Every respectable pit master needs their own mysterious bbq rub. A rub so good you would rather die than tell your best friend, and only whisper to your first born son on your death bed.
OK maybe not everyone is that dramatic… Rubs are one of those amazing elements of barbecue where you are free to experiment and go crazy. While some people (looking at you Texans) swear all you need is salt and pepper, we think you should experiment.
While it can be cheaper to make your own rub (we recommend Meathead’s Mephis Dust), sometimes you just want to be able to reach into your spice cupboard and pick out a delicious barbecue rub.
Or maybe you want to try something different or exotic without investing in a billion spices you’ve never heard of and can’t buy in the store.
There are so many different options out there it can be hard to start choosing. Luckily for you we’ve pulled together the best barbecue rubs you can order online without even leaving your house.
Best all around barbecue rubs
These rubs are the best of the best. You can play by the “rules” and follow the names on the label but these rubs have all been tried and tested with all kinds of meat.
From the pink pig exposing his buttocks, to the slogan “a little Butt Rub makes everything better” we love everything about Bad Byron’s rub.
Flavor: Mild, smokey & authentic
Main ingredients: Black pepper, paprika, chipotle powser
We would forgive you for thinking this was only for use on pork butts, the blend of onion, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and smoked jalapeno makes for an excellent all-purpose seasoning.
A word of warning to go light on this rub as it is definitely on the salty side. We think this is a good thing though, especially on a big hunk of pork shoulder which needs a salty rub. If this is your first time using it you might want to use 1/2 to 2/3 what you normally would and then adjust based on your preferences.
One final tip – try rolling your pork butt in brown sugar once you’ve applied the rub to get a sweeter finish.
This rub is available in a variety of sizes so you can buy in bulk, or try a smaller pack. The picture above is the 7 pound jar which includes shaker holes. If that’s too large you can get it in 4.5 ounce and 26 ounce jars.
While it says “rib rub” on the awesome tin it comes in, you can use this dry rub for seasoning pork, chicken and steak. In a world where every other company is using little plastic bottles, the old fashioned tin looks great in your kitchen.
Szeged rub works really well to enhance the flavor without overpowering it.
Flavor: Sweet with a hint of spice
Main ingredients: Paprika, garlic, mustard, salt, spices
This can be difficult to pick up in stores, but can be found on Amazon in an economical 6 packs of 5 ounce tins. Get the latest price. You’ll be glad it comes in a 6 pack after you’ve tried this rub. You’ll be looking for excuses to try it on everything.
After winning the 2009 American Royal Invitational BBQ competition, Plowboys Yardbird rub has gone on to win it’s way into our best rub list. It’s a versatile rub that will work perfectly on ribs, pork butts and chicken.
Flavor: Mild with a touch of sweetness and a hint of heat
Main ingredients: Salt, sugar, chili pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, mustard flour
If you’re a purist who always insists on making your own rub, give this one a go and see if it can change your mind.
The rub comes in a convenient 14 ounce jar so you can easily give it a try. You can also pick up a 12 ounce jar of Bovine Bold for a sweeter rub or Fin & Feather which is specially formulated for seafood and poultry (although to be honest you can mix and match and see what rub works best for your tastebuds).
Lawry’s Perfect Blend Chicken Rub
The smells oozing from the kitchen when you use this rub will have even the staunchest vegetarian drooling. It’s difficult to find in stores but you can pick up a 24.5 ounce bottle online for under ten dollars.
Flavour: Robust blend of herbs and spices
Main ingredients: Garlic, rosemary, sea salt, onion, paprika, thyme, parsley
For some reason companies insist on limiting their rubs to one type of meat on the label. Even though this is ideal for chicken, you can still get good results using this on pork and even dressings. It’s not too salty which can also be a bonus.
Buying rubs online can be tricky. Do you really want to be stuck with a 26 ounce jar of rub you wouldn’t give to your worst enemy? Diversify your rub investment with this 3 pack containing Carolina, Memphis and New Orleans style rubs.
