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Commercial Spice Rubs

I've always made my own rubs from scratch, but ran out of spices the other day and had a bunch of racks of pork ribs to rub down and let sit overnight before going in the smoker. So I picked up some jars of McCormick rubs from the supermarket. They were actually pretty good. The "Pork" and "Sweet & Smoky" were more than acceptable. The "Cowboy" was actually very good. All were good enough that no one wanted the ribs finished with sauce and four people ate three whole 7-8 lb. racks between them over the course of the NYE festivities.

Yesterday, while the ribs were in the smoker, I took a drive to Penzey's for spices, thinking to make up a batch or three of rub for another few racks of ribs in a few days. (Sale this week on racks of ribs.) I ran across their rub mixes and they sounded and smelled interesting. So for the heck of it I bought 4 oz. packages each of their original "BBQ 3000", their new "BBQ 3001", "Barbecue of the Americas", "Bangkok Blend", and "Arizona Dreaming."

I'll report back when I try them. You can read what's in the mixes on their site.

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  1. I'm glad to know this. I've always kinda turned up my nose at the 'blends.' And I have a little jar of the 3000 that they sent me with an order. Will check out some of the McCormick ones also. That's A LOT of meat for four people!

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      I asked a friend who was on the competitive BBQ circuit, and he said that a lot of folks use the commercial rub blends.

      I never came up with my own consistent blend since I am incapable of following a recipe exactly, even my own. The only recipes I can follow exactly are for cocktails. Once I tweak a recipe to perfection that is...

    2. The Spice House (http://www.thespicehouse.com/) has come great rubs as well -my favorites are: Back of the Yards, Brisket of Love and Gateway to the North.

      Here is a link to the rest of the rubs - http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices-b...

      1 Reply
      1. re: weinstein5

        Some of the Penzey's and The Spice House blends are basically the same, but with different names. The owners of each company are brother and sister.

      2. Interesting. I gave up on commercial rubs years ago because they seemed to be mostly salt, with just a tiny bit of herbs and spice mixed in. WAY too salty. Maybe I'll have to give them another try.

        14 Replies
        1. re: ricepad

          Try Dizzy Pig rubs. Not overly salty

          1. re: scubadoo97

            We got a sample pack of Dizzy Pig rubs - we haven't tried them all yet but have really enjoyed the "Shaking the tree" rub on fish.
            we tried one of the others on pulled pork - decided we like our usual rub better.

          2. re: ricepad

            Several of the Penzey's rubs are salt-free. They're great for rubbing on a chicken or turkey after it's been brined.

            1. re: ricepad

              Where can you get empty spice containers to store the rub?

              1. re: Sharon S.

                Penzyt's sells empty containers. You might also try Bed Bath and Beyond

                    1. re: Leepa

                      I use them as well for all kinds of bottles and containers.

                      1. re: Leepa

                        Thanks for the link! I see they have no minimum order, unlike other sites I've visited.

                      2. re: Sharon S.

                        We buy heavily used spices in the big 5 to 8 oz containers (Sam's, Costco and the like). When empty, soak overnight in soapy water, rinse & use for different rubs. The big holes give a good dump of rub with a single shake.

                        1. re: Sharon S.

                          One of my local supermarkets sells herbs and spices in bulk AND a couple of different size bottles/jars in which to store them. I think they're less than 50 cents each for the smaller ones.

                          1. re: ricepad

                            Are they fresh? I have a local place that sells bulk herbs and spices; and they are so bad that I would never use them.

                            1. re: JMF

                              Turnover seems pretty good, actually. I've not been disappointed in what I've tried.

                      3. NASA Barbecue Rub

                        This is the BBQ rub recipe that NASA used for meals prepared for the last Space Shuttle mission, STS-135 in July 2011.

                        I've used this rub on pulled pork and in jambalaya. It's a really good bbq rub.

                        The original NASA recipe was a formula expressed in percentage of each ingredient used (by weight, similar to a baker's formula). It has been converted to volume
                        for home use.

