How to Make memphis dry rub seasoning

Unlock the secret to irresistible barbecue with Memphis dry rub seasoning! Infused with smoky, sweet, and spicy flavors, it transforms your meats into mouthwatering perfection.

A close-up photo of a plate of Memphis-style dry-rubbed chicken

Unlock the secret to irresistible barbecue with Memphis dry rub seasoning! Infused with smoky, sweet, and spicy flavors, it transforms your meats into mouthwatering perfection.

I love the smoky scent of a backyard BBQ. When we found this dry rub recipe from Cook’s Country Magazine (February/March 2010: Issue #31, page 22), that claims to keep the chicken extremely moist, tender, and delicious we knew we had to give it a try — with a few modifications.


Experience the delicious blend of flavors in Memphis dry rub seasoning. Crafted with paprika, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, and cumin, it adds smoky, sweet, and savory notes to your meats.

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

  • Paprika: Provides color and a mild, smoky flavor.
  • Brown sugar: Adds sweetness and helps to caramelize the meat.
  • Salt: Enhances the overall flavor of the rub.
  • Black pepper: Adds a bit of heat and spice.
  • Garlic powder: Imparts a savory flavor.
  • Onion powder: Adds a subtle onion taste.
  • Chili powder: Adds heat and complexity to the rub.
  • Cayenne pepper: Provides a spicy kick.
  • Mustard powder: Adds tanginess and helps create a crust on the meat.

How to Make Memphis Dry Rub

Let the smoky, sweet, and spicy blend work its magic. Slow cook or smoke for a mouthwatering, crave-worthy barbecue experience that will leave everyone wanting more!

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, chili powder, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, dry mustard, onion powder, salt, and cayenne (to taste) in a small bowl.
  • Transfer half of the dry rub to a shallow dish & reserve.

Recipe Tips and Kitchen Tricks

  1. Rest your meat: After cooking, allow your meat to rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving. This helps retain its juices and ensures a more tender and flavorful result.
  2. Preheat your pans: Before cooking, make sure to preheat your pans or grills. This helps prevent sticking and ensures even cooking.
  3. Use a meat thermometer: Invest in a meat thermometer to ensure your meats are cooked to the desired temperature. This eliminates guesswork and helps achieve perfect doneness every time.
  4. Season in layers: When seasoning your dishes, apply the spices in layers throughout the cooking process. This builds complex flavors and enhances the overall taste.
  5. Taste as you go: Regularly taste your dishes as you cook, adjusting seasoning or adding ingredients as needed. This allows you to fine-tune the flavors and achieve a well-balanced result.
  6. Clean as you cook: Clean up spills and wash utensils and cutting boards as you go. This keeps your workspace organized, reduces clutter, and makes the cleanup process more manageable.

Recipe Variations

  1. Spicy twist: Add a kick to your Memphis dry rub by increasing the amount of cayenne pepper or adding a pinch of red pepper flakes for extra heat.
  2. Sweet and tangy: Incorporate a hint of tanginess by including a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the dry rub mixture.
  3. Herb-infused: Enhance the flavor profile by incorporating dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, or oregano into the dry rub. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite herb-infused variation.
  4. Smoky infusion: Enhance the smoky flavor by adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika or a touch of liquid smoke to the dry rub mixture. This creates a more pronounced smoky taste.
  5. Honey glaze: After applying the dry rub, brush your meat with a honey glaze during the cooking process. The combination of the dry rub and sweet glaze creates a delightful contrast of flavors.
  6. Citrus zest: Add a burst of freshness by grating some lemon or orange zest into the dry rub mixture. The citrusy notes will brighten up the overall taste of your barbecue.
  7. Asian-inspired fusion: Infuse your dry rub with Asian flavors by adding ingredients like ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a touch of five-spice powder. This fusion twist adds a unique and delicious twist to your barbecue experience.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Classic BBQ platter: Serve your Memphis dry rub seasoned meats on a platter accompanied by classic sides like coleslaw, cornbread, baked beans, and pickles for a traditional and satisfying BBQ feast.
  2. BBQ sliders: Shred or slice your Memphis dry rub seasoned meats and serve them on mini slider buns. Top with your favorite BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and pickles for a delightful handheld treat.
  3. BBQ tacos: Fill soft tortillas with thinly sliced or pulled Memphis dry rub seasoned meats. Add your choice of toppings like diced onions, fresh cilantro, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime juice for a delicious BBQ twist on tacos.
  4. BBQ loaded fries: Top a plate of crispy French fries with shredded Memphis dry rub seasoned meats, melted cheese, BBQ sauce, and a dollop of sour cream. It’s a hearty and flavorful indulgence.
  5. BBQ salad: Create a BBQ-inspired salad by arranging a bed of mixed greens and adding sliced Memphis dry rub seasoned meats. Top with diced tomatoes, red onions, corn kernels, and drizzle with your favorite BBQ sauce or a tangy vinaigrette for a lighter yet satisfying option.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What cuts of meat work best with Memphis dry rub seasoning? A: Memphis dry rub seasoning works well with various cuts of meat such as pork ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and even beef ribs. It adds delicious flavor to any meat you prefer.

Q: Can I use Memphis dry rub seasoning on vegetables or tofu? A: Absolutely! While it’s commonly used on meats, Memphis dry rub seasoning can also be used to add flavor to grilled or roasted vegetables, tofu, or even tempeh. Adjust the amount according to your taste preferences.

Q: How long should I let the Memphis dry rub seasoning sit on the meat before cooking? A: For best results, let the Memphis dry rub seasoning sit on the meat for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate. However, you can also apply it the night before and refrigerate overnight for even more flavor development.

Q: Can I use Memphis dry rub seasoning in a marinade? A: While Memphis dry rub seasoning is traditionally used as a dry rub, you can incorporate it into a marinade by mixing it with liquid ingredients like oil, vinegar, or citrus juice. This can infuse the flavors further into the meat before cooking.

Q: How should I store leftover Memphis dry rub seasoning? A: Store any unused Memphis dry rub seasoning in an airtight container or a resealable bag in a cool, dry place. It should stay fresh for several months. Always check for any signs of spoilage or loss of aroma before using it again.

Wine and Cocktail Pairings

  1. Memphis Dry Rub Ribs:
    • Zinfandel: The bold and fruity flavors of Zinfandel complement the smoky and robust flavors of the ribs.
    • Syrah/Shiraz: With its peppery notes and dark fruit flavors, Syrah/Shiraz makes a great match for the rich and flavorful ribs.
    • Malbec: The ripe berry flavors and smooth tannins of Malbec enhance the savory qualities of the Memphis dry rub ribs.
  2. Pulled Pork:
    • Chardonnay: A buttery and oaked Chardonnay provides a nice contrast to the tender and juicy pulled pork.
    • Pinot Noir: The light to medium body of Pinot Noir, along with its red fruit and earthy notes, pairs well with the smoky pulled pork.
    • Riesling: The sweetness and acidity of Riesling can balance the richness of pulled pork, especially when it’s spiced with the Memphis dry rub.
  3. BBQ Chicken:
    • Sauvignon Blanc: The crispness and citrusy flavors of Sauvignon Blanc complement the tangy and slightly sweet BBQ chicken.
    • Rosé: A dry or off-dry Rosé with its refreshing acidity and red fruit flavors can provide a delightful pairing with BBQ chicken.
    • Red Zinfandel: The fruity and jammy characteristics of Red Zinfandel pair well with the flavors of BBQ chicken, adding a touch of sweetness and spice.

Cocktail Pairings:

  1. Memphis Mule:
    • Moscow Mule: A classic Moscow Mule with vodka, ginger beer, and lime is a refreshing choice that complements the flavors of the Memphis dry rub.
  2. Spicy Paloma:
    • Margarita: The bright and zesty flavors of a Margarita with tequila, lime juice, and a touch of sweetness pair well with the spicy kick of the Spicy Paloma.
  3. Bourbon Old Fashioned:
    • Whiskey Sour: The combination of bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a Whiskey Sour harmonizes with the rich and smoky flavors of the Bourbon Old Fashioned.
    • Manhattan: The smooth and sophisticated Manhattan cocktail with bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters can be an excellent match for the complexity of the Bourbon Old Fashioned.
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Memphis Style Barbecued Dry-Rubbed Chicken is extremely moist, tender and delicious.

Memphis Dry Rub

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
This Memphis-Style Barbecue Dry Rub keeps the chicken extremely moist, tender and delicious. We added a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little zest.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 50 kcal


For the Dry Rub:

  • 6 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 3 Tbs dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper [See Note 1]


  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, chili powder, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, dry mustard, onion powder, salt and cayenne (to taste) in small bowl.
  • Transfer half of dry rub to shallow dish & reserve.


  1. Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to suit your level of heat.


Calories: 50kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 406mgPotassium: 205mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 4009IUVitamin C: 0.2mgVitamin E: 3mgVitamin K: 7µgCalcium: 28mgFolate: 5µgIron: 2mgZinc: 0.4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

12 thoughts on “How to Make memphis dry rub seasoning”

  1. I was wondering what the vinegar and mustard does for the chicken? We aren’t fans of either, so I didn’t know if there would be any suggested substitutes?

  2. Hello! I’m just wondering what the oven baking instructions for this would be? It’s minus everything cold with a wicked north wind today in Alberta and the BBQ is outside…


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