Steve’s Basic BBQ Rub

A classic BBQ spice rub that is perfect for both smoking and grilling. This seasoning is excellent on chicken and pork!

A bowl of mixed spices and a plate with them divided.

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 BBQ rub is my go-to seasoning. This is ideal for chicken and pork. It even works great with beef and seafood.

Spices on a plate.

Ingredients You Need For This Rub

  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Cayenne
  • Sage
  • Dry mustard
  • Salt
  • Sugar
Pork roast with bbq seasoning rubbed all over.

How To Make This Rub?

Preparing this rub is as simple as mixing all the spices and sugar together. That is it. Once the spices are well mixed, it is ready to be rubbed on some meat.

Expert Tip! This BBQ rub is easy to use as a base for other flavour combinations. Add some chipotle powder for a spicy and smoky flavour. Omit the cumin and paprika and add some oregano and basil for an Italian seasoning.

Back ribs with seasoning rubbed on it.

How To Store This This BBQ 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.

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.

Spices divided and aligned on a rectangular plate.

Meat That Is Great With This Rub?

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:

Steve’s Basic BBQ Rub

A plate with colourful spices piled next to each other.
4.74 out of 5
34 reviews
A classic rub that is great for grilled and smoked meat. Perfect rub recipe for smoking or grilling and great on pork, chicken and seafood.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 48 tablespoons


  • 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


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


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


Per serving:

Calories: 19kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 0.5gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 1181mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2g

Nutrition Disclaimer

This recipe was originally posted in August 2011.


A bowl of mixed spices and a plate with them divided.

Did you try this recipe?

Leave a comment and let me know how it turned out. Or, take a picture to share on Instagram and tag me @theblackpeppercorn.

4.74 from 34 votes (16 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  • 5 stars
    I have a small electric smoker and the ribs are great with your recipe. Our grandkid Carson is a picky eater but your rib recipe is the bomb!

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  • Your rub sounds amazing i was wondering how much it would change the heat if i used dried chipotle pepper instead of cayenne????

    • Reply
  • 5 stars
    I did this on a whole chicken I was smoking in a Woodman smoker exactly as the recipe says except I grow my own herbs and stuffed cavity with thyme, oregano, sage and parsley. I also brine my chicken for at least 8 hours. It was absolutely wonderful!! The next evening I did some center cut pork loin baked in the oven. They were great as well, I can see all kinds of uses!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
    • That sounds delicious! So glad you enjoyed the rub.

  • Liked the recipe, but instead of sugar used dark brown sugar a bit sweeter and sticky. Did 6 racks of ribs they were awesome. Thank you for sharing your recipe. Chris in MN.

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  • Update just had the chicken it came out amazing

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  • Just got my smoker first time ever smoking I did your rub one with cayenne pepper and one without I’m hoping everything turns out good
    Oh ya I’m doing beef ribs with your 3 2 1 method
    Will update when they are done

    • Reply
  • 5 stars
    I got a Bradley digital smoker the other day, then made the best ribs of my life. I decided this morning I was going to make two chicken’s to feed six adults. I made a big jar of Steve’s spice rub and generously covered the two birds. I did them spatchcocked, smoked with maple briskets at 270f for 3.5h. …best chicken of my life! Thanks for the rub! The family is getting the mix recipe too.

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    • 5 stars
      God damn! That’s a good rub! *chef’s kiss*

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Reply
  • Good recipe but I’m not going to put paprika on it

    • Reply
    • Try Hungarian Paprika, not as bold and has a great flavor

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  • I added Onion Powder in equal proportions to the thyme and dry mustard. Excellent, shared it with my son who is just starting to grill/smoke.

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  • 5 stars
    Love the basic rub. It’s even great on prokchops when grilling.

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  • 5 stars
    I have been looking for a rub that would satisfy all. This rub did all of that. I added a pinch less of cayenne pepper and the rub was spicy but not over the top. I didn’t have sage and I substituted Bell’s seasoning and it was awesome. I have used it on smoked ribs (using Steve’s 3-2-1 method) and on rotisserie chicken (with no added bbq sauce) and it has 5 stars from the 3 adults in this household!

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  • Darrell here good job Steve
    My comment I find heating cumin on stove intensifies its flavor.

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    • Thanks for the tip!

      • Reply
  • 5 stars
    I’ve been using this rub for a couple years now and I think it’s great on chicken and pork. Thanks for sharing

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    • So glad you enjoy the rub. This is my ‘go-to’ rub for pork and chicken.

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  • 5 stars
    Dang good rub

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    • Thanks! Glad you like it! It is definitely my ‘go to’ rub.

      • Reply
  • 4 stars
    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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