Basic Barbecue Dry Rub – A Cheat Sheet
The kitchen pantry of every barbecue fan needs a jar of basic homemade dry rub.
Dry rubs do two things for meats, fish, and vegetables. One, they impart great flavor. Two, they add color and texture. If you have time, rub meats hours ahead for the most flavor, or sprinkle it on at the last minute just like salt and pepper—the most basic rub blend of all.
Making a dry rub couldn’t be simpler. And rub is just a blend of seasonings and salt. Rubs are literally (and liberally, at times) rubbed into the meat (or sprinkled on vegetables) before and after cooking.
Don’t let the expensive specialty store blends or your bar-b-guru’s “secret” rub complicate things. A basic barbecue dry rub starts with paprika, black pepper, and kosher salt. Add whatever you like to that trio, but resist the temptation to overcomplicate a rub with too many seasonings. We keep the salt level to about 1/5 to 1/4 of the mix. Adjust the salt to suite your taste. The toughest part of this project is probably pulling together a collection of jars.
A good rub can accent a barbecued meat or a dish brilliantly and we often skip a sauce, even with our cheater ribs and chicken. Make a big batch and you’re set for months. Stored properly, dry rubs keep as long as the spices in the rub stay fresh, about a year.
So, you don’t want to make your own rub? Well, that’s what cheating is all about. There’s nothing wrong with a reliable short cut and the stores are full of good prepared rubs. Find some you like and keep them on hand. The rubs that use sugar usually aren’t as salty and work well with pork. The standard recommendation on bottled rubs is to use one tablespoon per pound of meat and that works fine.