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How to make your own custom BBQ Rub

Posted by Chef Perry P. Perkins on

How to make your own custom BBQ Rub

What is a rub?

A Rub is a spice and/or herb blend that’s used to coat meats prior to cooking. Rubs can be completely dry or can incorporate some liquids. This is called a wet rub or paste. Rubs are typically used in barbecue and grilling because of they stick to the meat when grilled or smoked.

A common rub base is paprika and/or chili powder to add color and mild flavor. Personally, I like to combine a generous amount of dry rub on the outside of the meat, with an injectable marinade to add flavor to the interior, especially with large cuts like pork shoulders. 

Mixing your own

Homemade dry rubs cheap, simple to make, and usually taste better than store-bought varieties, and they can be easily tailored to your personal tastes or dietary restrictions. Once you nail down the basics, you can create an endless variety of dry rubs.

A good dry rub should include five elements: A base, a salty element, a sweet element, a spicy element, and a signature element.

Base: I like smoked paprika for a solid rub base, but many folks use a hot or sweet paprika as well. You can customize your paprika base by adding chili powder, cumin,

Salty: This would be salt. Avoid iodized table salt in your rub (in fact, avoid that nasty stuff in anything you plan to eat…) common options are Kosher or sea salt (coarse or medium), seasoned salt, Hickory or smoked salt, or for pastes and wet rubs, you can try soy sauce or Thai fish sauce for your salt element.

Sweet: Again, an almost endless list of options: white or brown sugar, honey, molasses, or maple syrup (wet), ginger, cinnamon, etc.

Spicy: Black, white, and red ground peppers, red pepper flake, or for serious spice, try a little (a little!) ghost pepper powder.

Signature: Finally, make it your own with a dash or two of something you like, spices like coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, mustard, rosemary, and thyme.

Even garam masala or curry power, anything goues!

Make it a cup at a time, and tweak your recipe until it’s perfect!

Here’s what I do…

Chef Perry’s “Burnin’ Love” Pork Rub

"Burnin' Love BBQ" is the name of the BBQ Team that my fellow pit-masters, Chris Renner, Terry Ramsey, and I operate. Really, it's just an excuse to stand around in smoke and cook a lot of pigs and briskets…but don't tell our wives, okay?

This is our secret pork shoulder rub. Apply it generously to the inside of a butterflied shoulder, roll it, tie it, and apply more rub to the outside. You MUST allow the rubbed shoulder to rest in the fridge at least overnight so that the rub will help form that wonderful "bark" while roasting.

Finally, after it’s done cooking and you've pulled, chopped, or shredded the meat, give it one last sprinkle for an intense, spicy flavor.

¼ C smoked paprika
¼ C coarse sea salt
¼ C light brown sugar
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
2 Tbs Italian seasonings (spicy, if you can find them)
2 Tbs coarse black pepper
1 Tbs hickory salt
1 tsp cayenne powder

Mix well, store in an air-tight container in a cool area.
Good for 6-8lbs of pork.

Happy Roasting!

~Chef Perry

As a third-generation chef, Perry P. Perkins focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.

Perry runs the non-profit organization, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes for at risk youth.

His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party, and the NEW “La Caja China Grill.”

You can follow the rest of Chef Perry’s cooking adventures at

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