Help balance the flavor in most famous KC style rubs - valuable info

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Original poster
Jan 25, 2024
Hi guys,

I'm trying to make something similar to Joe's KC meat and fries rubs. I did a search on KC-style rubs and found the founder of Joe's saying it's derived from Memphis book writer that any rub should have 2 parts of salt and sugar, one part each of dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, chili powder, and paprika. And blending pepper of black pepper, cayenne pepper, and white pepper. The quantity of the peppers is a quarter of a part of each one of the peppers. He also advised adding powdered citrus like lemon peel to the brisket rub, and brown sugar with cumin or sage to the pork rub, saying: white sugar and lemon pepper taste better with the brisket, while brown sugar and cumin enhance the pork better.

That's a great starting point here!

However, if we look at the meat rub label, it has additional ingredients:
  • Hickory Smoke flavor
  • Yeast Extract
  • Corn Starch
  • Onion Powder
  • Corn Starch
  • Beef stock
  • Celery Seed
  • Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate (As MSG)
  • Citric Acid
  • Silicon Dioxide (anti-caking)

I made the rub without hickory smoke, and I used garlic powder and onion powder (instead of dehydrated garlic and onion along with the onion powder as on the label). Also added yellow mustard. The flavor is good, but something still overwhelms the overall taste. Maybe I need to add the missing ingredients, then adjust the beef stock. Forgot to mention I also added yellow mustard.

1. Do you think dehydrated garlic and onion instead of powder changes the taste?
2. Do you think the missing smoke flavor changes the taste?
3. Do you think Hungarian sweet paprika instead of standard sweet paprika is a major player in the rub?

I'm thinking of adding the missing, removing the yellow mustard and reducing the dehydrated beef fat?

Any recommendation will be helpful on the BBQ rub.

The second thing is I used this original rub for the fries seasoning in which brown sugar is there on the product label compared to the meat rub and has a dominant salty flavor with some nice herb, so I used the same recipe to the fries rub and added parsley based on the taste of original fries rub to test. It's quite close to Joe's fry seasoning, but I noticed some bitterness after I reduced the sugar a bit; it appears in the middle of the taste and (aftertaste). So, do I need to adjust the parsley or celery seed?

Again, same as above:
1. Do you think dehydrated garlic and onion instead of powders will improve the bitterness taste of the fries seasoning?
2. Do you think the missing smoke flavor will improve the bitterness taste?
3. Do you think Hungarian sweet paprika instead of standard sweet paprika will improve the bitterness taste?
4. Do you think adding cumin or sage in fries seasoning will help get closer since it's said previously that brown sugar, cumin or sage aligns well in the pork rub or it's not necessarily? While this is fries seasoning the combination is still helpful regardless of the the best use (pork rub).

Any recommendation will be helpful on the fries rub.

Any other recommendations?

Welcome from Colorado.
I suppose that this is a rabbit hole that every food enthusiast has to go down at some point, just for experience if nothing else, in the end I suspect you will find that most commercial rubs are far to busy and that simple ingredients make the best tasting food, like plain salt and pepper on a brisket, but I’ll let you swerve into that on your own. Let’s look a a few of the ingredients you listed a little closer.

These are all very potent flavor enhancing ingredients.

Yeast Extract
Beef stock
Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate (As MSG)
The I&G is much more potent than just MSG. The yeast extract acts much the same, add the beef stock to those and,
Just these 3 ingredients alone will send you chasing your tail.

The celery seed is bitter and should be tossed.
Paprika all by itself can be bitter. Play around with different brands until you find one that tastes right, not all paprika is the same.

Dehydrated garlic and onion will have a much milder taste than their granulated cousins. and the powdered versions can throw recipes way off because the flavor can punch you in the mouth. Buy all 3 versions, dehydrated, granulated and powdered, taste each by themselves, you will learn a lot right there.

I can’t stand bottled or dehydrated smoke, it never tastes right, instead try smoking your own salt. That tastes much more natural and clean as a smoke flavor.

Ive already said to much.
Thank you! That's what I had in mind. The powdered onion and garlic might be contributing to the issue. Not sure how paprika may significantly change the mix profile. But I know that paprika adds color, the choice, like Hungarian Paprika which I just saw online, is the best out there and can influence taste. The brand doesn’t matter as long as taste is close, Amount of Celery in fries maybe the issue of bitterness.

Thanks again SmokinEdge 🙏 is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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