The best thing you can do to your ribs is to coat them in the best rib rub possible! The perfect dry rub for ribs has a balance of sweet, spicy, and salty flavors and a hint of aromatics to bring it all together.
Whether you prefer nothing but dry rub coating your ribs or you like to give a nice coat of sauce at the end, we can all agree that the flavor of rib rub is crucial! We love to taste the caramelized coating of sweet and spicy rub in every bite. That’s almost half of the rib’s appeal, besides the juicy, tender, smoky meat, of course.
You don’t have to use this awesome rub just on smoked ribs either! Feel free to coat your ribs with it if you’re making them in the oven too. When you’ll be making smoked pork shoulder, you can rub it with a generous coat of this dry rub as well. Use it on all of your pork products and don’t forget to try it on the brisket, why not?!
What Is In Rib Rub
Like I mentioned earlier, you want a good balance of sweet, spicy, savory, and aromatic spices. When I build by spice blends and rubs, I always start with the base and then build the flavor based on the meat and balance I want to achieve. For most pork and brisket rubs, I like to start with the sugar, salt, pepper, and paprika. This is the best flavor base.
From sweet, brown sugar and dark brown sugar are the choices. Dark brown sugar has a little more molasses and those deeper flavor notes will come out more on slow smoked meat. (And when it’s slowly cooked in the oven.)
To add some spice and heat to the rib rub, I turn to peppercorns, white pepper, and cayenne. Both black pepper and white pepper offer different aroma and the combination of both will add a little extra something to the spice blend. You can also get a gourmet peppercorn blend that has black, white, and pink peppercorns and grind that.
When it comes to paprika, you can make a choice here as well. Choose smoked paprika or regular paprika. I don’t love to use sweet paprika here but you can try if you love it.
Ground mustard is a great spice to add because pork and mustard go great together. For my aromatic and earthy spices, I turn to coriander, fennel seeds, garlic powder, and onion powder.
For salt, use coarse kosher salt not table salt! If you need to substitute kosher salt, use coarse sea salt or coarse Himalayan pink salt.
To Make The Rib Rub
There is really not much complexity to preparing your own homemade rubs. All you ever have to do it mix the ingredients together. You can combine all of the spices in a bowl and whisk them together, just make sure that the bowl and the whist are completely dry.
You can also combine it all in a jar, close it, and shake it well until it’s blended. If using a jar though, you may have to use a fork after sharing it to make sure that brown sugar clumps break up completely.
TIP: When you’re ready to use it, make sure to sprinkle and pat the rub into the ribs instead of rubbing it around. The name is a little misleading but patting the rub onto the meat is the best way to apply it.
For the best way to keep dry rubs fresh, use a zip-lock freezer bag and store it in the freezer. Get as much air out of the bag as you can before sealing it.
You can also store dry rub for up to 6-months in air-tight jar in a cool dark place or in the refrigerator.
Make sure to date and label the bag or the jar.
Rib Rub Recipe
Dry Rub For Ribs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup paprika (can use smoked paprika)
- 3 tbsp coarse kosher salt
- 1 tbsp cracked peppercorns (about medium coarseness)
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground mustard
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (can use a little more for more spice)
- Note: this recipe for rib rub will be enough to coat 2-4 racks of ribs, depending on the size. You can always double the recipe and save the leftovers for next time.
- When getting the rub out of the jar, always use a clean, dry spoon, not your hands. Wash your hands in between handling the meat and the rub.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them until completely combined. Make sure the bowl and the whisk are dry.
- You can also use a jar to combine the ingredients and shake them together, just make sure to break up any sugar clumps with a fork.
- For the best way to keep dry rubs fresh, use a zip-lock freezer bag and store it in the freezer. Get as much air out of the bag as you can before sealing it.
- You can also store dry rub for up to 6-months in air-tight jar in a cool dark place or in the refrigerator.
- Make sure to date and label the bag or the jar.
- When you’re ready to use it, make sure to sprinkle and pat the rub onto the ribs instead of rubbing it around. The name is a little misleading but patting the rub onto the meat is the best way to apply it.