Crafting Dry Rubs for Any Meat or Taste

Alittle sweet, some salt, and some heat, if that’s what you’re into — just about any combination of flavors can go into a tasty barbecue rub.

Some seasonings are barbecue staples.

(Watch for garlic and onion powders, paprika, and cayenne in several of the recipes to come.) and others break the traditional mold. Some cooks throw in practicallythe whole spice cabinet, and others keep things simple with just a handful of ingredients and get results just as good.

Using a dry rub is exceptionally easy. Just sprinkle your mix onto the meat you plan to cook and then pat it or rub it lightly into the surface so that it really sticks.

After you introduce rub to meat, wrap the meat in plastic and let it sit in the fridge for a while so the rub gets a chance to do its work.

You can get away with skipping this step and going right to the cooking part of the program.

Because the rub actually sits right on the meat, you’re not going to lose flavor as you would if you were to pull a meat from marinade before its time.

If you’re concerned about fat in your diet, you may be pleased to know that, unlike marinades, dry rubs add flavor without using oil or any other fat. Of course, they’re made up of a lot of sugar and salt, so they don’t exactly qualify as health food.

You can store a dry rub for about six months if you keep it in an airtight container and away from light.

Have fun getting your feet wet with the recipes in this chapter.

Chances are good that you’ll soon be drawing raves for your own unique seasoning blends.

Combining Flavors for Classic Dry Rubs

Salt and sugar are almost givens for a rub (although the upcoming section, “Bucking Tradition with Rubs Exotic and Inventive” includes a no-salt version); what you do otherwise is up to you.

Still, certain flavors have been working their way into dry rubs for decades, and in this section you find recipes that draw from barbecue tradition.

Smokey Joel’s Competition BBQ Rub

Smokey Joel (also known as Joel Schwabe) fares well with this rub in competitions.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 1 cup

  • 1⁄4 cup brown sugar
  • ⁄4 cup paprika
  • 1⁄4 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons cumin
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried, grated lemon or
  • orange peel (optional)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Smoke Hunters’ BBQ Rub

The Smoke Hunters team advises using this rub, which is the one they took to their early competitions, on pork ribs, pork shoulder, or chicken. The recipe, as written, produces about 2 cups of rub, which may be overkill if you don’t use it regularly. Cut the recipe in half, and you still have enough for a good 15 pounds of meat.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup Sugar In The Raw
  • 1⁄2 cup paprika
  • 6 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Sugar In The Raw is the brand name of turbinado sugar, which isn’t refined as white sugar is and so still has some of the flavor and nutrients from the sugar cane juice. It has a natural brown color and larger crystals than refined white sugar, but you can use it in much the same way when it comes to sweetening coffee or cereal.

Turbinado has more moisture than white sugar. In flavor and texture, it’s somewhere in the middle of brown and white sugars. It’s more likely to replace brown sugar in recipes than white because of its moisture content, and it also will harden as brown sugar does if it’s not stored in an airtight container.

Pirate Potion #4

This recipe comes from the Pirates of the Grill, who warn that it’s a spicy one but has a lot of depth. Fred Larsen from the team says the rub was developed to use on pork but that it’s a swell seasoning for your morning eggs, too.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 3 cups

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1⁄2 cup paprika
  • 1⁄4 cup chili powder
  • 1⁄8 cup black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Vary It ! Try using seasoned salt rather than plain table salt.

Paradise Jerk Rub

The Pig Smokers in Paradise BBQ Team earns kudos when it uses this jerk rub on pork: “It goes well with about any type of pork cut,” says member Connie Owens.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 1 cup

  • 6 tablespoons onion powder
  • 6 tablespoons onion flakes
  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 1⁄2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 4 1⁄2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons ground cloves

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Spicy Rub #1 for Beef

John Webb, from the Up-in-Smoke team, said he started making spicy rubs because he had a sinus infection that interfered with his taste buds. “I started adding more and more spice until I could taste something,” he said.

