Made with simple ingredients this homemade dry rub is sweet, savory, and spicy and perfect for flavoring meat or vegetables.
What is a Dry Rub?
A dry rub is a mixture of salt, dried spices, and sometimes sugar that is used to add flavor to chicken, beef, pork, fish, tofu, and/or vegetables prior to cooking.
It is called dry because it is made with dry ingredients, as opposed to a wet marinade which is made with wet and dry ingredients. Creative, huh?!
Why You will love Using This Homemade Dry Rub
- Quick Results. Using a dry rub is one of the quickest ways to impart intense flavor to your cooking. It is as simple as rubbing your protein of choice or vegetable with the dry rub and cooking as desired--no lengthy time is required for marinating!
- Perfectly Balanced. This dry rub is sweet from the brown sugar, smokey from the smoked paprika, and slightly spicy thanks to the addition of cayenne pepper. Rounded out with garlic powder and onion powder, this spice rub is the perfect contrast of sweet, savory, and spicy.
- Simple & Affordable Ingredients. You likely have everything you need to whip up this dry rub in your pantry at all times. This rub is made with everyday spices, salt, and sugar, to create an affordable seasoning blend that imparts HUGE flavor.
- Versatile. This dry rub can be used to season anything from seafood to poultry to beef to pork to vegetables to starches. And it can be used to season things before pressure cooking, grilling, smoking, pan-frying, or slow cooking.
Homemade Dry Rub Ingredients
- Brown Sugar: Use light or dark brown sugar. The brown sugar will give a rich, sweet flavor to the rub and will help your meat (or vegetables) to caramelize when cooked.
- Paprika: I highly recommend using smoked paprika, which will give this dry rub a slightly smokey, nuanced flavor. However, regular ground paprika will work as well.
- Garlic & Onion Powder: These both work to add a savory element to the rub and pack in a ton of flavor overall.
- Kosher Salt: I recommend using kosher salt, not iodized or table salt. Kosher salt has a coarse texture which allows it to adhere to meats and other surfaces more easily and flavors the dry rub better as it has no additives or iodine added that can slightly impact the overall taste.
- Cayenne Pepper: The cayenne will add spice without overwhelming the dry rub. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount added to control the spice level of your rub.
- Black Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper rounds out the rub.
Preparing & Storing Homemade Dry Rub
I recommend preparing this dry rub immediately prior to using, rather than preparing it in bulk and storing it in the pantry for an extended period, as I recommend when preparing other spice blends, such as Taco Seasoning and Chili Seasoning. Because brown sugar is added to this spice rub, it can begin to clump up and cake together if stored for an extended period of time.
Thankfully, this spice blend takes only a minute or two to combine, so you can prep it quickly whenever needed!
I will add a note, that you CAN store this spice blend for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container with no issue. If I know I am using it for many recipes over the upcoming week or two, I will double or triple the recipe. I would just not recommend storing longer than 2 weeks.
∗ important to remember ∗
Before applying a dry rub, it is important to pat the meat or vegetables dry to ensure that the rub sticks evenly to the surface and adheres well.
The options for this all-purpose dry rub are endless. Let your taste buds and imagination guide you in the various ways you use this homemade blend, but below are a few of my personal favorite recipes that use this homemade dry rub.
- Chicken: I love using this dry rub for seasoning Air Fryer Chicken Breast, Air Fryer Chicken Wings, Instant Pot BBQ Chicken, and Grilled BBQ Chicken. It also is a great substitute for seasoned salt in recipes like Instant Pot Whole Chicken, Instant Pot Wings, or Homemade Rotisserie Chicken.
- Pork: This sweet and savory dry rub creates the best flavoring for recipes like Air Fryer Pork Chops, Instant Pot Pulled Pork, Instant Pot Ribs, and Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.
- Beef: Add a unique flavor to Pan-Seared Steak, Homemade Burgers, or use it to flavor London Broil in place of the wet marinade.
- Seafood: Use in place of cajun seasoning for Mahi Mahi or to season Pan-Seared Tilapia. It is also delicious when used as a dry rub for grilled shrimp.
- Vegetables: This sweet, savory, and slightly spicy dry rub is fabulous when used to season Air Fryer Potatoes or Baked Sweet Potato Fries. It gives the potatoes a nice sweet and smokey flavor. You can also use it to season grilled corn on the cob before grilling or vegetable kabobs.
More Homemade Spice Blends
- Homemade Fajita Seasoning
- Adobo Seasoning
- Homemade Cajun Seasoning
- Chili Seasoning Recipe
- Homemade Seasoned Salt
- Dried Onion Soup Mix
- Homemade Dill Seasoning
If you tried this easy recipe for Homemade Dry Rub, I would love for you to leave a review and comment below.
All-Purpose Dry Rub
- 1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspooon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- Combine the brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne together in a small bowl until everything is well combined.
- Use immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the pantry.
- Before applying a dry rub, it is important to pat the meat or vegetables dry with a paper towel to ensure that the rub sticks evenly to the surface and adheres well.