Barbecue Pork Rub Recipe

Barbecue pork rub for ribs or pulled pork

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Confession time. When I’m doing pork ribs or pulled pork I normally just grab a store bought rub from the pantry.

I’m especially partial to Plowboys Yardbird Rub for any kind of pork. But there is no reason why you can’t make your own pork rub at home and save cost.

All of the ingredients for this general purpose pork rub should already be in your pantry. This is definitely a recipe where you can adjust the ingredients to your taste.

The aim is to create a well balanced rub with a mix of sweet and savory spice.

About the pork rub

It doesn’t get much easier than making this dry rub. Simply measure each ingredient out and dump it into a bowl before mixing it all together and applying.

Scroll down to the bottom to see the full list of ingredients, or read on for some more tips for using this rub.

Pork rub ingredients

Even if you like your ribs wet and saucy, this dry rub makes an excellent base.

Here are a few other tips:

  • Even though it’s aimed at pork, this is a good general purpose barbecue rub and will work great on chicken or turkey. Just don’t use it on beef as the sweetness will be too much.
  • You can try leaving the salt out of the rub, that way you can salt the meat first and let it penetrate over night. 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat (excluding bone) works well. You definitely don’t have to do this though.
  • I used smoked paprika in this video to get a little extra smokey flavor. There are loads of varieties of paprika out there, but try and use either smoked or sweet for the best flavor.
  • If you really don’t like spice you could use just 1/4 a teaspoon of cayenne, but I think it’s much better with a little kick.

Using the rub

The first thing I always like to do before applying a rub is apply a small base layer of flavor. I simply sprinkle some salt, pepper and garlic powder over the meat.

The next step is to get it a little bit wet so the dry rub can bind. For pork ribs or pulled pork I like using yellow mustard.

Simply squirt some on and use your hands to spread it around. It’s more for binding than flavor, but I reckon the sugar in the mustard helps with the bark formation. You can use a few splashes of water.

My dog was very keen to supervise me during this step.

mustard on ribs

When you’re ready to apply the rub you can use a rub shaker or just sprinkle it on with your hands. I like to apply it liberally but not so much to where you can’t see the meat.

The sugar can get lumpy so you may need to crumble it up by hand.

After use you can store this rub in an airtight container for a few months.

If you want some other ideas we have a guide for good rubs to use on pork.

Barbecue pork rub for ribs or pulled pork

Barbecue Pork Rub

A sweet, spicy smokey rub perfect with barbecue pork
4.80 from 24 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment / Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 333kcal
Author: Joe Clements


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup smoked paprika sweet is also fine
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper ground
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper


  • Mix ingredients together to combine.
  • Coat meat in a binding agent like yellow mustard.
  • Apply rub.
  • If not using straight away, store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.


Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7083mg | Potassium: 726mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 56g | Vitamin A: 8137IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 190mg | Iron: 9mg
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