Brown Sugar Rub Recipe

A superb all-around rub that works great on salmon or pork.

I bought my first smoker in 2014, and soon learned about the world of "rubs". I am certainly not an expert, but I did experiment with a number of store-bought rubs, as well as some that were recommended online. This one stuck with me. It's responsible for the first truly sensational rack of ribs I ever cooked, and my best-ever salmon dish that converted some non-salmon lovers to salmon fanatics.

Yes it's simple. Yes there are variations of this all over the internet. No I haven't tried them all  . . . but will keep searching for that one that is just that little bit better! At any rate, this one will take average cooks to the next level. Give it a try! I strongly suggest making a large batch at one time, and storing it in a plastic bag for future use. I make this at 4x or 8x the quantities listed.

This is adapted from Chef Jason Hill's BBQ Dry Rub recipe, provided by Robert Jones. I love heat, but his online recipe was so hot I felt there must have been a typo/error - so I reduced the chili powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper proportions from 1 tablespoon to 1 teaspoon to make it something everyone can enjoy. 

Brown sugar rub on babyback ribs.

TOTAL TIME: 15 min

  • Prep:      15 min

YIELD:   Various

LEVEL:  Easy


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cumin (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (or granulated)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder (or granulated)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Chili powder


  • Buy spices in bulk on, at Costco, or elsewhere if you plan to make a lot of this. Saves a ton of money.


Mix all ingredients well. If your brown sugar is lumpy, you may need to put the rub in a blender.

More Photos

Brown sugar rub on country style pork ribs.

Brown sugar rub on salmon.