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How to determine what I want my rub to taste like?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hello All. This is my first time and first post here.

I've bought my first smoker, a small electric one, which I'll be using hickory with, and I'm ready to smoke some pork but I don't know what rub recipe I want to use.

I have two books, I've been reading, Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Barbecue by Ray Lampe and Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book by Chris Lilly. Each book has a starter rub recipe which I made today. I made a half sized recipe in case I didn't care for it.


Slow Fire's Rub # 67

1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons Chili
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons Paprika
1/2 teaspoon GarlicPowder
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Coffee
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper



Chris Lilly's

Sample Rub
2 tablespoons White Sugar
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Garlic Salt
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
The "Sample Rub" by Chris Lilly I found a little too sweet while #67 I picked up on the coffee a bit much. Neither rub blew me away and I found them basically ok to taste on a small grilled pork chop I made to sample the flavor.
I enjoy BBQ and Ribs but I'm not sure what it is I'm looking for. Typically I'm a huge fan or garlic, but I don't want to make something overwhelming with garlic, as I usually do. I tend to like BBQ dry with a nice crust on it, with maybe some sauce on the side. I'm a big fan of Black Pepper too (so much we're planning on naming our daughter Pepper if we have a girl), but I don't want to go overboard there either.
I'd like to be able to build something  that I like but I don't want to just throw spices helter skelter and to see what happens. Spices add up and I don't like to be wasteful.
Any advice? 
What more do I need to tell you to for help?
Thank you.
post #2 of 4

You might try getting really basic and build over taste sessions. I am still a firm believer that steak tastes best with just salt and pepper! That being said, start simple with spices and herbs you like and tweak. You could also buy commercial rubs you find interesting and check their ingredients...remember the largest quantities used are listed in order (in most cases). Good luck and let us know what you come up with!  

post #3 of 4
I like to experiment with the basic 8+3+1+1 Rub. I have found this works well and you can mix it up on the last +1 you can use anything for your measuring tool as long as you use the same measure for all parts. I use different size dishers (scoops) depending on the amount I want to make. 8 Parts brown sugar 3 parts kosher salt 1 Parts chili powder 1 Part spices (see directions) Directions: 1 Seal first 3 ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. 2 Now we come to the final 1 cup/part add on or spices. Use about anything you like. 3 Sprinkle liberally on meat of choice,patting the rub onto the meat. Wrap in foil and let set for at lease 2 hours if not overnite. Depending on what meat, cut and grade, you can grill, braise, broil, glaze, barbeque or smoke to your heart's content. I hope this helps.
post #4 of 4

I can tell you one important thing is to not just taste the raw rub but taste it, dry and taste it cooked. That is how I found out my preference for rubs. They will taste quite different on their own vs after they are smoked / cooked. This is very important.


Even here at SMF, I thought Jeff's rub was too sweet with the first taste test but after I smoked my meat and tried it, it was much much better.


Certain spices & ingredients make major transformations through the cooking / smoking process so if you intend for your rub to go through that process, experiment. If you are looking for a finishing rub / seasoning before plating then keep experimenting with ratio's starting form the building blocks.

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