What rub for ribs and pork butt?

Discussion in 'Sauces, Rubs & Marinades' started by mummel, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    What are the more popular rubs around here?  While I'm waiting for my smoker, I'm doing as much research as I can.  I was curious to hear what rubs most people recommend.  Thanks.
  2. Boy that's a wide open question,  Some buy store bought some make their own. I make my own but sometimes I like to try one I see on the shelf at the grocery store.

    What kind of seasoning and spices you like,  Sweet, Hot, Spicy, Mild ???

  3. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    My wife makes these ribs in the oven and they are fricken delicious.  We really like this type of sauce.  Could we just use this sauce as a rub, or is there something different about a rub for a smoker?

    from allrecipes.com


    3 pounds pork back ribs, cut into serving

    size pieces

    1 cup ketchup

    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

    3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

    3 tablespoons brown sugar

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring


    1.Place the ribs into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, stir the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, and liquid smoke in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 30 minutes.2.Preheat the oven's broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Line a baking sheet with foil.3.Drain the ribs and place meaty-side-up onto the prepared baking sheet. Brush the ribs with half of the barbeque sauce. Broil in the preheated oven until the sauce has turned sticky and lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Turn the ribs over and brush with the remaining sauce. Continue to broil until the sauce has turned sticky, about 7 minutes.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
  4. OMG !!!!   Boiling Ribs  that's Sack-religious   Say it ain't so.        When I was a kid my mom did them like that I thought they were great until I had real smoked ribs.

    conkey210 likes this.
  5. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    HAHA exactly!  So what rub recipe is good for ribs if we like this one.
  6. manfjourde

    manfjourde Fire Starter

    I just made my first smoked ribs and used Jeff's rub and they were excellent!
  7. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I guess if someone is going to boil ribs, it only stands to reason that they would use liquid smoke, too. Come on, Mummel, my heart can only stand so much. 1. Good luck finding a rub that you like. 2. Put the ribs on a smoker in the backyard. 3. Lose the Liquid Smoke and the boiling pot. Thank you so much, Joe
  8. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Your just going to have to try a couple different rubs. The recipe you like doesn't have much to it to recommend a rub you will like. I suggest use the search feature and make small batches of rub that have stuff you like. Cut your rack or racks in half and put different rubs on them till you get what you like. You could try a store bought rub I like Famous Daves and one I tried from Three Little Pigs they were both good you can buy Jeffs rub I have just haven't made it yet but it gets great reviews! Then you can finish your ribs with the sauce from the recipe that you like try to make it without the liquid smoke divide that in half in half use half the needed amount of liquid smoke to try that both ways as well. Practice and patience with a little experimenting and you'll get there.
  9. sota d

    sota d Smoking Fanatic

    Huge, huge fan of Jeffs rub-use it on just about everything and it's never disappointed!
  10. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    @mummel  I suggest you buy Jeff's cook book. Not only will you be supporting the creator of this site but it is a great book. He gives you a bunch of easy to follow recipes as well as rub and sauce recipes. Plus he has an entire section dedicated to smoking equipment and techniques. I have been smoking for years and I still reference it all the time.

  11. My first suggestion is to buy Jeff's recipe, it's a good start for home made rub and helps support this site where we all share our information and support.

    My second suggestion is to check out Meathead's recipes on AmazingRibs.com.

    My third suggestion and the easiest fix of all is to check out Mad Hunky products at madhunkymeats.com

    This is my go-to rub, I've gotten lazy and rarely make my own anymore.  It's a good rub base and very modifiable to suit individual needs.  The Hot Ass Whang on wings rocks!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
  12. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Guys are these rubs just marinade/a sauce, or is there something special in them as part of the smoking process?
  13. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Guys we've never smoked meat before!  We only have the oven and the grill.  They end up too dry on the grill.  The oven + boiling produces fantastic ribs.  But obviously I dont know what I'm missing.  Cant wait to try out smoked ribs. 
  14. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    What about this, Meathead's Memphis Dust rub: amazingribs.com

    Meathead's Memphis Dust Rub Recipe

    By Meathead Goldwyn

    Rubs are spice mixes that you can apply to raw food before cooking and there are scores of commercial blends on the market. But there's no need to buy a rub when you can make your own and customize it to your taste. And they're easy to make!

    Meathead's Whole Hog Dust

    If you are doing whole hog on a cinderblock pit over direct heat, you don't want to risk the sugar burning, so use the same recipe for Meathead's Memphis Dust but omit the sugars.

    Mustard or oil under the rub?