- New Orleans style – Salt, spices, paprika, garlic, onion, red pepper
- Memphis style – Paprika, salt, brown sugar, garlic, spices, onion, red pepper
- Carolina style – Salt, paprika, brown sugar, spices, red pepper
This is a great option if you are just getting started with smoking meat. You can experiment with different styles of rub without investing in a larger jar.
Don’t stress over which meat you use them on either. Try the Memphis style rub on some ribs or the Carolina style on a smoked pork butt.
Don’t be confused by the name “Bone Suckin’ Sauce”. This is an incredibly versatile rub that can be used for all your barbecue meats, as well as vegetables, steaks and even popcorn!
Flavor: Sweet and peppery with just a little bit of heat
Main ingredients: Brown sugar, paprika, garlic, spices
This is definitely a crowed pleasing rub. It’s mild enough that diners won’t find it too salty or too spicy. It’s also a versatile rub to keep in the pantry and can be used to get some flavor on veggies or seafood.
You can pick up a 3 pack of 5.8 ounce jars off Amazon.
It’s kind of ironic for a barbecue rub called the Salt Lick to be on the peppery side. While some would argue that cayenne pepper and spices isn’t 100% authentic Texas style, the combination works excellently for ribs, pork butt and even brisket.
Flavor: Authentic Texas dry rub
Main ingredients: Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, spices
One of the advantages of store bought rubs you can see here is the consistent grind size. This has a surprisingly large effect on the quality of your barbecue as the smaller particles you typically get at home loose their flavor faster.
This dry rub comes in a pack of 3 12 ounce bottles
That wraps up our list of the best bbq rubs you can buy online. If you know of a delicious rub we’ve missed out let us know in the comments section below, otherwise stick around and learn some tips on the best way to apply your new rub, as well as all you ever needed to know about how long to apply a rub before cooking.
How to apply a rub
Barbecue geeks really love to obsess over the smallest details. What could be more straightforward than applying a barbecue rub? There’s actually a bit more to know than you might expect.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Use one hand to sprinkle the rub, and the other to handle your meat (but not that meat!). Use a latex glove like in the picture below to avoid cross-contamination.
- While most store bought rubs can be shaken, they tend to get clogged up, especially in humid climates. We like to use a proper adjustable rub shaker (which is also super useful when you make your own rubs).
- The biggest mistake people make is applying too much rub. You want to coat the meat sloshing layer after layer of rub on it.
A lot of it does come down to personal preference. Nothing beats practice, tweaking and perfecting as you go.
There is a lot of debate about “rubbing the rub” (this is all starting to sound rather dirty!) Meathead doesn’t think you should worry about this though:
What you need to know about applying a dry rub overnight
Everyone has a strong opinion on when to apply a rub. You’ll hear someone say to always apply the night before, while offers swear that you only need to apply a few hours before cooking. Lots of people will apply their rub right before they put their meat on.
In Aaron Franklin’s guide to smoking brisket he puts the rub on an hour before, while the brisket is getting up to room temperature. When advice varies by this much it’s more about personal preference.
Some people claim that applying a rub overnight will dry meat out, but this doesn’t really stand up to basic food science for a couple of reasons:
- While rubs with large amounts of salt and sugar can cause some moisture to come out of your meat, your about to subject it to hours of heat and smoke. Moisture will be drawn out whether you put your rub on hours or a day ahead.
- It takes much longer than a day for moisture to be drawn out of the inner parts of the meat, so while you may loose some moisture from the surface within an hour it should be minimal.
At the end of the day the texture and flavour of your barbecue has a lot more to do with how you cook it, and what sauces & rubs you apply. If anything applying a rub overnight will result in a slightly stronger flavor.
On your next barbecue try rubbing a few ribs a day before. Compare the taste and see if you like one style better.
Feature CC Image courtesy of Fiftyknightshades on Flickr