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BBQ Rubs - BBQ Rubs Recipes

Try some of my BBQ rubs!

Try some of my BBQ rubs!

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.

Dry rubs give meats a great "bark."

Dry rubs give meats a great "bark."

Dry Rubs

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.

Sometimes I use wet BBQ rubs on pork loins.

Sometimes I use wet BBQ rubs on pork loins.

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.

Try my BBQ rub recipe on a pork roast.

Try my BBQ rub recipe on a pork roast.

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.

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Pork rubs work great on Boston butts.

Pork rubs work great on Boston butts.

Pork Rubs

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.

Use rib rubs on BBQ ribs.

Use rib rubs on BBQ ribs.

Rib Rubs

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:

If you're going to use a bacon wrap, apply pork tenderloin rub first.

If you're going to use a bacon wrap, apply pork tenderloin rub first.

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.

Try a steak rub.

Try a steak rub.

Steak rubs work well on rib roasts, too.

Steak rubs work well on rib roasts, too.

Steak Rubs

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.

Try my steak rub recipe on ribeyes, strip steaks, porterhouse, or T-bones.

Try my steak rub recipe on ribeyes, strip steaks, porterhouse, or T-bones.

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.

Chicken rubs add lots of flavor!

Chicken rubs add lots of flavor!

Chicken Rubs

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 smoking our gobbler.

We always use a turkey rub before smoking our gobbler.

Turkey Rub

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





Worcestershire sauce

brown sugar

chipotle powder

soy sauce



Dale's liquid seasoning

dry lemonade mix

chili powder

white pepper


dry mustard

lemon pepper

ground cloves

hot sauce






black pepper


cane syrup

wasabi powder


maple syrup

hot prepared mustard



pepper vinegar


fruit juices

grated horseradish


fruit punch powder

chili paste


orange juice concentrate

red pepper flakes


limeade concentrate

Tabasco sauce

onion powder

white wine

habanero sauce


red wine


celery salt

balsamic vinegar


Liquid Smoke

apple cider vinegar

dried chili peppers

BBQ Rubs:

Take the poll! Thanks!

More grilling tips and BBQ recipes:


Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on May 31, 2013:

CS, glad you got some new BBQ ideas!

Craig Gibson from Traverse City Michigan on April 23, 2013:

Well done. I enjoy slow cooking boston butts, so this article gave me some new ideas for my dry rubs. Thank you for so much information.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 19, 2013:

Fullof love, I'm glad you stopped by for a read and stayed long enough to post a comment. I like using fresh garlic smetimes in wet rubs, too. And I love garlic juice in many of my recipes!

FullOfLoveSites from United States on April 19, 2013:

Like you habee, I don't like sweet elements too much on the rubs and also the BBQ sauces. But to each his own hehehehe.

I use garlic in addition to few of the spices in your list. Crushed garlic in particular so that the its juice will be absorbed by the meat. Nice flavor too. I'll try the other spices mentioned here too :)

I'll bookmark this hub. It's summer here in my place and what a good time to have a backyard BBQ. Thanks for posting. :)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 10, 2013:

Marshall, I really like the idea of the garlic IN the roast. Did you use slivered garlic?

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 10, 2013:

Wayseeker, that's great! Thanks for sharing that with me. I vary between wet rubs and dry rubs.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 10, 2013:

Random, making your own BBQ rubs is easy! Good to see you, BTW.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 10, 2013:

Awwww...what a sweet thing to say, Romano!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 10, 2013:

lol, mts. I know what you mean. I try to avoid reading a lot of food hubs when I'm hungry.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 10, 2013:

Thanks a bunch, Connie! I love experimenting with BBQ rubs, as you can see.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 10, 2013:

Thanks, Nare. Does he like southern BBQ? lol

MarshallGulch on April 08, 2013:

I made my first Boston Butt Bone In Roast last night. I used a rub of olive oil,crushed oregano,thyme,sea salt, and garlic shake. Just the two of us so, 3 # roast 3 hours and let rest 10 minutes covered. Oh, for good measure, i pre stuffed it with garlic pods. 2 cans of beef broth in the dutch oven 40 year old roaster. Oh and i basted with the broth on the hour for the first two hours. Came out with the lightest tinge of pink and Oh so moist. Thanks to hub pages and crazy horses ghost. I was a star.

wayseeker from Colorado on June 11, 2012:

Used the dry rub last week--awesome. I've never known how to create a decent rub, and this gives me a GREAT place to start. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions here!

Pinned and Shared.


Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 13, 2012:

My husband and I use rubs for steaks. I would love to start making my own rubs and to start using them on additional meats, too. Thanks for the great resources!

Romano Arnesto from Philippines on May 13, 2012:

Count me in. I always admire, Ms. Habee's food hubs! :D

BBQ is just great!!!

mts1098 on May 13, 2012:

wasabi powder...grated pepper flakes...tabasco and habanero in the same are speaking my language...I have got to stop reading food hubs before breakfast :)

Connie Smith from Tampa Bay, Florida on May 12, 2012:

Wow, this is a fantastic article! I am saving it in my list of favorites. Everyone of these meats look delicious. I think I'm ocming to your house for dinner, uninvited! Actually, I guess I'll have to try one of these here at home, but I got really, really hungry looking at those pictures!

Nare Gevorgyan on May 12, 2012:

Ohhh BBQ! My bf would love to read this hub! He just loves BBQ so much! You have great recipes and well explanations. Great job!

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