The Perfect Spicy Dry Rub Recipe for Ribs, Grilled Chicken, Pork & More

by Jim Casey
photo by Outsider

Looking to make a SPICY dry rub for your ribs, chicken wings, pork butt, or sausage & cheese plate? This Memphis-style dry rub has got ya covered. In Memphis—home to some of the best pork ribs in the world—the dry rub serves as the ribs’ initial coating before smoking. And then the ribs are given an extras dousing of dry rub toward the end of the smoke, typically in lieu of a wet sauce.

Of course, opinions vary regarding dry rub ingredients. Many recipes contain copious amounts of salt and sugar. Not ours. This flavorful recipe contains equal amounts (1 tbsp.) of 11 herbs and spices—with only 1 tbsp. of salt…and no sugar.

Now, let’s get mixing.

Spicy Dry Rub Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. paprika (not smoked)
  • 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp. dry minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. dry minced onion
  • 1 tbsp. celery seed
  • 1 tbsp. dry thyme
  • 1 tbsp. dry oregano

Keep in mind, the word “salt” appears only one time in our list of ingredients. Don’t substitute, for instance, garlic salt for minced garlic or celery salt for celery seed. Stay true to the list, especially if you’re watching your salt intake. Many store-bought rubs contain high amounts of salt.


Simply add 1 tbsp. of each ingredient into a mortar. Use the pestle to mix the herbs and spices together.

Use immediately, or store the rub in an airtight Mason jar or spice jar.


Spice Up Your Ribs, Chicken & More

As mentioned, this spicy dry rub is ideal for ribs. However, it can be used for a number of dishes, including hot wings, smoked chicken quarters, pork butts, pork chops, blackened fish, or a sausage & cheese plate (another Memphis delicacy that douses rub on smoked sausage bites, cheddar cheese, and saltine crackers). If you want to sweeten this rub, simply add 4 tbsp. brown sugar to the recipe.

Our 11-tbsp. recipe was enough for two racks of baby back ribs.

Of course, we doused the ribs in an extra coasting of dry rub right before we took them off the smoker. That’s a Memphis-style rib!