How to Make a Rub for Smoked Meats

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A dry rub with sweet flavors goes well with smoked pork.
A dry rub with sweet flavors goes well with smoked pork. (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Meat just by itself can be flavorful. A simple sprinkling of seasonings, such as salt and ground black pepper, can bring out deep flavors with various cuts of meat. Smoking meats, such as beef, chicken, pork, sausages, and salmon, takes the inherent flavors to another level, and the addition of a dry rub can take smoked meats into the stratosphere taste-wise. Apply a dry rub liberally on all sides of the meat you are planning to smoke. Making extra dry rub at one time allows you to have a ready-made rub handy the next time you plan to use your smoker.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chili powder
  • Allspice
  • Fennel seed
  • Sweet paprika
  • Rosemary flakes
  • Tarragon leaves
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Mustard seed
  • Ground mustard
  • Coffee
  • Ground thyme
  • Dill weed
  • Celery seed
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Sage
  • Oregano flakes
  • Basil leaves
  • Parsley flakes
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Curry powder
  • Asian five spice powder
  • Container with lid

Sweet Dry Rub

Add sweet spices and seasonings to a bowl to create a sweet dry rub; Add an equal amount of spices to the bowl as you do brown sugar, which should be the basis for every sweet rub; brown sugar also helps the dry rub stick to the meat.

Measure out the seasonings and spices using a teaspoon, tablespoon, and measuring cup; an example of a good sweet dry rub for pork shoulder would be eight parts brown sugar, one part sweet paprika, two parts salt, one parts chili powder, one part onion powder, one part dry mustard, one part ground black pepper, and one part ground ginger. Other potential substitutions for a sweet dry rub include cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder, allspice, fennel seed, rosemary flakes, or tarragon leaves.

Mix all parts well using a whisk. Apply the dry rub to the meat and place any remaining dry rub into a container with resealable lid. Label and date the container using a permanent marker.

Savory Dry Rub

Add savory spices and seasonings to a bowl to create a savory dry rub using a teaspoon, tablespoon, and measuring cup. Use salt and ground black pepper as the basis for this dry rub as opposed to brown sugar; for example, two parts salt and two parts black pepper.

Add additional seasonings and spices to the salt and black pepper; exactly following your recipe an example of a good savory dry rub for beef brisket would also include one part each of onion powder, garlic powder, ground mustard, and ground thyme. Other savory options include dill weed, coffee, celery seed, sage, and poultry seasoning.

Mix all parts well. Use immediately or store in a container with resealable lid. Label and date the container for future use.

Sweet and Savory Dry Rub

Combine flavors used in the previous two rubs to create a rub that features the best of both types. For example, if making St. Louis-style spare ribs, a dry rub that features a healthy amount of both sugar and salt will bring out the flavor of the ribs. Add an equal amount of brown sugar, salt, and black pepper to a bowl, such as three parts brown sugar, and one and half parts each salt and black pepper.

Mix and match additional spices and seasonings to the dry rub. Use your imagination and palate to determine how spicy you want the rub; for example, you may want to add heat by adding one part ground cayenne pepper; add one part curry powder or Asian five spice for a more exotic dry rub; add oregano and basil for a dry rub with Italian flair, or cumin and coriander for a more Spanish or Mexican-style rub.

Mix all parts well and use immediately. Keep the leftover dry rub mixture in a container with resealable lid. Label with all ingredients and date the container for future use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place the container of dry run in a cool dry location out of direct sunlight. Keep the container sealed when not in use to ensure that there is no loss of flavor.
  • In general, seasonings like those used in a dry rub begin to lose their potency after one year.

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