What is the Best Dry Rub for Ribs?

Ribs, along with steaks, are one of the more complex staple foods of barbeques. Though both often take a much longer time to cook to delicious perfection, ribs can be made even better with the use of rubs and sauces. Classic ribs are simply basted with BBQ sauce before they’re taken off the grill to properly imbue the sauce’s flavour before more sauce is added. However, you can also barbecue much drier and crispier ribs with a rub.

With the lack of excess sauce that can make eating ribs a mess, picking the best dry rub for ribs can be troubling to look for. A lot of factors go into making great dry rubs and each one can taste different depending on what you use it on. For ribs, many pitmasters and chefs frequently go for or make sweeter rubs, since it pairs quite well with the savoury elements in ribs’ seasonings. Spicer rubs can be just as great though, so choosing only one can be hard.

This article shows you some of the best and most popular rubs available in the supermarket that can also be made at home. Many of them can also be bought at Dickson Barbeque Centre, so you want to try them and choose the best in the comfort of your own home.

Sweet and spicy rubs

If you’re looking for rubs to add a different take to barbecue ribs, you can always try the classics and go for a mix of both sweet and spicy rubs. What really makes these great is that one flavour doesn’t overpower the other, making it so that you don’t get too much of a burn or too high of a sweet kick.

Sweet chipotle rubs

Depending on whether or not you’re buying your barbecue rub, a chipotle rub can either be completely dry or have honey mixed in to make the rub more of a paste instead. Regardless, the spiciness of chipotle rubs is often offset by some sort of sweetness; honey in store bought dry rubs and sauces and brown sugar in homemade rubs. Like many homemade rubs though, if the spice of your chipotle rub is too much, you can always add more sugar – and less powdered chipotle peppers – to even it out. It’s safe to say that, for a spicy-sweet rub, sweet chipotle mixes are some of the best dry rub for ribs ever.

Honey garlic rubs

Another popular type of rub for ribs is the classic honey garlic. Though it may not seem like a dry rub at first, there are actually many different ways that honey can be added to rubs without making them sauces instead. In many store bought rubs, the honey itself is substituted for dry, powdered honey. This allows whatever mixture the powder is added to get a honey flavour.

Most garlic based rubs are typically not as spicy as you expect from sweet and spicy rubs. However, many recipes also call for pepper or paprika, adding just enough heat to make the rub exciting instead of just candy-sweet. If you make this rub at home, you can further customise it for your barbecue ribs by adding more paprika or pepper to the mixture. Combined with the powdered honey, you can easily get a delicious hot and sweet rack of ribs and one of the best dry rub for ribs.

Honey rubs 

As mentioned earlier, honey can also come in a powdered variety that’s great for rubs. However, honey can also be used in the same way to make a primarily sweet rub. Often combined with sugar to emphasise the sweetness, honey rubs are actually less teeth rotting than expected. While a lot more sugar is often used in these rubs, there are often other more savoury ingredients added as well, with salt being the second largest amount added. Many honey based rubs are made to be just sweet enough to be noticeable, but not enough to be only sugar and honey!

Spicier rubs

Chipotle rubs

Much like honey rubs, you can often find rubs that are made out of just powdered or ground chipotle peppers. These rubs frequently have a lot more spicier elements added to it as well, with paprika added as well to kick the heat level higher. What makes chipotle-only rubs the best dry rub for ribs is that you can get them in a wide range of heat levels, since manufacturers and chefs aren’t limited to the health risks honey rubs have with sugar.

If you want to make a rack of ribs incredibly spicy, there’s more than often a rub just for that. Lane’s BBQ has a line of rubs called Spellbound that – while habanero instead – are offered in either normal or hot. On top of paprika, chipotle rubs can take the spice levels even higher by adding cayenne and possibly even ground habanero!

A cultural twist on rubs for ribs

In Canada, many cultures are celebrated. Along with the chance to show and celebrate your own culture, many people also get the chance to share the authenticity of their culture’s cuisine. While many dishes are often adjusted to suit the heat and sweet levels other cultures have, many dishes still hold true today.

Korean BBQ dry rubs

One of the best dry rub for ribs outside of the North American and European standards has to be Korean BBQ. Though often made and sold as sauces, there are many ways to make Korean barbeque ribs with a dry rub. As with many cultural ties to the dish, the dry rub uses Gochukaru as well as pepper, cayenne and smoked paprika. Much of Korean barbecue – and some of their other dishes – are quite spicy, making it a great option for spicy ribs lovers.


Ultimately, the answer to what is the best dry rub for ribs depends on your own and your family’s preferences on the rub’s flavour. Many of the most popular rubs can be sweet, spicy, or both with many of those having an even greater range to account for how savoury you want your rub. The best dry rub for ribs depends on your own preferences for flavours.