How to Make a Dry Barbecue Rub

Barbecue Rubs are the baseline for any great barbecue.  Dry Rubs are a blend of seasonings and spices without any wet ingredients. They are versatile and can be used in many different applications.  This is what makes them not only important but also fun to experiment with.  A Dry Rub can be as simple as Salt and Pepper on a New York Strip Steak or a 15 ingredient mixture used to season a competition pork shoulder.  Either way, Dry Rubs have a big impact on your final product.

When it comes to barbecue, Pork seems to be the best canvas for a good dry rub.  Pork has great fat content, works well with smoke, and works well with longer styles of cooking.  Of course, Chicken and Beef work well too.  Beef, in particular, sometimes only needs salt and pepper to get the job done.  Combining Chicken, a dry rub, and smoking can give a little extra flavor that compliments the smoke in the meat.

What we are going to go over is what I think is the easiest way to make your own dry rub.

First, we need to start with your Base Dry Rub. This is your starting point. The good news is that most Base Dry Rub Recipes are made from ingredients that can be found in most people’s pantries.  Brown sugar, Salt, Black Pepper, Paprika, Onion, and Garlic powder.  You can go a long way with just variations of these ingredients. A rub like this can be used on nearly anything.  From seasoning Pork Ribs to putting it on French Fries. Your base rub is kind of your Northern Star.  You can get off the beaten path as much as you want but if you have a base rub to go back to you can really examine where you went and if you like it or not.  A great base rub is listed below.

When you are ready to add some complexity to your rub, be sure not to go too far too quickly.  By that I mean if you want a spicy rub do not go and add a cup of cayenne.  If you start with a base rub like the recipe below you can subtly add ingredients to get the desired flavor profile.  A good rule of thumb is to add one teaspoon at a time of any outside ingredients listed below to get the desired flavor blend that you like.  Measure and document everything, then you will start understanding things that are working for you and things that are not.  Tasting the rub gives you a good idea of what you are looking for but remember when these are cooked a chemical reaction happens and mixed with the juices of the meat will give a very different flavor.

What we suggest is that you start with the Base Recipe below.  Then as you want to add more flavor profiles, use the ingredients below.  It is recommended that you test each one before getting too crazy.  For instance, you might start with the Base Recipe, and then if you find that you would like it to be a little spicier, add one teaspoon of one of the ingredients under the “Heat” category.  Taste it dry. Then make a product with the dry rub and see how it tastes after cooking.  Document your findings. If you find that you still need more flavor profiles, start the process again. This way you can test how each ingredient impacts the flavor not just when tasting it dry, but also how it tastes after the product is smoked and fully cooked. 

Base Recipe (Start Here!)

  • ¼ Cup Brown Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Kosher Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Cracked Black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder

To Add New Flavors & Complexity To Your Rub - Choose From These Options!


  • Cayenne Powder- reddish in color used in moderation good heat.
  • White Pepper- relatively the same as black pepper but white.  A little milder in heat
  • Chipolte Powder (smokey)- Ground dried Chipolte peppers.  Medium heat
  • Chili Powder- Is typically a mixture of spices mainly chili peppers.  (make sure to stay consistent with your chili powder because they do vary)  Mild Heat


  • Celery Seed (earthy, bitter)
  • Mustard Powder (Strong, bold Mustard flavor)
  • Turmeric (mild, peppery) similar to mustard powder
  • Rosemary (minty, bold flavor) lamb Beef
  • Cumin (earthy, mild spice)
  • Thyme (woody, earthy) great florals


  • Light Brown Sugar- (sweet, mild molasses)white sugar that has been flavored with molasses. Generally the best sweetener for Barbecue
  • Turbinado Sugar- Named for the process in which it is turned from Cane syrup to Sugar.  This sugar has a little more grit, Amber in color also great for BBQ less moisture than Brown Sugar still containing the molasses flavor


  • Spanish Paprika (aka Sweet Paprika, Paprika):  vibrant color, sweet but with no heat
  • Hungarian Paprika (Hot Paprika): Color and heat
  • Smoked Paprika (aka Smoked Spanish Paprika, Pimeton): Heat can vary (Mild, Med, Hot) darker in color.



Of course, if you would prefer to do it the easy way, you can purchase the Saddleback BBQ Rub's! 


Pork Rub 

Saddleback's signature pork seasoning is now available to the public. Perfect as a rub for all your BBQ needs, or great as a seasoning for fries, chips, or almost anything else. 

Beef Rub  

Saddleback is now selling the same beef rub we use for all of our beef products. This is the same seasoning that gives our brisket its delicious bark. Buy your own seasoning and see how your brisket measures up to ours! 

Now available for curbside pickup or delivery! 


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