Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: February 05, 2021
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If you are a fan of a classic barbeque chicken, savoring ribs or some mouthwatering steak once in a while, then you know what it means to have the best BBQ rub in your pantry. Rubs add strong delicious flavors to meats, and since barbequing allows you to cook the meat low and slow, you will certainly eat your ribs, BBQ chicken, or steak with a loud slurp. So which is the best BBQ rub to go with from the endless options at the grocers’ or supermarkets?
To that end, we have come up with a list of the best-rated BBQ rubs on the market to help you make the best-informed choice. We considered some essential features in our review which can affect your choice especially when it comes to taste and the types of meat the rub is best for. For instance, the ingredients of the rub are the real determiners of its taste and its net weight determines how long it will last you.
This is the cream of the crop. It’s a set that comes in 3 different Southern styles. They are a fantastic choice for anyone looking for versatility in terms of taste for cooking any kind of meat. They also come in perfect size bottles thus offer excellent value for money.
The 3 Southern styles include; the Carolina, Memphis, and New Orleans. The Carolina rub has a sophisticated spicy kick that some people think overpowers the meat’s natural taste. It contains salt, garlic, red pepper, onion, paprika, and many other basic spices.
The Memphis style, unlike Caroline, has a sweet subtle taste that goes well with just about any meat from ribs and poultry to fish, seafood, and pork. It has simple spices like paprika, a bit of red pepper, salt, and brown sugar.
New Orleans isn’t far from the Memphis in terms of taste and ingredients. It contains garlic, onions, brown sugar, paprika, salt, red pepper, and silicon dioxide.
Overall, this is one of the best versatile BBQ rub sets. You can use it to achieve different flavors on different types of meat. Plus, they are all gluten-free.
What we liked:
Great bottle sizes
Offers excellent value for money
What could be better:
The Carolina spice could be too spicy for some people’s taste
Silicon dioxide in New Orleans rub could be a turn off for people with strict organic diets
This is the ultimate sweet-tasting BBQ rub for anyone looking to enjoy the sweet taste of honey in their dishes. You can use it on a variety of meats including steak, ribs, chicken, pork, and brisket among others. The rub is highly preferred by competition BBQ pros, award-winning cooks, and BBQ enthusiasts because of its ability to give the most delicious BBQ results.
The rub comes in a value size bottle weighing 13.2 ounces. It contains honey powder, sugar, salt, and spices like dehydrated garlic, dextrose, paprika, and celery. It also has less than 2% of silicon dioxide to prevent it from caking plus other spice extractives that make it richer flavor-wise.
In conclusion, this is one of the best BBQ dry rubs out there that you can use on various meats to achieve sweet and savory flavors.
This is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a rub with a distinct flavor. It has a unique sweet apple-y taste that compliments a few meats like chicken, pork, and beef pretty well. In fact, the rub has been famous among professional chefs and BBQ pros as one of the best BBQ chicken rubs because of its distinct savory flavors.
The rub comes in a stackable aluminum container that is highly convenient and works well to keep its fragrance and freshness intact. Its ingredients are not any complicated, thus it does not do much altering of your meat’s natural flavors.
It contains dehydrated apple, salt, cane sugar, paprika, honey, chili pepper, onions, and some other assorted spices. It also has corn starch and maltodextrin which are natural binding agents.
The ingredients combined impart a wonderfully sweet apple-y flavor to your meats. The apple flavor is not so pronounced but you will notice it under all the other flavors.
The only downside to this rub is that its delicious apple flavor makes it a bit difficult for you to modify your recipe or add onto it. It limits your options for complimentary seasonings that could enhance your meat flavors.
Otherwise, it is one of the best rubs that money can buy and you don’t have to hurt your wallet to get it.
First glance at this rub, you will think it’s a joke especially because of its silly name. In reality, the rub is one of the best Southwestern-inspired flavors. Its ingredients are the real deal for anyone looking for a naturally savory taste and smoky flavor in different types of meats. Though it works best for pork.
Some of the ingredients that make the Bad Byron’s Butt rub the best BBQ pork rub include; black pepper, granulated garlic, paprika, salt, granulated onion, and chipotle powder. It also has microcrystalline cellulose that prevents it from caking. The ingredients also make it one of the best blackened seasoning out there, however, it is not the sweetest.
You can choose to sweeten it with brown sugar if you are after a sweet flavor.
Another plus for this rub is that you can easily modify or add onto it to get the best flavors for different meats. Its versatility, taste, and texture is unmatched, especially if you want to get the best tasting pulled pork sandwiches.
All considered the rub is worth the buy as it offers a pretty pennyworth. You get a 26 ounces bottle at a very affordable price and its natural ingredients can go well with anything.
What we liked:
Excellent smoky flavor
Subtle ingredients that can mix with other flavors easily
If you love a classic chicken BBQ, this is your best bet. The Plowboys Yardbird is a poultry specialized rub with a mixture of a few wonderful flavors that beautifully bring out the natural flavor of a barbequed chicken or other poultry.
