Memphis-Inspired Barbecue Dry Rub

Barbecue season is upon us, so fire up your grills and smokers! And prepare for the season by mixing a batch of homemade Barbecue Dry Rub. This Memphis-style dry rub is perfect for pork, beef and chicken or anything else you want to barbecue. A blend of SIXTEEN different herbs and spices, this BBQ Dry Rub highlights a spicy kick, a bit of sweetness and a ton of balance.

A jar of spice sitting on a blue buffalo check napkin spills onto a marble countertop

2017 Update: This recipe was originally shared in June 2013. The recipe and post were updated include new photos, as well as more tips and tricks, in May 2017. I hope you enjoy it!

This recipe came into existence because I ran out of my favorite Memphis rub when I hosted Barbecue Week several summers ago.

Needless to say, it was a SUPER unfortunate occurrence.

My sister was coming into town, and I was excited. This was her first time to stay with us in Baton Rouge, and she and I were planning to drive out to Colorado the following week with all her belongings in her car. (That’s another story all together, but it’s a part of the reason why she came to Louisiana in the first place.)

In celebration of Leigh coming to town, we whipped up some of my hometown favorites, including Memphis-style ribspulled porkslaw and sauce.

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    Since I ran out of my favorite dry rub, I made my own.

    … It took a LOT of tinkering, and at one point, I was fairly positive Leigh and I were going to clear out our entire spice cabinet, but we came up with this blend of spices to make a delicious and finger-licking good rub to go on all the barbecue that weekend.

    Why I love this recipe:

    Like many BBQ rub recipes, this rub is great for all types of barbecue recipes. 

    We’re talking any tender meat, so pork ribs (spare ribs or baby back ribs, though baby backs are my fave), pork butts, pork shoulder, chicken and more, it’s great for any type of home pit master. We even use it on pulled pork made in the slow cooker for extra flavor. Truly, this is the ULTIMATE rub for any Memphis-style BBQ… or any barbecue at all!

    Since Memphis style ribs are technically “dry ribs” — they’re served without sauce slathered on ’em at the end and a sprinkle of this barbecue rub on the individual ribs — we want the spice blend to shine. And this combination is one of my all-time favorites.There’s a hint of heat with some herbaciousness and earthy tones from different spices with just a touch of brown sugar to balance them all out and let them sing.

    It’s an easy recipe to put together, and yes, while it calls for several herbs and spices, they’re all pretty easy to find in your pantry or your local grocery store. You’re not going to go on a wild goose hunt for these ingredients, friends!

    This rub mix provides great flavor for different proteins and also can be used in different applications. I like to use it as a dry rub, but you could brush meat with vegetable oil so it sticks a little better. You can smoke the meat, throw it on a hot grill (though make sure you put it on indirect heat since the sugar can and will burn) or even use it in a slow cooker or instant pot. The possibilities are endless!

    Recipes to use this spice blend on: Memphis-Style BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches | Baked BBQ Turkey Burgers | BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza | BBQ Nachos | BBQ Bloody Mary

    Overhead of a BBQ dry rub blend inside a glass jar on top of a blue and white checked napkin

    What you need to make this recipe:

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here are the dried herbs and spices you need to grab at the grocery store to make this dry rub recipe:

    • Light brown sugar — or dark brown sugar for some nice sweetness and caramel notes. I do not recommend using white sugar in this rub because I really like the molasses profile the brown sugar brings. 
    • Spices — cumin, garlic powder, allspice, celery seed and onion powder.
    • Peppers — we use a combination of chili powder, paprika (sweet paprika OR smoked, if you like smoky flavors), black pepper and cayenne pepper. This blend of peppers gives robustness and some heat to the spice blend.
    • Herbs — we use a combination of dried marjoram, dried thyme, dried oregano and dried coriander, 
    • Salts — medium grain kosher salt is my go-to. I do not recommend using more coarse kosher salt than this. We also use some celery salt for additional celery flavor.
    Overhead of an overturned glass jar holding a spice blend and the spice spilling out onto a marble counter

    How to make Memphis Dry Rub

    To make this BBQ rub, simply pour ALL the spices into a large bowl.

