7 BBQ Rub Recipes That Add Big Flavor to Any Meat You Cook

The spice is right in our best BBQ rub recipes. Featuring a pleasant blend of sweet (brown sugar), heat (peppers and chiles), and salt, these amazing dry rubs prove that a little seasoning goes a long way.

While BBQ sauce might seem like it's the most important flavor component in your smoked or grilled meat meal, we'd like to nominate another contender in the MVP taste race: BBQ rubs. Since it's often either the very first ingredient applied (in other words, it has the most time to infuse every ounce of meat with flavor) or the very last ingredient, the best BBQ rub recipes can really make your meal. Try these unique spice blends, our go-to homemade BBQ rub recipes, to take your meats to new levels of deliciousness.

Double-Pepper Barbecue Rub
Double Pepper BBQ Rub. Scott Little

Double Pepper Barbecue Rub

Choose your meat (be it brisket, ribs, chicken, or pork shoulder) and mop with a vinegar-based BBQ sauce as it smokes. Then make like a Tennessee pitmaster and sprinkle this Memphis BBQ rub recipe atop your grilled meats after they're done cooking. That way, the brown sugar, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and more will have a starring role on your taste buds.

  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Davis Dry Rub

If you're seeking a big-batch spice blend, try this sweet and spicy grilling rub. Ideal as a BBQ chicken rub or on a big brisket. Leftovers of this paprika, cumin, and chili powder blend last nicely for up to 6 months.

  • ½ cup paprika
  • ⅓ cup ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup ground cumin
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

Test Kitchen Tip: Store in a tightly-covered container and portion out your servings in a small bowl each time you use the recipe to prevent cross-contamination.

Basic BBQ Rub

The seeds steal the show in this Texas BBQ rub. Cumin seeds, yellow mustard seeds, and coriander seeds (fun fact: the latter grow into cilantro!) are all tagged in to create the complex flavors in this BBQ rub recipe. Warm spices, brown and turbinado sugars, and dried oregano round out the mix.

  • 1½ teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons coriander seeds
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup paprika
  • 3 tablespoons fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper

Coriander-Bay Spice Rub

It's true that cinnamon, cloves, and ginger might seem more like pumpkin pie ingredients. But we're wild about the layers of flavor they add to this sweet BBQ rub recipe that's balanced out with savory elements such as cumin, coriander, thyme, and bay leaf.

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 small bay leaf, finely crumbled

Smoky Rub

The name of this BBQ spice rub comes from the recipe's most prolific ingredient, smoked paprika. This Spanish spice staple is made with peppers that are smoked and dried over oak wood. Customize the heat level of this spice blend that also features garlic, onion, and ginger notes, by selecting mild, medium, or hot smoked paprika.

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Spicy Southwestern Rub

Not quite sure if your dining companions can take the heat? This homemade BBQ rub recipe features mainly warm and smoky spices, including cumin and paprika. A pinch of cayenne and spoonful of ground pasilla or ancho pepper add just enough spice to balance out the brown sugar.

  • 1 tablespoon ground ancho or pasilla pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Barbecue Rub

If your go-to sauce features mustard (dry, Dijon, or yellow), then you need this homemade BBQ rub recipe in your back pocket (and literally, in your spice cabinet). A teaspoon of dry mustard goes a long way in this onion powder- and chili powder-based blend.

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Sprinkle these dry rubs onto any meat or poultry you're cooking up to add huge flavor to your main course.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles