The perfect BBQ pork rub recipe will enhance, not mask, the meat with a perfect balance of sweet, spicy, salty & zesty.
Someone asked me once for my pork rub recipe. It had never occurred to me to share it because there are SO many recipes and commercial rubs available, and they’re pretty darn similar. But it did get me thinking; though there are some pretty ubiquitous flavors in pork rub, there are also ever-so-slight variations that make all the difference.
All pork rubs will generally have the same basic ingredients, it’s just the quantities that vary from recipe to recipe. I mean, why reinvent the wheel if we’ve discovered the flavors that work so well? Here’s a breakdown what you’ll find in a typical pork rub. And though I’d love for you to try my recipe below, you can easily follow this tier system to create your own:
BBQ Pork Rub – the foundation spices
The primary ingredients that are found at the heart of every decent pork rub are paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic and chili. Some people express concern about the presence of sugar in the rub, but fret not – if you’re cooking low and slow it won’t actually reach burning point (which happens at around 350f depending on type of sugar).
BBQ Pork Rub – the second tier flavors
These are spices that are commonly found, but are not guaranteed to make an appearance. This includes fragrant and unique spices like cumin, celery seed, mustard powder, onion powder, chipotle, ancho chile and oregano.
BBQ Pork Rub – the exotics
If you really want to customize your own unique rub, you can try adding in a small amount of an unexpected but complimentary flavor. Spices like clove, cinnamon, fennel seed, nutmeg and tumeric would be interesting additions. You can also get a little clever by tracking down powdered versions of more familiar flavors, which otherwise wouldn’t be shelf stable in a rub. Think horseradish, maple syrup, or powdered porcini mushroom for a mega umami hit. You can usually find these at fancier grocery stores, specialty spice merchants or online.
Just take all the foundation spices, customize with a selection of the second tier flavors and optionally add an exotic. That’s it! You’ve made your very own customized recipe! Or, you can just trust me and use mine. Even better, you can skip all the mixing and just buy my Hardcore Carnivore Red pork seasoning rub.