    You can put a rub right on bare meat, or you can help it stick by moistening the meat with a little water, or you can put down a slather of mustard or ketchup, or you can use cooking oil.

    My experience that they make little or no difference in the final outcome. Mustard is water, vinegar, and maybe white wine (all mostly water) with mustard powder mixed in. The amount of mustard powder is so small that by the time the water steams off and drips away, the mustard powder remaining is miniscule. If you want a mustard flavor, you will do much better by simply sprinkling it on the meat.

    I usually use a cooking oil because it helps keep meat from sticking to the grates and because most of the herbs and spices in typical rubs are oil soluble, not water soluble.

    Then again, salt is water soluble and, as we explain in our articles on marinades and brines, salt is pretty much the only thing that penetrates meat more than a fraction of an inch (with seafood being the notable exception). So using mustard might help dissolve the salt and using oil might help dissolve the hebrs and spices.

    Far more important is what is in the rub than under the rub. So use whatever you want.

    Here's my recipe for a great all purpose pork rub. Although it is formulated for pork, I've used it with success on smoked salmon, stuffed raw celery, on the rim of Bloody Mary's, and even popcorn. It is carefully formulated to flavor, color, and form the proper crust when cooked at low temps. People tell me I really ought to bottle and sell it. Nah. You can have it for free. It's all here, nothing held back.

    Since I originally designed this for ribs, let's talk about how to use it on this succulent bit of pig candy. Many purists in that barbecue mecca named Memphis lay a dry rub on their ribs before and after cooking, and then they eat their slabs crunchy, sans sauce. There are even restaurants that only serve "dry" ribs. No sauce in the joint.

    Even if you like your pork "wet" (with sauce) a good rub can add flavor, texture, and color, and you need one if only so, when you are asked "What's your secret?", you can answer as the pros do, by saying "It's my rub, man."

    Some pros leave their rub on overnight, sort of a dry marinade, that can work like a brine or a curing process. There is a reaction between the rub and the surface that helps form a nice crust, called bark, if the rub is on for at least two hours in the fridge.

    Some put it right on the meat and then massage it in. Others lay down a mustard base first to act like glue, others make a wet rub by mixing it with oil or booze because the spices dissolve in lipids or alcohol, not water. I like to put a thin layer of vegetable oil on the meat and then sprinkle the rub on top.

    After you used it on my Last Meal Ribs and my Perfect Pulled Pork, try it on salmon, and even popcorn!

    Because of the sugar, make sure to cook at low temps.

    As background for this recipe, please read my article on the Science of Rubs.

    Memphis Dust Recipe

    Yield. Makes about 3 cups. I typically use about 1 tablespoon per side of a slab of St. Louis cut ribs, and a bit less for baby backs. Store the extra in a zipper bag or a glass jar with a tight lid.
    Preparation time. 10 minutes to find everything and 5 minutes to dump them together.


    3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

    3/4 cup white sugar

    1/2 cup paprika

    1/4 cup garlic powder

    2 tablespoons ground black pepper

    2 tablespoons ground ginger powder

    2 tablespoons onion powder

    2 teaspoons rosemary powder

    Where's the salt? On 5/23/2014 I removed the salt from this recipe. Read why in my article on the Science of Rubs.

    About the sugar. I encourage readers to experiment with recipes, and "no rules in the bedroom or dining room" is my motto, but I have gotten some emails that require a response. I appreciate that many of you feel the need to reduce sugar in your diets but it is in the recipe for more than flavor enhancement, it helps form the crust (called bark by the pros), an important part of the texture of the surface of ribs and smoke roasted pork. It mixes with the moisture and caramelizes.

    There are only about 2 tablespoons of rub on a large slab. Of that about 1 tablespoon is sugar. Some of it falls and drips off during cooking. If you eat half a slab, you're eating about 1 teaspoon of sugar. And for those of you who object to white sugar for non-dietary reasons, and use brown sugar instead, you need to know brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added. It is not unrefined sugar. I use brown sugar for the flavor and white sugar because it improves the bark.

    If you want to cut back on carbs, leave off the sweet barbecue sauce. It has a lot more sugar. Switch to a Lexington sauce which is mostly vinegar, or just eat the pork with rub and no sauce. It's mighty good that way.

    Bottom line: This recipe is a very successful rub from a taste and chemistry standpoint. I urge you to make it as specified the first time.

