Five-Ingredient Rib Rub

By Patty Catalano, | June 26th, 2024

Perfect for oven-baked, smoked, slow cooker, or grilled ribs

Make the very best ribs with this easy five-ingredient rib rub.

This easy, delicious five-ingredient rib rub works well no matter how you prepare your ribs, using ingredients you may already have in your kitchen – at a fraction of the price of expensive pre-mixed blends.

One thing I always do as spring picnics heat up into summer cookouts is mix up a batch of rib rub. Despite what the dozens of highly branded and cleverly pitched spice blends lead you to believe, rib rubs can be super simple. My go-to rib seasoning mix has just five ingredients – all of which are already in my pantry and probably in yours as well.

Here, a savory-sweet combination of brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper is all you need to coax the very best flavor from the pork ribs you’re making. Whether you’re a newbie at the grill (we’ve got a ton of tips to help you get started ) or are a seasoned pro, this is the rib rub that will make every rack a winner.

Why you’ll love it

There’s no need to buy specialty spices or pay an upgrade for packaged seasoning mixes when you want to make the perfect ribs this summer. This rib rub calls for just five spices that you likely already have in your pantry.

This simple rub is the perfect balance of savory and sweet and lets the delicious flavor of pork ribs shine.

Key ingredients in the rib rub

  • Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar adds sweetness to the rub with a hint of molasses flavor.
  • Paprika: Paprika gives this rib rub a mild peppery flavor. Opt for smoked over sweet paprika for a smoky flavor — especially if you’re not cooking ribs on the grill or smoker.
  • Kosher salt: Salt is essential for seasoning anything you’re cooking — including ribs. We’ve tested this recipe with both Diamond Crystal and Morton kosher salt.
  • Garlic powder: Add even more savory flavor to the rib rub with garlic powder. This spice is made by drying fresh garlic and grinding it into a fine powder. Make sure you’re not using garlic salt, which can tip the seasoning scale.
  • Black pepper: Freshly ground black pepper will deliver more of its signature bite than pre-ground pepper.

How to use the rib rub

Season racks of ribs with this rub, then follow the cooking instructions for oven-baked ribs, smoked ribs, slow cooker baby back ribs, or grilled baby back ribs.

Serve the tender, seasoned ribs with seasonal sides like pasta salad, coleslaw, potato salad, or corn salad.

Crunch Potato Salad side dish

Five-Ingredient Rib Rub

Makes 1/2 cup


  • 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons smoked or regular paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Place ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. This makes enough for two racks of pork ribs.

Recipe notes

General tips: This recipe includes salt. If you’re following a recipe that calls for seasoning ribs separately with salt before adding the rub, you can leave the salt out and season to your liking.

Storage: Store rib rub in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month.

Patty Catalano is a food editor for, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to

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