Best BBQ Rubs

The 12 Best BBQ Rubs for Barbecuing, Smoking, and More

One of the most popular activities of summer is barbecuing. Unlike grilling, which usually involves shorter times at higher temperatures, barbecues allow you to cook low and slow, which is a great way to add a strong, delicious flavor to various meats. For this reason, it’s handy to have a collection of BBQ rubs available that will help deliver those flavors that you love most. Although there are just as many options for flavor profiles as there are people who enjoy barbecue, some are more popular than others. Below, you’ll find the top 12 BBQ rubs on the market, along with helpful insight on how to choose the best rubs for you.

Best Pick

Bad Byron's Butt Rub Barbeque Seasoning

Bad Byron's Butt Rub Barbeque Seasoning is our best pick for flavor for those who enjoy a little spice, with paprika, chipotle, onion, garlic, and salt and pepper. This rub is used by everyone from home cooks to professional chefs, and while designed for smoked pork, it can do a lot for you when it comes to barbecue.

Budget Pick

Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub

Killer Hogs BBQ Rub is an all-natural rub that is made in the USA, and it comes in multipack options so that you can get more for your money. Plus, it’s an award-winning product used by professional pitmasters and home cooks alike.


Highlighted Features

  • Used by professional chefs and championship BBQ cooks alike
  • Designed for use as an all-purpose seasoning rather than having a specific flavor profile
  • Gluten-free, all-natural ingredients

Bad Byron's Butt Rub is a very popular seasoning choice for dry rubs, preferred by many professional BBQ chefs and restaurant chefs around the country who enjoy a good BBQ rub. This product is made in the USA, and many people love the flavor it adds to pork, but it can be used on just about any meat that you desire.

The flavor isn’t spicy but can be a bit salty if you aren't careful with adding salt later. Ensure that you taste the rub before and during cooking so that you don't over-salt and ruin a great roast. This rub can be used right away or even added to a marinade to sit overnight if you want to create tender ribs that fall off the bone. Its versatility is what puts it at the top of the list.

Highlighted Features

  •  Available in single bottle, three-pack or five-pack for maximum value
  • Offers a unique blend of salt, heat, sugar, and other spices that is great for use on pork, poultry, and beef alike
  • Less sodium than similar rubs with a sweeter flavor profile

This general use rub from Killer Hogs was developed over years of practice by professional BBQ pitmasters who know their way around barbecue flavors. The rub features a sweet and spicy flavor that is great for all kinds of meats, although it seems to do best on ribs and other pork products.

This rub can be applied at the time of cooking or even mixed with a marinade to soak and create a better depth of flavor. This rub delivers rich, smoky color and delicious flavor throughout the meat and can be mixed with liquids to create even more unique flavor combinations.

3. Traeger Grills SPC174 Traeger Rub with Garlic and Chili Pepper

Highlighted Features

  • Kosher, gluten-free, GMO-free seasoning that is made in the USA
  • Features bold flavors like garlic and chili pepper, along with other seasonings
  • Comes in a conveniently sized stackable container for easy storage

The Traeger Grills Traeger Rub is a great choice for those who like a little bit of spice to their cooking, featuring the bold flavor of chili pepper to complement chicken, pork, and beef alike. This is just one product in a line of options from Traeger Grills, a leader in dry rubs and grill spices for multiple uses and cooking needs.

The great thing about Traeger spices and rubs is that they are uniquely designed to pair with Traeger pellets that work in the smokers and grills that the company makes. This can create a diverse array of flavors that you don’t get from using a rub by itself.

4. BBQ BROS RUBS {Southern Style} - Ultimate Barbecue Spices Seasoning Set

Highlighted Features

  • Comes in a limited-edition gift package with gift wrapping available, making it a great gift for Father’s Day, Christmas and more
  • Includes three Southern-inspired dry rubs: Memphis, New Orleans, and Carolina Style
  • Award-winning dry-rub recipes

The BBQ BROS Southern Style gift set offers a collection of great spice mixes to create a diverse range of flavors. You can buy it for yourself or for a gift and enjoy the free keychain bottle opener that is included with each set. Plus, this handcrafted set boasts a five-star rating and a total satisfaction guarantee on every single purchase. 

These rubs feature sweet and smoky Southern flavors that will spice up all kinds of meats. Every rub is MSG-free and gluten-free, making them a great choice for anyone with dietary concerns or looking for a healthier option. The Carolina Style features spicy red pepper, the Memphis has a smoky paprika flavor and the New Orleans seasoning has that traditional creole spice that everyone loves.

