Dry Rub for Ribs

Dry rubs for ribs can add an amazing layer of flavour to your beef or pork ribs.  They don’t really need to be all that complicated to make, but when you use them properly, they can turn a basic rib into something from heaven (or hell – depending on how much heat you put into the rub!).

You can of course buy dry rubs for ribs if you want to.  Most supermarkets will sell you some sort of basic dry rub.  If you’re lucky enough to have a shop where you live that sells hot sauces and barbeque sauces, you’ll likely be able to get better quality rib rubs there.  However, they are easy enough to make on your own that there really is not reason not to make your own dry rubs.

There are really only 3 questions you need to ask yourself when you are making your rubs:

  1. do you want it sweet
  2. do you want a spicy rub
  3. what kind of flavour do you want the dry rub to give the ribs

If you want your rub to add some sweetness to the ribs, be sure to use sugar of some kind.  Brown sugar, cane sugar can be very good as they also add nice flavours.  You may want to dry them out a little (overnight on a cookie sheet) before using them in the rub to remove any extra moisture.

If you want a spicy hot rub, add in your favourite chilis, or cayanne pepper.

As for flavours, the sky is the limit here really.  However most basic North American dry rubs for ribs are reasonably similar and have

  • salt (use Kosher or Sea Salt not table salt)
  • pepper
  • mustard
  • onion powder (not salt)
  • garlic powder (not salt)
  • Paprika (smoked sweet red peppers)

Here are two basic recipes for dry rubs for ribs.  You can use either of these recipes on both pork or beef ribs.  Some people like to add cumin to beef rib rub for a more earthy flavour – it is really good.

Sweet Dry Rub for Ribs

6   tablespoons brown sugar
3   tablespoons paprika
3   tablespoons salt
3   tablespoons ground black pepper
2   teaspoon garlic powder
2   teaspoon mustard powder

Spicy Dry Rub for Ribs

6   tablespoons paprika
3   tablespoons salt
3   teaspoons ground black pepper
2   teaspoon garlic powder
2   teaspoons Onion Powder
1  teaspoon Cayanne pepper
use Habanero peppers or for more flavour Chipotle peppers (dried & smoked jalapeno peppers) to add real heat

For both recipes, mix all together and rub onto your ribs a good 4-12 hours before you start cooking to let the flavours penetrate the ribs.  Also be sure to let the ribs warm up to room temperature before you start to smoke them or you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and smoke.

There you have it, the basics of dry rubs for ribs.  It isn’t all that hard to make your own, and with the two basic recipes I’ve just given you, you can head off in all sorts of delicious directions.

Good eatin’


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