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

4.89 from 17 votes
best dry rub for rubs
Best Dry Rub for Ribs
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
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!
Course: Seasonings
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Dry Rub for Ribs, Rib Rub
Servings: 6 people
Author: Susie Bulloch (
  • 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
  1. 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.

Recipe Video

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99 thoughts on “Best Dry Rub For Ribs

        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.

      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. 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

  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. 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!!

  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!

  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!

  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.

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