What To Look For In The Best BBQ Rub

What To Look For In The Best BBQ Rub

Dry rubs are one of the most classic and simple ways to perfectly season BBQ and other meats. For many, this means going into the spice cabinet and throwing a little bit of this and that in a bowl. But for those who prefer a more perfected flavor, pre-made dry rubs are outstanding. But, how do you know what to look for in the best BBQ dry Rub’s with so many on the market? Let’s look at some expert details and the verities of spices to determine just what works best.

What Exactly is a BBQ Dry Rub?​

​A dry rub is most often classified as a dry blend of spices that you sprinkle over meat to season it before cooking. However, it isn’t always that simple, especially if you are trying to achieve a truly magnificent flavor profile. Dry rubs are often used for BBQ, more specifically BBQ that hasn’t been smothered in sauce. The different herbs and spices that can be found in a dry rub is quite honestly as endless as the combinations that can be achieved.


Dry rubs are heavily applied to meats and in some cases so much so that a crust will build on the spices during the cooking process. Depending on the rub that you are using, the blend may be heavily applied along with an oil before a marinating process and then again before the meat is placed on the grill for cooking. Some people even go as far as to re-apply the rub lightly part way through the cooking process to intensify the flavor even more.

You may have also heard of wet rubs, which are essentially the same as a dry rub but with a liquid included to form more of a paste. Some people find that this makes it easier to get the rub to stick to meat and also works well when you want to marinate the meat before cooking.

What to Look for in a Dry Rub​

What you ultimately want in a dry rub is a matter of the flavor you want to achieve and your personal preference on seasoning. Every rub varies but some of the most popular ones available are either sweet, spicy, a combination of both, or an extreme of one or another.

Some rubs are designed to simply compliment the smoke or char from the grilling process, to compliment a sauce, or to stand alone as the main source of seasoning. The type of rub that you want to purchase will depend on your cooking preference. I suggest that you try multiple applications and you may find that you enjoy all of them or have a preferred method.

Different Flavor Compounds​

If you were to take a trip around the world, the variety of flavor compounds that you could make from dry spices and seasoning would be enough to make your head spin. Traditionally speaking though, a classic BBQ dry rub most often have a sweet component, a salty component, a savory component, and a spicy component. This doesn’t necessarily mean the rub that you choose has to have all of these components; for example, if you don’t like spicy you could choose a more mellow flavor profile. But, most dry rubs that consist of these flavor profiles are all designed to complement one another.

While each and every rub is different in one way or another, most of them all have a few simple things in common. For example, you will rarely ever find a rub that doesn’t have a high salt content. Since most dry rubs are used on larger cuts of meat, this isn’t typically an issue. It is just to ensure that the meat is thoroughly flavored.

Most rubs also contain a high sugar content; for BBQ rubs this is most often some form of brown sugar. In most cooking application, you would worry about sugar burning, BBQ is often cooked low and slow or smoked which pretty much eliminates that concern. However, a high sugar content rub on say grilled chicken you are cooking quickly for dinner may be less appetizing.The other most common addition to dry rubs is paprika or chili powder.

Naturally this depends on how spicy you like things but honestly when it comes to BBQ and blending these spices in a dry rub, you don’t get nearly as much heat from them as you would expect. While they do impart flavor and color, a recipe that seems like it is to heavy handed with chili powder or paprika isn’t guaranteed to come out extremely spicy. They do more for imparting texture and color to the exterior than they do true heat.

How Much Rub Do You Need?​

Shopping for a pre-made dry rub may seem a little daunting between the flavor compounds and the question of how much you need to purchase and how much to use on each piece of meat. Truthfully, this is far easier to gauge than you would expect. When it comes to applying the rub, and determining how much to use, just go with what works. You want the entire piece of meat to be covered and whatever sticks, sticks! Don’t be discouraged if you feel like a lot fell off, as long as you have an even layer you should be good.

Once you have done this a few times it will be easier for you to do and you will find that you have less and less excess remaining and being wasted when it falls free of the meat. When shopping for a dry rub the quantity, you need may be more of a guessing game. If you have an idea of exactly what you want to cook and how much it should be simpler. But, if you are just looking to test a few out, go with smaller containers until you know that you like it.

If you have found a dry rub that you really like and want to order larger quantities of but want to be sure it won’t go bad, consider how often you will be using it. In most cases, dry rubs that are made with quality fresh spices and ingredients have a shelf life of several months before they begin to lose flavor. You can also store them I a moisture resistant container in the freezer if you would like to prolong the life span even more.​

Top 5 Pre-Made BBQ Dry Rubs​

Char Crust Dry Rub Seasoning Hickory and Molasses​

The Char Crust Hickory and Molasses dry rub seasoning is recommended for use on any meat or fish and is also recommended for seasoning vegetables. This particular rub has a deep flavor with rich molasses notes without being too sweet for the savory food lover. It has natural hickory flavor and is exceptionally easy to use. This award-winning blend has been made and packaged by the same family since 1957.

