Pulled Pork Rub Recipe: 4 Awesome Recipes

May 26, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Your pulled pork can go from tasting regular to simply mouthwatering with the right rub. When I started cooking, I underestimated the value of using a good rub for my pulled pork.

That all changed after I went to culinary school and learned the wonders a tasty rub can do to any piece of meat. My experience in my cooking classes led me to research more, and I’ve curated awesome rub recipes ever since.

Today, I’ll show you four of my favorite recipes for pulled pork rub. These recipes are easy to make, and you can start using them right away. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Pulled Pork Rub

4 Pulled Pork Rub Recipes

1. Classic Barbecue Pork Rub

I really enjoy using this pulled pork rub because it has so many uses. It tastes fantastic on chicken and works exceptionally well when smoking pork.

It is an excellent choice if you want to save money or if you forgot to buy a rub the last time you went to the store because it is made of ingredients that you probably have in your pantry. Here’s how to make this rub.


  • ½ cup of light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • If you plan on using the spice blend, rub a binding agent like yellow mustard on the meat and apply the dry rub. You can store the blend in a sealed container and place it in the refrigerator.
Sliced Grilled Pork with Dry Rub on the Wooden Board

2. Memphis Dust Rub

This pulled pork rub recipe is all you need if you want to recreate the tasty Memphis barbecue flavor.

I love this great rub recipe because it adds so much flavor to the meat that you can enjoy the pork without barbecue sauce. Like with other rubs, you can alter the proportions of various ingredients to suit your taste preferences.


  • ½ cup of regular paprika
  • ¼ cup of white sugar
  • ¼ cup of dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons of onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons of rosemary powder


  • Pour all the ingredients into a small bowl and mix. If the sugar is lumpy, break up the lumps with your hands or use a spoon or fork. Store the pulled pork rub in an airtight jar. The dry rub should last you for months. If you notice that the rub clumps over time, simply crush it.
  • Alternatively, if you’d like to remove moisture from the rub, spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it at 225°F for 15 minutes; any hotter, and the sugar will burn.

Expert tip: Since this recipe doesn’t include salt, I recommend applying 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound to the meat for a more intense burst of flavor.

Juicy Pink Smoked Pork with BBQ Dry Rub

3. Texas-Style Dry Barbecue Rub

This pulled pork rub caters to people who want an extra smoky flavor on their slow cooker pulled pork. With this recipe, you don’t need a smoker to create a tasty, smoky dish. This rub tastes fantastic on pork chops, but it also works wonders on chicken.


  • ½ cup of golden-brown sugar 
  • ¼ cup of chili powder
  • ¼ cup of salt
  • ¼ cup ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper


  • Put every spice you have in a container and mix thoroughly. Make sure you crush the brown sugar because it has a tendency to clump up.
  • Lastly, store the rub in an airtight spice jar and add it to the meat as you wish.
Raw Pork Cut Lathered with Spicy Rub

4. Kansas City Style Dry Rub

To make authentic-tasting pork at home, use this traditional recipe, which contains all the necessary spices in the perfect proportions. You can always prepare some ahead of time and put it in an airtight container to use later. 


  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of ground smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon of celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄2  teaspoon of dry mustard


  • Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  • Then, store it in a container and seal it tightly. You should be left with about a cup of dry rub.
Person Rubbing Dry Seasoning into a Piece of Pork

How to Use Pulled Pork Rub?

Making the rub is one thing, knowing how to apply it to your meat is another. Applying dry rub properly can make your dish taste more delicious.

First, pat the meat dry, then apply the dry rub on both sides of the pork cut. Bacteria is typically present on the surface of raw pork. As a result, it is crucial to be careful not to spread the bacteria to the rub when touching the meat.

For this reason, it’s best to use the two-handed method for applying dry rub. This method involves using one hand to sprinkle the rub while using the other to massage it into the pork. Remember to keep the hand you used to rub the meat away from the rub container.

Make sure to work the rub into all parts of the meat. Take advantage of the meat’s natural grain to help your seasonings stick to the flesh and penetrate the meat. The more you rub the meat, the less rub will come off while you cook.

Bear in mind that a tablespoon of dry rub should be more than enough per pound of meat. So, if you’re preparing 3 pounds of pork, 3 tablespoons of rub should be enough.

Expert tip: I recommend leaving the dry rub on the pulled pork for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. This will be enough time for the flavors to permeate through the meat’s fibers and produce a delicious pork flavor. 

What is the Best Cut of Meat for Pulled Pork?

The most common cut used in smoked pulled pork recipes is pork shoulder, also known as pork butt. This pork butt is tender and falls off the bone when cooked slowly on low heat.

The ample amount of fat also means this cut is juicy and flavorful. I typically use 5-pound cuts for my slow cooker pulled pork, and it serves me and my family of four with some leftovers. If you’re not sure how much pork butt to buy, start with a 3-pound cut and work your way up.

What is the Shelf Life of Pork Rub?

This dry rub will last for a long time because it is merely a blend of spices. The pork rub can be kept for around 6 months if you use fresh herbs, spices, and seasonings. Make sure you store it in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry place.

Expert tip: I advise making a batch of this dry rub at least a day in advance so it is ready whenever you need it.

Variety of Herbs and Spices

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Difference Between Rubs and Marinades?

Rubs flavor the surface of the smoked pork shoulder and, depending on how well they were applied, may leave a small crust after cooking. Marinades, on the other hand, tenderize meat while also adding flavor.


There you have it! Feel free to try out all these recipes to find the one you like best. Don’t be shy about playing around with the ingredients. You might just come up with a new recipe that delights your taste buds.

Luckily, these recipes aren’t limited to pulled pork butt. Enjoy it with chicken, salmon, steak, ribs, and other pieces of meat. So, get all your ingredients ready and start mixing your own homemade spice blend!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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