                        By Volume Measurement

                        1/2 cup Table Salt (3/4 cup Kosher Salt)
                        1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
                        1/3 cup Brown sugar, lightly packed
                        3 Tbsp Chili powder
                        3 Tbsp Paprika
                        2 Tbsp Celery salt
                        1/2 cup Ground oregano
                        4 tsp Ground white pepper
                        1 Tbsp Garlic powder
                        1 Tbsp Ground black pepper
                        1 Tbsp Cumin
                        3/4 tsp Dry mustard
                        1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

                        Mix well. Store in an airtight container.
                        Use at least 1 Tbsp of rub per 1 lb of meat.
                        Wrap rub coated meat in plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge overnight.

                        Makes 1 pound = about 2 1/2 cups of BBQ rub.


                        Original NASA BBQ Rub Formula (given in % of ingredients by total weight)

                        29.51 Salt
                        23.61 Sugar granulated
                        17.71 Brown sugar, lightly packed
                        5.90 Chili powder
                        5.90 Paprika
                        4.43 Celery salt
                        3.54 Ground oregano
                        2.95 Ground white pepper
                        2.21 Garlic powder
                        1.48 Ground black pepper
                        1.48 Cumin
                        0.79 Dry mustard
                        0.49 Cayenne pepper

                        NASA BBQ Rub formula/recipe converted to Grams

                        100.00 % = 453.592 gm = 1 pound

                        133.855 gm Salt
                        107.093 gm Sugar granulated
                        80.331 gm Brown sugar, lightly packed
                        26.762 gm Chili powder
                        26.762 gm Paprika
                        20.094 gm Celery salt
                        16.057 gm Ground oregano
                        13.381 gm Ground white pepper
                        10.024 gm Garlic powder
                        6.71 gm Ground black pepper
                        6.71 gm Cumin
                        3.583 gm Dry mustard
                        2.222 gm Cayenne pepper


                        Original NASA press release with BBQ Rub formula:

                        "Beef Brisket, Barbecued, Sliced

                        Dry Rub
                        Ingredients Percent by weight
                        Salt 29.51
                        Sugar granulated 23.61
                        Brown sugar, lightly packed 17.71
                        Chili powder 5.90
                        Paprika 5.90
                        Celery salt 4.43
                        Ground oregano 3.54
                        Ground white pepper 2.95
                        Garlic powder 2.21
                        Ground black pepper 1.48
                        Cumin 1.48
                        Dry mustard 0.79
                        Cayenne pepper 0.49

                        PREPARATION PROCEDURE

                        Trim beef brisket of fat and rub dry rub mixture into the meat surface (Dry Rub shall be at least 8 grams per pound of raw brisket). Wrap the brisket in plastic wrap or suitable material and hold at 40°F (4°C) overnight.

                        Cook briskets in a regular oven set at 235°F (113°C), baste after 3 hours with barbecue sauce. Cook another two hours until internal temperature is 175-180°F (79-82°C) baste with barbecue sauce and let sit in the oven for one more hour.

                        The brisket shall be sliced on a meat slicer set at 1/8 inch (3.0 mm). Serve 2.8 to 3.5 oz (80-100 g) of sliced brisket with add one ounce (30 g) of hickory smoke flavored barbecue sauce. "

                        Links to original recipe at NASA:

                        NASA - Special American Meal Planned for Final Space Shuttle Crew


                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Antilope

                          That sounds an awful like the basic rub I make for smoking.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            It's Texas and it's NASA. It has to be a good starting point. ;-).

                            1. re: Antilope

                              I got it from the Smoke & Spice book.

                          2. re: Antilope

                            That's a lot of oregano, but that's good by me, I'll have to give it a try. It's only a smidge different than what I put together for the smoking class I took at the Midwest BBQ Institute.

                            I think just about any good rub has mostly the same ingredients at about the same ratios. Just the way it works out.

                            1. re: mikie

                              I think you're right about most of the same ingredients. At least the little looking I've done so far.

                          3. I've come to like Penzey's BBQ 3000. I may sometimes play around a bit with it, but it's a good basic mix. I LOVE their SATE and SINGAPORE mixes for chicken and certain other things

                            1. I usually make my own rubs, but I highly recommend Dizzy Pig.

                              1. Paul Prudhomme's Magic® Salt Free is my go to ...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: byrd

                                  I am no expert but I like a lot of Paul's spice mixes. His orig blackened red fish seasoning is still a favorite in our house. A friend who grew up in Louisiana said his stuff is pretty well received there.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    I second PP's spices. Always good stuff.

