Basic Barbecue Rub

Here’s the grand-daddy of all barbecue rubs, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. There’s a heap of flavor in this simple rub—the sweetness of the brown sugar, the heat of the black pepper, the mellow earthiness of the paprika, and the slow burn of the cayenne. Use this basic formula as a springboard for your own creativity. To make a New England rub, for example, substitute maple sugar for the brown sugar. For a Santa Fe-style rub, add chili powder (I’d use chipotle chili powder) and cumin. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

NotesTry This!

Sprinkle this rub on pork, beef, chicken, or even robust fish, like salmon. You can cook the meat at once or, for an even richer flavor, let it marinate for 2 to 4 hours first.

Makes1 cup



Total Timeunder 15 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, salty, savory, spiced, sweet

Type of Dishdry rub, marinades


  • ¼ cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • ¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir or whisk to mix. Transfer to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light. The rub will keep for several months.


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