    Give ’em a mix with a whisk.

    Transfer them to a mason jar, and store until ready to use.

    Ways to use this Memphis BBQ rub:

    • Slather on a whole chicken
    • Sprinkle on slabs of baby back ribs
    • Coat a pork shoulder or butt
    • Add it to your favorite veggies for lots of flavor!
    a mason jar of bbq rub spills out onto a marble surface while sitting on a blue buffalo check napkin with the text bbq dry rub

    You ready to make some of this goodness for yourself this summer?

    Here’s how Leigh and I pulled together this Barbecue Dry Rub! It’s easier to make at home than you think!

    A jar of spice sitting on a blue buffalo check napkin spills onto a marble countertop

    Barbecue Dry Rub

    Erin Parker and Leigh Parker, The Speckled Palate
    Barbecue season is upon us, so fire up your grills and smokers! And prepare for the season by mixing a batch of homemade Barbecue Dry Rub. This Memphis-style dry rub is perfect for pork, beef and chicken or anything else you want to barbecue. A blend of SIXTEEN different herbs and spices, this BBQ Dry Rub highlights a spicy kick, a bit of sweetness and a ton of balance.
    4.91 from 53 votes
    Servings 32 servings
    Calories 12 kcal
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Total Time 10 minutes


    • 4 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1 ½ tablespoons cumin
    • 1 ½ tablespoons paprika
    • 1 tablespoon allspice
    • 3 ¾ teaspoons chili powder
    • 2 ¾ teaspoons garlic powder
    • 2 ¾ teaspoons black pepper
    • 1 ¾ teaspoons celery seed
    • 1 ½ teaspoons marjoram
    • 1 ½ teaspoons thyme
    • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
    • 1 ½ teaspoons oregano
    • 1 ½ teaspoons coriander
    • 1 teaspoon celery salt
    • ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

    As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.


    • In a large bowl, measure out all the ingredients.
    • Whisk the ingredients together.
    • Once incorporated, pour into a mason jar, and store in a cool, dark place.


    Serving: 1gCalories: 12kcalCarbohydrates: 3gSodium: 99mgSugar: 2g
    Keyword barbecue, bbq recipe, bbq rub, spice blend
    Course Condiments & Spice Blends
    Cuisine American
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
    A woman with dark curly hair wearing a black tank top in front of a white wall

    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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    1. We don’t grill that much–but this rub is making me rethink that! Of course, we’d probably end up using a rub like this on veg kabobs or ears of corn instead of large hunks of meat, but it would still clearly be delicious. 🙂

      1. Hey, I bet this would be AWESOME on veggie kabobs or ears of corn. I haven’t used it for either, but it would be tasty, no doubt. If you do it, please let me know how it turns out!

      1. I haven’t used it on grilled veggies, but I now want to try it on zucchini and other veg! If you give it a shot, let me know what you think!

    2. That is ONE LONG LIST! But I can only imagine how marvelously smoky and delicious it would make a slab of grilled meat.

      1. Ha, it really is a ridiculously long ingredient list, huh? At one point, I really felt like I was using ALL the spices in my spice cabinet! But it is pretty delicious and smoky and perfect on any kind of grilled meat. I definitely recommend giving it a shot. Be forewarned, though: It makes a LOT.

    3. Yum! Looks like a good one! In the summertime my husband and I like to do something we call “Rib-Offs”, except it’s just the two of us. We get really intense about making the best dry rub. The silly part is, sometimes we lose track of whose ribs were whose. Luckily, they are more likely than not both delicious so we all WIN. 🙂

      1. Hi Celia! We’ve used this rub on chicken, pork and beef, too, and it’s been delicious on each one of them. Whichever protein you’d like to add some BBQ flavor to, this should work just fine!

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