                                2. I don't use many of the ready to use rubs, but i do use Johnnys seasoning salt as a main part of almost all of mine.

                                  1. For the Penzey's rubs, about 2 oz. works well to cover a large, full, 6-8 lb. rack of pork ribs. The Penzeys BBQ 3000 is very good. Their Arizona Dreaming is excellent and may become my rub of choice. The Bangkok blend work good with baked chicken, and in a Thai style chicken soup. I still have to see how it works as a bbq rub.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: JMF

                                      The Penzey's rubs sound good, but I notice there's no sugar in them. Do you add some for your rub?

                                      1. re: justbeingpolite

                                        You can add ingredients depending on the final outcome you are wanting. You could add sugar, but I would ask "why"? If you have a reason, then go for it. If you can't really answer that question, then why would you add it?

                                    2. I like the Rendezvous "Famous Seasoning" Memphis dry rub.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        I also like this. My favorite homemade rub is a recipe from Chris Lilly.

                                      2. Not exactly a rub, more of a seasoning for grilled meats, but I like Carl's Seasoning which I pick up in TN when I'm there. It's salty though so you have to use it sparingly.


                                        1. J, I've been meaning to ask. Are the commercial blends more expensive than using the individual spices? I'd think so. But my limited smoking experience I think I've used too much rub a couple of times. Opinions?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            I think the cost is comparable if your were to buy the raw spices from Penzy's or The Spice House and replicate the mix - you could buy less expensive spices and that would make it cheaper -

                                            I do apply a liberal amount of rub when I smoke - you shoudl be able to see the rub on the meat -

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              It seems cheaper to get the Penzey's mixes but I haven't done the actual math.

                                            2. World Spice Merchants Spice Blends

                                              Sure, I can make my own but I buy whole spice from WSM already and their prices and top notch quality keeps me coming back.

                                              This one is my favorite (so far).

                                              1. I agree with Veggo and others who like the Rendezvous "Famous Seasoning" Memphis dry rub.
                                                However, if I'm being cheapie, I like to do a 50/50 mix of Badia Sazon Tropical and the Badia BBQ seasoning. I've never been disappointed with the flavor of their spices, and I use their little section of the "Latin" aisle of the grocery store for cinnamon sticks, sesame seeds, star anise, etc, on the cheap (cheaper and better selection than Goya) It's worth a try since their products are so affordable (and easy to find). And unlike a lot of spice blends by Goya (and one by Badia, the Complete Seasoning), there is no MSG for those who'd rather not use it

                                                1. Penzy's has some good rubs - try their Trinidad on chicken, outstanding.

                                                  I am a huge fan of any of the Dizzy Pig products. They are a little pricier, but it's worth it. Lots of flavor and not much salt or sugar.

                                                  1. My lazy bbq go-to is the Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Paste (maybe not technically a rub but it's not a marinade either).

                                                    Really good on pork ribs or a leg of lamb.

                                                    1. I use McCormick's Applewood Rub on ribs and pork shoulders all the time. I do also like the Cowboy Rub on beef.

                                                      1. I make some of my own rubs using Penzey's spices, but I love their "Barbecue of the Americas." I've used it on pork and chicken and made a sauce with it, it's a nice, all-purpose mix.

                                                        1. Oak Ridge Rubs, Willies Hog Dust, Dizzy Pig or Head Country. All use quality spices & offer variety.

                                                          1. Must share this, even though it's a regional brand with limited availablility, because I love the name.

                                                            Dinosaur Barbecue is a regional restaurant chain, started in Syracuse, now also Rochester, Buffalo, Troy, Harlem, and a couple more in Metro NYC. I've seen their sauces and a few other products in Wegmans stores even in VA/MD/DC.

                                                            Their spice rub is on the spicy side, but well-rounded - it's called Cajun Foreplay.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: WNYamateur

                                                              I agree with WNYamateur. Cajun Foreplay is my go-to spice rub. But I live in the region so it's easy for me to get.

                                                            2. I have had pretty good success with Penzey's overall, and some with Paul Prudhomme (except his BBQ rub).

                                                              A very good rub for beef is Stubbs' coffee/molasses.

                                                              From Texas, I like The Ironworks rub (despite its having liquid smoke as an ingredient).

                                                              Peace, love, and BBQ has a few good recipes.