Thursday, May 6, 2021

Sweet BBQ Rub

This sweet BBQ rub adds so much flavor to ribs that you won’t need any sauce! Make a big batch to have on hand for all of your summer cooking.

A mouthwatering blend of savory, smoky, and spicy flavors will add plenty of interest to any of your grilled or smoked dishes. It’s particularly delicious on a tender, juicy rack of ribs.

Love this sweet rib rub recipe? With a few adjustments to the spices and measurements, you can use it on smoked chuck roast, whole chicken, and even turkey legs!

Sweet BBQ Rub in a mason jar

Sweet BBQ Rub - Ingredient Notes

  • Brown sugar - This adds a caramelized flavor and doesn’t burn as easily as regular granulated sugar. Opt for light versus dark so the molasses flavor isn’t too overpowering.
  • New Mexico Chili Powder - Made from dried chiles, this has a medium heat level with earthy and fruity undertones.
  • Smoked paprika - This is noticeably different than a regular jar of paprika, both in aroma and taste. Definitely splurge on a bottle if you don’t already have it in your pantry.
Sweet BBQ Rub ingredients

How To Use It

Pair this sweet rib rub recipe with a rack of pork or beef, o whatever you prefer. Prepare the meat as needed (find helpful tips here), then pat it dry with a paper towel on both sides.

Sprinkle half of the spice mixture evenly over one side, pressing and rubbing it into the meat with your fingers so it adheres to the surface. Then, repeat on the other side with the remaining mixture.

You can throw the meat right on the grill or smoker if you’d like, but I recommend letting it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to really let the flavor soak in. 2 to 4 hours should be plenty, but some people like to let it marinate for up to 48 hours.

Just be sure to wrap the ribs in plastic wrap or foil so they don’t absorb any flavors or odors from nearby food.

Sweet Rib Rub ingredients in a bowl

What You’ll Need To Make Rib Rub

  • Large Bowl or Measuring Cup - This recipe makes about 2 cups total, so make sure there’s plenty of room for mixing.
  • Whisk - These have held up for over 10 years and are still as good as the day I bought them.
  • Large Mason Jar or Storage Container - It should be airtight when sealed for optimum freshness.
Sweet BBQ Rub

FAQ - Common Recipe Questions

Should I salt the meat separately?

There’s plenty of salt in the mixture already, so it should be fine as is.

If you’re concerned about the sodium content in general, feel free to reduce the amount of salt in the sweet BBQ rub or replace it with a low-sodium substitute.

How long does rib rub last in the pantry?

When kept in an airtight container, it should stay fresh for up to 6 months. It’s perfectly safe to use after that point, but the flavor quality will start to diminish over time.

To get the most life out of your mixture, store it somewhere cool and dark. Exposure to light and heat will cause the spices to break down and dry out.

What else can I use sweet BBQ rub for?

There aren’t too many unique uses for this blend, but you could certainly use it to season grilled veggies, burgers, or steak if you’d like.


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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Sweet BBQ Rub in a mason jar with a spoon

Yield: 2 cups (Enough for about 12 pounds meat )
Author: Donna Elick
Sweet BBQ Rub

Sweet BBQ Rub

This sweet BBQ rub adds so much flavor to ribs that you won’t need any sauce! Make a big batch to have on hand for all of your summer cooking.
Prep time: 5 MinTotal time: 5 Min


  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons New Mexico Chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, to taste


  1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl or 4 cup measuring cup. Whisk to combine. Pour into an airtight 32-ounce mason jar. Seal and store in a cool, dry, dark place.
  1. You can eliminate the salt and salt your meat to taste and then use the seasoning.

Sweet BBQ Rub close up

Originally published May 2021

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