The rub owes its indelible taste and great color to the excellent mix of dehydrated garlic, paprika, salt, dehydrated onion, sugar, mustard seed, chili pepper, and a few other assorted spices. It also has some artificial ingredients that enhance its flavors. The chemical additives are a downside for some people who are keen on using only natural flavoring.
In sum, this is one super flavorful rub that you could use to make the best poultry BBQ recipes if you don’t mind the artificial additives. Plus, it has a great bottle size for a solid price.
What we liked:
Incredible taste and color for chicken and other poultry
This is the ultimate rub for anyone looking for the ideal sweet flavor for all kinds of dishes. It is an all-purpose rub with five flavors that you can use to enhance the taste of your barbecues when you have a BBQ party or for everyday seasoning at your restaurant.
The rub boasts of a solid mix of salt, turbinado sugar, dehydrated garlic and onion, mustard flour, chili pepper, evaporated cane juice, and many other spices. It also has a few additives that deepen its color and enhance its flavors, MSG is one of them.
Artificial additives like MSG are a real deal-breaker for people who are sensitive to ingesting chemicals. But, if you don’t mind, the Lambert’s Rub O’ Mine is one of the sweetest all-purpose rubs you can get for the best flavorful BBQ delicacies.
It is also conveniently priced given it comes in a generous 12.5 ounces bottle. The turbinado sugar makes its sweet taste stand out from the multiple rub options on the market.
What we liked:
Amazing sweet taste
It has enhanced savory and umami tastes because of MSG
What could be better:
Some people are sensitive to chemical additives like MSG
Anyone mindful of getting the best value for their money has their best bet on this magic powder rub. It is a respectable brand popularly known for winning the American Royal Barbeque Contest. You can trust its mixed flavors and natural hickory smoky flavor to give you the best savory flavors on your pork and chicken.
The Squeal hog rub is one of the best dry rubs for pork ribs or any BBQ chicken recipe because of its brilliant mixture of flavors from different ingredients. It contains; dehydrated garlic and onion, salt, paprika, brown sugar, and a few other mixed spices. It also contains chemical additives like disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate which enhance its flavors.
The rub is not overly spicy and is therefore not the best for meat or game. It is excellent for pork ribs, shoulders, or just any cut. The hickory smoky flavor gives any cut of pork or chicken a natural delectable taste.
If you are partial to a fatty little chunk of brisket goodness the John Henry’s Texas Brisket Rub is the way to go. This rub is one of the best spicy blends made by the famous John Henry Abercrombie’s East Texas brand.
The rub is sweet, subtly spicy with a strong salt base. It also has an irresistible natural smoky flavor that is good for pork cuts and chicken. Though it does exceptionally well with any cut of beef.
The rub is designed to hold juices in the meat while penetrating the beef. It spreads delectable flavors throughout the brisket or a sirloin cut (Tri-tip).
Because of its solid salt base, you have to be careful when using it. Other than its natural smoke flavor, the rub contains lemon oil and 1% sodium aluminosilicate that prevents it from caking.
If you have ever eaten beef barbeque anywhere between Texas and California you would rush to stock a couple of this rub’s bottles in your pantry.
Lamb is not cheap and it would hurt if you ruined it with the worst spice mix. The Colorado Lamb rub has been made specifically for lamb. Its painstaking blend imparts a wonderful natural flavor on your lamb and is entirely free of chemical additives and artificial colors.
The ingredients in the rub will make you feel more of Greece than Colorado when you eat your lamb BBQ. It contains basil, lemon peel, and spearmint but the black pepper, fructose, and salt is what gives you the Greece-y taste.
Lamb and mint is a classic combination that can never fail to water your mouth. Other ingredients used to create this rub’s natural blend include sesame seeds and a few spices.
All considered, this is one of the best BBQ lamb rubs you can get out there, especially if you are sensitive about ingesting chemicals. Plus, it comes in a large size container, thus ideal for chiefs, industrial kitchens, and restaurants. You can also buy it for everyday seasoning at home.
Here is another spicy beef rub large in size and flavor. It has a thoughtful blend of ingredients that bring out the dark side of a grill. It is made with hunters in mind and goes exceptionally well with foul, turkey, burgers, and other red meats.
This gratifying rub packs a taste explosion in a bulk container that weighs 20 ounces. Therefore, it is ideal for industrial kitchens and chefs. It owes its deep and sensuous flavors to charcoal, espresso, and chili. It is a fantastic option for anyone who loves overly spiced meat cuts. In fact, the bitter acidity of espresso mixed with chili is a different kind of hot that cannot be handled by the faint-hearted.
Another praiseworthy thing about this rub is that it doesn’t contain any chemical fillers or preservatives. If you don’t compromise on the nutritional value of anything you ingest, this is your go-to meat rub.
