Grilling on the BBQ is not just another way to prepare food, it is an art. What is better than enjoying a barbeque or some smoked meats in the warm summer evenings?
Some people are obsessed with grilling, and this has led to a huge amount of products on the market to enhance your grilling and smoking.
Some of us like to come up with our own BBQ products including herbs and spices which can be added to meats before cooking.
Making your own rubs can be great fun, but it is time consuming and in some cases it can go very wrong.
If you’ve invited guests round and your homemade rub is way too spicy or just totally flavorless then it can ruin your food. Plus, the best store bought rubs are absolutely delicious.
|Kosmos Q Dirty Bird|
|Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Spice Rub|
|Bad Byron’s Butt Rub|
|Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub|
|Plowboys Yardbird Rub|
|The Salt Lick Original Dry Seasoning|
Choosing The Best Rib Rub
If you’ve ever watched any of the BBQ and grilling TV shows out there you’ll know how much of a big deal it is!
Not only do people like to spice up their meats, people have secret rubs, scientific techniques and intricate methods to ensure the best possible taste.
Grilling also boasts a huge amount of different styles and ingredients, usually stemming from different origins.
From the spicy flavors of Mexican BBQs to the smoky Texan flavors, each state (and country) offers something a little different.
Many of these regional grilling styles have been translated into rib rubs which can be enjoyed simply by purchasing and applying before your next BBQ.
While it is hard to specify one “best” rib rub, there certainly are some wonderful options which we’ve tested and reviewed in this article.
Feeling The Heat
Heat is a consideration when it comes to BBQ flavorings. Some flavorings have a lovely sweet taste perfect for every palate, but some are more suited to those who enjoy a bit of spice.
Smoking and grilling usually has the sweet taste to counteract spices, but different rubs still offer differing levels of chili and other hot spices so you can ensure you’re getting a rib rub that won’t blow you away with its spice if this isn’t your preference.
Dry Rubs vs Wet Rubs
These are two terms you’re likely to hear a lot when you start experimenting with grilling. They’re more or less self-explanatory.
A dry rub uses only dry ingredients (herbs and spices) whereas a wet rub will incorporate something along the lines of vinegar, olive oil or even apple juice, or a combination of these ingredients.
If you are purchasing a rub as opposed to making one yourself, dry rubs will usually be the best option as they are far more economical and easy for manufacturers to create and ship. Any rub with a wet base will be used up far more quickly.
The choice of turning a dry rub into a wet rub is yours, as adding further wet ingredients is incredibly easy.
How to Use Rubs on Ribs
Ribs can be wonderful or they can be woeful. It depends on how they are prepared. Ribs need to be tender and flavorsome, and this all comes from the method of cooking.
Putting a tiny bit of rib rub on and slapping it on the grill for the minimum time is not the way to do it! This will mean bland and chewy ribs.
Taking your time is one of the keys to smoking and grilling. Using rib rubs is no different. If you have the time, it is normally strongly recommended that you use a rub the day before you cook them, this will ensure that the ribs have time to take full advantage of the flavors and rest in the herbs and spices overnight.
If you don’t have the time to do this, apply the rib rub as soon as you can on the day of cooking.
As well as applying in advance of cooking, adding a further coat of rub around 20-30 minutes before cooking is recommended, ensuring a thorough coating and fresh flavor.
Rib rubs should not be used sparingly. Meat can be stubborn and hard to get flavor into effectively.
If you choose to tenderize your meat or even if you prick some holes through it with a knife or sharp kitchen instrument, you can ensure that the flavor seeps through to the center.
Top Store Bought Rib Rubs
We’ve reviewed and listed many of the top rib rubs which can be purchased either from grocery stores or online.
These incorporate multiple different grilling styles and flavors so there’s every chance you may wish to experiment with a few of the rubs to work out which you enjoy most.1
Kosmos Q Dirty Bird
We couldn’t go through the list without a great offering for those addicted to heat. The Kosmos Q Dirty Bird rub is another very versatile BBQ product, and is great not only for ribs but for chicken, steak and even burgers and sausages.
The Kosmos Q range of rib rubs has a lot of different options, just like many of the manufacturers on this list.
They have tested their products at BBQ competitions across America to ensure they can compete with the best, and rest assured that the Dirty Bird is a wonderful alternative to a homemade rib rub.
This is spicy, but not just hot for the sake of it. If you can’t handle overly spicy curries or other hot meals, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t enjoy the dirty bird.
