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BBQ Rub Basics by The Smoker King

Barbeque rubs basically consist of combinations of your favorite spice flavors, designed to enhance the flavor of the meat you are cooking. These flavors are basically the ones that you can taste, including salt, sweet, sour, and bitter.  When you are creating a rub, keep in mind that most people do not like to eat food that is overpowered by seasoning.  The purpose of a rub is to compliment the natural taste of the meat.

Making a good rub takes lots of practice and experimenting.  For example, slightly reducing the amount of onion powder or increasing the amount of cayenne in a rub will change the flavor of the rub dramatically.  Trial and error is the key to developing a rub that tastes good.

To make a rub, begin by combining salt and sugar; usually in equal amounts: lets say 1/4 cup of each. Depending on the sweetness you are looking for, many sugars work well. A few examples are Turbinado, white, and brown sugar. They each have different properties that you may want in a rub.  Turbinado sugar will not burn as fast as brown sugar, but it adds a very distinct, unrefined flavor to a rub.  Brown sugar is great on ribs, but be careful, too much brown sugar will create a burnt crust on smoked ribs if you do not know what your are doing.  Different salts also work well. A few examples include plain table salt, sea salt, and kosher salt.  Next, a great ingredient to add is paprika. It has a mild flavor, and it will also help you achieve a dark-reddish color in the rub. Add about 1/4 cup of paprika.

You have built the base for the rub.  Most rubs that I have created or read about always start out with sugar, salt, and paprika.  There are many different spices that are available for you to add to your rub.  I have listed a few basic ones below, but the best thing to do is to get your hands on as many as possible and experiment by mixing different combinations and amounts of each.  You will eventually learn what combinations you like more.

Now you can start building the flavors of the rub. First, determine what you are going to use the rub on. A pork rub will be different than a chicken rub. You might also want to make the rub spicy or sweet, it just depends on what flavor you are looking to add to the meat. Trial and error play a big part in developing rubs that taste good and will not overpower the meat. Below are a few herbs and spices that work well in rubs:

Garlic powder
Onion powder
Black Pepper
Red Pepper (Cayenne)
Whit Pepper
Mustard Powder

Add the ingredients you choose a little at a time, and then test the rub to see how the flavor changed. With a little experimentation, you will develop a personal rub that tastes very good.

You can find rub recipes that I have created here: Barbeque Rubs

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