5. Dirt - Sasquatch BBQ Espresso Chile Beef Rub

Highlighted Features

  • Made from sweet and spicy espresso along with activated charcoal for a unique flavor profile
  • Designed for red meat, pork, and brisket, perfect for when you want a delicious crust on your barbecue
  • Comes in a bulk container, ideal for commercial kitchens and serious BBQ chefs

Sasquatch BBQ Dirt dry rub is made in the USA and features a unique combination of chilis, espresso, activated charcoal, and a hint of brown sugar to balance out the spice. It makes a great spice for grilling, smoking, and barbecuing alike, and can even be used in stews, braises, and other dishes.

The Sasquatch BBQ Dirt seasoning can even be added to ground beef to make impressively rich, bold burgers that will give you a whole new spin on the classic burger. Plus, it’s made with no preservatives, no MSG, and no fillers. This all-natural rub comes with a satisfaction guarantee and is packed fresh to retain flavor.

6. Plowboys Yardbird Rub

Highlighted Features

  • This rub is a four-time American Royal World Champion
  • Features spices and seasonings reminiscent of Kansas City-style BBQ
  • 14-ounce container provides plenty of seasoning for multiple uses

The Plowboys Yardbird Rub features a variety of spices and seasonings that create a spicy, smoky flavor with just a hint of sugar and plenty of black pepper. It's designed primarily for use on chicken, but it can also create great pork and other meats. Some users have even taken it beyond the barbecue and used it for adding to other chicken dishes for a spicy kick.

This rub can be used with other Plowboys seasonings to create a create collection of barbecued meats that share similar flavors and styles. It can also be used to marinade, smoke, fry, and more, giving home cooks and professional chefs alike a lot of great ways to experiment with this rub. Plus, this specific brand is preferred by many famous chefs and professional BBQ pitmasters, giving you confidence that it’s an authentic, high-quality rub you can rely on.

7. BBQ BROS RUBS {Western Style} - Ultimate Barbecue Spices Seasoning Set

Highlighted Features

  • Western-Style spice set includes California, Kansas City, and Texas-style BBQ rubs
  • 10, 11, and 13-ounce containers provide plenty of seasoning for a variety of uses
  • All rubs from BBQ BROS are gluten-free and contain no MSG or preservatives

The BBQ BROS Western Style seasoning set offers three great flavors in one package, allowing you to expand your barbecue horizons or just give someone in your life a great gift. Each handcrafted rub features the classic regional flavors that you would expect, and all have ranked among the best in local and regional tournaments for the best BBQ rubs available today.

These versatile rubs can be used on poultry and ribs alike and can be used for more than great barbecue. It also makes a great seasoning on the grill or in the kitchen, and all products are certified kosher. The Kansas City Style rub features that smoky, hot flavor that people love, while the California blend has a combination of paprika and garlic. Finally, the Texas rub features a sweet finish with sugar added for that perfect slightly glazed flavor.

8. Bone Suckin' Sauce Bone Suckin' Original Seasoning and Rub

Highlighted Features

  • Available in a single container or multipacks up to 12
  • No MSG, gluten-free, non-GMO, certified kosher seasoning
  • Products all sourced and manufactured in the USA

Bone Suckin' Original Seasoning and Rub is great for dry rubs and cooking of all kinds, including for BBQ, ribs, beef, chicken and pork. You can also use it for seafood, vegetables, marinates, pastas, dipping sauces and so much more. The spicy-sweet flavor is inspired by brown sugar, paprika, and a unique mix of bell pepper, mustard flour and natural flavors.

This sauce is appreciated for being more tangy than spicy, which is something many enjoy for chicken and other barbecue meats. It has been reviewed in several publications, including In Style, Woman's Day, Food & Wie, and Newsweek, and was ranked #1 in many among the best BBQ rubs and sauces available on the market today.

9. Lambert's Sweet Rub O' Mine

Highlighted Features

  • Made by Mark Lambert, a three-time World Champion Pitmaster, getting the award for the best pork shoulder in Memphis in 2013
  • Contains a unique blend of spices and flavors that can be used on more than just pork
  • Locally made and sourced in the USA

Lambert’s Sweet Rub O’Mine was designed for use with pork, but today is actually Mark Lambert’s own go-to choice for all kinds of meat seasoning, and it’s quickly becoming a fan favorite among home chefs and pitmasters, as well. It's great for ribs, chicken, and more, whether you season ahead of time, create a brine or marinade, or even just use it to season as you’re cooking. It is so versatile that anyone who enjoys a sweet, tangy flavor will find a way to enjoy this rub.

