Basic Rub for Pork Ribs or Shoulder

This might be the kitchen sink of rubs, a bit of almost everything. It’s a complex, pungent and mildly spicy flavor; perfect to cut through the buttery richness of pork. I admit, though, it finds itself, somehow, sprinkled on chicken wings, or during the summer dusted over a little grilled chicken breast. Now and then, it might show up on a few grilled veggies, here and there, perhaps grilled corn or a plank or two of potato. This works well, too, in a buttermilk marinade for chicken or shrimp.

Basic Rub for Pork Shoulder or Ribs
Basic Rub for Pork Shoulder or Ribs

My favorite thing about this rub is that it is so good on barbecued items served dry, but it’s a little magical with a sauce, too. A sweet sauce will take the edge off while a vinegar based one will compliment it nicely, and something a bit spicy? Well it just rounds out the flavor. This is marvelous on my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and even better on a Smoked Shoulder.

Feel free to tinker to your heart’s content. This blend is heavy on the pepper, which gives it a bit of raw heat, with the other flavors playing a more subtle role. It has what I’d describe as a clean taste, sweet heat, but on the mild side, with no herbaceous notes. I’d call it a mix of Down South, with a hint of Southwestern and Cali, all playing together.

Basic Rib Rub

  • Servings: abt a cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 tablespoon paprika (I like Spanish paprika in this, now & then)
  • 1 tablespoon salt *
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic or 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together. Store in a jar, tightly lidded, in a cool, dark place. Makes a little more than a cup.

Use as desired, light or heavy, on barbecued items. I would recommend massaging this into the meat, then tightly wrapping meat, letting it rest, for two to three hours in the fridge. Overnight? Why not!

* Any time I go beyond two to three hours for a rub, brine or marinade, I use kosher rather than table salt. Here’s a great conversion chart from Morton. (Not all kosher salts use the same conversion ratio.)

Hint: If you ever pull something out like this to find it has formed clumps, don’t despair! Toss it in the food processor and pulse a few seconds, or place in a baggie and roll over it with a rolling pin. Good as new!

from the kitchen of

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