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Dry Rub

A dry rub, also known as a spice rub, is a blend of dry ingredients that you rub onto the meat prior to cooking. It mostly consists of spices, but herbs and seasonings are also sometimes added. The history of this spice traces back to the ancient times. Even a traditional Texas bbq is flavored with this major ingredient. Nevertheless, a dry rub complements the natural flavor of the meat, resulting in the overall improvement of the dish. It is savory, sweet, and spicy at the same time. And although this seasoning is commonly used in meats, it could also be used in vegetables, soups, stews, and more.

Dry Rub Trivia

  • Dry rubs are better than liquid marinades, especially if you’re looking for that crunch crust.
  • Dry rubs can be composed of herbs and spices. The difference between the two is that herbs come from a plant’s leaf while spices come from roots, seeds, and bark.
  • Coffee beans can be added on dry rubs; it adds depth to the meat while boosting the consumer’s overall mental health. It also claims to make you happier too!

Dry Rub Buying Guide

Dry rubs are easy to find in the state of Texas. Almost all the spice vendors sell them, from local artisans that sell online and the farmers market to large supermarkets like H-E-B and Natural Grocers. However, most of the mass-produced dry rubs contain many additives. Not to mention that they sometimes go heavy on the salt. Nevertheless, here are some helpful things when you opt to buy the store-bought ones:

  1. You can find dry rubs in the spice aisle section of the store.
  2. Check out the sodium content or better yet, opt for no-salt-added, reduced-sodium, or low-sodium, and just add salt as you normally flavor your dishes.
  3. Go for the ones that contain organic ingredients; this is an indication that the blend has not been irradiated as this process damages the quality of your spice.
  4. Be sure to always check out the ingredients list and pick the ones with lesser preservatives and hard to pronounce chemicals. Remember, mass-produced products usually contain these bad stuff (see below). 
  5. Pick the ones that are not lumpy as this is an indication that moisture has been penetrating the product, which means that your dry rub is not anymore in its best quality and it’ll have a shorter shelf life for sure. 
  6. Pick the ones that are completely sealed or vacuum-sealed if possible to assure that the product hasn’t been contaminated.
  7. As always, dry rubs from local food vendors and artisans in farmers’ markets are better than the mass-produced ones. Here, you’ll get close to no preservatives and the ingredients are usually organic. Their products are also made in small batches and you might be able to get free samples along the way. And, don’t forget that our Texas Real Food website is home to all Texan vendors that would love to hear from you.

Dry Rub Production & Farming in Texas

We all know that Texas has a unique way of barbecuing meats. This European-inspired smoking tradition was brought here in Central Texas back in the mid-19th century. And until now, the state is home to countless numbers of bbq houses, steakhouses, and smokehouses that offer succulent barbecues. All of these places have one thing in common – they all use dry rubs! Thus, dry rubs have been produced widely since the infancy of the state. However, they all vary depending on the producer. Most local restaurants, steakhouses, and smokehouses also produce their own version of the dry rub. Furthermore, some ingredients that are turned into these blends can also be grown in the state. Our Texas Real Food Promptuary is home to many items that can show you how they are grown and cultivated in Texas. Just click on each spice or herb to see how they are individually produced and farmed. 

Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:

Although dry rubs might be more convenient than blending one at home, it will never be our best choice as most of them contain additives and chemicals for a lower cost yet fast-producing and shelf-stable products. Hence, here are some additives that we found on top brands:

