BBQ Rubs - BBQ Rubs Recipes
Dry Rubs and Wet BBQ Rubs
My family and I do a lot of outdoor cooking – grilling, smoking, frying, and barbecuing. We use a lot of barbecue rubs. In case you aren’t familiar with the terminology, a BBQ rub is a blend of seasonings that’s literally rubbed into meat. BBQ rubs add flavor to any type of meat, and in some cases, they create a nice, crunchy coating on the meat’s exterior. In fact, my family and I think the best part of any grilled or smoked meat is the surface, thanks to my liberal use of a good BBQ rub. I like to classify my BBQ rubs into three categories of seasonings: savory, sweet, and hot. For us, the best BBQ rub usually includes all three types of seasonings, especially for pork and chicken. I’ll get into this in more detail, so stay tuned.
What’s a BBQ dry rub? A BBQ dry rub is just a mix of dry seasonings. There’s no magic formula for the best BBQ rub, and there’s really no right way or wrong way to create a BBQ rub recipe. I do recommend, however, using seasonings in dry rubs that are finely ground. Smaller particles make it easier for the seasonings to be absorbed into the flesh. If I’m going to use dry oregano in a BBQ dry rub, for example, I grind the herb first, creating sort of a powder. I’ve found that dry herbs are better to use in dry rubs than are fresh herbs – in most cases. The flavor is more concentrated in dried herbs, and they’re easier to powder. Dried herbs are about three times stronger than fresh herbs, by the way. In wet barbecue rubs, I might use fresh herbs. I’ll get into that later.
Wet BBQ Rubs
BBQ rubs can also be wet. Wet BBQ rubs are dry seasonings combined with some sort of liquid. Sometimes more than one type of liquid is used. For example, with a very lean cut of pork, I might use vinegar and oil with my seasonings. The oil adds some fat to the meat and helps to keep it moist and juicy throughout the grilling or smoking process.
In wet BBQ rubs, the liquid is often called the “vehicle.” That’s an apt term because the liquid helps carry the seasonings into the fat and muscle. This is especially the case if you use a liquid that’s high in acid, like vinegar, for example. Sometimes I use a combination of vinegar, fruit juices, and oil. Other wet ingredients you might like to try in your wet BBQ rubs recipes include wine, bourbon, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or Dale’s sauce.
Best BBQ Rub - BBQ Rub Recipe
Earlier, I stated that there’s no one best BBQ rub, and I stand by that. Of course, you’ll be able to find one that you like better than any others, so it will be the best BBQ rub for you. It’s all a matter of personal taste. If you’re totally new to making BBQ rubs, I’ll give you a basic BBQ rub recipe that you might like to try. It can be used on chicken or on any cut of pork. I suggest trying the rub on a small amount of meat first. After you taste the finished product, you can add or subtract ingredients and tweak the amounts of certain seasonings to customize your own BBQ rubs recipes. Be liberal in applying the rub! I usually pack on as much rub as the meat will hold, and I always get delicious results.
BBQ Rub Recipe:
BBQ Rub Recipe – Best BBQ Rub for Beginners
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup paprika
¼ cup salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons chipotle powder OR cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin
Directions: Combine ingredients and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Apply generously to meat.
For pork rubs, we like a little sweetness in our BBQ rubs, along with a good dose of heat. If you’re smoking or grilling a large piece of pork that has an exterior layer of fat, often called a fat cap, don’t remove all of it. As the felt melts, it will help keep the pork juicy and full of flavor. Unless the fat cap is especially thick, we don’t remove it at all. I like to really pack on pork rubs for a delicious bark. For fatty cuts of pork, I usually use dry pork rubs. Dry rubs seem to work best on Boston butts, and on bone-in pork loins, provided the loin has a sufficient layer of exterior fat. For lean cuts of pork like pork tenderloin, I usually prefer wet pork rubs.
Pork Rub Recipe
This basic pork rub recipe is good on any cut of fresh pork. It combines the flavors of sweet and savory, with a little heat. If I were making this for my family, I’d use more heat, but we all enjoy hot, spicy foods. If you’re using this pork rub recipe on a large piece of pork, like a Boston butt or a pork loin, wrap the meat up tightly once it’s been rubbed, and leave it in the fridge overnight. Just before placing the meat on the grill or smoker, give it another rubbing.
Pork Rub Recipe
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup paprika
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon chili powder
Directions: Combine all ingredients. If you want to turn this into a wet BBQ rub, add a little apple cider vinegar to make a thick paste.
For ribs rubs, I tweak my basic pork rub recipe, according to what kind of flavor I want to achieve with my BBQ ribs. I also usually try to think in advance of what type of barbecue sauce I’m going to be using on the BBQ ribs. I want the seasonings in my rib rubs to compliment or enhance the overall finished flavor of the ribs.
Because we like sweet-hot ribs, I use sweet seasonings and hot seasonings in most of my rib rubs. For sweet, I use brown sugar, along with ground cloves, cinnamon, or ground ginger. For heat, I might use chipotle powder, chili powder, or cayenne. For wet rib rubs, I might use apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, teriyaki, or apple juice.
Before applying rib rubs, you need to remove the fell from the slab or ribs. It’s the tough silver skin, the fascia. Peeling back this tough skin will allow the seasonings to work their magic. The following video will show you how to remove the silver skin.