The flavors in this rub are well blended, certified kosher, and made from only high quality spices. It is developed from a combination of salt, dry molasses powder, spices, paprika, mustard, and natural hickory smoke flavor. It is sold in a convenient 4-ounce packaging for those looking to try a few different types but can also be purchased in larger quantities once it has you hooked.


  • Certified Kosher
  • Convenient One time use quantity 
  • Trusted family company
  • Quality spices processed in house


  • Contains soy and wheat
  • Contains artificial coloring
  • Pricier side of the spectrum for the quantity
​Seasonest Keep It Hot Variety 5-Pack

The Seasonest Keep It Hot Variety pack is a 5-pack gourmet organic spice gift set that includes dry rubs in 5 interesting and different flavors. This includes Jerk, adobo, soul food, lemon fire, and spicy. This convenient variety of dry rubs are MSG free, Gluten free, soy free, dairy free, no fillers, and sugar free. This set of rubs is designed to give you the best flavor profiles every time. This set is said to be the perfect option for foodies looking for bold, intense and spicy hot flavors.

Each spice blend is handmade in small batches with wholesome and organic products that are completely GMO free. These spices are suitable for vegan paleo, and ketogenic diet plans. Made with the finest French sea salt that is 100% unprocessed and full of minerals. The kit includes 5 3-ounce bottles that each include a special formulation of flavorful seasonings.


  • Great variety of flavors
  • GMO Free
  • No MSG, Gluten, Soy, Dairy, or Sugar
  • Vegan, Paleo, and Ketogenic friendly


  • Higher priced than other items
  • No full ingredient list listed on product
  • Small quantities to be used as a true dry rub
BBQ Bros Rubs Southern Style Limited Edition Set​

​The BBQ Bros Rubs southern style limited edition set includes three unique dry rubs for all of your barbeque needs. Each individual rub is handcrafted and the flavors include Memphis style, New Orleans style, and Carolina’s style. BBQ Bros Rubs are pit master approved regional award winning seasonings that are always a delight to the taste buds. Each rub is MSG free and gluten free. This wonderful set also comes with a 110% money back customer satisfaction guarantee.

With three individual blends, you are sure to find one that is exactly what you need. The New Orleans style features a blend of salt, paprika, garlic, onion, red pepper, and other spices. The Memphis style contains a blend of paprika, salt, brown sugar, garlic, spices, onions, and red pepper/ The Carolina style is made up of salt, paprika, brown sugar, spices, and red pepper. Each blend is guaranteed to give you a unique flavor compound of complimentary flavors.


  • 3 unique flavor options
  • MSG free
  • Gluten free
  • 110% satisfaction guarantee
  • Award winning spice blends


  • More expensive than other options
  • Flavors vary in size included in set
Spiceologist Cowboy Crust BBQ Rub and Seasoning​

The Spiceologist Cowboy crust BBQ Rub and seasoning is an espresso Chile spice blend, perfect for adding a unique flavor to your favorite cuts of meat. This particular blend is one that truly has a modern take on BBQ flavors. IT is composed of a blend of ancho chili powder, espresso coffee granules, ground mustard, cayenne powder, coriander powder, brown sugar, and kosher salt. Perfect for grilling, baking, and smoking this handcrafted blend is made in the USA and gluten free.


  • MSG free
  • Gluten Free
  • Unique and interesting flavors
  • Made in the USA


  •  More expensive than comparable items
Spiceologist Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Rub and Seasoning​

The Spiceologist Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Rub and Seasoning is another one with a surprisingly unique flavor that will be an absolute treat to your taste buds. This spectacular blend brings together both sweet and spicy flavors that will kick up your favorite BBQ dishes with a huge flavorful punch.

The raspberry chipotle blend contains raspberry powder, chipotle powder, mustard powder, cumin, sweet paprika, brown sugar, and kosher salt; the perfect complimentary flavor to smoked and grilled meats.This handcrafted blend is made in the USA with gluten free ingredients and no MSG. It comes in a 4.28-ounce canister, ideal for an occasional seasoning or a full-on rub for larger meat cuts. Let the simply sweet and spicy flavor of this rub compliment your next family barbeque.


  • MSG Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Unique Flavor Blend
  • Made in the USA


  • Higher in price than comparable items

Whether you are an expert griller or you are new to the world of heavily seasoned meats; one of these great and unique flavor compounds is sure to meet your taste buds needs. My personal preference is for the spiceology raspberry chipotle. It has a special blend of flavors unlike anything you are used to.

It is also different form the typical seasoning mixture you would make at home. While it is slightly pricier than other options, it makes up for it in flavor and has no MSG or Gluten! Do you have a favorite BBQ dry rub that is at the top of your grocery list? Tell us all about it I the comment section bellow.​

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I’m Kanisha, my love and passion is writing about everything food related! I am a food enthusiast who loves so much more than just the basics; I’m always looking at new ways to look at the ins and outs of everything in the kitchen!

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