The Best Rib Rubs (And How To Make Them)
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If you’re into barbecuing, grilling and smoking, then you know that ribs are part and parcel of great BBQ. They’re one third of the Texas Trinity (aka the Holy Trinity of Texas BBQ, which is comprised of hot links, brisket and ribs), and ribs play an important role in both competition and backyard barbecue. Long story short: They’re synonymous with American barbecue.
From baby backs to short ribs to spare ribs, these dry rub recipes for ribs will help you achieve the delicious flavor and bark you’re after, while still allowing the flavor of the meat to be the star of the show.
Whether you plan on smoking your ribs, grilling or even baking them (or even the oven + grill method), your dry rub is the foundation of your dish. Without it, you’re leaving a lot of flavor and texture on the table!
In this post, we’ll delve into the specifics of how to make delicious, bark-forming dry rubs for your next rack of ribs using only the ingredients in your spice cabinet.
A Brief History of Ribs
As mentioned above, ribs are about as American as apple pie. In 1493, Columbus brought pigs when he landed in Cuba. In 1539, Hernando de Soto landed in Tampa, Florida and brought along the first 13 pigs to American shores. Three years later, that initial group of 13 pigs had turned into about 700 (both wild and domesticated). Source: Adams Taphouse and Grille
Myron Mixon’s Dry Rub Recipe for Ribs
It’s always hard to argue with the winningest man in barbecue! Below is a surefire winner from 5X world champion pitmaster Myron Mixon.
Myron Mixon's Rib Rub Recipe
- 1 Cup Granulated White Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbsp Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
- 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
- 2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
- 2 Tbsp Mustard Powder
- 2 Tbsp Onion Powder
- ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container for up to six months!
Aaron Franklin’s Dry Rub Recipe for Ribs
Aaron’s base rub for pork ribs is two parts black pepper to one part salt. He notes that since the ribs are so thin, they’re easy to over-salt. The recipe below should be enough for one rack of ribs.
Because there isn’t a lot of smoke that gets onto a rack of ribs, Aaron notes that it’s important to have an even distribution of rub. He puts his into a shaker, and applies it that way to ensure it isn’t splotchy.
Aaron Franklin’s Rib Rub Recipe
- 2 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Salt
- ½ tsp Chili Powder
- ½ tsp Onion Powder (make sure it’s granulated, and not chunky)
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder (also make sure it’s granulated, and not chunky)
- 1 tsp Paprika (for color)
- Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix well.
- Place in a shaker and apply to ribs.
Heath Riles’ World Championship-Winning Rib Rub Recipe
We know the title of the article is about how to make the rib rubs at home. That said, we felt like we just HAD to include Heath Riles’ World Championship-winning rib recipe from the 2022 Memphis in May World BBQ Cooking Championships.
Here’s the recipe, which of course, calls for pre-made rubs from Heath Riles’ full line of products (all of which are available for purchase on his website).
Heath Riles' World Championship-winning Rib Recipe from Memphis in May 2022
- Grill or Smoker
- Take your ribs out of the pack, dry them off, skin the membrane, and trim off any excess fat.
- Season both sides of your rib with my Garlic jalapeno, Pecan, Honey, and Hot Rubs.
- Place ribs on your grill at 300° for 2 hours.
- Take ribs off after 2 hours. Wrap them with my Butter Bath & wrap in an aluminum foil. Place ribs back on grill for another hour, or until internal temperature reaches 205-208°.
- Take ribs off the grill and let them rest for an hour.
- Glaze your ribs with my Sweet BBQ Sauce and dust with my Sweet BBQ Rub. Place back on your grill for about 10 minutes to set the glaze.
The Best Rib Rubs You Can Buy
We know that this post is all about making the best rib rubs at home. But if you don’t have time, or if you’re interested in pre-made rib rubs, we’ve put together a small list of dry rubs for ribs that we know are surefire winners.
Size: 4.6oz plastic shaker
About: Previously known as “Magic Dust”, “Spellbound” rub from Lane’s BBQ in Bethlehem, Georgia is a shoe-in for this list.
“Spellbound is the absolute perfect slightly sweet all-purpose barbecue rub. Perfect for chicken, pork, and a great rib rub. This rub is a mix of sweet, salty, and smokey!
What started as an experiment, Spellbound quickly enchanted the pitmasters at Lane’s BBQ. Legend has it that this rub combined with fire and smoke over time transforms meats into magical meals.”
“Our Flagship Product and foundation blend is Old Pit Dust Rub fondly referred to as ‘Red Dirt’ by those who have cooked with it over the years. Red Dirt is our original blend and contains only tried and tested, premium ingredients that are guaranteed to elevate your Pork, Chicken, Beef and most anything else you can BBQ to a whole new level.”
Size: 140g resealable pouch
About: As featured in our Best of the West BBQ box, The Missing Link is made by Bow Valley BBQ out of Canmore, Alberta.
While extremely versatile, this rub is delicious on ribs. It gives a beautiful colored bark, and tastes just as great as it looks.
Pair The Missing Link with Bow Valley’s Bigfoot Bold BBQ Sauce for a winning combination on your next rack of ribs!
“A gluten free blend of spices, sea salts and organic sugars combined to make for great flavour as well as creating a caramelized crust that is desired in any form of cooking. From grilling and searing to slow smoked or roasted, this blend delivers. Ideal as a BBQ rub, with a diverse flavour profile that is a welcomed enhancement with just about anything.”
Original BBQ Rub
4th – Bow Valley BBQ – The Missing Link Spice Rub
The 2019 Artisan Flavor Awards 2019 (Madison Wisconsin)
3rd place – Bow Valley BBQ – The Missing Link Spice Rub