Dry Rub for Ribs – there are so many options out there, but this is our tried-and-true rib rub recipe and we can’t wait for you to try it! Made sugar-free (but you can add a bit of sweetness if you want) with simple ingredients and perfect no matter how you are cooking your ribs (smoker, oven, grill, etc.).
The Best Dry Rub for Ribs
There is nothing like an amazing dry rub recipe to really elevate your recipe and ribs are no exception. It really is the best way to prepare a rack of ribs! Whether you are smoking your ribs, baking them in the oven, grilling ribs or even making them in the Instant Pot (if you are crunched for time) this is the best rib rub! Packed with flavor and easily modifiable if you want it a bit sweeter or spicier. We love it on pork ribs, baby back ribs, beef ribs – it always hits the mark. Then top it with some homemade barbecue sauce and you are golden!
What You Will Need
- garlic powder, onion powder, & paprika – the perfect flavorful seasoning blend for this dry spice rub recipe!
- kosher salt and ground black pepper – always a must when cooking any cut of meat.
- lemon pepper – this adds that acidic flavor that really rounds out the flavor profile – our secret ingredient!
- cayenne pepper – completely optional but that little bit of heat is so good – include as much or as little as you like (we recommend about 1 teaspoon).
Rib Rub Recipe – Sugar Free
One thing that isn’t included in our rib rub is … sugar! I know some people are true believers that sugar belongs on pork rubs, but I am just not in that boat. Of course, we have added a suggestion in the notes section of the recipe card if you DO want to add some in (to each their own), but we love it without!
How To Use Dry Rub For Ribs
Mix up this simple dry rub recipe in a small bowl, taste, and adjust any seasoning, as desired.
After you remove the membrane, pat the ribs dry with clean paper towels. We love adding some liquid smoke, worcestershire sauce, and yellow mustard and then topping that with the dry rub spice blend (front and back of the ribs).
How Long Should Dry Rub Be On Ribs Before Cooking
Do you need to dry rub ribs overnight – it depends! If you are planning on adding BBQ sauce on your ribs at the end of cooking, then there really isn’t a need to let your dry rub sit on for more than 30 – 60 minutes (or up to two hours).
On the other hand, if you are NOT going to be using BBQ sauce, then you can let the rubbed ribs sit in the dry rub overnight (up to 12 hours). In this case, I would recommend wrapping them in plastic wrap after you rub dry rub all over, to prevent them from drying out.
Pro tip: We generally let our rub sit on the ribs for about 24 hours (wrap on plastic wrap and place in the fridge) – then use in your favorite rib recipe the next day!
For a full list – check out this round up of Best Side Dishes for Ribs!
- Spice: feel free to omit the cayenne pepper if you aren’t into spice at all (although I would recommend adding at least a pinch), or you can amp it up and add in a whole tablespoon of cayenne pepper if you want!
- Storage: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months (preferably in a cool/dark place – like a cupboard).
- Sugar: I am actually not a fan of sugars in my dry rubs (usually), but if you want to add in a little sugar I would recommend about a tablespoon of coconut sugar (brown sugar would work too).
- Marinade: you can marinade your ribs first if you want – totally option – we have an awesome rib marinade recipe here!
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Dry Rub for Ribs – a delicious dry rub for ribs recipe that is perfect for smoked ribs, baked ribs or any way you want to cook them!
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- Spice: feel free to omit the cayenne pepper if you aren’t into spice at all (although I would recommend adding at least a pinch), or you can amp it up and add in a whole tablespoon of cayenne pepper if you want! You could also add in a little cumin or chili powder for additional spice – feel free to play around with the flavor!
- Racks of Ribs: this recipe makes enough for approx. two racks of ribs.
- Storage: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months (preferably in a cool/dark place – like a cupboard). I like using a small mason jar!
- Sugar: I am actually not a fan of sugars in my dry rubs (usually), but if you want to add in a little sugar I would recommend about a tablespoon of coconut sugar (dark brown sugar would work too).
- Smoked Spices: more and more stores carry smoked paprika, etc. these days and you can always check on Amazon. Otherwise, the non-smoked version of these spices also work just fine!
- Best Ribs: this recipe for Smoked Baby Back Ribs is my all-time favorite if you can’t decide which recipe to go with! They are fall of the bone tender (but they don’t fall apart on you) and the flavor is just amazing!
Keywords: best dry rub for ribs
Originally published May 29, 2021.