How to Remove Membrane Before Applying Rib Rubs:
Pork Tenderloin Rub
In my humble opinion, a pork tenderloin rub should contain some moisture and some fat. In all honesty, I think a marinade works better than a BBQ rub for pork tenderloin, but I have used pork tenderloin rub that worked well on a smoker, with moist heat. For a good basic pork tenderloin rub, combine black pepper, minced garlic, dried thyme, dried rosemary, brown sugar, paprika, dry mustard, and onion powder. To the dry seasonings, add olive oil and some type of fruit juice – apple, pineapple, cherry, cranberry, or orange. Frozen orange juice concentrate that has been thawed is also great in a pork tenderloin rub. Because the orange juice concentrate is very sweet, you might want to decrease or even eliminate brown sugar from the BBQ rub.
We don’t usually like sweet elements in our steak rubs, but you might. We like savory seasonings in our steak rubs, usually with some heat. We also prefer wet steak rubs to dry rubs. If we’re cooking steaks that we think might be a little tough, we might add a little commercial meat tenderizer to the BBQ rub. For the wet vehicle, we might use Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Liquid Smoke, a commercial steak marinade, or brewed coffee. Our steak rubs usually include the following seasonings: black pepper, ground coriander, onion powder, garlic powder or minced garlic, chipotle powder, and white pepper. Believe it or not, dry ranch dressing mix is also good in steak rubs.
Steak Rub Recipe
This is a good basic steak rub recipe. Rub the steaks all over with the seasonings, and leave them in the fridge for about thirty minutes to an hour. If you leave them too long, the meat can become “mushy,” especially if you add commercial meat tenderizer to your steak rub. If the steaks are especially lean, add a little oil to the steak rub recipe.
Steak Rub Recipe
One tablespoon onion powder
Two teaspoons minced garlic
Two teaspoons black pepper
One teaspoon chipotle powder
One teaspoon white pepper
One teaspoon ground coriander
Two tablespoons Dale's liquid seasoning OR Worcestershire sauce
Directions: Combine dry seasonings and minced garlic. Add Worcestershire sauce. Massage steak rub into steaks, on both sides. Cover steaks and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
As with pork rubs, we like sweet chicken rubs. I generally use more garlic in my chicken rubs than I do in my pork rub recipe. I also use herbs in my chicken rubs, too. They really seem to compliment the flavor of grilled or smoked chicken. I might use parsley, rosemary, basil, and/or oregano. I might also add lemon pepper. If I’m going for a Caribbean-like flavor, I’ll also use allspice. I might even add some pre-sweetened powdered drink mix.
It’s important to get your chicken rub under the skin, as much as possible. This will allow the rub to penetrate the flesh better, instead of just remaining on the skin. Peel back the skin where you can, and after you’ve rubbed some seasonings under the skin, replace it. You might want to reattach the skin with a wooden toothpick.
Chicken doesn’t need to “cure” as long as other pieces of meat might. Four to six hours is usually long enough for chicken rubs to work. If you want to make a wet chicken rub, use liquids like lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, white wine, pineapple juice, or beer. You might also want to add just a little apple cider vinegar.
We always use a turkey rub before putting the bird on the smoker. Sometimes I use wet rubs, and sometimes I use dry rubs. I like for my turkey rub to reflect some of the flavors I use in my dressing, like celery, onions, sage, and thyme. A good basic turkey rub might include celery salt, brown sugar, powdered thyme, sage, ground rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper.
For a wet turkey rub, I usually add a little oil to the dry seasonings. I good way to get lots of flavor into the meat is to use fresh herbs. Chop the herbs and add them to the oil. Microwave for just a few seconds, until the herbs are aromatic. The heated oil releases and intensifies the inherent flavors of the herbs. Allow the flavored oil to cool before using the turkey rub.
As with chicken rubs, some of the turkey rub need to get under the skin. Be sure to reattach the skin after rubbing the bird because the skin will help keep the turkey flesh from getting too dry. Also, because a turkey is a big bird, I let it cure overnight. Just before we put the gobbler on the smoker, I add some more dry seasonings and some vinegar-based hot sauce like Louisiana hot sauce.
BBQ Rubs Recipes
I've created a table to give you some ideas for creating your own BBQ rubs recipes. Don't be afraid to experiment with seasonings! With some creativity and some adventurous spirit, you just might come up with the world's best BBQ rub!
Seasonings for BBQ Rubs Recipes
Dale's liquid seasoning
dry lemonade mix
hot prepared mustard
fruit punch powder
orange juice concentrate
red pepper flakes
apple cider vinegar
dried chili peppers
Take the poll! Thanks!
On which meat do you use a BBQ rub?See results without voting
More grilling tips and BBQ recipes:
- Southern Pulled Pork Recipe
A step-by-step guide for a great pulled pork recipe. Photos and videos included.
- Best Burgers: Quick and Easy Recipes for Homemade Hamburgers
Several great hamburger recipes are included here!
- Product Reviews: Paula Deen Grilling Marinades
- Grilling Tips - BBQ Recipes
Loads of info - grilling tips, BBQ recipes, BBQ rubs, marinades, and Weber grills. Lots of photos and great videos!
More by this Author
Great tips for tenderizing tough cuts of meat!
Crabmeat is one of the most succulent and delicious of all types of flesh. In fact, it’s near the very top of my list, and I’ve spent years catching and cooking the shelled critters! I've come up with some...
Tips for getting your disability claim approved quickly—from someone who's done it. Lots of good feedback and advice from readers, too!