Overall, this is a perfect choice for any BBQ foodie looking to experience a gourmet-grade blend of sweet and spicy accents on different meats including games.
What we liked:
Large size for commercial kitchens and chefs
Distinctive flavors created by charcoal and espresso
Can be used on game and other meats
What could be better:
The unconventional charcoal and espresso taste might not be for everyone
Things to Consider
You can use BBQ rubs on a variety of meats whether you choose to cook them or smoke them on a barbeque grill. There is a whole bunch of rub brands inspired by different types of barbeque and regions out there. Choosing the best from the entire lot can be a bit overwhelming. This section has all the information that will help you choose the best rubs that will help you achieve perfect flavors for all of your bbq recipes.
Why use a BBQ Rub?
Rubs, whether wet or dry are a mixture of seasoning and flavoring that make your meats flavorful. You can use barbeque rubs if you don’t like to smother your meat in sauce, though you can also use a bbq rub as a compliment for some sauces.
BBQ rubs pack so much flavor with every bite and they are super easy to use. They can be sweet, salty or spicy or mild and all you have to do is rub it on the meat before barbecuing your meat.
Features to consider when choosing a BBQ Rub
Here are some of the features that you have to be extra keen on for you to make the best buy:
Type of rub
There are several types of rubs with different flavor profiles that inspire by regional barbeque traditions. For example, most sweet BBQ rubs with a mix of tangy and savory flavors are known to originate from Tennessee and Memphis. The sweet flavor is usually brought by the brown sugar used as an ingredient and it is the best for BBQ pork ribs, in fact, they are famously known as pork rubs.
All around rubs tend to combine sweet and a primary savory flavor so they can go well with anything you rub them on.
Savory rubs are highly preferred for beef because they are hot enough and have a whole host of ingredients that enhance the flavor of beef well. They are famously known as beef rubs.
Wet vs. dry rubs
Rubs come in 2 forms; wet and dry. The wet rubs have either vinegar, mustard, or tomato base like the good old regular BBQ sauce. You might have to apply a wet rub more than once in the cooking process unlike a dry rub which you may only need to apply once.
The most significant difference between a dry rub and wet rub is the flavors. For instance, you can only get the Worcestershire sauce in a wet rub.
This is one of the key aspects that you must consider because it is the ingredients that determine how the rub tastes. You should also be keen on the ingredients to check the salt content as well as any dietary considerations.
The salt content is not only important for dietary purposes but also for the overall flavor of the rub. It will guide you on the amount of salt you would need to add to your meats during the cooking process and before you serve.
The ingredients will also help you choose your favorite flavor profile. For instance, if you love tangy sauces, then you can go with a rub that has vinegar as one of its ingredients. If you love a sweet taste on your BBQs you can choose a rub that has brown sugar as one of its ingredients.
The most common ingredients added in rubs include garlic, onions, brown sugar, salt, paprika, and black pepper.
A lot of delicious rubs use MSG to enhance their flavors or bring out umami in other ingredients. MSG is not really harmful only if consumed in large amounts but so is salt. So, rubs with MSG are not entirely bad.
However, some people have a reaction to MSG just like people react to allergens. It can cause asthma attacks or migraines in some individuals. If you react to MSG then it’s better to check and avoid ingesting anything with it however savory it is. also, if you are trying to be inclusive when you throw a barbeque party or run a commercial kitchen you can go for brands that are MSG-free like Kosmos Q Honey Killer Bee BBQ Rub.
This is also another dietary consideration. If you have a strict gluten-free diet then be sure to check the ingredients of the rub to avoid ingesting any gluten. Some rubs even indicate that they are gluten-free like the Traeger Grills SPC174 Traeger Rub above.
How to use a BBQ rub – useful tips
Applying rub on meat sounds like a breezy procedure. However, you might get it better with the following tips:
There are two ways of applying dry rubs:
Use them dry. Rub the spices and press them on the meat to form a nice crust.
Mix it with oil. Create a paste with some oil before spreading it on your meat. It will not only be flavorful but also less crusty.
For wet rubs, use a 1:1 ratio of dry rub and liquid to the right amount and for dry rubs, a tablespoon is enough for 1 pound of meat.
Not really. A marinade, on top of flavoring the meat also tenderizes meat while a rub only flavors the meat.
The information on this guide is enough to give you buyers’ confidence. You shouldn’t have any trouble picking the best rub for the perfect BBQ recipes among the entire lot on the market. Choosing any of the rubs we have reviewed isn’t such a bad idea either as they are some of the best rated and most preferred by BBQ chefs and professionals.
If you are on the market for a rub with a distinct flavor, there’s none better than our third choice, the Traeger Grills SPC174 Traeger Rub. Its ingredients have been carefully mixed to give you the heavenly BBQ tastes. The fact that it is GMO and gluten-free makes it one of the best BBq rubs out there.