  • MSG – Monosodium Glutamate is used to enhance the flavor of almost any product. It is the one responsible for creating that umami flavor. Although it is generally classified as safe to consume, it can cause headaches, flushing, palpitations, sweating, nausea, numbness, and weakness to some people. It allegedly can cause asthma, brain damages, and even cancer; however, these allegations remained controversial. 
  • Artificial Flavorings – These are usually chemically-formulated products that are used to intensify the flavors of the product. Although they are labeled as such due to its very small quantitative participation, it’s always a better option to stay away from these ingredients. For dry rubs, some of which come in the following names: disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium succinate, sodium phosphate, soy protein isolate, TBHQ, and alike. 
  • Natural Flavorings – Likewise, these are additives that are used to intensify the flavors of the product. For dry rubs, some natural flavorings include: dehydrated garlic, evaporated cane juice, dill, turmeric, orange peel, lemon powder, lemon oil, natural smoke flavor, celery, cilantro, and chipotle.
  • Dextrose and Maltodextrin – It is a type of sugar that acts as an artificial sweetener, food neutralizer, and a preservative. Too much consumption of this ingredient can lead to body fluid build-up and high blood sugar.
  • Yeast Extracts – These are added as a flavor enhancer and possess the same side effects just like MSG. You may want to avoid products with these ingredients especially if you have blood pressure problems or sodium-related concerns. 
  • Modified Food Starch – This additive is usually made with wheat, potato, corn, or tapioca. It acts as a binding agent, thickener, stabilizer, and preservative. This additive offers empty calories – they provide no nutritional value, yet it adds a considerable amount of carbohydrates which can promote weight gain. This ingredient should also be avoided by someone who is gluten intolerant.
  • Silicon Dioxide – This chemical compound is also known as silica. It is used as a thickener, stabilizer, anticaking agent, and carrier for aroma and flavor. Although it is safe to consume, it can lead to lung problems when consumed past its RDA.
  • Extractives – These additives are made with essential oils or condensed flavor essence of different spices. It can be mixed with solvents such as alcohol, or water. They act as a flavor enhancer and it also contributes to a longer shelf-life.
  • Gum Arabic – This additive is a natural gum that is made from the sap of the Acacia tree. It acts as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier to bind all the flavorings and sweeteners included in the product. Hence, although it is classified as safe to consume, it can cause nausea, bloatedness, and mild diarrhea. 
  • Thickening Agents – Added in the right amount, these thickening agents improve the viscosity of any food without changing its taste. Some natural thickeners include corn starch, potato starch, yellow cornmeal, wheat flour, and other flours.


Dry rubs are packaged in a variety of ways. It can come in pet bottles, spice jars, tubs, glass and plastic containers, pouches, and single-use packets.

Enjoying Dry Rubs

Dry rubs are best applied on meats prior to grilling. It is commonly sprinkled using one hand (not the dominant one), while the other hand rubs the seasoning to the meat. Nevertheless, it is important to coat both sides of the meat. Then, the meat is marinated for at least 30 minutes to overnight so that the spice blend can penetrate the meat. However, it is not useful to marinate large slabs of meat for more than that, as dry rubs can only reach up to 3 cm below the meat’s surface. 

Moreover, dry rubs are not exclusively for meats. We all know that roasted vegetables can be as simple as drizzling it with some olive oil and seasoning it with salt and pepper. But, if you are looking for an extra kick, you can also use your dry rubs here, especially if you want to mimic a meat taste without using any meat. Furthermore, you can also add a pinch or two of dry rub on some creative drinks and dishes. Sprinkle it into a Bloody Mary or margarita, dips, popcorns, french fries, salads, cream-based soups, even in crawfish boil and shrimp boil! 


Dry rubs should be kept in a sealable and air-tight container. You may also use a spice jar with a tight-fitting lid on. This seasoning should then be stored in a cool and dry area far from humid and hot zones like stoves, grills, and ovens to prolong their shelf life. And although this spice can virtually last forever, its flavor weakens over time. Thus, a dry rub will maintain its best quality and potency for about 1 to 2 years. To optimize its longevity, keep the container tightly closed when not in use.

Make your own Dry Rub – Texas-style!

Dry rub is easy to blend at home. It only takes less than 10 minutes to gather your ingredients, measure, and finally blend. Below is a quick recipe that works perfectly on pork, chicken, and beef. Usually, you will need to use two tablespoons of this rub per pound of meat. In addition, you can also make this ahead of time for more convenience. We also suggest you do the full recipe as this seasoning can be used for a very long time. 

Yield: 4 ½ cups/ 72 tablespoons or 36 servings

Serving size: 2 tablespoons


  • 1 cup chili powder
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • ¾ cup kosher salt or sea salt
  • ¾ cup ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup mustard powder
  • ⅓ cup cumin powder
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 3 tsp cayenne powder


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Using a funnel, transfer the mixture into airtight containers or spice jars with a tight-fitting lid. Store accordingly. 
  3. To use: rub onto some meat and marinate for at least 30 minutes before grilling.



  • Serving Size: 1/18 Serving from Recipe
  • Calories: 20.6
  • Carbs: 6g
  • Sugar: 4.3g
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Protein: 0.4g
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 251.3mg
  • Vitamin C 3%
  • Vitamin A 17%
  • Calcium 2.6%
  • Iron 8%
  • Potassium 67.7mg
  • Vitamin B6 3.6%
  • Vitamin E 0.2%
  • Manganese 6.2%

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