Steve’s Basic BBQ Rub

I believe that almost anything grilled or smoked tastes better with a rub. I have many different rubs for different meats and flavours, but this is my go-to rub. I usually make triple this recipe and keep it in a massive mason jar and it lasts me a month or two. It is awesome on ribs and chicken. It also tastes great on pork chops.

There are so many different recipes that I usually use this as my base rub. It is especially great used during smoking and here are a few recipes that this rub gets used:

Update: Some people have commented that this rub is quite hot. I like very spicy food, so this has been the way I make it. But, I adjusted the recipe and reduced the cayenne pepper to 1 tablespoon to tame down the level of heat. If you like your food spicy, you may want to increase it to 2 or even 3 tablespoons.

Yield: 3 cups

Steve's Basic BBQ Rub

A classic rub recipe that is great for grilled and smoked meat. Perfect for chicken, pork, seafood. 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper, or more if you want it spicier
  • 1 tbsp sage

Instructions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together well and keep in an air tight container in the same place that you keep your spices.
  2. To use: rub into the meat and let sit in the fridge for 1 or 2 hours before grilling/smoking

Notes

If you like a spicier rub, add a little more cayenne.

 

About Steve Cylka

Steve is the author of The Black Peppercorn. He is a recipe developer and food photographer. His recipes have been featured on websites like Bradley Smoker, Times Picayune, Buzzfeed, and Basil & Salt. He has also authored and co-authored a couple cookbooks.

52 comments

  1. What a great BBQ rub! No pantry should be without a big jar of rub! This looks like it will be great with just about any meat.

    • Steve, looks like a great rub! I just threw on two slabs of pork spare ribs on my electric smoker at 225f, using your 3-2-1 rib smoking method with your rub mix. I tasted the rub and it was a pretty freaking spicy. But I just went with it. Am I over reacting because it wasn’t on any meat yet? If it comes out to spicy do you have any suggestions on how to tame it down?

      • Thanks for your comment! Hope the ribs turned out well. 🙂

      • Beware, this not a tame rub. Steve, I appreciate you going to the trouble of sharing this with everyone, but it’s pretty close to dipping your tongue in napalm. I like spicy food and will often use jalapeños, banana peppers, and others in my food, along with Cajun seasoning. I don’t know if it was the enormous amount of paprika or the amount cayenne, but this is EXTREMELY hot, even after cooked with and sauce rubbed on. No amount of sauce made this easier to eat. Only for the extreme spicy lovers.

  2. I really like your BBQ rub mix recipe. Posted abt. it on facebook! Thanks for friending me on foodbuzz!
    [email protected]

  3. Saving this to try next time 🙂 Love the photo you captured .. so colorful

  4. Hi Steve –

    I just purchased my smoker this summer and all I can say is WOW! I’m so loving all the smoked items that we’ve put in it. And I couldn’t agree more, things that I smoke, need a rub! I’ll save this rub recipe. I’m smoking a brisket this weekend……that always brings the family together! Happy smoking!!!

  5. Well darn. I was off on the sage. I guessed that it was oregano.

  6. That’s a very interesting combo of spices and flavors. The addition of mustard is very interesting.

    I agree, a rub makes a lot of meats better. Eapecially a pork roast!

  7. Hi Steve, This sounds good for a rub. I make one myself,but never wrote down what I put in it. You have inspired me to do this. After I try yours.

    Thanks Regina

  8. I love this, thanks so much for the recipe, I’m always hemming and hawing about what to toss in spice rubs.

  9. Sounds delicious. Love the photo!

  10. Sounds great! I use my big chief for smoking salmon after I dry brine the salmon and put it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. The big chief breathes and allows the salmon to dry a little while smoking. My dry brine is very simple and tested to not lose the salmon flavor. very simply, it is equal parts white sugar brown sugar and salt. Put plenty of fresh course ground black pepper and a small shaking of garlic and onion powder after rinsing the fish when the dry brining is completed. Also just a small amount of brown sugar sprinkled on the fish before putting in the smoker. Use a full pan of chips at least 3 times while smoking. Use your judgement for the length of smoke time. ( The longer, the drier your fish) This is really hard to mess up and it will be much better and cheaper than anything you can buy!

  11. Awesome rub, use it all the time!!! I have a Master Built electric smoker and we do salmon on it all the time. 220 degres for 4 hours (we use pecan pellets). I’m going to try a smoked salmon fish dip this weekend!

  12. I wasn’t sure at first but…wow. Great taste. Friends really liked it. use this every time.

  13. Hi,

    I plan on making this rub since you say its awesome on different grilled meats. But I have ?’s. Which type of sage would be best to use, ground or rubbed? Those are the only two I have right now. And can I marinate meats overnite using this rub? Thanx a bunch.

    • I use ground sage but rubbed should work fine as well. I often rub the meat and let it marinate overnight. Works great!

      • Your receptive say to rub on and let sit for 1-2 hours. Can one assume by marinating over night that it gets more spicy? I’m going to try your recipe on a pork loin. I’ll have to cut the loin in thirds due to having a smaller smoker. Do you recemond a certain wood chip, I have maple and hickory. Thanks

  14. Going try you recipe

  15. Delicious! This was a fantastic enhancement to the ‘smoke flavor’ (used Oak chunks and soaked Apple wood chips in firebox). The meat was the dinner rave! Thanks.
    sidebar: I did not use 3/4 CUP of paprika, went a lot less; and used Fresh Sage shredded.
    sidebarII: to have digital access to recipes, do you ‘join’ this website?

  16. The rub was a very good rub, but just as a word of warning it is very spicy. I may have done something wrong but my wife and kids wouldn’t eat it because they said it was too spicy. I enjoy spicy food but they do not.

    Again I may have done something wrong that made it that spicy.

    All in all if you like spicy this is a fantastic rub!

    • The portion of Cayenne pepper would be what is making it so spicy to the rest of your family, I would use a quarter or less of what this particular recipe calls for if spicy is a problem. I knew right off the batt after reading that it would be spicy.

  17. Love this rub on chicken. Just enough spice. One of these days I’ll plan enough ahead to brine the birds.

  18. Hi Steve
    Thanks for providing such detailed feedback across your various smoking experiences it really helps especially when one is only just starting out on the smoking journey.
    One question i have in relation to your basic bbq rub are you using white or brown sugar.

  19. I tried this rub for a holiday party with friends in February. People couldn’t stop commenting on how amazing our smoked pork loin was (also your receipe) tasted! So, I decided we had to make it again for our daughter’s 3rd birthday party this weekend. Maybe this time her Dad will get a chance to grab a slice before everyone eats it all. 🙂

  20. I love a good spice rub and this sounds wonderful! We just started the Whisk It Wednesday link party and I thought you might be interested in sharing there too! Thanks, Carrie

  21. Fantastic rub. My kids have a low tolerance for fire, so I left out anything spicey. I also like to crush up coriander for the nice flakey look all over the meat and the almost-minty taste.

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