How to Create Spice Rubs for Smoking

Posted on: January 12, 2023

Now there are plenty of premade, premixed spice blends and rubs out there that you can test and sample. But why bother when you could just make your very own custom rub, perfectly tailored to you and what you’re cooking? Too hard, you say? Well, I do beg to differ. With this formula, it should be quite simple to make a signature dry rub of your own.

Sugar, Salt and Red Pepper, the Key Ingredients

The three main ingredients to any dry rub are sugar, salt and red pepper. With just those three ingredients you can make a simple rub. The sugar helps produce that outer bark on the meat. The salt pulls out moisture, creating a coating on the outside of the meat, as well as enhancing the natural flavours of the meat itself (making beef taste more beefy and chicken more chickeny). Finally, the pepper will bring some heat to the party, as well as that appealing red colour.

Don’t Stick to the Basics. Experiment with Other Spices

In regards to salt, I find that kosher salt or sea salt will give you the most consistent and desirable end product. When it comes to sugar, you have a few options here. I avoid white sugar as it has a tendency to burn at higher temperatures, say on a BBQ.

Some other options are brown sugar, raw sugar, molasses, honey or maple syrup, whichever compliments the meat and flavours you are going for. For red pepper, you can either stick to very mild ones, such as sweet or smoked paprika, or a medium spiced chili powder. However, if you want a full heat, choose cayenne powder or a combination of any of these spices.

Those are the basics, but let’s not stop there. Add in some unique flavours and spices to mix things up a bit. Here are some ideas for you to try out:


Black Pepper

White Pepper

Garlic Powder

Curry Powder


Ginger Powder






The ideal proportions are 8 parts sugar, 3 parts salt, 1 part red pepper and 1 part anything your heart desires! There are a few alterations to be considered though, such as the salt to sugar ratio. A higher salt to sugar ratio is best for stronger flavoured meats and proteins such as beef, venison or fish. On he other hand, a higher sugar to salt ratio will be better suited for milder ones, such as chicken or pork. Other than that let your creativity fly!