BBQ rubs can do wonders in imparting additional flavors when you are barbecuing and smoking. A rub is simply just a dry blend of spices, herbs, seasonings, and/or peppers that are mixed together and used to coat the surface of the meat. Oils or other “wet” ingredients can then sometimes be used with the rub, technically making it a wet rub.
When used properly rubs can help amplify the natural, delicious flavor of your meats without overpowering them. For example, when it comes to Memphis-style or much of Texas-style barbecue, BBQ rubs take front and center stage.
Of course, there are some great premade rubs available for purchase, from BBQ rib rubs to BBQ beef rubs and everything in between. For example, the Sweet Rub O'Mine Texas Beef Rub from one of our pitmasters, Mark Lambert's, Sweet Swine O’ Mine Distributing.
But, to really have some fun with your outdoor cooking and get creative, why not try out a homemade BBQ rub? One huge advantage of making your own rub is that you monitor and control exactly what goes into it. You can experiment with different ingredients and determine what your favorite flavor profile is for different types of meat.
If you are wondering how to make a BBQ rub, we’ve got you covered with advice straight from the pro pitmasters. In this article, we’ll cover some quick tips on making homemade BBQ rub that you’ll love. Let’s take a look:
There are, of course, a lot of different ingredients that can work in a homemade BBQ rub. But, it’s important to start simple and start with the basics. Many great rubs are made around the foundation of the usual three core ingredients: salt, pepper, and garlic (known in the barbecue world as “SPG”).
Many good rub mixes will also add sugar to those three ingredients to give a good balance of savory and sweet.
Salt not only adds and enhances flavor, but it also draws moisture away from the outer part of the meat. This allows a nice seared crust to develop, locking the rest of the moisture in the interior of the meat and keeping it juicy.
Start with those three core ingredients and build and modify your rub from there. For example, if you’re going for a spicier rub, you may use less garlic and more pepper as well as additional ingredients. If you’re going for sweeter, use less pepper and garlic and add an additional ingredient or two for sweetness. Sugar helps create a caramelizing effect on the exterior of the meat but be careful not to use too much. High amounts of sugar in a rub can make it start to burn.
Other good rub ingredients can include things like turbinado sugar, roasted red pepper, paprika, ground mustard seed, ground coffee, or even dried and ground apple. But remember, simpler is better when you are first venturing into homemade rubs.
If you are taking the time to make a homemade BBQ rub, chances are you want to cook some quality barbecue. So, that desire for quality should also apply to the ingredients you use as well.
Dry spices, dried herbs, etc don’t last forever. They do lose their potency over time. So, the more fresh your ingredients are, the better tasting your rub will be. At a minimum, your ingredients don’t have to be brand new but you definitely don’t want to use ingredients that are out of date. Your rub will end up not having the level of flavor that you are really wanting.
So you know you’re going to get fresh ingredients, but you can elevate the flavors of the types of spices and herbs you want to use even more. Buy the ingredients whole and roast them in the oven or in a dry skillet. Then grind the toasted ingredients yourself. This will greatly amplify the flavors and quality of your homemade BBQ rub.
Source: The Kitchn
Before your rub goes anywhere near your meat, always do a taste test of it first. This guarantees there won’t be any unpleasant surprises. You want to make sure the flavor profile of the rub is what you are wanting and is a pleasing combination. The last thing you want is to put the rub on the meat and be disappointed when you go to take your first bite after it’s done cooking.
When you’re experimenting and putting together your rub, take notes of what ingredients and how much of them you are using. If you put together a killer great-tasting rub, you want to be able to make more of it later. So, the only way to do that is to take notes of what you’re making.
Ideally, you want to have documented recipes of exactly what rub ingredients to put together for different flavor profiles you enjoy and the different meats to use them on.
Once you’ve come up with a homemade BBQ rub recipe that you like, you can make a large batch of it and store any leftover for later use. Just make sure you date it! As we mentioned above, you don’t want to keep rubs and spices for too long. Dating your batch will ensure this doesn’t happen. A good rule of thumb is that anything more than six months old should be discarded.
To keep your leftover rub fresh, put it in a sealable plastic bag, and remove as much air as possible (better yet, vacuum seal it). Then store the bag in a cool, dry place, like your freezer or a dark pantry.
After reading the tips above, you may still be looking for an exact starting place for how to make a BBQ rub.
This BBQ rub recipe below, from Weber Grills, is an all-purpose BBQ rub that utilizes the core ingredients of SPG with some great aromatics mixed in as well.
From this recipe, you can tweak it, replace ingredients or add in different things, and get creative. Then you will have made your own homemade BBQ rub to fit the type of flavors you are looking for.
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
Making your own homemade BBQ rub can not only be fun but it’s very easy and opens you up to a lot of flexibility depending on the taste you are trying to achieve. Just follow these tips above, get creative, and elevate your barbecue today!
Check out our other great article here for tips on how and when to properly use your homemade BBQ rub when you are cooking.
Have you come up with a great homemade BBQ rub that you love? Been experimenting with different ingredients lately? Leave a comment below. We want to hear from you!
You can learn more insider BBQ tips and techniques and elevate your outdoor cooking game with the Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy. In our first of its kind online barbecue classes, you’ll learn step by step, in stunning video, everything you need to know to cook competition-worthy barbecue. Check out our All-Access pass to get the full inside look.