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Rub help?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I can usually say I make a alright rub but, it is usually hit and miss. Either it's to salty or spicy or not balanced right. But occasionally I will hit the mark. I want to take a more scientific approach on this matter. My question is this, what is the right amount of balance to a rub? The proportion of saltiness, to savory, to spicy? I have tried equal amounts or adding a little at a time. But, would love to get a good ratio (or how to) to make a great rub! Would love to get any feed back. Thanks.
post #2 of 18

this is really open to taste and interpretation. Big Bob Gibson book has  nice little chapter on mixing rubs. starting with a base and building up you flavors. it was actually different than i was doing it, although my rubs came out ok. i started a mission to re-balance my rubs. it worth picking up this book if not just for that information imo. but for basics. balance salt to sugar. balance pepper(heat) add flavor profiles (transition spices then signature spices). it something like that but there more to it but it's a start. this make me want to go and read it again!


also i am growing fond of running my rub through a spice grinder so that it mixes well. 


there is a mystical 8:3:1:1 guide as well that picked up on the net copy and pasted below:


8:3:1:1 rub

You then add spices at a ratio known as the 8:3:1:1 rub. It works! Like this:

  • 8 tablespoons light brown sugar tightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (crushed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

You can add or subtract spices/herbs to your liking, and if you stay with just the "competitor's ratio" for rubs, you'll always have a winner! For more fun, experiment with adding one or more of the following:

And much, much more!



Sometimes when time is a factor, or we feel just a little lazy, we'll use nothing more than lemon pepper as a rub for our birds. It's great!

post #3 of 18

I guess i can babble a little more on rubs. experience will help but to get better consistency but in creative thinking collaboration, let strat with  this list of techniques.


1. measure accurately or be real good at tasting as you go. 

2. use fresh spices that have not been around too long. whole spices last longer but you have to grind them. there are charts on the "net"

3. try to use the same brand of spices. i find this true with cayenne,lemon pepper and few others that they all don't taste the same.

4. make sure you really mix the rub well.

5. make sure you coat with the same amounts.



1.i like to grind my rub.

2. apply with a seasoning shaker.

post #4 of 18

as an example here is my rub break down for my rubs for ribs i just re-balanced the coffee is optional and not always in the rub.



Salt and Sugar:

8     TBS     brown sugar
1.5    TBS    sea salt -fine
2    tsp    ground black pepper
1/2     tsp     white pepper
transition spices
1    tsp    ancho chile
1    tsp    Chiplotle
1/2     tsp     cumin
1/2     tsp    cayenne 60k
Signature Spices
2    TBS    Hungarian paprika
2    tsp    granulated garlic powder
1/2  tsp    ground clove
2     tsp     granulated onion powder
1    TBS    cocoa
2    TBS     coffee - ground espresso
each time i make it, I might make a tweak, like this time, i lowered the salt a 1/2 TBS.also cumin a 1/2 tsp. it was too salty to me last time.and the heat build up was too much for young ones. i only move one or two items as it will taste different after cooking than when you mixing. but not much IMO.
post #5 of 18

what are you using it on?

Pork= sweet


Poultry= Earhty with a Salty edge

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Dewetha, wow! thumb1.gif That's exactly what I was looking for. You really have put in your time and know how. Pigbark, I mostly try my rubs within our competition team and use it on the KCBS 4, chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket. I thought about buying store brand rubs but, most of them have MSG in them and I don't like it. We do have a good chicken rub for when we cater, we call it our throwdown rub. It consists of seasoning salt, lemon pepper, and chipotle powder for a little smokey kick. It has a good flavor and everyone likes it. I just like the idea of using our own rub apposed to using someone else brand.
post #7 of 18

thanks, but i don't want to come off here as a know it all. this just some thing i learned and still learning. i'm pretty analytic by nature, so a scientific process helps me.

there is a lot more I need to learn but i'm just passing these beginner steps along.  seams like your doing pretty darn good if you doing competition cooking and catering. someday i may give a competition try and see what's that all about!


