The 15 Best BBQ Rubs


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Aug 22, 2023

The 15 Best BBQ Rubs

Delish editors handpick every product we feature. We may earn commission from the links on this page. Adding the Yellowstone rubs to our cart. It's peak barbecue season, and whether you're grilling

Delish editors handpick every product we feature. We may earn commission from the links on this page.

Adding the Yellowstone rubs to our cart.

It's peak barbecue season, and whether you're grilling beef, pork, chicken, or vegetables, the foundation of any delicious cookout is a strong seasoning blend. Nothing is worse than cooking meat for hours only to end up with a bland dish. Even drowning them in a blanket of barbecue sauce isn't enough to cover up flavorless meat.

That's why pitmasters all over the country have their own proprietary blends of herbs, spices, and seasonings to add oomph to their barbecue. Many of them even keep their recipes under lock and key, which makes it near impossible to replicate their secret formulas. You can spend your precious time trying to decipher their spice blends at home...or you can pick up a pre-made barbecue rub that does all the hard work for you.

Rubs help tenderize meat and develop a caramelized exterior. But it's important to note that no two barbecue rubs are created equal. And different cuts of meat require specific blends of spices to highlight their natural flavors.

We rounded up some of the most popular rubs on the market to see which ones are actually worth buying. So next time you're hosting a cookout, you can reach for these savory, spicy, and salty blends and trust that your meat will end up as delicious as the world's most renowned barbecue spots.

This seasoning swept our taste test. Oryx's BBQ Desert Salt features a blend of both herbs and spices—think paprika, allspice, cinnamon, and rosemary. Those ingredients don't seem like they'd work well on paper, but this seasoning is nuanced, balanced, and incredibly versatile.

Adams Rib Rubb has been a go-to seasoning blend for over two decades—and it's easy to see why. The autolyzed yeast imparts a deep, savory flavor to just about any cut. But this rub also acts as a tenderizer, which makes it perfect for breaking down the connective tissue and muscles on a rack of ribs.

Meat Church BBQ is Texas through and through, and their Holy Cow rub is no exception. It's black-pepper forward with a strong base layer of salt. It brings out the absolute best in brisket and other cuts of beef.

DennyMike's Pixie Dust doesn't just come with a fun name; it packs a potent, savory flavor. There's mesquite powder, ground celery seed, garlic, paprika, and plenty of chili. They're not kidding when they say it's universal, but we think that this blend works especially well for steaks.

The Watkins Co. partnered with the team behind the television show Yellowstone to make a line of Chef Gator-approved seasoning blends. Their Cowboy BBQ rub is the most balanced of the bunch, with molasses, paprika, vinegar, and mustard all making an appearance. Something about it is the perfect pairing for cheese, which makes it an ideal seasoning for when you're grilling burgers in the backyard.

When it comes to seasoning chicken, the obvious choice is lemon and pepper. But while other poultry spice blends are overwhelmingly tart and lemon juice-forward, the one from Jake's Grillin uses ground coffee as the primary ingredient. The savory, slightly bitter coffee is upgraded with aromatic lemon peel, onion, and herbs.

You know how just cooking garlic on the stove is enough for people to ask what you're cooking? This rub perfectly replicates that phenomenon. It adds a deeply savory, aromatic flavor to any ingredient—and it's also super smoky. We want to sprinkle this all over grilled vegetables.

Apple and chipotle aren't exactly two flavors that we'd pair together, but in this rub they really work. The apple powder provides a baseline of mild, natural sweetness. And the heat from this rub is threefold: there's the smoky chipotle, intense cayenne, and a sharp punch from mustard seed that hits you right in your nostrils.

We don't always have the time to cook meat low and slow in a smoker. But thanks to Savory Spice's Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning, you can replicate the BBQ pit from the comfort of your own kitchen. The hickory flavor takes center stage in this rub. "It's fire!" says senior culinary producer Natalie Lobel.

Kansas City-style barbecue is known for its thick, tomato-based sauces that are both sweet and savory. This barbecue rub strikes a similar chord. There's a strong umami-forward foundation made up of garlic, onion, bell pepper, and plenty of MSG.

If you want a deep, caramelized crust on your barbecue, the seasoning and rub from Bone Suckin' Sauce is perfect. The main ingredient is brown sugar, which helps develop a golden exterior while imparting a deep, nuanced sweetness to your meat. Pair it with their iconic barbecue sauce and you're set.

AC Barbeque is a new venture from comedian Cedric the Entertainer and Black-ish star Anthony Anderson. And these Hollywood guys are surprisingly good at making seasoning. The MVP blend is their signature combo of spices with smoke, ground coffee, and vinegar powder. It's got a nice tang that pairs well with just about any cut of meat.

Sometimes we want to let the meat do all the talking. And while many rubs can overwhelm your protein, Traeger's Anything Rub is delightfully subtle. It's light and mild enough to put on everything: fish, poultry, pork, beef, and even vegetables. It's so versatile that one of our editors would use it in place of salt in their everyday cooking.

Rub-A-Dub uses ingredients with naturally-occurring sugar and glutamate compounds. Instead of white sugar, they use honey. Instead of umami boosters like MSG, they use tomato powder. There's nothing wrong with MSG, but if you're looking for naturally-derived flavor, Rub-A-Dub is the blend for you.

While not the same as regional American barbecue styles, Korean barbecue is a long-standing tradition. This rub from Spiceology mimics many of the classic flavors you can expect from KBBQ: soy, chile, and sesame. The best cuts for this blend are pork belly and short ribs, but it's versatile enough to use on everything.

Gabby Romero is Delish’s editorial assistant, where she writes stories about the latest TikTok trends, develops recipes, and answers any and all of your cooking-related questions. She loves eating spicy food, collecting cookbooks, and adding a mountain of Parmesan to any dish she can.

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