    About the rosemary. One reader hates rosemary and leaves it out. Trust me, it hides in the background and you will never know it is there. But it is. It is subtle and important in this blend. Substitute thyme or oregano if you must, but I think rosemary is the best choice. If you can find ground rosemary, good for you. It's hard to find. So just grind the rosemary leaves in a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder. It will take 2 to 3 tablespoons of leaves to make 2 teaspoons of powder. Again, please don't leave it out.

    About the paprika. If you read my discussion of paprika by clicking the link you'll learn about the different kinds of paprika. In short, garden variety grocery store paprika has little flavor and is used mostly for color. But fresh Hungarian or Spanish paprika have mild but distinctive flavors. If you can find them, they improve this recipe. If you wish, you can use smoked paprika, especially good if you are cooking indoors, or even mix in some stronger stuff like ancho (slightly spicy), chipotle powder, cayenne, or chili powder (not very hot). Chipotle can be quite hot, so be thoughtful of who will be eating your food. I usually go easy on the heat in deference to the kids and wimps (like me) and add it to the sauce or put chipotle powder on the table for the chile heads.

    About the ginger. I think it is a very important ingredient. If you don't have any, get some.


    1) Mix the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. If the sugar is lumpy, crumble the lumps by hand or on the side of the bowl with a fork. If you store the rub in a tight jar, you can keep it for months. If it clumps just chop it up, or if you wish, spread it on a baking sheet and put it in a 250°F oven for 15 minutes to drive off moisture. No hotter or the sugar can burn.

    2) If you have time, sprinkle on 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt per pound of meat up to 12 hours in advance. Then a thin layer of oil just before cooking. For most meats, sprinkle just enough Meathead's Memphis Dust on to color it. Not too thick, about 2 tablespoons per side of a large slab of St. Louis Cut ribs. For Memphis style ribs without a sauce, apply the rub thick enough to make a crunchy crust, about 3 tablespoons per side (remember to Skin 'n' Trim the back side). To prevent contaminating your rub with uncooked meat juices, spoon out the proper amount before you start and seal the bottle for future use. Keep your powder dry. To prevent cross-contamination, one hand sprinkles on the rub and the other hand does the rubbing. Don't put the hand that is rubbing into the powder.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2015
  15. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    That is way to much reading for some ribs.....

    I think that if you simply get Jeff's book and make some 3-2-1 ribs per his directions you will be amazed at how good they are. After you have his down you can start experimenting to get your own recipe.
  16. Mummel, another suggestion for you, keep it simple to start.  You can buy rubs just about anywhere, grocery, BBQ store, Home Depot, etc.  Just pick one, they're not all that different.  Some people use mustard or oil to make the rub stick, some use nothing, they just let it sit and absorb moisture from the meat.  Me, I use molasses and a spicy rub because we like sweet and hot.  You just need to play around and find what you like.  Also, ribs can be done on a grill with no smoker, they just won't have a smoky taste but they can be awfully good. Add some wood chips in foil for smoke if you like.  Temp control is the key, get the grill to maintain somewhere between 225 and 275, you're all set to cook same as in a smoker.  Don't put too much thought into it at first, this is supposed to be relaxing and fun, if it becomes stressful and difficult you won't want to do it.  Oh yeah, most of us don't boil ribs or use liquid smoke.  [​IMG]
  17. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit


    Mummel, Frog1369 is right.  My Missus doesn't like as spicy as I do, so just make it simple.  She won't eat ribs in a restaurant, mainly because they are spiced in ways that she doesn't like.

    Some folks simply use salt and pepper and do fine.  Most of the time, just make it to YOUR tastes. A basic rub can be :"tweaked" a little and become "Mummels Magic Dust".

    More importantly, eat your mistakes and the evidence goes away!  Learning how your grill works and what temperatures it has is part of the process.

    Invest in a good thermometer, learn how to calibrate it and then keep it close.

    Best of luck to you!
  18. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    Stopped reading at boiled....think it is time for some tar and feathers..
  19. manfjourde

    manfjourde Fire Starter

    People need to get off their high horse and past the boiled aspect - when I've searched ribs recipes online many of them do a boil. Smoking isn't for everyone and requires a smoker AND his wife makes them so she's probably doing what she thinks is best or works for her. 

    Spend $20 and get Jeff's rub and sauce, support the site.

    When I made mine with Jeff's rub I reduced the pepper and left out the cayenne since my wife can't handle heat and she loved them. 
  20. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I have no problem with people making ribs not on a smoker, but you can definitely do it without boiling (I have made some in the oven that were great). I don't think people are on their high horses, I just think that most people on here wouldn't boil a good piece of meat knowing that all of the good fat will render right out into the water.

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