Easy All-Purpose Barbecue Rub

This versatile BBQ rub is perfect on a wide variety of barbecued and grilled foods, like ribs, chicken, or burgers.

A hand lifting some dry bbq rub out of a metal mixing bowl.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Homemade spice rub is much more cost efficient than buying it pre-made.
  • Using fresh spices increases the quality of the rub compared to buying pre-made commercial blends.
  • This rub is all-purpose, with an equal blend of sweet and savory spice flavors.

Spice rubs come at a huge markup for what is often a container of spices cut with salt and sugar. It's easy (and cheaper!) to make batches of homemade spice rub that will keep in your pantry for several months. I set out to make a balanced barbecue rub that would work well with a wide range of grilled meats and vegetables, whether you're slow-cooking ribs or pulled pork, or grilling chicken or even tofu. This is the spice rub I keep in a deli container in my pantry at all times.

This rub is a relatively simple blend that is mostly made up of paprika, which brings savoriness, earthiness, and a rounded fruity note, and brown sugar, which, beyond its obvious sweetness, also delivers a molasses complexity. There's enough salt in the mix to do the seasoning needed, while smaller amounts of additional spices and dried herbs like mustard seed, black pepper, coriander seed, dried oregano, granulated garlic, and granulated onion add complexity and depth. This isn't a particularly spicy rub, so if you want more heat, you should feel free to work in a bit of cayenne or other chile pepper power; beyond that, you can also adjust this rub to meet any flavor profile you want, whether that's a bit of cumin funk or some chipotle powder or smoked paprika for a little whiff of wood fire.


How to Make an Easy All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce and Rub

Recipe Facts

Prep: 5 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serves: 30 servings of 2 teaspoons
Makes: 1 1/4 cups

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  • 1/3 cup paprika (2 ounces; 60g)

  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (2.5 ounces; 70g)

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (1.5 ounces; 45g)

  • 4 teaspoons (12g) ground mustard

  • 2 teaspoons (6g) freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons (6g) ground coriander seeds

  • 1 tablespoon (5g) dried oregano

  • 1 tablespoon (10g) granulated garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon (10g) granulated onion powder


  1. In a small bowl, whisk all rub ingredients together to combine. Use your fingertips to break up any large clumps of brown sugar. For better flavor, before combining, toast ground mustard, black pepper, and coriander in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Store rub in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 4 months. (It will lose flavor over time, but it will not go bad.)

Make-Ahead and Storage

Store rub in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 4 months. It will lose flavor over time, but it will not go bad.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
20 Calories
0g Fat
4g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 30
Amount per serving
Calories 20
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 584mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 14mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 66mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)