About BBQ Rubs

A rub is simply a blend of herbs, peppers, spices or seasonings that are blended to add flavor by coating the surface of meat. Rubs can consist of all dry ingredients or they can include oils, crushed garlic or other liquids that cause the rub to take the form of a paste.

Rubs can be applied just before cooking or several hours ahead of time, this is a personal choice. Rubs do not need to be applied in advance, but can be applied to the surface of meat just before grilling, roasting or barbequing. For convenience rubs can be applied several hours before cooking, however the meat should be covered and refrigerated to maintain food safety. Many flavors will become more pronounced the longer the rub stays on the meat.

Selection & Creation

When selecting or creating a rub recipe make sure to use spices and ingredients that are within date. Spices can lose their potency over time and should be discarded. We recommend starting with a basic recipe and adding a few ingredients to modify the flavor profile or adjusting the ingredients to your preferences. For example, in the recipe below, if you prefer spicier food the level of red pepper could be increased or another spice added to increase the heat. It is recommended to taste your rub prior to applying it to meat to ensure the flavor profile is pleasing.


Once you find a recipe that you like, a large batch can be made and stored for later use. To store place in a sealable plastic bag and remove as much air as possible (or vacuum seal) and store in a cool, dry place, such as the freezer or a dark pantry. Make sure to record the date on the rub and store for up to six months (after this point it may begin to lose flavor).

If you’re looking for a rub to try on beef brisket or pork spare ribs check out the following recipe from the SDSU Meat Lab.


Ingredient Amount
Salt 6 Tablespoons
Brown Sugar 3 Tablespoons
Garlic Powder 3 Tablespoons
Paprika 3 Tablespoons
Chili Powder 2 Tablespoon
Course Ground Black Pepper 2 Tablespoon
Ground Mustard 1 ½ Tablespoon
Cumin 2 ½ Tablespoons
Red Pepper, fine ground 3 teaspoons
Dried Oregano 1 ½ teaspoon
Ground Sage 1 ½ teaspoon

Source: SDSU iGrow