I live in New Orleans and if there’s something Southerners are serious about is their pulled pork sandwiches -well, at least my husband. And to make the most epic pulled pork, I rely on this dry pork rub recipe.
I’ve been making this dry pork rub for years and slathering it on a 3 to 5 pound pork shoulder roast that I slow cook for hours and then shred between two forks.
That said, this rub is magical for all things pork: pork loin, roasts, even pork chops.
What is a Dry Rub
A dry rub is a mix of seasonings that are rubbed directly onto the meat itself before cooking.
Traditionally, dry rubs are used to season meat that will be cooked over open flame, like on the bbq, or roasted on low heat and slowly, either in the oven or a slow cooker.
Dry Rub vs Wet Rub
Dry rub is when dry seasonings are combined and are intended to be sprinkled directly onto a piece of meat before cooking.
A wet rub is the combination of seasonings and a wet ingredient, like mustard, a sauce, or even mayonnaise and then that wet mixture is used to coat the meat before cooking.
Dry Rub vs Marinade
While you can rub a dry rub over a piece of meat, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it overnight to tenderize the meat it’s not the same as a marinade.
A marinade is a combination of seasonings and liquids; like citrus juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and other wet ingredients that make a seasoning liquid in which meat is soaked (marinating) for a minimum of 20 minutes (in the case of citrus containing marinades) or overnight.
Best Dry Pork Rub Ingredients
The combination of dry pork rub ingredients is endless and it depends on what type of dry rub you are looking for. The recipe I share with you today includes:
- Brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
- Garlic powder or granulated
- Onion powder
- Paprika, smoked or Spanish (traditional)
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
This recipe is rich in caramel-like flavors from the sugar, smoky from the cumin and paprika, well seasoned from the salt, onion, and garlic powder, and just the right amount of spice from the peppers.
Beware of “adding heat” by increasing the cayenne pepper. Add this slowly since a little goes a long way.
Can You Make a Dry Rub Without Sugar?
You can absolutely make a dry rub without sugar and in this recipe, you are welcome to omit the brown sugar to keep it whole30, low-carb, and keto compliant.
If you follow a paleo diet or only use clean ingredients, you can substitute the brown sugar for coconut palm sugar.
How to Make Pork Dry Rub
Making pork dry rub is simple. all you have to do is measure the ingredients in a bowl, mix to combine, and transfer them to a lidded container for storage.
Always keep dry rub in your pantry or cabinet, never in the fridge since moisture will creep into your jar.
Watch this recipe to see how to make and apply the ultimate pork dry rub.
Flavor Profiles for Perfect Pork Dry Rub
There are many flavor profiles that make up the perfect pork dry rub. Each recipe will have different ratios of the flavor profiles below.
- Salt, for tenderizing
- Sweet, like sugar, to create a crust and caramelize the seasonings
- Savory spices, to season and give flavor like onion, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, celery salt, dry mustard, and more.
- Spice, used to add heath and depth depending on the peppers used, like cayenne peppers, black and white ground pepper, smoked peppers (ancho etc), chipotle, or red chili flakes.
How to Use Dry Rub on Pork
The best way to use a dry rub on pork is by using your hands and literally rubbing it on the meat itself.
It’s important that you start out with your pork meat dry, so grab a few paper towels and dry the entire roast or cut of choice all around. You’ll need to:
- Place the pork on a plastic board and with paper towels pat dry the entire piece of meat.
- Measure the amount of dry rub from the jar the recipe calls for and then, using your hands, rub the spices all around the pork meat, top to bottom.
- Follow the recipe directions and cook your pork.
Pulled Pork Rub
This recipe is epic when used as a pulled pork rub because of its caramelized flavors, smoky and depth of flavor and hint of heat from the peppers.
I typically use this recipe in my Cochon De Lait Recipe, a Southern pulled pork recipe.
How to Store Homemade Pork Rub
It’s always recommended to store homemade pork rub in a spice jar, mason jar, or zip bag in a cool dry place. This means your pantry or kitchen cabinet for up to 2 months.
Never refrigerate your homemade rub since moisture will seep into your spices and it will “cake” and ruin your mix.
Best Dry Pork Rub Recipe
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika, smoked or regular
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a medium bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients. Transfer to a lidded jar and store in a dry place for up to 2 months.