The 8 Best Pitmaster’s Rub

I migliori rub

A selection of the best published recipes

I remember very well when by now (unfortunately) several years ago I had gone through a deep phase of trip towards the realization of the homemade rub. If you remember, I’d already told you when I wrote on the post concerning having a good rub in 3 step. I liked the search for balance and the deep characterization through which I could give the rub my unmistakable and very personal imprint.

Something similar happened to me with homebrewing: I liked to invent new styles, to go outside the schemes, to create in short. Before arriving at this stage, however, I bought a 400-page tome and I carefully studied the techniques through which a well-crafted and balanced beer was built and I first tested the realization of the most famous and conventional styles, starting from the simplest ones to bring me gradually to the most complex and complicate.

The same thing happened with the rub. I tried to read as much as possible and to test something that existed before pushing me towards the creative phase. Even today I consider that passage as extremely important in my formation. Having had the opportunity to read many books by many famous American pitmasters and to have applied the recipes of the rubs that I found there published, has allowed me to refine my taste and my understanding of a world that is as much as any day closer, but it remains very far from our gastronomic imprinting and that must be understood first, metabolized.

I will be honest: this is generally not THE Solution, with a capital S, the definitive one. The quality of the spices used (do you know that there are 8 varieties of just the Hungarian Paprika, for a total of some hundred in the world?), their freshness and conservation conditions, the proportions that on small quantities can differ considerably in perception even in front of differences of a few grams, are factors that influence too much not only the gap between the intentions of the creator of the recipe and what gets those who make it at home but also the differences between one production and another. Despite this, it is undeniable that some of those recipes have been important to draw a path and that in some cases they have been fundamental to build on that kind of setting, many recipes of mine.

Stopping to evaluate the attempts made over the course of time, I have thus tried to draw up a personal list of the best 8 rubs found on many books of big names of the American barbecue scene. These, in reverse order from the eighth to the first, in my personal opinion are the best Pitmaster’s Rub I had the opportunity to try in these years:

8 RubKaren Putman Rub
Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Food

Flower of the Flame’s Rub

1 cup Smoked Paprika
3/4 cup Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Black Pepper
1/2 cup Chili Powder
1/2 cup Cumin
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Garlic Powder
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Celery Seedes (optional)
2 Tblsp dried Origan

Note: This is a Rub designed for the Ribs category when the author competed in her homonymous, only female team. It is a powerful rub. Do it to toast very well in the cooking bark to mitigate it to the right measure.

7 RubRub Ray Lampe
Dr. BBQ Big Time Barbecue

Big Time Herb Rub

1/4 cup Salt
1/4 cup Cane Sugar
1 Tblsp di chili pepper
1 Tblsp dried Thyme
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp dried Onion
1 tsp Mustard powder
1 tsp dried Origan
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Tarragon
1/2 tsp Cayenna
1/2 tsp Nutmeg

Note: This is one of the basic rub variants, proposed by the author for vegetables. I actually liked it more on white meat and in some cases on fatty fish like Salmon. It is a rather “lively” rub, for those who like to moderate it a little, lower the quantity of chili and sugar in proportion.

6 RubMyron Mixon Rub
Smokin’ with Myron Mixon

Beef Rub

1 Tblsp Kosher Salt
2 Tblsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Chipotle Powder
1/2 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp dried Onion

Note: Nothing particularly out of the schemes. The rub is one of the basic initial ones that the author then uses for all the recipes. It would be for beef in general but I found it is good as Steak Rub for those who love wide and deep profiles.

5 RubRub Big Bob Gibson
Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book

Country Style Ribs Rub

1/2 cup Brown Sugar
13 tsp Salt
4 Tblsp Paprika
3 tsp Garlic Powder
3 tsp Cumin
3 tsp Onion powder
2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp Ginger powder

Note: In the original recipe, the rub is combined with a Barbecue sauce with Bourbon and apple, which plays between sweet and aromatic. In general I liked it on the ribs but also on pork.

4 RubMyron Mixon Rub
Peace, Love & Barbecue

Magic Dust

1/2 cup Paprika
1/4 cup Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
2 Tblsp Mustard powder
1/4 cup Chili powder
1/4 cup Cumin
2 Tblsp Black Pepper
1/4 cup granuled Garlic
2 Tblsp Cayenna

Note: This is a classic, by now perhaps a little inflated. However, it remains in my opinion an excellent rub, intense, very effective. Its natural destined to white meat but I consider it a universal rub in every respect, an alternative to the Classic American Barbecue.

3 RubRub Paul Kirk
Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue

Dale’s Blue Ribbon Chicken

1 cup Cane Sugar
1 cup Salt
1/2 cup Paprika (if possibile Ungarian, smoked)
2 Tblsp Mustard powder
1 Tblsp White pepper
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp dried origan
1 tsp dried Parsley
1 tsp Horseradish powder (I used wasabi)
1/2 tsp 
cloves powder

Note: The author reports the recipe of his friend Dale, a long-time pitmaster who rarely got to the podium during the competitions except in the chicken category where he was a season winner. This is one of his winning “formulas”, as he defined them.

2 RubRub Smoke and Spice
Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke

Poultry Perfect Rub

3/4 cup Paprika
1/4 cup Black Pepper
1/4 cup Celery Salt (or common Sale with celery seeds)
1/4 cup Sugar
2 Tblsp Onion powder
2 Tblsp Mustard powder
2 tsp Cayenna
3 lemon dried zest powder

Note: Interesting rub. It works very well especially when applied to the skin of the chicken. It enhances and integrates well with the taste of crispy skin: lollipop, chicken tights, chicken drums, that kind of world.

1 RubWicked Good BBQ Rub
Wicked Good Barbecue

White BBQ Rub

1/2 cup Kosher Salt
6 Tblsp Turbinado Sugar
3 Tblsp White Pepper
4 tspp Lemon Pepper
4 tsp Garlic powder
2 tsp Onion powder
2 tsp Citric Acid powder
1 tsp Mustard powder

Note: One more rub for chicken (guess why…). Lemon Pepper and even more, citric acid powder are not easy to find but the rub is very interesting. In my opinion it is for the chicken what the SPG is for beef.

Probably none of these will ever be your definitive rub, the one that will turn your existence. Those with a particular interest in the world of rub generally evolve towards the home-made approach or towards the high-quality American semiartigianal rub. But they can represent an excellent intermediate step, thanks to which you can understand the balance of a well-made rub and the effects that this implies on the final result. I hope they can be useful to you as much as they have been for me.

Do you also have a rub found on a textbook that you particularly liked?

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