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Pork Shoulder Rub

With this sweet-and-savory pork rub, I can add extra flavors and complexity to any pork cut, making a delicious dish that always wows my family.

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Pork shoulder rub recipe

Do you want to add more flavor to your BBQ pork recipe but don’t know how to do it? A homemade dry rub may be all you need!

With this sweet-and-savory pork rub, I can add extra flavors and complexity to any pork cut, making a delicious dish that always wow my family and friends.

Do you want to learn how to make it? Here’s the easiest homemade pork shoulder rub recipe you can try!

Cayenne pepper on table

Common Ingredient Substitutions to Make This Pork Dry Rub Recipe

When I don’t have all the ingredients but want to make this amazing pork rub, I just substitute a few items. These are my recommendations:

Brown Sugar

With this ingredient, we can create a caramelized and crusty exterior, also known as bark, on our pork shoulder.

I often use dark brown or light brown sugar to make this pork dry rub, but cane or turbinado varieties can work as well.

However, when I don’t have brown sugar, I use granulated sugar to make this pork rub. The result varies a bit, so I only add 85% of the suggested amount.

Savory Spices

To balance the sugar and sweet taste, we have to add some savory ingredients.

The most common are garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and black pepper.

However, I also use dry mustard or mustard powder, chili powder, and celery salt when I want my pork roast to have different flavors.

Pork seasoning on table

Hot Spices

Finally, we have spicy ingredients. Cayenne pepper is what will add that touch of heat to this rub, but we can use dried chipotle or red chili flakes as substitutes. Both are perfect for this recipe!

How to Apply Dry Rub to Pork Shoulder

After I made this pork rub the first time, I panicked because I didn’t know how to apply it – I thought I did, but it didn’t go well.

Fortunately, the next few times I prepared it, I tried a few tips to get the best results, and some worked! Here’s the method I use:

  • Dry the pork meat: Remove excess moisture with a paper towel.
  • Apply the rub to the pork shoulder: Sprinkle a generous amount of the dry rub all over the pork cut, applying all the seasonings all over the meat, from top to bottom and sides.
  • Let it sit: Cover the rubbed pork shoulder with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least an hour.
  • Cook rubbed pork: Take the pork shoulder out of the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before grilling or smoking it.

Tips for Extra Flavor

If I apply the rub to the pork shoulder the night before grilling or smoking, I know it will be flavorful! See how we make the best pork shoulder blade steak recipe.

However, when I want to surprise people, I follow these tips to get much better results:

  • When I use pulled pork, I put the meat in a saucepan, sprinkle it with the rub, and cover it with aluminum foil before roasting.
  • If I use pork butt or tenderloin, I pierce the thickest parts of the piece and massage additional rub into those little holes to make sure the flavors penetrate the meat. I also have a homemade pork butt rub to check out, too!
  • Before using, shake the bottle where you store the rub so that all the ingredients are perfectly combined

Final Thoughts

Whether we prepare pork chops or grilled pork ribs with BBQ sauce, this dry rub is just perfect!

It can be a basic rub for pork with savory flavors or a great addition to give our meat more complexity.

We can make a more intense smoked pork rub, for example, with just a few twists!

Moreover, we can make a spicy pork dry rub by adding red chili flakes or dried chipotle instead of only chili powder to this amazing spice blend.

Definitely, I think it’s one of the best dry rubs I’ve ever made in my entire life!


Can I Substitute Garlic Powder?

Yes, of course! You can substitute it with raw garlic. However, if you want to make a dry rub, other products work better, such as garlic flakes, which are dehydrated minced garlic.

Can I Substitute Onion Powder?

If you don’t want to use this product, you can substitute it with raw onion or dried onion flakes (it’s the best option if you plan to make a smoked pork dry rub).

Will Mustard Powder Affect My Pork Shoulder Taste?

Since the mustard flavor is intense, many people believe it can affect the pork’s flavor. However, it doesn’t happen. Actually, you will only notice that the meat is savory!

What Can I Do if the Dry Rub Doesn’t Stick to the Pork Shoulder?

I had the same problem the first few times I tried to make a pork rub recipe, but don’t worry! You can cover the meat with mustard and then sprinkle the rub.

This will help it stick to the pork shoulder meat. However, if you plan to follow this tip, remember that you shouldn’t add mustard powder. Otherwise, it could alter the flavor.

How Long Should Rub Be on Pork Before Cooking?

As mentioned, it’s up to you! You can apply the dry rub to your pork cut the night before, 10 hours, or just 30 minutes before cooking.

However, the more time you give the seasoning to penetrate the meat, the better the favors!

Does This Recipe Work to Make Smoked Pork Recipes?

Yes, of course! This rub ​​is perfect for smoking.

Since we use smoked paprika, it’ll add to our pork shoulder that delicious smoky flavor we all love!

Yield: 32 servings

Pork Shoulder Rub

Pork Shoulder Rub Recipe

With this sweet-and-savory pork rub, I can add extra flavors and complexity to any pork cut, making a delicious dish that always wows my family.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
  • ½ tbsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp. onion powder
  • ½ tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, kosher salt, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and other ingredients.
  2. Transfer the dry rub for pork to an air-tight container (you can use a mason jar or a dry rub container) and store it in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 26Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 946mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g

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