Sweet BBQ Rub Recipe (Beef, Pork, or Chicken)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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.

titled collage for dry rub recipe


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 roastwhole chicken, and even turkey legs!

We also use it on our smoked cream cheese!

This sweet rub is a great way to add a burst of flavor to various food items. Pork recipes, chicken wings, succulent ribs – you name it.

Your taste buds will delight in the way that the natural flavors and flavor profile bring out the natural flavor of your favorite foods. 

The light brown sugar and the smoky flavor of the paprika create a great recipe that is perfect for adding a little kick.

I’d say that this is good enough to use in a BBQ competition, but I might be partial to this recipe! 

It’s time to take your grilling and BBQing to the next level and give this new recipe a try. It has the best flavor, and pairs well with all kinds of recipes.

I really like using it on pork ribs and we are big fans of adding it to pork butt and pork chops. It bring a championship flavor to any basic recipe! 

sweet BBQ rub recipe ingredients in prep bowls

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.
dry rub for ribs in glass bowl

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.

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.

overhead: homemade rib rub in glass bowl

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.

 Don’t miss a thing! Follow us on
Facebook | Twitter Pinterest | Instagram

Sweet BBQ Rub in a mason jar with a spoon

bowl of rib rub

Sweet BBQ Rub Recipe (Beef, Pork, or Chicken)

Donna Elick
Sweet BBQ Rub adds loads of flavor to grilled ribs, steak, pork and chicken! This dry rub recipe is essential for your summer cookouts!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Method Mixed
Servings 2 cups (enough for about 12 pounds of ribs)


  • 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


  • Add all the rub ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
    Pour into an airtight 32-ounce mason jar. Seal and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Donna’s Notes

If desired, you can eliminate the salt from this dry rub recipe, then just salt your meat to taste after cooking.


Serving: 2cups | Calories: 495cal | Carbohydrates: 117g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7229mg | Sugar: 84g | Fiber: 16g | Calcium: 342mg | Iron: 13mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image of sweet bbq rub

Originally published May 2021, updated and republished May 2024

Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your price will remain the same and The Slow Roasted Italian will automatically receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting us, it helps us keep creating new recipes.

The Simple Kitchen cookbook affiliate linked banner

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating