Best Dry Rub For Ribs

December 24, 2018

This dry rub for ribs will amplify the flavor on any rack of ribs you’re cooking. I’ve packed classic BBQ flavors into my rib rub recipe so you get finger-licking results!

dry rub for ribs

Dry Rub for Ribs

Every rack of ribs needs a good seasoning blend! I’ve been smoking and grilling ribs for years and wanted to create a dry rub for ribs that was versatile enough to use in any rib application. This spice mix is the perfect mix of sweet and savory with some secret ingredients that add punch and pizazz so you can amp up that BBQ flavor, no matter how you’re cooking your ribs. This rib rub is fantastic on its own, you don’t even need sauce!

Rib Rub

Let’s talk about the building blocks of a good rib rub. I think the best rib rubs start with sugar as a base. Pork and sweet were just made to go together. From there, you’ll see recipes with salt and pepper plus a mix of things that are custom to each pitmaster. I like to add in smoked paprika for a boost of wood fired flavor as well as a gorgeous red color that pops. Onion and garlic are classic flavor enhancers. Ground mustard ends up in almost all of my rubs as a punchy, almost acidic note of brightness.

Rib rub

My secret ingredients in my rib rub are the cinnamon and the celery salt. The cinnamon adds this lip-smacking quality that people can’t identify when they are eating it, but it keeps them coming back for more and more. The celery salt is the perfect earthy balance to the sweet brown sugar. Balance is crucial in a good dry rub for ribs!

Store your rib rub in air tight glass containers (I buy ones like these online) and they will last at least a month. You may need to shake or mix to break up and brown sugar clumps. These jars of seasoning make a fantastic gift! See the rest of my home-smoked gift ideas HERE!

Rib Rub Recipe

best dry rub for rubs

Best Dry Rub for Ribs

This dry rub for ribs will amplify the flavor on any rack of ribs you're cooking. I've packed classic BBQ flavors into my rib rub recipe so you get finger-licking results!
4.94 from 45 votes
Prep Time : 5 mins
Total Time : 5 mins
Servings : 6 people



  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Use a fork to crush any clumps of sugar or seasonings. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
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205 thoughts on “Best Dry Rub For Ribs

          1. I am going to try this rub tonight in the insta pot,
            With putting apple juice and apple vinigermixed withddq sauce then into the pot after 30 min I will put in oven to broil the bbq sauce.
            What do you think

        1. Don’t forget to remove the membrane off the back of the ribs. Common mistake a lot of people make. Smoke for 3, wrap for 2, char for 1

          1. Leave the membrane on. So what if the rub doesn’t penetrate the back of the rib? The crisped up membrane is delicious and it helps keep the meat from drying out.

          2. Aluminum foil or butcher paper! Foil is best if you have a braising step in your recipe.

          3. Take off the membrane. It is not what the big pro recommend. And for Joe to say that the membrane is delicious, well, as a commercial chef for 15 yrs, that is not at all true. It is best to remove the membrane. Just do NOT OVER salt the ribs or salt them over night. add salt 10 to 15 minutes before cooking. Thank you.

          4. I was taught to remove the membrane and that’s the only way for me..i actually bought a membrane grabber by Myron Mixon and i actually prefer using paper towel to grab and pull????????????

          5. When I put them in foil. I put melted butter and brown sugar in the foil and then put them back on the grill for 2 hours.

      1. can you do the ribs with this rub on a pellet grill. What would you recommend for time, temp etc. Any special tricks.

        1. Use the 3 2 1 method on pellet grill… 3 hours at 225 deg. Directly on grill… Then wrap in foil go another 2 hours 225 deg then remove from foil and put bbq sauce on and put back directly on grill for 1 hour at 225 deg.

      2. I let mine marinate overnight with the rub then cook on low temp like 250 for 4-6 hours. If smoking you do not need to marinate just rub and smoke. I substitute McCormick’s crushed chipotle peppers for the cayenne.

  1. I always rub my ribs with yellow mustard for rub to stick better. Do you do that with this rub or would it be too much? Thanks

      1. Okay today is day 3 since I put this rub on my ribs. I have a family of 5. Almost 40, me, 35, 14, 4 & 2. All but me are female.

        We ALL LOVED THIS RUB. it was easy, quick and still moist after 3 days of reheating. So easy to adjust the spice and not lose the flavor.

        I appreciated the notes I read from others. Yellow mustard came in handy.

        Thank you heygrillhey. I will be using your recipes again. 10 stars

      1. Yes, BUT you need to use LESS regular salt. Because of its fine grain it packs more salt (and less air) in per tsp that the coarser-grained kosher salt. So to replace 2 tsp KOSHER use 1 1/3 tsp Regular salt.

    1. I had a hard time finding celery salt too so I substituted with Old Bay seasoning because the first ingredient listed is celery salt. The rest of the ingredients in Old Bay are in the rub recipe so I added slightly less salt and pepper. They are braising in the oven now before going on the grill later.

  2. Tried this recipie today for supper with friends.
    Smeared yellow mustard on both sides of ribs for
    A base. Rubbed rib rub in. Baked at 230 for two hours.
    Took out of oven and smeared barbecue sauce on ribs.
    Added 1/2-3/4 cups apple juice to the surrounding
    Of the ribs. Wrapped tightly(double foil) and put on
    Gas grill for another hour at 250-300.

      1. Can I just wrap these ribs once I’ve rub them in tinfoil and bake in the oven at 2:50 for 2 1/2 hours with that be all right do I have to grill them after

      1. Easiest way to smoke these would smoke them bare, spritz or mop every 15 minutes at around 325, 350 degrees, when ribs read around 195 remove and sprinkle your ribs with the rub. This saves around 3 hours and are as good if not better than the traditional methods.

  3. Cool trick to this, take 1/4 cup ketchup 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water then dump the seasoning in and mix well for a kick ass mop.

    It moistens to give it a beautiful glaze and the smoke penetrates very well.

    1. Love this idea thanks!! I’m so excited making ribs with this rub for tomorrow Season today cook tomorrow 🙂 I’m loving the mop idea!!

        1. This is both genius and very generous. Thank you for sharing it.
          When I mixed a batch of this up, it smelled like smoked BBQ ribs in the jar. I have tried several dry rub recipes over the years. This one takes the cake, hands down!

    1. Made this rub today. Best ribs I’ve ever made. Definitely a keeper. Coated the ribs in rub, wrapped in foil and braised in oven 275 for 2.5 hours. Then grilled on the bbq with sauce made from combining equal parts juices left from braise and Baby ray bbq sauce. SO GOOD

  4. I have tried dozens of rub recipes for smoked ribs. I used this one tonight and it was by far the best! It had an amazing balance between, sweet, savory, and a little heat. Thank you for sharing!

  5. I plan to rub and leave for 24 hours. All I have is a kettle charcoal grill. Was going to smoke for a bit, go to the oven, and then quickly carmelize back on the grill. Any advice on times and/or heat?

  6. I have everything except ground mustard, celery salt (I have celery seed) and cayenne. Do you suggest any substitutions for those items or should I leave them out?

    1. If it were me I would run out and try and get that stuff. If you don’t have time you could leave them out, but the flavor of the rub would suffer a little bit.

  7. Got to say this is one tasty rub!!! Yum yum. I made it as directed and it is delicious but next time I am going to cut back on the black pepper and the cayenne. So good!

        1. The difference between light and dark brown sugar is a higher molasses content. If your looking for a sweeter rib try butter and honey during the wrap stage. The dark sugar works better with beef in my opinion.

  8. I m always in to try new flavor when we re talking about ribs. The rub seem good and I m about to try it out! Any recommandation about the sauce?