Lambert’s can also be used outside of the BBQ, making a great choice for grilling, baking, and even just everyday seasoning. Anything that could benefit from a complex, sweet seasoning that seriously screams BBQ will love this rub. Some people have even reported using it on vegetables with good results, proving just how versatile it can be.

10. Slap Yo Daddy BBQ Rub

Highlighted Features

  • From Harry Soo, a Grand Champion pitmaster, as seen on Food Network
  • This rub has no MSG and is GMO and gluten-free
  • Handcrafted in small batches, made in the US, and true to the original recipe with no additives or preservatives

The Slap Yo Daddy BBQ Rub features a sweet and spicy flavor that is great for a variety of meats, from ribs to brisket and everything in between. This seasoning can even be used on vegetables and potatoes, and contains no preservatives or additives unlike many mass-produced commercial products.

The flavor of this rub is reminiscent of a Southern-style barbecue, and the brand also features several specialty rubs for chicken, beef and more. You can try one or try them all, but this all-purpose rub is going to be the best one to add to your collection if you want a great basic seasoning that can offer a variety of BBQ uses.


11. Rudy's Texas Bar-B-Q Dry Rub

Highlighted Features

  • Gluten-free, no MSG, and no preservatives
  • Comes in a 12 oz. bottle to ensure that there is plenty of seasoning to go around
  • Original seasoning from Rudy’s Country Store in Texas Hill Country

This general dry rub seasoning from Rudy’s is all about flavor, making a great addition to ribs, chicken, brisket, pork and more. It has a lower salt content than a lot of rubs on the market, giving you more control over your flavor. Plus, it offers a unique spicy sweetness with a blend of brown sugar and black pepper, combined with other seasonings.

Rudy’s Texas Bar-B-Q Dry Rub can be used to marinade and pre-rub meats for added flavor, or even just used as a basic rub before you cook. Plus, it can be added to other dishes and used for grilling, baking, sautéing and so much more.

12. The Salt Lick BBQ Original Dry Rub

Highlighted Features

  •  Three pack of 12-ounce bottles so that you can stock up or share with friends and family
  • From a brand that has been around since 1967
  • Texas-style seasoning that is sweet, peppery and a little spicy

The Salt Lick BBQ Original Dry Rub offers a unique blend of spices, including cayenne and garlic powder, creating a blend of flavors that is truly reminiscent of homemade Texas barbecue, no matter what you use the seasoning on. For barbecuing, smoking, and even marinating by mixing with apple cider vinegar or another liquid, there is a lot that you can do with this rub.

This rub makes great ribs, brisket, chicken, pork and so much more. It can even be used to make a nice smoky glaze for pork ribs, giving you added depth of flavor without having to buy a bunch of other ingredients. Plus, it is gluten-free and made from natural ingredients, just like a rub that you would make at home, and comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.


How To Choose the Best BBQ Rub to Take Flavor to the Next Level

BBQ rubs are used on a variety of meats that are cooked or smoked on a barbecue grill. There are so many different types of rubs, inspired by a variety of different regions and types of barbecue, which can make it seem nearly impossible to figure out which one is going to give you the best value for your money. Fortunately, we've prepared the information below to help you learn all that you need to know about choosing the best rubs and creating the perfect flavors every time you grill.

Whether you’re new to BBQ rubs or you’re just looking for some new inspiration, there’s plenty out there for you, from premade products to recipes for creating the perfect rubs at home. For the sake of this guide, we’re going to focus on the convenient prepared rubs that are available for sale, such as the ones included on the list above. Many people don’t have the time or resources to make their own rubs and sauces, which is why pre-packaged products are so popular.

Keep reading to learn all about choosing the right BBQ rubs, including what factors should be considered in your purchase and more. In no time, you’ll be ready to start shopping so that you can get to cooking, no matter what flavors you end up going with.

Wet Rubs vs. Dry Rubs

Most people hear the words “BBQ rub” and automatically think of a dry rub. However, that isn’t the only option available for barbecue-style cooking. There are also wet rubs available, which typically have some kind of vinegar, tomato, or mustard base like a good traditional BBQ sauce. Typically, you will have a choice between salty and sweet flavor profiles.

Of course, you must understand that rubs are for barbecuing, which is lower and slower than standard grilling. Using rubs, regardless of whether they are wet or dry, is not recommended for traditional high-heat grilling. You should stick to low temperatures and slow cooking when you want to try out the magic of BBQ rubs.

