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Smoky and zesty, this sweet BBQ Rub for ribs, chicken, pork and beef is the easiest way to add delicious flavor to just about any meat. The best bbq seasoning is made with brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix up a big batch today for a budget-friendly addition to grilled, smoked, roasted and pan-fried dishes.

Spoon scooping up homemade BBQ rub

Sweet BBQ Rub Recipe

I’ve finally devoted an entire post to the best bbq seasoning! After all, I’ve included this homemade dry rub in a number of recipes on my site, but it’s so versatile that it deserves it’s own spot in your kitchen and grilling arsenal. Don’t just use the seasoning on rare occasions for one or two individual dishes. Instead, keep a big batch in a jar and add it to just about any of your favorite meats and veggies. It’s truly the best bbq rub for chicken, pork, ribs and more!


Here’s a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make your own jar of seasoning. As always, the specific measurements and complete instructions are included in the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Brown Sugar: adds sweet flavor to the rub, but the sugar also helps caramelize the outside of the meat giving it that great crispy, seared exterior.
  • Smoked Paprika: there are many varieties of paprika available, from sweet to spicy. It’s important to use smoked paprika in this dry rub to give your meat that extra-special barbecue flavor!
  • Kosher Salt: another essential ingredient! Not only does the salt add flavor, but it also pulls moisture from the outer layer of meat, helping to achieve a seared crust and tender, juicy insides.
  • Chili Powder: adds a little bit of kick and zesty spice to the rub, without making it too spicy.
  • Onion Powder and Garlic Powder: savory flavor that perfectly balances the sweetness and highlights the natural flavor of the meat.

And I should also mention cayenne pepper — an optional ingredient that we don’t typically include, but is a great addition if you like a spicy bbq rub. Feel free to include as much (or as little) cayenne as you like here!

Horizontal shot of a tray full of homemade bbq rub for ribs and chicken

How to Make BBQ Rub

This process couldn’t be easier! Just mix together the brown sugar, salt and spices, and store in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 6 months. A mason jar works well, but so do little glass spice jars if you’re preparing a smaller batch.

Feel free to scale the ingredients (maintaining the same ratio) to prepare as much or as little as you like.

Jar of homemade bbq rub

How to Use a BBQ Rub

This versatile blend is ideal for almost any type of meat. I’ve even been known to add it to my veggies! Here are a few ways that we use the dry rub in our kitchen:

To use the rub on your favorite meat, simply sprinkle the desired amount of seasoning onto the meat, massaging it in with your fingers before cooking. For extra flavor, add the dry rub to your meat and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before cooking. The spices will penetrate the meat and the salt will pull out the moisture (helping to achieve a great sear and crust).

Use Both Dry Rub and BBQ Sauce

You can use dry rub and bbq sauce together — typically by applying the dry rub before cooking, and then basting with barbecue sauce during the final few minutes. This gives you the best of both worlds — a crispy, flavorful, seared exterior from the rub, finished with the sticky, wet, flavorful sweet sauce!

Tip: try the dry rub ribs, pork or chicken and balance out the sweet, zesty spices with this smooth, creamy Alabama White BBQ Sauce at the end!

Overhead shot of homemade bbq rub recipe on a tray
Spoon scooping up homemade BBQ rub


Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Calories 35 kcal
Smoky and zesty, this sweet BBQ Rub for ribs, chicken, pork and beef is the easiest way to add delicious flavor to just about any meat!



  • Combine all ingredients in a jar or other airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to 6 months.


Optional: add cayenne for a spicy rub!
Scale this recipe up or down (maintaining the same ratio of ingredients) to prepare more or less rub. It makes a great gift for friends and neighbors, and it keeps well in the pantry for use on a variety of meats.


Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 35kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 896mgPotassium: 58mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 702IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: bbq rub, sweet bbq rub recipe
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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  1. Richard says:

    Thank you for your website and your style of cooking in general. It’s not just cooking, many memories for me, an old (literally) country boy who had a Mom from Virginia. If I could just stand in your kitchen… and inhale.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      That makes me so happy to hear, Richard. There’s nothing better than Mom’s home cooking and the memories associated with her kitchen!

  2. Robin says:

    How much cayenne would you recommend if I elected to add it for my rub? Thanks!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We recommend starting with a teaspoon or so and adjusting to taste.