When it comes to a pork dry rub for smoking, there's really nothing fancy that you need to do to get amazing results. This rub has a wonderful balance of sweet with a little bit of spice that goes so great with smoked pork. There's no reason to ever buy a rub that you can make at home for almost free. Just mix up some basic ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, and you're ready to go!
This is the basic pork rub I keep coming back to use again and again because it just works so darn well!
You don't want to hide the flavors of good quality meat; you want to enhance it. Since great meat can speak for itself, it's up to you how much you change the flavor with a dry rub. Adding just enough can enhance and balance everything rather than making it totally taste like the rub as a cover-up.
Now that you have the rub ready, it's time to head out to the barbecue to make some smoked pork belly or pulled pork!
Ingredients for a Basic Pork Rub
It's all about combining some sweet, savory and a little heat for the ultimate in balance to bring out that amazing sweet pork.
- Kosher Salt - I prefer Diamond Crystal brand, but Morton is good too. If using Morton, use 50% less salt, as they have different amounts of sodium by volume. Learn more about salt in my Salt 101 Guide.
- Brown Sugar - either use alone, or a combination of granulated or brown will work. Granulated sugar helps more with the bark development, while the molasses in brown sugar brown adds more flavor.
- Black Pepper - adds that nice spice. I prefer the 16 mesh, which is the coarse ground black pepper.
- Smoked Paprika - smoky chili powder that adds a wonderfully sweet, smoke flavor and color.
- Dark Chili Powder - adds some spice and deep, rich color to the pork as it cooks.
Other ingredients you can add to the dry rub
Garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin and mustard powder can all be great additions to the basic rub. If you want to add some extra heat, throw in a little cayenne pepper.
Salt or No Salt in Rub?
Adding salt to a dry rub means it's a one-and-done application, which can make it easier. However, it is often nice to control the specific amount of salt you add to the meat. For example, pork shoulder should have about 1 teaspoon of Diamond kosher salt (½ teaspoon of Morton kosher) per pound of meat. If the salt is already in the rub, you have less control of specific amounts. If you are a control freak and that is important to you, just keep the salt separate.
Customizing a Rub to Make It Your Own
The thing with a dry rub is that it's really hard to mess up. You can add a ton of flavor and balance the flavors of the meat. You can adjust the ingredients and ratios to your taste.
If you like it hotter, add more chili powder; if you like it sweeter, add more sugar. The only thing to worry about is the more sugar you use, the more likely your meat will burn if you are cooking over direct heat. The amount of salt depends on the size of the meat, so you can keep that separate if it's easier.
How to Make It
Making the dry rub couldn't be easier. Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl or a Mason jar, mix it up with a whisk, fork, a spoon or give it a good shake so it is completely combined and all the clumps are gone. That's it! You are ready to apply the rub.
You can apply the dry rub the night before, 8 hours before or even 1 hour before cooking the pork. Salt is the only thing in the rub that will actually penetrate all the way through into the meat, and the more time you give it, the more flavor it will add.
A slather (or a binder) is applied to the meat before sprinkling on a dry rub to help it stick. You can use anything from water to neutral oil like canola oil or even mustard. It's all your preference or what you have on hand. None of the binders will make much of a difference in terms of the final flavor of the pork.
Store the dry rub in a sealed container in a cool dry place. Moisture is the enemy and will cause clumping. There are tons of container options out there. You can store it in a Mason jar, use these basic shaker containers or even save leftover large spice containers with perforated lids. It's best to use it within 3 months because of the brown sugar and to keep the spices fresh.
Use Dry Rub When Cooking These Dishes
- Smoked Pork Belly
- Smoked Pork Shoulder
- Smoked Pork Tenderloin
- Roast Pork Shoulder
- Pork Chops
- Bacon-Wrapped Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Did you make this rub recipe?
I'd love to know how it turned out!
Please leave a note and a rating in the comments section below, or tag @SaltPepperSkillet on Instagram.
Pork Rub Recipe
- 2 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dark chili powder
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients with a whisk or a fork.
- Use immediately or store to use later.
- Makes about ¾ cup dry rub.
- Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place away from light.
This post was originally published on November 28, 2018, but has been updated with new helpful information.
Heidi S says
This rub has become the family favorite for pork loin. Easy to create, easy to rub in, and great to eat!
Love to hear it, Heidi!
Pam R. says
Threw this rub together, evenly coated 4 pork shoulder slices with the rub, grilled until nicely browned on both sides and fully cooked. They turned out extremely flavorful, juicy, and tender. We added our favorite BBQ sauce on the side, and it worked to enhance the flavor of the well-seasoned pork. Thank you for a new go-to pork shoulder rub; it's perfect!
Hi Pam! Thanks for the nice comment. Great to hear it's your go-to recipe for a pork rub. 🙂
I use this dry rub for baby back spareribs: paprika, brown sugar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne and chili powder.
After 4 hours on the grill at 110 degrees Celsius, I apply a homemade marinade consisting of ketchup, fresh ground chilipeppers, chopped garlic, soy sauce and a little sugar.
30 mins later, you have the greatest meal!
Sounds delicious, Flemming!
Love this rub! I use it on my baby back ribs and cook with the 3-2-1 method (3 hrs smoked at 185, create foil package and coat with honey, brown sugar and apple juice/apple cider cook at 225 for two hours, unwrap coat with barbecue sauce and cook at 225 for another 30 minutes to an hour)... these will fall off the bone... everyone loves them!
Oh those ribs sound so good. Drooling just thinking about them. So glad you love the rub. 🙂
You can also check out my recipe for smoked pork ribs and let me know what you think.