Wet rubs can be applied with a brush, while dry rubs are usually applied by hand. There isn't any advantage to either application method. Wet rubs, however, will typically need to be reapplied throughout the cooking process while a dry rub may only need to be applied once.

The biggest difference here is the flavors on offer. For example, if you like Worcestershire sauce in your rub, you can’t get that in a dry rub. The application method doesn’t really affect flavor because each one only goes a few millimeters into the surface of the meat when applied.

Whether you use dry seasonings or liquid flavors for your barbecue depends largely on the flavors you want to create and the type of barbecue that you have in mind.

Ingredients 

The ingredients in a BBQ rub are important to understand, or at least know, for a few different reasons. First of all, what is in the rub is going to affect how it tastes. We'll get into that more next with the flavor profiles. The other important elements, however, are dietary considerations and salt content.

For example, if you are unable to have a certain spice or substance, you'll need to make sure it isn't included in the rubs that you choose. This might seem like common sense, but with so many ingredients on a label, it can get confusing.

Salt matters, not just for dietary reasons, but for flavor. When you know how much salt is in your rubs, you will know how much salt you need to add during the cooking process and before serving, if any. That way, you can guarantee that you get the perfect flavor you’re going for.

Flavor Profiles

The single most crucial aspect of choosing the best BBQ rub is the flavor profile. You need to look at the ingredients to see what kind of profile the rub has compared to the type of flavors that you have in mind or prefer in your grilling. For example, if you like tangy sauces, you can choose something vinegar-based, or if you want something sweeter, you can find a rub that includes brown sugar.

Flavor profiles aren’t anything to be intimidated by. It just refers to the type of flavor of the rub that you’re using. Sweet and spicy, for example, could be considered a flavor profile. It's not a detailed one, but it does describe the flavor of the rub in question.

Different flavor profiles are also going to develop based on the rubs being used on different meats. What one rub does to a great rib roast may not be replicated on a whole chicken. Make sure that you choose profiles that match the meats or proteins that you’ll be cooking.

Regions

One of the biggest battles in the barbecue world is the regional style. Everyone has a favorite. Some people enjoy Texas-style barbecue, while others prefer a Kansas City-style or a California style. Although it’s largely a matter of personal preference, the flavors that you get from each will impact the type of barbecue that you choose.

Texas: Texas-style BBQ is all about a sweet, peppery spice that is often mesquite-based. Dry rubs are focused on creating a crust or glaze when cooked low and slow, offering that true tangy, spicy BBQ that Texas is known for.

Carolina: This style varies a lot depending on the even more specific region, including flavors like vinegar-based sauces and mustard sauces, all designed with a big focus on pork butts, ribs, and even the whole hog.

Kansas City: Kansas City is a lot sweeter, and tomato-based sauces are a lot thicker. When it comes to dry rubs, they love to crust it up and enjoy a sweet, savory finish that is less peppery.

Memphis: The ribs in Memphis are rich and robust, with a sweeter tang like Kansas City BBQ, with a strong foundation of tomato paste and molasses, among other seasonings and sauces. The dry rubs are designed to bring out the tenderness and add a deeper flavor.

California: California-style, also known as Pacific or Pacific Northwest BBQ, is all about creating fresh flavors with smoky, tangy sauce. California likes to add fruity flavors to the sauce, including using cherry and apple wood to barbecue pork, seafood and other light meats.

The regional style of a dry rub is going to impact the ultimate flavor of the food that you cook. If you’re not familiar with the differences between the regions or aware of what you like best, feel free to try a few or go for one of the multi-packs above, which offer a variety of rubs for you to explore.

What About the Meat?

There is no single rub that you can use for all your cooking and grilling needs. Even if you find a flavor profile that you love on a good steak, it might not translate to pork chops or those ribs that you have been dreaming of. The fact of the matter is that different meats will require different rubs, since they will affect the flavor differently.

Some rubs can be used on all kinds of meats, but that doesn't guarantee that everyone will love the resulting flavor when using the rub with different types of meats. Therefore, you'll want to carefully consider the type of meat you are cooking to find the right BBQ rub to get the flavor you want.

Conclusion

Barbecue is a little more complicated than some people realize, but it doesn't have to be impossible. A little bit of education can help you choose the best dry rubs for your BBQ needs, no matter what those might be. Remember to look at the flavor profiles and choose rubs that work well with your preferred meats so that you get the best results every time.

Any of the rubs on the list above is sure to deliver a robust, dynamic flavor that will give you great BBQ every time. However, if you decide you want to branch out and find something different, you'll also know how to choose the best options out there.

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