“The downside was that everyone else was tasting the meat and saying, ‘Wow — that is way too spicy, but pretty good.’ I learned from that experience and cut down on the spices until I got the right blend. They still say, ‘Wow,’ but now they follow that with, ‘Boy, that’s good.’” Webb makes his rub in big batches, using whole 3-ounce bottles, but he says that the point is that you use equal parts of each ingredient (except the cayenne powder or black pepper).

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 4 cups

  • 3 ounces paprika
  • 3 ounces cumin
  • 3 ounces Cajun spice
  • 3 ounces garlic powder
  • 3 ounces garlic flakes
  • 3 ounces onion flakes
  • 3 ounces natural cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne powder or black pepper

1 Combine all ingredients in a food processor.

2 Grind the mixture about 10 seconds.

Variation : To use this rub with chicken or pork, add 1 tablespoon mustard powder.

You can add further dimension to any dry rub by adding just enough liquid to turn it into a paste or wet rub. Any flavorful liquid will do the trick, but some of the favorites are

  • Apple juice
  • Beer
  • Mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Orange juice
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Yogurt

Shigs-in-Pit Bootheel Butt Rub

Todd Grantham of the Shigs-in-Pit BBQ team said the name of this rub (and the team’s sauce in Chapter 9) came from the area two of his team members hail from — the Bootheel area of southeast Missouri. He says that rubs of this style are popular in restaurants in that area.

Grantham advises using the rub on all things pork, especially ribs and pork butt. The heavy yield of this recipe means that you may want to cut it in half. Doing so still yields enough rub for two healthy-sized meals.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 1⁄4 cup kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup Accent (monosodium glutamate, or MSG)
  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup fine organic cane sugar (turbinado)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons granulated onion
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon hickory smoke salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

A pinch of salt facts

No barbecue rub is complete without salt, and neither is any diet. Not only does salt intensify aromas and flavors in the food that you use it on but it fills a physical need in the human body. Among other things, sodium keeps nerve impulses flowing and chloride helps keep your digestive system in top form. (Of course, the amount of salt most people eat far surpasses the single gram per day that is necessary to get the balancing job done.)

Salt comes from oceans and either is dried directly from the water and dubbed sea salt or mined from seas that dried up and left behind massive salty deposits.

Strangely enough, this essential substance has achieved chichi status in the past few years, and gourmet salt stores selling expensive, rare variations have popped up, as have salt-tasting parties (not events for the high of blood pressure).

Different salts do bring slightly different flavors, and you also can find flavored salts, like the hickory smoke salt that the Shigs-in-Pit Bootheel Rub recipe calls for. No reason not to use a flavored salt in your rub, and doing so can be a shortcut or a way to add flavor that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to bring to the rub.

Because it’s fine-textured, table salt is a good choice for dry rubs because you don’t have to grind it to get it to stick fast to the meat surface. Most seasoned salts also are fine-textured, but they come with a caveat: You lose a degree of control when you use already-combined seasonings. You can be certain of getting exactly the ratio of flavors that you want when you work from scratch.

Everything Rub

Rich Allen of Dick’s Bodacious Bar-B-Q, Inc., offers up this recipe that he says can easily strike up a beautiful relationship with any meat you want to cook.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 1⁄3 cup

  • 1⁄4 cup seasoning salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix.

Tip : Press into meat at least half an hour before you plan to cook it.

Super Simple Brisket Rub

Doug Spiller of Smoked Signals BBQ keeps things nice and simple with this rub of just four ingredients used in equal parts.

Spiller advises using a can of beer to mop your brisket when you use this rub so that you can keep the flavors moving around on the meat.

In the last half-hour of cooking, Spiller uses three parts Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce cut with one part beer to finish the brisket. He says that the sauce is a perfect way to not only cut through some of the heat of the rub but also to give the brisket a nice glaze.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: 1 cup

  • 1⁄4 cup black pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup salt
  • 1⁄4 cup paprika
  • 1⁄4 cup onion powder

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Rib Dust

Rich Allen is a Texan who brought his barbecue to the Midwest when he founded Dick’s Bodacious Bar-B-Q, Inc., a string of Indiana restaurants. His rib rub is a well-balanced affair that makes good use of just a few flavors.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 3⁄4 cup paprika
  • 1⁄2 cup chili powder
  • 1⁄4 cup cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Tip: Press into meat at least half an hour before you plan to cook it.

