Rubs are an integral part of BBQ. That meat is going to need a good slather of seasoning before it goes into the smoker and you have two options when it comes time to cook: You can either make it yourself OR, you can rely on someone else who has figured out the flavor combinations that will make your meat (and veggies, fruit- let’s get creative people) sing. While I do like to make my own rubs (here is my go-to homemade BBQ rub made with Bourbon Barrel Smoked spices), let’s face it- sometimes we need a quick solution. We know that not all rubs are created equal- here are some of my favorites that can help you have a successful flavor combination. And hell, maybe these will even help you win a trophy or two!
These guys are well represented on the BBQ circuit as the owner and creator has made, and won frequently, with these rubs on the competition circuit. Their rubs are made with high quality ingredients, are well balanced (sweet/salty/heat) and come in meat specific varieties such as “Black Ops Brisket Rub” or “Venison and Wild Game Rub”. My personal favorite rub of theirs is the “Habanero Death Dust”- I have ordered this for myself, and gave this as a gift to special people this past Christmas. This is a major compliment because as a food blogger I never need or have to buy BBQ rub! The Habanero Death Dust is awesome- perfectly hot with great flavor for those of us who like some real heat!
Albukirky Seasonings: Kirk Muncrief lives in Albuquerque, NM and infuses the flavor of the SouthWest (and their awesome Chiles) into his rubs. I’m a fan of his Green Chile and Albukirky BBQ Rub, which is a red chile base BBQ rub (but not spicy, just great flavor).
Dizzy Pig: I’ve been hearing about these guys for a while- they are big with the “EggHeads”, and since I am one- I’ve been eager to try them for a while. They offer the most creative flavor profiles I’ve seen in the BBQ market with rubs including the “Tsunami Spin” which has an a MidEastern undertone, and the “Dizzy Dust” – a multi purpose rub that I’ve seen my Egghead friends even put on grilled fruit. A deserving call out for Dizzy Pig’s “ISH” blends, such as the “Curryish” and “Fajitaish”: these blends sugar free and designed for high temperature grilling and searing. As someone who grills a lot, I appreciate a rub that keeps this in mind as many BBQ rubs have a sugar base. Well done Dizzy Pig!
Todd’s Dirt Seasonings: Todd’s Dirt Seasoning is the first high –quality multi purpose seasoning/rub I tested out since I’ve been blogging with GrillGrrrl for almost 5 years. I think of Todd’s Dirt as a Really high quality alternative to traditional “Old Bay”, Cajun Seasoning or Multi-Purpose rub. No MSG, No Gluten- very high quality ingredients.
Burnt Finger BBQ: From Jason Day and the Creators of the Bacon Explosion- you have a really great Pork Rub. I LOVE this rub on grilled pork chops and I can’t think of any pork cut it would not be good on- grilling or low and slow. These Kansas City guys have competed in a lot of KCBS competitions and know their Que. I like their BBQ sauce too- a nice, well rounded Kansas City style sauce. Draper’s AP Rub: Draper’s makes a really great BBQ sauce, and their rub is a great part 1 to their rub/BBQ sauce combo. The AP rub is a great combo of sweet/spicy/salty/savory and is a great all purpose rub on a variety of meats.Their BBQ sauce is a good representative sample of Kentucky BBQ sauce- rich, well rounded with nice smokiness without being overbearing or too thick. I also like that their sauce has a good kick to it.
John Henrys’s East Texas (Not Pictured): I am REALLY in love with John Henry’s Wild Cherry Chipotle Rub. I first found out about this rub as they sell it at my BGE dealer. This rub is a great mix of sweet with heat. I always use this when smoking a port butt if I am not using my own home-made rub. While there is not a link to purchase the Wild Cherry Chipotle on their website, it appears you can call in an order (and it’s worth it!)
Red Bone Foods: Grilling Marinades and Finishing Sauces. Okay, while this is not a rub, I thought these guys deserve an honorable mention as they’re offering great marinade flavors in a spray bottle which is a cool concept for adding flavor to the grill. They offer really versatile finishing sauces as well- I paired their Wasabi Aioli on baked fish (which is normally a very boring dish), finished with Panko and the sauce really knocked the dish out of the park. I’d like to use the Wasabi Aioli as a dipping sauce for fried pickes- YUM!
I'm sure there are plenty of awesome rubs I have missed in this review. However, as a Grilling/BBQ blogger, I've sampled a lot! Do you have a favorite rub that I've missed? Leave a comment below and tell the world!
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I like Drapers for general purpose use, even just as season salt. I also like Billy Bones competition rub mixed with his cherry rub. There are so many good ones out there.
I like the Dizzy Pig rubs as well. I normally make my own though. I don’t see a huge selection of rubs at stores in Canada.
These are all great rubs but you may want to consider my buddy Chuck Averwater’s line of Seasonings. Smackers BBQ. He has won many awards.
Greg- what do you put in your rubs?
For low and slows, I usually use the rub from Dr BBQ’s Big Time BBQ cookbook as a base and then tweak it a bit depending on my mood. For grilling and for chicken, I use something similar but without any sugar.
I need to try more of Dr. BBQ’s recipes. He is a great friend!!