    1. My favorite on ribs is my apple jalapeño sauce! There’s a recipe you can search for on the blog for it or you can buy it pre made from

  9. Great taste great rub The moping of the meat makes it not dry out . My ribs were right on point . Thanx for the rub combo of flavors

    1. I don’t know of anything that will sub for those very well. Your best bet may just be to leave them out of the rub.

  10. Mixed up this rub last week and smoked 2 racks of babyback ribs on my Traeger. 2 hours @ 200, put them in trays with some apple juice, mustard and bourbon, covered and then smoked for another 3 hours at 225. Took them out, basted with BBQ sauce, back on the grill out of the wrap and these were BY FAR, the BEST ribs I’ve ever had. Thanks for the rub recipe, I’m doing 6 racks this Sunday!

  11. Tried this rub last week without the celery salt cuz I didn’t have any. The ribs were wonderful. This time I added the celery salt. I like it much better without it. I found it overpowering. I’m going to continue using the rub minus the celery salt.

  12. I’m going to try this rub this weekend. I haven’t done much smoking of ribs, so my question is how much rub do I apply to each rack if ribs (3) and do I apply it to both sides?

  13. I have used this rub 3 times for pork ribs and my family requests it about once every 2 weeks.

    My first attempt I was a little heavy handed on the cayenne pepper, still tasted great just left our lips a little warm

  14. Excellent rub. Used it w/o celery salt. (Didn’t have any) I used all the rub on one rack of baby backs. Rubbed with yellow mustard first as I didn’t have ground mustard either. Making it again tonight with ground mustard this time. Still no c salt yet. No bbq sauce either. This rub doesn’t need any help at all. Its now my favorite rub!

  15. We tried this rub last week. Didn’t have celery salt or dry mustard but it turned out great. Trying it again today (+dry mustard). Thanks for the awesome recipe!!!

  16. i’m new to smoking meat, want to try this with my first rack of ribs. i hate mustard, what other bases could i use to help make the rub stay on the ribs?

    1. Olive oil works pretty well! Honestly though, you can’t even taste the mustard. The vinegar in it helps you get a darker bark!

    2. You can’t taste the mustard at all. I’m the only one in my family who likes mustard and everyone said they couldn’t taste it and they were surprised there was mustard on the ribs at all.

  17. I loved the cinnamon in this. Celery salt is 50/50 celery seed & salt so I added 1/4 teaspoon celery seed. I put this on country style pork ribs and it was delish. And an added thank you for the video at the bottom of the page for Christmas gift ideas! Thanks, eve in idaho falls

  18. Absolutely delicious! My husband accidentally over did the cayenne so they were spicy.. but so yum. We follow a Keto diet so we omitted the Brown Sugar. Rubbed them down with some Sugar free G. Hughes Original BBQ sauce at the end.

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. I keep it simple. Generous rub and wrap in cellophane for few hours in fridge. Smoke for 6-8 hours depending on pork or beef – never above 250 deg using pecan wood smoke on old school non-electric smoker. No foil or paper wrap at all.
    I’ve done membrane on and off – I don’t eat membrane but sure easier to remove AFTER smoke for a couple hours – good compromise.

  20. I have BBQ 9 slabs of Back Ribs for a family reunion for 10 years. I like to pre cook & rub after & marinde for three days and BBQ at the reunion. It’s to hot and takes too long to prep there. Do you think baking with rub (your recipe) and BBQ at reunion is better?

  21. This rub is an absolute masterpiece! It’s like magic and I’m not kidding!! There’re a couple tiny tweaks I like but almost hate to mention because this recipe is so amazing! But If you’re curious…

    The changes I do….

    1) Add 2 tsp molasses
    2) replace half cayenne with chipotle powder
    3) Add 2 tsp of fresh ground pepper
    4) Add 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
    5) I skip the celery salt

  22. Can I rub and leave overnight then cook in my oven at 225-250. Then take the next day and baste with sauce and cook on the bar b que just to get up to a good temperature to eat?

  23. Followed the recipe to the T. I did add 1tsp of anchovy powder to add another level of richness

    Applied the rub let sit in the reefer for 2 hours
    Then smoked for 4 hours at 200. Then basted the ribs with a mixture of BBQ source, honey and apple juice over a grill for 20 mins .. just enough to get a good carmaliztion . OMG these where very tasty.
    This is my first time smoking meet as I’m new to the whole smoking method.
    Thank for the great recipe

      1. Yeah and I’ll learn how to spell one of these days and btw that was suppose to be 5 stars not 4 . Again thanks

    1. I put two racks and 1/2 cup apple cider in insta pot for 35 min. Put dry rub on 1 hr before.
      T h en to grill with big sauce for about half gr for char and big flavoring. Fall off bone good.

