The Ultimate Dry Rub for Ribs

barbecue rib dry rub

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A good dry rub can boost your barbecue from average to “the best ribs I’ve ever eaten”. This rub uses classic barbecue flavors and has the perfect balancee of sweet, savory and heat for pork ribs.

It goes just as well on chicken, turkey or pork chops, but it’s always my go to for pork ribs.

Making a pork rib rub 

When making a rub for pork, I feel it is best to have a good balance of sweet, savory and heat. I’ve given you the ratios that work best for me and my family in the recipe below but feel free to tweak the exact amounts to your personal preferences.

pork rib rub ingredients
Sweeter rubs always work great with smoker pork ribs

You will need to put all of the ingredients into a bowl.

  • Start with 8 tablespoons of smoked paprika, you could use sweet or normal paprika but I just love the flavor of the smoked variety.
  • Then add 6 tablespoons of brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of kosher salt or salt flakes if you have no kosher salt.
  • Next, 2 tablespoons of coarsely ground black pepper, I tablespoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of mustard powder, I tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder and a quarter of a teaspoon of hot cayenne pepper. 
pork rub in a glass rub shaker
Once all ingredients are combined, all you need is to transfer them into a rub shaker

Mix all of the ingredients up and then transfer to a rub shaker for ease of use.

Tip – Try and use fresh herbs and spices as old ones will lose some of the flavor and potency.

See how I use this rub to make fall off the bone pork ribs in this video.

321 Ribs: Low and Slow Smoked Pork Ribs

How to customize the rub

Now I swear by the exact quantities in this rib rub, but I understand that sometimes you want to expereiement. Here are a couple of ways you can mix things up:

  • If you want to play around with the level of spice you can increase or decrease the amount of cayenne pepper. If you are making ribs for kids don’t use any, and if you want to fire things up a notch try using 1/2 tsp instead.
  • Instead of smoked paprika use a sweet variety

How to store your dry rub

So long as you store this rub in an airtight container it should last for about a year. Because there are no anti-caking agents you will proobably need to break it up with a fork before applying it.

For best resutls make sure you use fresh spices, and always label your jar with the date you made it.

Using this spice rub

If you’re using this rub on ribs you’ll want to apply a nice even coating all over the slab. The best way to do this is by using a rub shaker from a height of around 12 inches, as this allows the rub particles to separate completely before hitting the meat, giving you an even coating so every mouthful tastes the same.

Before applying the rub you can smear your ribs in mustard to act as a binder and help the rub stick to the pork.

Check out our recipe for 3-2-1 pork ribs to see how we use this rub to create fall-off-the-bone style ribs.

Check out our other rubs

The Best BBQ Rubs You Can Buy Online

BBQ Dry Rubs You Can Make at Home

Delicious Dry Rubs for Pulled Pork and Ribs

barbecue rib dry rub

The Ultimate Dry Rub for Ribs

This rub uses classic barbecue flavors and has the perfect balance of sweet, savory and heat for pork ribs.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment / Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 racks
Calories: 286kcal
Author: Dean “Schuey” Schumann


  • 8 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp hot cayenne pepper


  • Mix rub ingredients in a bowl. For best results move rub to a rub shaker and then sprinkle evenly over your meat from a distance of around 12 inches.
  • Store in an airtight container. You can break the rub up with a fork before applying it the next time.


Sodium: 10506mg | Calcium: 181mg | Vitamin C: 2mg | Vitamin A: 13967IU | Sugar: 39g | Fiber: 13g | Potassium: 935mg | Calories: 286kcal | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fat: 6g | Protein: 7g | Carbohydrates: 62g | Iron: 10mg
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  1. John Swaringen says:

    Most rubs have too much salt for my wife. Would it be possible to use less, or substitute something else?

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