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Barbecue Secrets

Recipes of the Week: My Favourite Rubs

Jul 19, 2013

Here is a collection of some of my favourite rubs, from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! You can buy a hard copy online at Amazon or Indigo/Chapters, or an e-book on the iTunes Store or on

Rockin’ Ronnie’s Grilling Rub

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL

I like to use this combination of seasonings for everyday grilling (grilling rubs contain little or no sugar because the higher heat of grilling would make a sugary rub turn black). It perfectly balances the earthiness of the toasted cumin, the sharpness of ground pepper, the smokiness and heat of the ground chipotles, and the natural sweetness of the ancho chile, granulated onion, and garlic. 

4 Tbsp | 60 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL ground pepper

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ground toasted cumin seeds

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground oregano

2 Tbsp | 25 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ancho chile powder

1 tsp | 5 mL ground chipotles

(if you can’t find this, substitute cayenne)

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.


Texas-style Rub

Makes about 2 cups | 500 mL

Everyone has a friend of a friend of a friend who knows someone in Texas with a great rub recipe. This one came to me through occasional Butt Shredder and barbecue enthusiast Ian “Big Daddy” Baird. The cayenne gives it a nice burn. Use it as an all-purpose rub, but it really makes brisket sing.

3/4 cup | 175 mL paprika

1/4 cup | 50 mL kosher salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL sugar

1/4 cup | 50 mL ground black pepper

1/4 cup | 50 mL chile powder

2 Tbsp | 25 mL garlic powder

2 Tbsp | 25 mL onion powder

1 Tbsp | 15 mL cayenne, or to taste

 Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.


Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub

Makes enough to coat several racks of lamb or a whole leg of lamb or pork roast

These days, food lovers tend to shy away from dried herbs in favor of the fresh ones that are so readily available. We tend to associate unpleasantly stale, dirty flavors with dried herbs, but that’s probably because we use them so rarely that the ones in our pantry are too old. Dried herbs, when used within a few months of purchasing them, can add a wonderful earthiness and complexity to grilled foods. In fact, the high heat of grilling often destroys the delicate flavors of fresh herbs. In most cases fresh herbs, other than the very strong rosemary and sage, are best used after your meat is off the grill, as a finely chopped sprinkle to add color and aroma. Use this rub for meats like chicken and pork, but it also works well with grilled vegetables. Just toss the veggies with oil and sprinkle them with the rub and some kosher salt.

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried (not powdered) oregano

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried mint

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried basil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried rosemary

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.

Jamaican-style Dry Jerk Seasoning

Classic jerk is made with a wet marinade and takes time to prep and more time to marinate your meat. This rub gives chicken, pork, or snapper—or whatever else you’re grilling—a classic Jamaican flavor without any fuss.

2 Tbsp | 30 mL granulated onion

2 Tbsp | 30 mL dried onion flakes (get flakes that aren’t too big)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground dried thyme

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

2 tsp | 10 mL ground allspice

1/2 tsp | 5 mL freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp | 5 mL ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp | 15 mL sugar

2 tsp | 10 mL freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp | 10 mL cayenne or chipotle powder

1 1/2 Tbsp | 22.5 mL dried chives

Note: Double or quadruple this recipe so you have some on hand. It’s super easy to make a great jerk marinade simply by whizzing 1/2 cup | 125 mL of this rub in a food processor with a splash of cooking oil, a chopped habanero  chile, a chopped onion, and some chopped scallions.

Cajun Rub

Makes about a half cup of rub.

This is a great all-around grilling or blackening rub that showcases the classic flavors of Cajun cooking.

2 Tbsp | 30 mL sweet paprika

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL white pepper

1 ½ tsp | 7.5 mL dried oregano leaves

1 ½ tsp | 7.5 mL dried thyme leaves

Mix the rub ingredients together.

Barbecue Secret

The high sugar content of a barbecue rub works well at the low temperatures needed to cook classic barbecue, creating a rich, dark mahogany color. But for grilling, a sugary rub tends to make your meat char too quickly. When you’re cooking over direct high heat, use a rub that has little or no sugar.

Championship Barbecue Rub, a.k.a. Bob’s Rub

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

The Butt Shredders call this Bob’s Rub, and it’s what we use in competition. Bob Lyon, the granddaddy of barbecue in the Pacific Northwest, shared this at the barbecue workshop that first introduced me to the joys of real barbecue and prompted me to become a barbecue competitor. It follows a rule of thumb that’s worth remembering: A third, a third, a third. Which means one-third sugar, one-third seasoned salts, and one-third dry herbs and spices.

1 cup | 250 mL white sugar

1/4 cup | 50 mL celery salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL garlic salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL onion salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL seasoning salt (I like Lawrey’s)

1/3 cup | 75 mL chili powder (use a commercial blend, or if you want an edge, try a combination of real ground chiles like ancho, poblano, New Mexico or guajillo)

1/3 cup | 75 mL black pepper

1/3 cup | 75 mL paprika

Add as much heat as you want to this basic rub, using cayenne pepper, hot paprika, or ground chipotles. Then add 2 or 3 signature spices to suit whatever you’re cooking or your personal taste, like powdered thyme, oregano, cumin, sage, powdered ginger, etc. Add only 1 to 3 tsp | 5 to 15 mL of each signature seasoning so as not to overpower the rub.