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The Best BBQ Rubs for Your Next Cookout

dry rub seasoning on new york strip steak
Christian Arfsten/Shutterstock

Before a tender slab of meat ever feels the heat of a grill, it needs to be seasoned. You can season 30 minutes before cooking or an entire night before you’re ready, but rest assured the meat you’re working with must be seasoned, salted, flavored, or whichever cooking verb you fancy. A little sprinkle of salt and pepper always goes a long way, but for all-day cookouts and hearty meals, you should be investing in all-purpose, flavorful options that pour in abundance. If you’re on the hunt for a new BBQ rub for your pre-meal prep, here are a few options that you ought to check out.

What You Want Out of Your BBQ Rub

Consider these factors when making your selection:

  • Choice of Meat: If you’re looking for the perfect rub, then you should take into account the kind of meat you’ll be seasoning. Yes, you can season your meats with just about anything, but should you? The right seasoning will complement your meal, highlighting the natural flavors in the slab of beef and bringing them out with more flavor ferocity.
  • Seasoning Contents: Additionally, you should consider just what makes up the contents of your seasoning. Each ingredient assembled is meant to balance the other flavors, pitting the strong against the sweet. The balance is critical, as an overabundance of, say, ground comino seeds in your jar will throw the flavor off by a mile. On the other hand, an abundance of sweet brown sugar will burn fast, creating a thick layer of char that may lead to burning if you aren’t careful.
  • Flavor Preferences: And at the end of the day, it’s always about the flavor. Most meats have their own bite, ranging from juicy and subtle to the kind of gamey taste that only an experienced survivalist is willing to savor. So play into that flavor or switch it up. Are you a fan of sweet hickory on your rack of ribs? Lemon pepper on your wings? Maybe a bit of garlic for your steak? Consider your preferences and how far you’re willing to branch out for a new kind of dinner.

Best for Chicken Wings: Kosmos Q Honey Barbecue Wing Dust

Chicken is a delicate meat. You can grill it to perfection, dry it out worse than a bag of beef jerky, or season it with enough panache to get the table to say, “Now that is how you barbecue some chicken.” If you’re looking for a way to create light and flavorful chicken, this Kosmos Q Honey Barbecue Wing Dust takes bland poultry and punches it up with a lip-smacking blend. This five-seasoning mixture contains an equal balance of sweet and heat: honey, spices, onion, garlic, and all-natural hickory smoke flavoring. Lay it on thick or thin; this 10-pound bag is perfect for seasoning every portion of the chicken.

Best for Chicken Wings

Kosmos Q Honey BBQ Wing Dust - 6 Oz Bag for Wings, Popcorn & More - Dry BBQ Rub with Savory & Smoky Traditional Honey BBQ Flavor (Honey BBQ)

This honey barbecue blend comes in a 10-pound bag and is ideal for every portion of the chicken.

Best for Ribs: Butcher BBQ Premium Rub

Looking to give your ribs that classic candied and peppered coating? This Premium Rub from Butcher BBQ features an assortment of savory flavors and spices, including paprika, dehydrated garlic, salt, as well as white and brown sugars. This blend is your ideal choice for ribs, particularly smoked ribs, because it allows larger cuts and meatier bones to retain their flavors without drying them out. Outside of beef or pork ribs, this rub pairs well with seafood, vegetables, and other wild game.

Best for Pork: Lambert’s Sweet Rub O’ Mine

A world champion dry rub perfected by a renowned pitmaster, Lambert’s Sweet Rub O’ Mine contains just the right balance of zing and flavor for any pork dish. Breaking down the seasoning speck by ground speck, you’ll find this bottle contains just over 12 ounces of spices, including chili pepper, salt, paprika, onion, and garlic powder, as well as sugar, mustard flour, and less than 2% of tricalcium phosphate to prevent the seasoning from caking on the pork’s surface. In addition to its original barbecue seasoning, Lambert’s offers apple chipotle, roasted garlic, Texas beef, and a pork brine.

Best for Pork

Lambert's Sweet Rub O' Mine (12.5 Ozs)

This BBQ rub is available in four unique flavors, from roasted garlic to apple chipotle.

Best for Steak: Traeger Grills Blackened Saskatchewan Dry Rub

A kosher BBQ rub that’s gluten-free and GMO-free, this Traeger Grills Blackened Saskatchewan Dry Rub offers heaty slabs of steak a far more unique flavor than any other tin contains. When dining on a hearty steak, how and with what you season your beef has always varied by taste and culture. But many prefer the simple take: salt, pepper, and plenty of olive oil or butter. This blackened rub makes good on that idea with an uncomplicated blend of the brand’s signature spices and a hint of garlic in each dressing. It’s ideal for steaks but pairs well on any beef, poultry, pork, or vegetables.

Best for Steak

Traeger Grills SPC178 Blackened Saskatchewan Rub with Garlic & Signature Spices

This BBQ rub for steaks is simple while bringing a range of unique flavors to the table.

Best for Seafood: Old Bay Seasoning

A seafood rub classic, this 24-ounce bottle of Old Bay Seasoning features a familiar, Cajun-like blend that’s perfect for a variety of seafood plates and boils. It features a premium blend of 18 herbs and spices like paprika, celery salt, and red and black pepper. For over 75 years, this all-purpose rub has found its way into restaurant and household kitchens to season everything from fried fish, crawfish, shrimp, chowder, and even fries. This rub is also a kosher option with no added MSG enhancers.

Hollis Mills Hollis Mills
Hollis Mills is a freelance journalist and a content writer for LifeSavvy. He has a bachelor's degree in English literature, and as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, Hollis wrote and edited for the nationally recognized student newspaper, The Battalion. When he's not writing, you can find him complaining about Boston Celtics basketball or giving plenty of peanut butter biscuits to his always-hungry Catahoula dog, Blue. Read Full Bio »
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