This is the Best Rib Rub for smoking, grilling, slow-cooking, and everything in between. It’s an easy win, with spices you already have sitting in your pantry. Use this sugar and spice blend as a pork rib rub, beef rib rub, or to marinate any cut of meat!
There are countless ways to enjoy a rack of ribs. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of trying new combinations of spices, seasonings, and sauces. Sometimes, however, it’s best to keep things simple. And this is the best rib rub for every occasion!
This is a fool-proof BBQ rib rub that packs a deep sweetness, vibrant spice, and just enough tang into one easy blend that you can store and use all summer long.
Check out my other Pork Rib Rub recipe! A bit more complex, this variation adds a couple more spices and seasonings and includes a fabulous mop sauce for extra moisture.
Looking for a beef rib rub? I’ve got you covered with my Boneless Rib Roast! It’s a unique blend that’s well suited for holidays and special Sunday dinners. The secret ingredient? Coffee!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Ribs – This recipe makes just enough for two racks of baby back pork ribs.
- Brown Sugar – This sugar has a deep, molasses-like sweetness. The best rib rub will always use brown sugar as its base to help the blend stick and to add that characteristic smoky sweetness.
- Paprika – The smokiness in paprika is perfect for smoking meat. Its mild heat complements the sharp and sweet flavors in this mix. Swap out with cayenne pepper powder for some extra spice.
- Fennel Seeds – This seasoning has a sweet anise flavor, a bit like licorice, that is really enhanced when cooked. Its warm spice pairs well with the brown sugar. If you’re not a fan of fennel, you can leave it out.
- Salt & Pepper – The best rib rub will never miss these two key seasonings! Never skip the basics and be sure to apply a base coating of salt and pepper before applying the spice blend.
- Dry Mustard – Tangy and acidic, and very mildly spicy.
- Garlic & Onion Powder – These very simple, self-explanatory flavor enhancers help to build the body of this blend.
- Red Chili Flakes – For flecks of heat dispersed throughout the mix. This, too, is a mild spice that isn’t at all overwhelming. Cayenne pepper could be used in its place.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST RIB RUB
1. Mix the Seasonings. Combine all of the spices and brown sugar with a whisk, making sure all of the seasonings are well mixed and evenly incorporated.
2. Soak the Wood Chips. Prepare your wood chips for smoking by soaking them in water for at least 30 minutes.
3. Clean and Marinate. Remove the back membrane of the rack. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper before coating the top of the ribs with the BBQ rib rub. Cover and let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes, or let sit overnight for even better results.
4. Prepare the Grill. Meanwhile, preheat your grill to 350°F and clean with a wire brush. Toss a handful of soaked wood chips into the smoker and close the lid. Once the grill gets a nice smoke going, lay the ribs on the grill, bone-side down, and close the lid.
5. Smoke. Decrease the temperature to 250°F. Maintain this temperature and let the meat smoke until it shrinks back from the bone and its internal temperature reaches 196°F.
6. Let Rest and Serve. After taking the rack out of the grill, let them rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing into the ribs and serving.
How long should a rub be on ribs before cooking?
Even the best rib rub needs a bit of time to really work. You want to let it sit for at least 30 minutes. However, I recommend wrapping the meat and letting it marinate in the fridge overnight for maximum flavor.
What do you put on ribs for a rub to stick?
The best way to make a BBQ rib rub stick is to really pack it onto the meat. Massage it in with your hands, and don’t move the rack while it smokes. The brown sugar will help the pork rib rub pack easily onto the surface and form the crust during cooking, helping the blend to stick to the meat.
Another go to I like to use is yellow mustard. Slather it on the ribs and then pack on this dry rub!
How long should ribs be smoked?
It depends on the ribs and the smoker.
I made this recipe with 4-5 lbs of ribs. It took my smoker 1 hour and 20 minutes to get the meat up to a safe internal temperature of 196°F. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to determine when the meat is done cooking.
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Kevin’s Best Rib Rub
- 2 racks baby back pork ribs (4 to 5 pounds total)
Dry Rub Mix
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- In a small bowl mix the rub spices and brown sugar.
- Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes.
- Clean the ribs up by removing the back membrane, salt and pepper both sides and spread the rub spice mixture over the top of the ribs. Let stand at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but I prefer to wrap in plastic wrap and foil and place in the refrigerator overnight to marinate.
- Preheat the grill to 350°F.
- Brush the cooking grates clean with a wire brush. Add one handful of the wood chips to the smoker box of your gas grill and close the lid. When the wood begins to smoke, put the rib(s) bone side down, and close the lid.
- Drop the temperature of the grill down to 250°F. Cook until the meat has shrunk back from the bones at least ½ inch and the internal meat temperature is 196°F, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Keep the temperature of the grill at 250°F.
- Remove the racks from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the racks into individual ribs and serve warm.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
My husband was smoking some pork spare ribs and asked me to make him a rub. I stumbled across this recipe but didn’t have any fennel seeds. I salted the ribs with a good amount of Himalayan salt, then coated them in this rub. They were the BEST ribs he’s ever made! It was like candied ribs. Soo amazing. Soo flavorful! This will be our go to seasoning for sure. Thank you!
Awesome! So glad you both enjoyed this one Lauren. Thanks for coming back to let me know!
There are so many amazing flavors in this dry rub!
You will love it!
I am drooling over here Kevin! These sound absolutely incredible. I cannot wait to try that dry rub – and I can finally smoke meats so this is going to be awesome!
Thank you! I hope you give the rub a try!
Let me know after you try it!
Love the spices and the flavor in the recipe here. Must try!
Thank you! Gotta keep it on hand at all times!
Oh wow these look fantastic! I love using dry mustard and in a rub sounds great. The salad combos sound delicious and I am so hungry for these right now, can’t wait to try them. Cheers!
It makes me hungry every time too!
Oh wow these look fantastic! I love using dry mustard and in a rub sounds great. The salad combos sound delicious and I am so hungry for these right now, cheers!
You will love them! Let me know if you try them I would love to hear how you enjoy them!
This dry rub would work on so many cuts of meat! I want to try this on slow cooked beef next 🙂
Yes!! Let me know if you try it!
I have to share this with my husband! We smoke a lot and this will be helpful for him when he is on the hunt for ribs!
A must share for sure!
Suggestions for this recipe on charcoal??
I would use the dry rub like you would for any rib recipe. I use it for soking, grilling and BBQ on gas, pellet and we’ve done charcoal. I have an entire RIBS section, if you’d like to check them out Alex.