All-Purpose BBQ Dry Rub (Chicken, Pork, Ribs, and More!)

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The perfect BBQ Dry Rub for grilling season and more! This easy BBQ seasoning uses a blend of smoky and aromatic cumin, paprika, garlic powder and mustard powder, plus brown sugar for a touch of sweetness. As a big bonus, the sugar caramelizes on the grill to give chicken, pork, steak, and veggies an irresistible char. Mix the spices and sugar together, and store for up to 2 months! The ultimate BBQ rub recipe for backyard cookouts and easy weeknight meals! Made with 8 ingredients.
A close-up shot of a stoneware bowl of mixed dry rub atop a grey and white surface.

Charred, Smoky-Sweet Perfection for Your Fave BBQ Staples

Grilling season is our favorite time of year and this homemade BBQ rub is one of the reasons why. Our tried and true BBQ seasoning recipe is filled with flavor and takes less than 5 minutes to mix up. You’ll want to use it on everything!

This 5-minute spice rub is so versatile and amps up the flavor of just about anything you plan to grill!

All you need are 8 simple spices, many of which are probably already in your pantry. Chili powder, paprika, and cumin add a rich smokiness while garlic, onion, and mustard powder add plenty of aromatics. But our favorite part that makes this rub extra special is the touch of brown sugar – its sweetness balances the other flavors and also caramelizes beautifully on the grill. It’s the secret to gloriously charred edges and grill marks!

While grilled BBQ chicken is one of our faves, the spiced sweetness of this BBQ seasoning is also great with pork, steak, summer veggies, ribs, burgers, you name it. It also makes a quick & easy Shredded BBQ Chicken for the ultimate meal prep! This is an all-purpose BBQ dry rub that’s so versatile, we often make a double or triple batch to store and use all summer long. A go-to spice blend for good reason! 🔥

What’s a BBQ Spice Rub?

Like any cooking method, barbequed meats and veggies always benefit from seasoning. A BBQ dry rub is a blend of smoky, aromatic spices and a touch of sugar that season BBQ staples like pork and chicken or even tofu and veggies. The spice blend is “rubbed” into a protein or vegetable to add tons of flavor.

Why a rub? → A dry rub infuses the meat or veggie with tons of smoky, sweet goodness throughout the entire cooking process. Unlike a marinade, the BBQ dry rub stays in contact with the meat the whole time, giving off tons of flavor as it cooks.

Can you use dry rub and bbq sauce? → Sure thing – this is how we make our favorite grilled BBQ chicken! Season the meat with BBQ rub then grill and finish with a glaze of BBQ sauce.

Key Ingredients

This mix of 8 simple spices creates the BEST blend of smoky, aromatic flavor with just the right amount of sweetness. Most of these spices are probably already in your pantry!

An overhead shot of a stoneware bowl of dry rub ingredients atop a grey and white surface.
8 flavorful ingredients come together to create a complex, smoky-sweet dry rub that beautifully chars and caramelizes when grilled.

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • Brown sugar – The perfect kiss of sweetness! As a big bonus, the sugars give a caramelly char to anything it touches.
  • Chili powder – Made with a blend of red chiles, chili powder gives a smoky but not too spicy heat to the BBQ rub.
  • Ground cumin – For a warm, earthy smokiness.
  • Garlic powder – Everything is better with garlic! Garlic powder gives the BBQ seasoning a big aromatic punch.
  • Mustard powder – Tangy mustard is a BBQ classic. Mustard powder is fairly mild on its own but really comes alive when mixed with all the other spices.
  • Onion powder – For even more aromatic flavor in the BBQ rub!
  • Smoked paprika – We love the spiced flavor of smoked paprika (vs everyday paprika), especially for anything BBQ. It adds to the smokiness from cooking it on the grill!
  • Black pepper – We highly suggest grinding black peppercorns yourself if you can. The flavor is simply the best.
  • Cayenne pepper – An optional extra kick of heat! Feel free to skip it if you don’t love spice.

