Creating a Rub in 3 steps


From the project to the rub recipe: how to

I’ve always had a real passion for the construction of homemade rub and those who follow me since a little know that I have written several things on this subject. What has changed in the meantime has been a veritable explosion in the availability of packaged rub on the Italian market and the consequent and inevitable unwinding of many of the incentives that lead to DIY. The truth is that objectively are commonly available in America much better quality spices, which combined with an undeniable majority imprinting make it really difficult to compare. This does not mean that I don’t have fun in making it and so I thought to share my method, which stands out in three distinct phases.

The Project

It is worth mentioning briefly how a rub is made:

  1. A base given from a ratio of salt and sugar, where the first is always there while the latter is generally present only if the rub is intended for indirect cooking, so as to caramelize, since otherwise it would burn. The ratio ranges from 1: 0 to 1: 1.
  2. One or more “Hot” elements intended as Americans do, so that not only include the spicy but also the peppery. The practice would take a part “Hot” the more important, the bigger is the presence of sugar, so to balance
  3. One of the elements that serve as a “bridge”, or by the conjunction between the sweet and the hot world. The elements that perform this function are Turmeric, paprika, and Cumin, including as it appears obvious, paprika makes a bit the master. More important is the role of sweet and hot stuff, the more you need a balancing element between the two worlds.
  4. The personalization of the rub on the basis of all the other elements that somehow go to make unique your recipe

Project Rub


Finally, we consider that the base (sugar + salt) corresponds to approximately one-third of the rub. Of course, these are indicative information and have then to be dropped on the individual reality.

Let’s try an example: let’s say you want to make at home one of those rubs, still hard to find in our country: The Cow Boy Rub. For those not familiar, it is a rub for steaks, which will donate a ‘marked footprint thanks to its lively spiciness and deep notes of cocoa and coffee that characterize it.

It ‘a rub for direct firing, then the base will definitely be salt, but we will not let sugar to zero. RubThere is a category of “technical” rubs for steak, with a small amount of sugar in the base and a little more mangy to handle at high temperatures and better suited to the more experienced but that can donate if well exploited, caramel and liquorice notes, really remarkable. The most famous example of this is probably the Oakridge Carne Crosta. Our rub must be so. Let’s say we left so a salt/sugar ratio of 1: 1/6 or if you prefer, 6:1. We will use the Muscovado sugar. This is a spicy rub, so we give disproportionate weight to the hot compared to the doctrine. We say to put two parts of black pepper and 1 and 1/2 of chili. For the latter we will use cayenne chili, which we will toast one third in the pan for a few minutes to give the connotation of “cowboy” cause this rub is rightly famous. It will take a “bridge” important to support so much character. Let’s say 2 parts of paprika and 1 of cumin, whose aroma I would like to be perceived as a background note. We complete with a part for the oregano, garlic and onion powder and finally one for bitter cocoa and instant coffee. On paper it works, we just have to experience it

The Balancing

This phase is the first test to understand if we made some coarse balancing errors, especially given from the fact you have to deal with the raw material that is not said is always the same. We need of course all the ingredients, the smallest possible container on which it is possible to shave the content with the back of a knife (I use a medicine teaspoon from when my daughter was a baby), a cup and a pot with water very hot. These last two elements we need to evaluate the aromatic impact of our rub.

We try to combine the ingredients, let’s use a teaspoon in a cup, we drop some boiling water over them and feel aromas. In this case I would say we got it: they come out cocoa and coffee, roasted red pepper, cumin, and just behind the Mediterranean notes of oregano and umami with onion and garlic. Everything according to the plan, I would say. Then we proceed with tasting the rub. For this step you will inevitably need some ‘experience, it is not so immediate to understand what will happen to rub in cooking, from raw tasting it. For practice, I suggest you to tast all your regulars rub, and then check how they have changed in the bark. In our case, I notice some things I do not like: It would emerge more roasted character, instead of cocoa and coffee prevail over all other and the chili is too spicy and slightly umami. The addition is a whole tone lower than the base. So I proceed to repeat the test: go down with the salt/sugar ratio to 5: 1, I reduce the chili to a part, of which half toasted  and coffee and cocoa to 1/2 each. I would say that we have now: last step.

The Realization

The try on very small doses is used only to not throw away excessive amounts of product for coarse balancing test but does not allow for obvious reasons, the fine tuning: just one milligram more or less completely changes the perception. therefore necessary to try again on a larger scale. then we realize with the help of a scale, the Cow Boy rub in bigger scale, of about 100 gr. product.

Retracing the perception tests discover that the presence of cocoa, which seemed enough on the previous test, really needed another half a dose. We thus reached the final recipe



10 parts Salt
1 part Muscovado Sugar
4 parts Black Pepper
1 part Pep. Cayenna
1 part Pep. Cayenna toasted
4 parts paprika
2 parts Cumin
2 parts Onion Powder
2 parts Oregano
2 parts Garlic Powder
2 parts Bitter Cocoa
1 part soluble coffee

Ingredienti Barbecue

As a final step before I leave you to your evidence, I list three suggestions that could be very useful

Standardise  quality – Of Paprika there are countless types, such as pepper, sugar and all the other spices. So it’s important to get a result as close as possible to your project, you get used to operate with the most constant possible standard

Big Quantities –  If you are now sure of the recipe for a rub, produce large amounts at a time. Larger quantities will mean minor deviations between a production and the other

Objective measurement – Measures such as teaspoons, cups or similar, although there does not appear obvious, are too unstable. A production with constant characteristics can not be separated from a precision scale

Have a good rub everyone. Which one will be the first project you gonna realize?

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