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How to Make Your Own BBQ Dry Rub

While there are a number of excellent, authentic dry rubs to purchase, chances are you already have all the ingredients for a top-notch barbecue seasoning in your spice rack. We’ve gathered together three spice rubs from three of the main American barbecue regions that you can easily make at home. While these dry rubs have their differences, they all share in common the three principle aspects of American barbecue : salt, sweet, and heat. The combination of these three flavors result in mouth-watering barbecue that hits all the right notes.

Memphis

Memphis-style barbecue is often served without sauce so that the rub is prominently featured. As a result, this rub is packed full of spicy paprika, a heady helping of sugar, salt, and a complex mix of onion, garlic, and oregano. The combination of spices found in this rub lends itself to a variety of meats such as pork ribs, pulled, pork, beef ribs, beef brisket, and chicken.

Memphis-Style BBQ Spice Rub

Memphis BBQ Spice Rub Ingredients (yields 1 1/4 cups)

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp kosher salt (see note)
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp celery salt (or seeds)

Note: If you use celery salt we recommend adding less salt to the mix.

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.

Kansas City

Most famous for its pork ribs, Kansas City is considered by many to be the home of American barbecue. Unlike Memphis-style, which is served dry, Kansas City barbecue is cooked and served slathered in a sweet sauce. The addition of dark brown sugar in Kansas City dry rub results in a sweeter taste than the tangy Memphis style. Kansas City rub works best on pork ribs but can still be used in a variety of pork and beef dishes.

Kansas City-Style BBQ Spice Rub

Kansas City-Style BBQ Spice Rub Ingredients (yields 1 1/4 cups)

  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp white pepper

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.

Carolina-style

Whether it be shoulder, crackling, or a whole hog, the entire Carolina region’s barbecue culture is based around various cuts and cooking styles for pork. This rub differs from the others thanks to addition of cumin. This favorful spice adds an unmistakable taste and works well with a variety of pork dishes.

Carolina-Style BBQ Spice Rub

Carolina-Style BBQ Spice Rub Ingredients (yields 1/2 cup)

  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.

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