It serves to provide a kick to your meat without leaving you gasping for water. It has all the hallmarks of classic BBQ flavors as the heat and smoke is contrasted with a beautiful sweetness.
Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Spice Rub
Stubb is famous for his BBQ joint in Austin, Texas, with the slogan ‘it all starts with a good rub’. The BBQ spice rub is a blessing from the brand, and has five star reviews almost exclusively.
The flavor profile is built around paprike as well as high quality sea salt and black pepper.
Sounds simple, but the amazing blend has created one of the most impressive rubs out there, not just for ribs but for chicken and other beef and pork joints.
If we were to pick out one single ‘best’ rib rub, Stubb’s would really take some beating. The flavors aren’t overly complex, but they give a perfect recreation of the unique Texas style.
You can feel like you’re eating at Stubb’s BBQ joint from the comfort of your own backyard.
Bad Byron’s Butt Rub Barbeque Seasoning BBQ Rubs
This is arguably the most common BBQ rub available on the market, and is definitely one of the best sellers.
This is an incredibly versatile BBQ flavor, and even though it is branded as ‘butt rub’ this can be used on virtually any cut of meat to improve the flavor.
The main ingredients of the rub include paprika and chipotle for a beautiful smokiness, onion and garlic for a well rounded flavor, and salt and pepper.
Some rubs don’t include salt and pepper as it is expected that they are applied separately, and some users have over-salted their meat by overlooking this, which can lead to a ruined or at least unbalanced flavor palate.
The texan flavors of this rub shine through, and it really can be used with pretty much anything on the BBQ, with customers tipping this not just for ribs but for chicken, vegetables and even seafood.
A rack of pork ribs will be the perfect accompaniment for your Bad Byron’s, but it can fill your whole grill with flavor.
This rub contains no MSG, as we’ve come to expect from the top rib rubs. It also has no sugar, whereas most of these types of rubs utilize the sweetness of sugar to compliment heat.
Because of being sugar free, it is great for a healthier option that still packs a lot of flavor.
Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub
Some rubs are very simple in terms of ingredients, and they’re often proud of it. However, if you’re looking for something a little more complex, Killer Hogs’ BBQ Rub could be exactly what you’re after.
This is a rub which has been refined and perfected across BBQ and smoking tournaments across America, and you can take advantage of these years of honing to ensure your home grilling is as good as can be.
The brand have focused on creating the perfect ‘bark’ with their rub. The bark is the area around the meat which contains the flavoring, resembling tree bark of course, from where it gets the name.
The bark is sort of like the ‘crust’ of the meat, and it is the main area a rib rub can influence.
In this case, ingredients you’d expect such as salt, sugar, pepper and paprika are mixed with some more experimental flavor kicks such as orange peel and even mustard flour.
What all of this adds up to is a well rounded flavor, great for ribs as well as chicken, beef and pork. The rub is described as ‘competition grade’, and it is one of the most highly regarded rubs out there.
For a small investment in this magic rub, you can quickly be BBQing like a true pitmaster, and enjoying the tasty rewards, too!
Plowboys Yardbird Rub
Plowboys Yardbird rub markets itself as being ‘created for chicken, but made for pork’. The truth is it does a great job on both, as well as on other BBQ meat chops depending on your preference.
This rub is famous for its recommendation by Tuffy Stone, a very famous TV chef and competitor on the American BBQ circuit.
To come with the endorsement of one of the most successful BBQ personalities of all time, the Yardbird rub must have something about it.
The flavor profile is beautifully balanced between sweet and salty, but be warned, this is another rub where the salt can become overpowering if you leave it too long or if you have added salt separately.
The beautiful sweetness of this rub really stands out, and the anti-caking ingredients included make sure there is an even spread on your food with no annoying clumps.
All around, Plowboys Yardbird is another of the most versatile and well-rounded BBQ rubs, perfect for ribs but just as effective coating your chicken wings or even your vegetables.
The Salt Lick Original Dry Seasoning
This is a wonderful starting point. If you’re not an experience griller and don’t have your own style or an idea of what flavors work for you yet, this can be a good way to start experimenting and add some all-round richness to your grilling.
This has been regularly used on steak and pork cuts. Because of its use with beef, it strongly utilizes the flavors of pepper and has a little extra spiciness. If you like your food with a kick then the salt lick could be your perfect BBQ companion.
The ingredients are totally natural, consisting of cayenne, salt, garlic and other herbs and spices to give a rounded and versatile flavor with a bit of heat to it.