How to Make BBQ Dry Rub

Making this homemade dry rub couldn’t be easier! It takes about 5 minutes tops and is simple enough to memorize quickly. Hint: our BBQ rub recipe uses 1 ½ tsp of every spice except brown sugar.

This BBQ dry rub will last up to two months in your pantry, perfect for busy weeknights all grilling season long!

To make this BBQ rub seasoning, simply gather your spices, measure, and mix! That’s it!

Make Ahead and Storage: This BBQ seasoning recipe is super make-ahead-friendly. One of our favorite tricks is to make a double or triple batch so we have plenty of BBQ dry rub on-hand during grilling season. It’ll last on your spice rack for up to 2 months!

Pro Tip! ⇢ Store a batch of homemade BBQ rub in an airtight container like a mason jar. Keep it within reach in your pantry or spice rack so you can use it over and over. You’ll know the BBQ seasoning is past its prime if it’s clumping together or losing its fragrance.

Want some extra flavor? Kick up the spiciness of this dry rub by adding a bit of cayenne pepper!

Serving Suggestions

Once you’ve made your BBQ rub, all that’s left is to sprinkle it on anything and everything. 🤤

To apply the dry rub, sprinkle the BBQ seasoning on the surface of your protein or vegetable and use your hands to “rub” it in. You want to make sure you are rubbing it in, but don’t want it to fall off. To do that, press the dry rub into the meat, tofu, or veggies, and repeat all over!

The brown sugar in this BBQ rub adds subtle sweetness and craveable caramelization to everything it touches.

A few ideas to get you started…

  • BBQ Pulled PorkGreat for sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas, and more.
  • Chicken – Use for drumsticks, breasts, chicken thighs, chicken wings, or even a whole grilled chicken. Grilled Peach BBQ Chicken is a fun spin on the classic, or try a BBQ Chicken Bowl or Shredded BBQ Chicken, perfect for stuffing inside sliders or sandwiches.
  • Pork – Our Must-Have Pulled Pork and Grilled Baby Back Ribs are our favorite ways to pair with pork.
  • Seafood – Delicate proteins like seafood don’t need as much seasoning as a hearty steak. Its tender flesh will soak up plenty of flavor. A little goes a long way here! We love a sprinkle of dry rub on shrimp or salmon most.
  • Grilled Veggies – While this BBQ rub is delicious on all veggies, we particularly love it on grilled sweet potatoes, peppers, and onions. It also makes a great cauliflower steak. Simply dust the veggies in seasoning before you add them to the grill. One of the best parts of summer!

I can’t wait for you to try this BBQ Dry Rub! It’s so easy to make and adds tons of smoky-sweet, aromatic flavor to anything it touches. We won’t blame you if you sprinkle it on everything!

If you do give it, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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Anside-angle shot of a glass jar of BBQ dry rub atop a grey and white surface.

All-Purpose BBQ Dry Rub (Chicken, Pork, Ribs, and More!)

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  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 0 min
  • Total Time: 5 min
  • Yield: 1/3 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

The perfect BBQ Dry Rub for grilling season and more! This easy BBQ seasoning uses a blend of smoky and aromatic cumin, paprika, garlic powder and mustard powder, plus brown sugar for a touch of sweetness. As a big bonus, the sugar caramelizes on the grill to give chicken, pork, steak, and veggies an irresistible char. Mix the spices and sugar together, and store for up to 2 months! The ultimate BBQ rub recipe for backyard cookouts and easy weeknight meals! Made with 8 ingredients.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • optional: pinch – ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all listed ingredients to a small bowl or jar. Stir to combine. Set aside, or store on your spice rack in an airtight container.
  2. Use the rub to season your favorite proteins. Enjoy!


Notes

  • Make Ahead and Storage: This BBQ seasoning recipe is super make-ahead-friendly. One of our favorite tricks is to make a double or triple batch so we have plenty of BBQ dry rub on-hand during grilling season. It’ll last on your spice rack for up to 2 months!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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