Pork Perfection

The Smoked Signals BBQ team took home a first-place trophy with this rub, which team leader Doug Spiller said he came up with after much studying of recipes in books.

The rub includes a pretty heavy amount of sugar, and Spiller explains that that’s what gives the pork a nice bark.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 1 cup

  • 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup course cane sugar (turbinado)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder

1 Combine all ingredients in a food processor.

2 Grind the mixture about 10 seconds.

You want a bark on your barbecued meats not only for the flavorsof the seasonings within it but also to hold in the moisture of the meat. Rubs that include a lot of sugar tend to form a heartier bark, but they fare poorly under high heat.

If you’re reaching into a bowl to sprinkle rub onto meat, make sure that you don’t touch the meat and then put your hand into the rub.

Doing so contaminates the rub with the meat juices and invites bacteria. Keep your rub clean, and it’ll last several months.

Yard Bird Rub

Rich Allen of Dick’s Bodacious Bar-B-Q, Inc., also served as the technical reviewer for this book. Here, he offers a straightforward rub concocted just for chicken and turkey.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 1⁄4 cup rub

  • 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon thyme

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Tip : Press into meat at least half an hour before you plan to cook it.

Jamaican Rib Rub

Poppi-Q BBQ founder Tom Schneider likes this spicy rub when it’s paired with a citrus-based barbecue sauce. This recipe covers four slabs of pork baby back or spare ribs.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 3⁄4 cup

  • 1⁄2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried and ground thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon habenero or scotch bonnet
  • pepper powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried and ground ginger

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Note : Make sure you wash your hands after handling the habenero powder.

Rubbing your eyes or other delicate regions with the stuff provides a burn you don’t want to feel.

Bucking Tradition with Rubs Exotic and Inventive

Pit masters aren’t the only cooks to use combinations of seasonings to improve the flavor and texture of meat. In this section, you find rubs that come from other cultures, as well as rubs that deviate from the barbecue tradition.

Sweet Persian Rub

The Persian Empire influenced a large part of the culinary flavors throughout Asia. This recipe from Brandon Hamilton pays tribute to those wonderful flavors. It goes well with seafood, chicken, lamb, and beef.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None, but let sit at least 2 hours or overnight

Yield: About 3⁄4 cup

  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 2 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Curry powder, which you use for Brandon Hamilton’s Sweet Persian Rub, is a catchall term for spice mixes that mimic the combination of seasonings used in Indian curry sauces. They’re made up of a host of other roasted and powdered seasonings that varies according to who made the mix. Curry powder usually contains at least a dozen seasonings, which contribute to its complex flavor.

Curry powders are usually available in the grocery store, but you may find a better selection if you turn to a specialty market or to the Internet. The Spice House (www.thespicehouse.com) is a good source with several varieties for sale.

Zesty No-Salt Herbal BBQ Rub

Paul Kirk offers a unique, salt-free rub that gets a spicy punch from a goodly dose of chili powder.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons fine ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon crushed rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Grilled Leg of Lamb Seasoning

Paul Kirk says his recipe for leg-of-lamb seasoning covers up to 5 pounds of trimmed and butterflied lamb.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 3⁄4 cup seasoning

  • 1⁄4 cup coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried flaked garlic
  • 1 tablespoon crushed rosemary leaves
  • 1⁄2 cup balsamic vinegar

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Note : Store in refrigerator in airtight container or apply directly to lamb, using a pastry brush to paint it onto the meat.

Lemon Rub a Dub Dub

Team N2Que calls its Lemon Rub a Dub Dub mix a great match for fish and chicken.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: 2 tablespoons

  • 4 teaspoons lemon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Fish is a lot more delicate than pork, chicken, or pretty much anything else you may cook. When you apply rub to fish, you’re better off just sprinkling it over the top instead of patting it on or rubbing it into the flesh. And because fish so easily picks up flavors, you use less of the rub than you do when you’re putting it on meats.

If you’re using a rub on chicken, make sure to pull back the skin and sprinkle the rub directly onto the meat.

 

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