Homemade BBQ Rub Recipe

homemade bbq rub in a glass jar on a slate board

There are literally thousands of barbecue rubs on the market today, and countless homemade BBQ rub recipes available online. I’ve published some of my favorites in each of my books, which have been well received. Is this one the best homemade BBQ rub recipe? You decide…

Aside from being very versatility, (it can be taken in many directions) I think it’s the right balance of sweet & heat. It can be made sweeter if that’s your preference, or hotter if you like a little more heat. This one is well balanced and works very well with pork shoulders, pork ribs, poultry, and even fish.

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homemade bbq rub on a slate board

What Are BBQ Rubs Made Of?

Homemade BBQ dry rub recipes have three main components, the first being salt. Salt is by far and away the most important seasoning in this rub. More to come on that. 

The next component for this homemade BBQ rub recipe is a sweet element. This is achieved by using sugar. You’ll notice I use two different types of sugar — I’ll explain why later.

Finally, color. I use two different paprikas in this rub. Sweet paprika adds very little flavor, its inclusion is all about the brilliant color it adds. Smoked paprika on the other hand, adds a really nice flavor to the rub.

homemade bbq dry rub on a slate board

Is It Cheaper To Make Your Own BBQ Rub?

Absolutely! I’ll be honest, there are some really good pre-made rubs on the market. Some I would even say are exceptional. But the price is ridiculous. 

It’s not uncommon to see some of the “big name” rubs go for $10 to $14 per bottle. Too rich for my blood in most cases, so following this homemade BBQ dry rub recipe is infinitely cheaper.

In full disclosure, there are a few pre-made rubs that I pony up the asking price for, but not many. I enjoy the process of making and sampling my own.

In fact, if you’re looking for a fun evening, try mixing up a few different versions of your favorite spice blends. Add them to small pieces of meat and do a tasting event with friends.

I’d recommend getting the ingredients at one of the wholesale suppliers, Costco, Sam’s Club, etc. They’re much cheaper that way.

homemade bbq dry rub with measuring spoon

Homemade BBQ Rub Ingredients

  • Salt: Be sure you’re using Kosher salt, and not table salt. Kosher salt is much less “salty” than table salt. It’s also important to know which brand of salt you’re using. Morton’s for example, is much more salty that Diamond Crystal; so be aware.
  • Sugar: I use both brown sugar and standard granulated white sugar in this rub. You could also use turbinado sugar in place of the granulated sugar. The reason I use both is for flavor and appearance. Both sugars add sweetness; but the brown also adds flavor given its molasses content. I don’t use all brown sugar (I’ve tried it that way) but find it throws off the flavor profile of the sweet / savory mix.
  • Paprika: Like the sugars, I use two different types of paprika. The sweet paprika is really just for color (like on the pork shoulder below) and doesn’t add much flavor at all. The smoked paprika adds both color and flavor. I don’t use all smoked paprika for reasons similar to not using all brown sugar; it’s too overpowering.
homemade bbq rub on a pork shoulder

How To Make Homemade BBQ Rub

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: N/A | Serves: N/A

Ingredients
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup sweet paprika
2 ½ tbsp garlic powder
2 ½ tbsp onion powder
2 ½ tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, but recommended)

Step 1: Add all ingredients for the rub into a medium sized mixing bowl or food processor.

ingredients for homemade bbq dry rub in bowl

Step 2: Pulse the food processor several times to mix and ensure no clumps of brown sugar remain. Using a whisk in a mixing bowl is also fine, but the brown sugar might be challenging to break up if it’s clumpy.

homemade bbq rub mixed in food processor

Step 3: Pour the ingredients into an airtight container, and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 weeks for maximum flavor.

homemade bbq rub in a glass jar on a slate board

Homemade BBQ Dry Rub

5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Course: Spice
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt Morton's
  • ½ cup sweet paprika
  • tbsp garlic powder
  • tbsp onion powder
  • tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper optional

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl or food processor.
  • Mix ingredients by pulsing food processor several times, or with a whisk in a mixing bowl. Ensure there are no clumps of brown sugar in the rub.
  • Transfer the rub to an airtight container, and store in a cool, dark place for up to six weeks.

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