  24. I’m all out of cayenne, can I make it without and still have a great turnout? Also I’m using it on boneless beef ribs, is that ok?

  25. What a rub!!! Two days ago I saw your recipe and mixed everything together except celery salt (not so easy to get). Yesterday I used it for 5 Baby Back Ribs. I use the PBC, truly a rib machine, but the Rub has taken everything to another level. Super balanced rub between spiciness and sweetness and also the twist with the cinnamon…Sensational! 5 stars from my family and me!

    Greetings from Switzerland,

  26. This is the BEST recipe i have ever gotten online! it is absolutely Delicious and has never failed! We put it country style ribs and they are spectacular! you have to try!!

  27. Great balance.

    I rubbed the ribs in the morning and put them on the grill after work. I did indirect heat with hickory and apple blocks on the kettle grill. Smoked for about an hour and a half, then put them in My crock pot on high til done.
    All that flavor and much less tending. Have also done the reverse, by cooking in the crock pot then finish with smoke and mop

    This rub is a keeper.

  28. It was my first time using a dry rub for baby back ribs. I used the rub without the ground mustard and cayenne pepper but I substitute the cayenne pepper for chili pepper. I let the dry rub marinate on the ribs over night and I grilled the ribs this morning and they turned out great without barbeque sauce. I will making some more of the dry rub for the ribs on Monday.

  29. Hi! I have used this rub on my ribs many times and it is amazing! I was wondering if you think it would be a good rub for a pork shoulder? Thank you!

  30. I tried this rub for the first time on ribs and it turned out really good. Instead of rubbing it in I pat it on the ribs and then put them in the smoker over apple wood chips with apple cider vinegar in the pan and left them on for 3 hours at 275. Then took them off and wrapped in foil with brown sugar, butter and honey added on top of them and back into the smoker for another hour and they turned out amazing and then the juice inside the foil you can drizzle on the ribs when you serve them best ribs ever even better then Texas road house!!!

  31. I do a no wrap rib recipe. I take the membrane off of St Louis Style ribs then rub them up and leave them in the fridge over night. Before I fire up my offset smoker I pull the ribs out and let them come up to room temp. Get my smoker between 200-225 degrees and place ribs on. I use hickory or pecan wood to smoke. While the ribs smoke I make my own sauce to mop them every hour up to finish. 2 cups vegetable oil, 2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar and about 3-4 table spoons of the rub I used. Smoke them for about 3 hours or until the bones start to stick out of the meat. I pull them then let them rest for 20 minutes while I fix everything else then slice em up and serve. Enjoy!

  32. I don’t leave ratings on recipes very often, but this rib rub is just perfect. We’ve used it several times now on smoked ribs. Make sure you get good, flavorful spices.

  33. For those who can’t find celery salt(don’t know why), if you can find a Caesar glass rimmer, usually by Motts, it is basically 95% celery salt.

  34. This is an amazing recipe! ????????‍♀️ It’s also perfect on roast veggies with olive oil sheet pan roasted to tenderness.

  35. I just looked up a rub recipe and this one is the one I want to use. I don’t have time to let them sit over night or even for hours. What is the minimum time to allow them to sit and still have great taste?

  36. Best Iv ever made and Iv smoked a lot of ribs on my green egg. Perfect tast. Loved the cinnamon in the rub added a nice layer of flaver. 321 at 225. Off the hook. 5 stars

  37. I’ve never put anything sweet in my rib rubs
    before and I almost skipped it today. I decided
    to follow this recipe exactly and we were so
    happy with it. In regards to the brown sugar- I
    only had dark brown sugar and did not pack
    it into the measuring cup. It got a little dry and
    formed clumps right away when I mixed it with
    the spices but, it was fine. I rubbed the ribs apx
    4 hours before starting the oven. I used the whole
    recipe for one good sized rack. I removed the
    membrane as always and cooked low and slow.

