Building blocks
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Homemade Barbecue Rub

Homemade BBQ Rub

Homemade BBQ Rub

I use this homemade barbecue rub on anything I want to have a barbecue flavor. Sure, barbecue sauce is nice, but the rub is where the flavor is. Now, If I was a real barbecue pitmaster, I would have to guard this recipe with my life.*
*You know – the old Keyser Soze routine: “If I told you, I’d have to kill you. And your family. And everone who’s ever met you. By the time I’m done, they’ll have to post signs off the coastline, warning people away from the continent you live on for the next thousand years.”

But I’m not a real pitmaster. And, as you can probably tell, I can’t keep my mouth shut when it comes to food. I gave away containers of this rub as christmas presents to friends and family, so if they want to refill they’ll need the recipe.

Recipe: Homemade Barbecue Rub


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Homemade Barbecue Rub

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x


Homemade barbecue rub – why buy it from the store when you can mix up a batch and call it your own?


  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Mix everything Put everything in a medium bowl, and stir until completely blended, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar with your fingers. Store in an airtight container.
  • Category: Barbecue
  • Cuisine: American



  • This rub is best on chicken, pork or fish. I use about 1-2 tsp per pound, but I usually just sprinkle it on until it looks right.
  • It’s a little sweet for beef; If I know I’m going to barbecue beef, that’s OK, but I wouldn’t use this as a rub on a steak. That being said, I’m usually a purist when it comes to steak – salt and pepper is all I really want on it.
  • There is NO salt in this rub. I usually salt my food separately, either by brining it or pre-salting it, so I don’t put any salt in the rub. Make sure you salt the food before you add the rub, or it’s going to be very bland. If you would rather have a “one can covers all” rub, add 1-2 tbsp salt to the recipe.
  • If your brown sugar is wet or clumpy2 then it won’t mix well with the other ingredients. In my experience, that’s how it always is, and it will never mix well with the other ingredients. To fix this, I put the brown sugar in my food processor and run it until it is finely powdered, usually about 30 seconds. Then I add the other ingredients, and pulse it a few times until they are well mixed.
  • Buy your spices in bulk. It’s much cheaper that way. I get them from Penzeys Spices, or from the Frontier Spices bulk section at my local grocery store.
  • This recipe makes more than enough for one use. I usually quadruple the recipe – 16 tbsp equals 1 cup of paprika and brown sugar, 8 tbsp chili powder equals 1/2 cup, etc… I have a big container of it in the back of my spice cabinet, and I keep a small Shaker Jar where I can get at it quickly, that I refill whenever necessary. I make a new batch every 3 to 6 months.
  • Now I know that I said that “this is where the flavor is”, and I stand by that – lots of times I make barbecued chicken with just this rub. But a little barbecue sauce never hurts as well.
Questions? Comments? Other Ideas? Leave them in the comments, below.

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Filed under: Building blocks


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Beth Ann Unger says

    Thank you so much! My Dad is on a low sodium diet. I used your recipe on pork chops during a recent visit and we were amazed that it had no added salt. Great recipe!

  2. Mindy says

    My husband has been put on a very low salt diet and this recipe has been amazing! I have made it exactly and have a jar of it always made! We have used it on brisket, ribs, and hamburgers. This is my go to for spicing up meat for the smoker! Thank you so much!

  3. LittleMama29239 says

    Diabetic, so I left the brown sugar. Still wonderful.

  4. Jo-Lynn Mull says

    Thanks, Mike, for a great salt-free rub! We have to avoid salt for medical reasons & that’s what most of the store-bought ones are. I’ve found Pensey’s to be great as well


    Perfect on baby back ribs! Removed skin from ribs than used this rub then placed in Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker). Removed ribs after 20 minutes then spread BBQ sauce on ribs and placed in oven (or grill) for a few minutes to form a glaze. The best ribs ever, and I have been cooking for over 50 years.
    Thank You!

  6. Love love this recipe on chicken pork chops!!! Marinate this on the meat over night then grill!!!

  7. Lee connolly says

    Agree on the steak no seasoning required but as its coming up bbq season in uk this will be my base rub thnks for sharing from another foodie who couldnt and woulnt hold back on a rub lol

  8. Melissa Bowser says

    I love this rub for my pork ribs, but I’m thinking of using this with a crock pot pulled pork – I was going to let the rub sit on the meat overnight and then throw in the crock pot with some bbq sauce. How do you think that will work out?

  9. Denis McIntyre says

    Hi Mike,
    I would just like to say thankyou for your great website and information available.
    I am new to charcoal grilling and have just purchased a Weber Kettle with the rotisserie attachment. I read and printed out your article on How to set up a rotisserie which I find really helpful and gives me a good idea how to do a chicken plus your other recipes/rubs and saucses. This is my kind of web page without all the crap of some of the others.

  10. Randy says

    Will this rub work well if I’m brining a pork tenderloin (brown sugar, salt, water) overnight? I’m counting on the salt in the brine to take the place of salt in the rub.

  11. Ron says

    Getting ready to make your Homemade BBQ Rub but I have a quest first. Do I lightly salt the chicken before I put on the rub? How long should the rub penetrate the chicken (in the fridge) before I put into my Pit Barrel Cooker for smoking about 3 hours?

    • Salt the chicken first – there is no salt in the rub. Rub doesn’t penetrate – only salt does – so either salt and rub right before cooking, or do it 8 to 24 hours ahead of time to give the salt time to dry brine the chicken.

  12. Nov111805 . says

    WOW! It’s 2014 and I JUST found this? Great googlie-mooglies! I love this “base” recipe……I also cut back on the paprika per: Williams suggestion and also cut back on the pepper as my husband does not like “heat” as I do and I added extra garlic and onion powder……it’s EXCELLENT and I will be doing country ribs tomorrow in the grill. I will forever have this bookmarked and it’s so very cheap to make and SALT FREE! I also like to control my salt. God bless and thank you so much for sharing!

  13. William Dearth says

    I’m made this today for grill porkchops tonight. I cut back on the paprika a little bit. 4 TBSP seems like a lot. A little paprika goes a long way.

  14. William Dearth says

    I’m made this today for grill porkchops tonight. I cut back on the paprika a little bit. 4 TBSP seems like a lot. A little paprika goes a long way.

  15. Anonymous says

    Making this recipe for the second time in two weeks! It is delicious, and so easy. Thanks for the recipes! (love the bbq sauce!)

  16. Anonymous says

    I love this rub. I’ve used it a few times for burgers (with additional onion and garlic) and they have great flavour!

    • Nana says

      Used your rub, let them set overnight in fridge. Put in crockpot with 1 c water, 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 c vinager, 1/2 c worcestershire sauce. Cooked on low for 8 to 9 hrs. Was awesome. Thank you.

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