when that times comes you can give me some beginner tips :)

post #8 of 18

I will also add taste the spices and learn what you like and there strengths.  Cinnamon, Star Anise, Clove, Nutmeg, Allspice, and Cardamom are Very strong and small amounts are used. Coriander, Cumin (if you are a fan) Onion, Garlic, Mustard Powder and Dry Herbs are used in larger quantities. Paprika and Ancho Chili are among the mildest rub ingredient and a lot is used. Black and White Pepper and all the rest of the Chili's are a matter of the heat tolerance of you and your guests. There are hundreds more that are used by different ethnic groups and differing regions of the world...JJ

post #9 of 18

Chef nail it on the head by tasting. what you like may not be what other like. take allspice for example. i added a certain amount to a rub mix based on what i saw others add to there mix. I hated it. my in-laws will eat anything so it wasn't a waste. but now i am  afraid to add it into my rub again. i don't know where to start with it. so basically that rub mix has to be rebuilt and tested as i have to start small. now it a much longer process than had i started with 1/4 tsp.


creeping up on flavor is recommend, especially when you are talking about the strong flavors. 


the tinkering can be endless. 

post #10 of 18

Last item from me...You can take Ten different ingredients and put them together and you will think it perfect. Problem is, in 24 hours all those flavors will meld into one single flavor, completely different from the day before. Play around, take good notes, if it is perfect day one, plan on making small, 1Cup or so, batches day of the cook...OR...Mix a batch and don't even taste it until the next day and see if you hit the mark. If not add something and wait another day. When you get it right after the rest, then you can start making Gallon size batches to be used all season...JJ

post #11 of 18

Chef JJ hit the nail on the head. To perfect a rub takes time and many notes, Start buy using small amounts of each item measured exact. write EVERYTHING down. Make just enough for 2 pieces of chicken or a couple of chops. let it sit a few days before using the rub.

 Once you get a good base rub that you like .Then you can add to it ONE Ingredient at a time to change flavors .

 Once you get it to a finished product then make a bigger batch.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Did this rub using the 8:3:1:1 ratio! It worked very well! Very surprised by the out come. Thanks for all the advice. Can't wait to see what combination I come up with.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
This is the rub I came with 8:3:1:1 ratio. Thanks for all ya'll advice. This was very well balanced. Can't wait to see what I come up with next.
post #14 of 18
Originally Posted by sniltz View Post

This is the rub I came with 8:3:1:1 ratio. Thanks for all ya'll advice. This was very well balanced. Can't wait to see what I come up with next.

hey there,

that link isn't showing up.

post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sorry about that but, was trying to upload picture from my windows phone and I couldn't figure it out. So I tried using photobucket. I'm not tech savy. Is there any easy way to take a picture from your phone and post it on here?
post #16 of 18

I like Mustard Powder-Smoked Paprika-Tumeric- Cinnamon-Roasted Garlic-Ground Ginger/Cayenne pepper -Dark Brown Sugar-Sea Salt   not in any special order here ... careful with the Ginger/Cayenne combo- I just like a little bit of presence at the end with it, just a slight tingle not much at all...  all I hear for competitions is think sweet, this mix would be for Pork...


I have been playing around with these for a while now, nothing more than just for the fun of it...


you can also try - Caraway Seed ,toast til fragrant then grind it up-Ground Cardamom- Roasted Ground Coriander- all of these are good with Pork/rubs


I had a buddy of mine tell me that Fennel was also very good in Pork rubs but I have not found any yet... Anyone use Fennel seeds or  can give me a description of them? Thanks

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have never used fennel seeds in rubs, only for sausage making. As far as sweet rubs or candy sauces for competitions, I think It is moving away from that. Yes, most teams still do it or have read that's what judges want. But, me and my friend(the other pitmaster on the team)have talked to many KCBS judges who say that all they want is to taste the meat. Because, after several rounds of sweet candy BBQ, it gets to rich.
post #18 of 18

I hope so, I hate the super sweet and the super vinegar sauces... Over the top for me..


My buddy grinds up the Fennel into a powder, I don't know what it taste like but he swears by it rite now... I read where its in Pepperoni as well...

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