  38. Used this amazing rub last evening on some baby back ribs. After putting the rub on the ribs i smoked for two hours @ 225, then i rapped them in foil with a little beer to help them steam, returned them tho the smoker for two more hours @225. At that point i remove them from the foil, coated them with some BBQ sauce and put them back in for 25-30 mins. They were amazing fall off the bone delicious.

  39. Amazing, I tried it. Instead of cayenne, I used chili. I don’t care very much for the taste of cayenne. My family loved it.
    Thank you

  40. I swap out the brown sugar for lakanto monkfruit sweetener and its awesome, no sauce required. If I season and leave overnight it’s best. I’ve also ran out of celery salt and it was also still amazing! Use this recipe everytime! Family loves the ribs.

  41. This was terrific on slow oven roasted ribs I made for July 4. I added a few dashes of ground Allspice and cayenne just because we like it spicy. I Also dry marinated the ribs a few hours before baking. I think this would be excellent on chicken too.

  42. This rub was a huge hit with the family. Only changes I made were to omit the cayenne and rub some zatarain’s creole mustard on the ribs prior to applying the rub. Used the
    3-2-1 smoking method @ 225* – 250*. Perfection!

  43. This rub was a huge hit with the family. Only changes I made were to omit the cayenne and rub some zatarain’s creole mustard on the ribs prior to applying the rub. Used the
    3-2-1 smoking method @ 225* – 250*. Perfection!

  44. A huge hit! The only changes I made were to omit the cayenne and rubbed the spare ribs down with Zatarain’s Creole mustard prior to putting on the rub. I used the 3-2-1 smoking method @ 225 – 250, wrapping the ribs in pink smoking paper after the first 3 hours. I placed a pan of apple juice under the ribs the entire time. Removed paper the last hour. Perfection! Thanks for sharing!

  45. This is seriously the best rub recipe. I have used it so many times now. My daughter is obsessed with it we even season our popcorn with it, it is so good. Ribs are now her favorite food I don’t think I will ever use a different rib rub. That little bit of cinnamon is just genius.

  46. I just used this rub last night with St. Louis cut ribs. WHOA! SO GOOD!!! I just smoked the ribs for 9 hours straight, bone side down, no wrapping or unwrapping required. I tried to remove the membrane and was partially successful, but I don’t think it matters that much either way. Every single bite was magic. Best ribs I’ve made by far.

  47. I put all the rub from the recipe on one rack of ribs. Did I put too much?? I’m letting them cook on low in crockpot or hours before grilling. Added a bit of apple juice to bottom of crock, too. *fingers crossed*

  48. I’m suprised you published this recipe for free!
    Its truly award winning. Since I made ribs using this rub, the comments have never stopped coming. Thanks so much for this lip smacking, finger licking delicious recipe!

  49. I have tried other rubs on my ribs and this one is by far the best. I ultimately left out the cinnamon. It didn’t taste right… for me.

    This rub recipe is the go-to. I usually quadruple the recipe so I have plenty on hand for ribs, pork shoulder and brisket. It is that good.

    I also use it on wings, then let my kids dress them up with whatever sauces they like. But, they always come back to the dry rub wings in the end.

    Kudos, amazing recipe!

  50. Make your own celery salt,,1 Tbsp celery seed and 1 Tbsp kosher salt, grind in spice grinder or coffee grinder Store in spice jar.

  51. Awesome recipe. Have used it 5-6 times now and seasons the meat perfectly. I can’t find celery salt where I am, so have excluded it, but still works well.

  52. Can you cook the ribs on a pellet grill without using the 3-2-1 method. We really dont care for the ribs to be cooked with the sauce on them. We enjoy the flavor of the ribs without the sauce. If not using that method should I still spritz? Thanks and really enjoy all of your cooking. I was introduced to you on FB and plan on joining the grill squad soon. Thanks Art from central Florida

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