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Pork Butt Rub

Whether it’s lunch, dinner or whatever your favorite meal is, this homemade pork butt rub recipe is bound to give you the kind of flavor you’ll never forget.

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Pork butt rub recipe

Having a juicy pork shoulder is one thing, but it only works out well if the flavor is great. By that logic, you’d probably assume I’m here to share a pork recipe with you, but no, the time for that one is coming.

Today, we’re gonna talk about my favorite pork butt dry rub. With a little garlic powder, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and more, we’ll put together an amazing mix that will knock your socks off.

Technically speaking, it’s the salt content of the pork rub that really makes the difference. We all know that salt is great for flavoring the meat but it does more than that. It’s also a pretty solid heat conductor.

Why would you need dry rubs to offer heat conduction? Well, that’s the way to prevent the outside of the meat from cooking too much before the inside does.

Whether it’s pork leg, pork shoulder, or whatever your favorite cut is, this homemade dry rub is bound to give you the kind of flavor you’ll never forget. Why don’t we jump into it?

Enhancing Your Pork Flavor Profile

By default, once you’ve seasoned your pork relatively well, it should have a pretty nice flavor. However, that’s not enough for me. By my logic, it means that’s not enough for you. So, what we’re gonna do here is enhance things a little bit to ensure that we get the perfect mix.

Realistically, adding flavor to your pork shoulder or another cut can be done in a few ways. Barbecue techniques and brining are a couple of solid options. We have a specific pork shoulder rub recipe I recommend checking out as well!

Brining, for example, sees you take apple cider vinegar or apple juice and combine it with spices, yielding a pretty acidic and pretty potent flavor. Of course, if you don’t do it just right, then you may find that the pork takes on the flavor too much, which can be very problematic.

That’s actually one of the reasons why I go for a pork rub in most cases. The combination of flavors is strong, and the likelihood of nailing the right mixture is pretty high.

Making Your Dry Rub

This would be considered one of the more advanced dry rub recipes, as simple as it may sound initially. Therefore, if you want to experiment with simpler options, I’d understand. However, I think I’m pretty good at simplifying instructions, so even if this is your first time attempting anything like this, all should be well.

It’s essential though to have an understanding of where the different components fit in and how they work together, which we’ll tackle a bit more in-depth in our section about the three S’s later on.

On that note, I’d like to say something. Everyone doesn’t have the same sense of flavor. Therefore, though I find the flavor profile of this pork rub to be just perfect, your experience may differ.

If you think it would be better sweeter or a little spicier, I encourage you to use those flavors more dominantly to make it yours. You’ll definitely learn the principles you need to make a good dry rub here, but there’s nothing wrong with expanding on things a bit to ensure that you get a desirable result.

Cayenne pepper dry rub

The Three S’s

I want you to pay special attention to this part because it’s a key element of proper flavor construction. The bases you want to think about with your pork rub are sweet, savory, and spicy. It’s the combination of these three flavors in the right way that will make your pork butt pop.

On the sweet side of things, we have our brown sugar, which is expected to help us caramelize the exterior of the pork.

We don’t want to be eating sweet pork (unless you do, of course), so we balance the sweet element out with a savory one. To this end, there’s onion powder, salt, chili powder, paprika, etc.

Finally, we want our pork rub to offer a bit of a kick, which is why we opt for cayenne pepper and black pepper.

Even if you aren’t planning to use the exact ingredients I do, bear the flavors in mind when you put your dry rub together.

Pork butt on cutting board

Applying the Pork Dry Rub

Considering you have brown sugar, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and other seasonings in this homemade dry rub, you’d likely assume that the idea is to apply it like you would a traditional seasoning.

However, you’ll find the pork rub recipe to be on the more coarse side of things than typical seasonings, which means you’ll want to take a more liberal application approach.

This is even more so if smoked pork is what is on the menu. Smoked pork shoulder, for example, will see you needing to get the dry rub into every little crease, but trust me when I say, it all becomes worth it the moment you start to chow down.

Before applying dry rubs to a pork roast, you want to get a paper towel and pat the meat dry. Essentially, you want the surface to be almost sticky.

Once you’ve done that, then sprinkle the pork rub onto the entire surface of the meat, after which you’ll massage it in. Not only should the dry rub firmly stick to the surface, but it should also be present in every crevice of the meat.

Applying pork rub on board

How You Should Store a Pork Rub

Just as you did during the combination process, I’d recommend that you get a container with a tight-fitting lid to store the pork rub. A medium-sized bowl will usually do the trick. The container could be plastic or whatever other material, provided that it’s sealed well.

Once you have it in your container, you want to put it in a pantry. Just keep it away from direct sunlight. Shake your dry rub before each use, as it will likely develop clumps from sitting.

Remember how I told you to label the date you made the pork rub on the container? Technically, it doesn’t exactly expire. However, you may find that it doesn’t have the same kind of kick after four months have passed, so keep that in mind.

A Couple of Quick Dry Rub Recipe Tips

So, we’re in the closing stages now, but I thought I’d offer you a few tips that should enhance your experience with this dry rub recipe:

  • If you’re smoking pork chops, for example, you want to ensure that the flavor of the rub is akin to that of the smoking wood. I have a great recipe for pork chop rub too!
  • You can use a tablespoon of water and a half cup of vinegar to provide further moisture and tenderize the meat.
  • By spraying a mixture of a tablespoon of this pork rub recipe and a tablespoon of apple juice on your smoked pork shoulder as it cooks, you’ll find that the flavor will pop even more than expected.
  • Consider bringing herbs into the barbecue pit. Examples include oregano, thyme, rosemary, and more. The smoke will then add yet another flavor layer to your smoked pork.

How Long Before You Grill or Smoke Your Pork Roast Should You Put the Rub on?

Typically anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours before cooking will do the trick. However, if your smoked pork shoulder or whichever other recipe requires a specific application time, I would say stick with that as your reference point.

Pork seasoning on table

Final Remarks

Now you have a pretty solid dry rub recipe for your smoked pork or whichever other way you plan to prepare it. Just remember all the advice I gave you about combining the flavors and how to bring them all together. Enjoy!

Yield: 32 servings

Pork Butt Rub

Pork Butt Rub

Whether it's lunch, dinner or a snack, this homemade pork butt rub recipe is bound to give you the kind of flavor you'll never forget.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 c. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 c. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper


  1. Put all your ingredients together in an air-tight container. A mason jar should do the trick, but anything that's well-sealed and will allow you to shake it will do.
  2. With the lid on tightly, begin to shake the pork rub to combine everything thoroughly. This will likely require a few hard shakes, so don't hesitate.


I would also recommend using a sharpie or something else that you can write on the container with to remind you exactly when the rub was made.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 21Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 504mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

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