the meat cooks.


  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons salt

5. Memphis-Style Rib Rub

Memphis ribs are traditionally served without sauce, though this doesn't mean that the meat is tough and dried out,  there just isn't a barbecue sauce. 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.  You can adjust the heat by changing the amount of cayenne.


  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne

6. Magic Dust

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.


  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne

7 Kansas City Rib Rub

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.


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8. Best Odds Pulled Pork Rub

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.


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard 

9. Brisket Brown Sugar Rub

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.


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/3 cup  chili powder 


10.  Sweet and Spicy Dry Rub

Herbs, spices, salt and brown sugar, plus a kick of cayenne pepper, give this dry rub a complex flavor. It's great on a roast chicken or rotisserie chicken, or on roast or grilled pork. 


  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper