Here’s how to become a true pitmaster.

By Megan Soll
August 31, 2020
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All barbecue-lovers have their go-to rubs for smoking meats at home. The right balance of salt, sugar, and aromatics makes for the most tender and delicious barbecue dishes. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or you just bought your first smoker, there are excellent blends and spice packages that will help get perfect results. The smoking process takes a good amount of care, time, and investment (depending on the meat you buy), so it’s well worth it to have the right rubs on hand.

Williams Sonoma / Walmart / Burlap & Barrel / Spicewalla / The Spice House

To help out home barbecue enthusiasts we’ve rounded up several brands that will fit everyone’s BBQ prep needs. Burlap & Barrel and The Spice House are great for quality single-origin spices to enhance your usual rub recipe. Find pre-mixed rubs that require less fuss from Fire & Smoke Society or Williams Sonoma. Check out a one-stop-shop for all the rubs, sauces, and meats you could ever need at Crowd Cow or Snake River Farms. Grab the grill and smoker tools you need with the rubs you like from Traeger or BBQ Guys. (Remember to apply your rub at minimum 15 minutes before smoking, ideally two hours before, to let those flavors penetrate and evolve while cooking.) 

Read on for the spices and rubs that will help you make your best ribs, beer can chicken, or pork shoulder yet.

The Spice House

The Spice House

If you’re looking for both single ingredients and rub blends to try out, The Spice House has it all. Use the tangy Brisket of Love for slow-smoked brisket, and try the Bronzeville Rub on baby back ribs. Layer on heat and flavor to pork or beef with Oaxacan Ancho Coffee Rub, or go the classic route with Kansas City Barbecue Rub. They also sell an Essential Barbecue Bundle so you can try them all. Reminder: their signature flatpacks are perfectly storable and ship free seven days a week.

Single Spice Bottles, from $5 at thespicehouse.com

Barbecue Essentials Bundle, $69 at thespicehouse.com

Burlap & Barrel

Burlap and Barrel

Another favorite spice seller that uses sustainably sourced spices from across the world, Burlap & Barrel offers great single ingredients for building your own rubs. Their Smoked Paprika is made at a family-owned fabrica in Spain where they smoke and dry the 100% pimentón de la vera over oak coals, giving it the perfect accent of smokiness for a rub. Throw in Wild Mountain Cumin as an aromatic for deeper umami flavors in meats or vegetables. If you’re looking for serious heat, test your limits with Smoked Ghost Chili. Can’t decide? Get the Fundamentals Collection with six, nine, or twelve classic spices perfect for all your cooking, grilling, and smoking purposes.

Single Spice Jars, from $8 at burlapandbarrel.com

Fundamentals Collection, from $48 at burlapandbarrel.com

Snake River Farms

Snake River Farms

Snake River Farms sells excellent cuts of meat for grilling and smoking. They specialize in waygu and extras like Chef’s Gold, and their American Waygu briskets are the secret for top barbecue teams across the country. They also sell their own variety of pork rub, perfected with those same barbecue experts. For pork ribs, shoulders, collars, or tenderloins, this blend of brown sugar, pecan, cherry, and savory spices will make all the difference.

SRF Perfect Pork Rub, $15 at snakeriverfarms.com

Steve Raichlen’s Kansas City Smoke Rub

Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow has an entire section devoted to their barbecue meat offerings, and also offers wagyu varieties. You can order barbecue legend Steve Raichlen’s Kansas City Smoke Rub, a multi-purpose hickory mix that will enhance poultry, pork, ribs, burgers, and all other grilling and smoking meats.

Steve Raichlen Project Smoke Kansas City Smoke Rub, $5 at crowdcow.com

Plowboys Barbecue Yardbird Rub

Amazon

Award-winning Kansas City favorite Plowboys Barbecue sells their own rub blends, and customers can’t get enough of the Yardbird Rub. It was created for chicken but does all the right things for pork, and helped their team win the 2009 American Royal Invitation against 123 other barbecue teams. You can try out the award-winning rub for yourself.

Plowboys Barbecue Yardbird Rub, $12 at amazon.com

Traeger Grills Rubs

Traeger

Traeger makes incredible pellet smokers and is loved by barbecue experts across the country. Their proprietary rub blends run the gamut from pork and poultry to beef and even veggies. (That’s right, they have a rub for vegetables.) Go with the standard Traeger Rub that works for any type of meat, use the coffee rub for beef or vegetables, or try the chicken rub for your finest smoked bird.

Traeger Seasonings, from $10 at amazon.com

BBQGuys and Spiceology

BBQ Guys

Grilling and smoking experts at BBQ Guys teamed up with Spiceology to produce their own line of rubs for smoking and grilling. Go with the regional styles pack of Carolina, Kansas City, and Memphis, or opt for the meat-specific varieties meant for pork, beef, and chicken. If you’re looking for something a little different, try out the Pineapple Ancho Rub, made with poblanos and ancho chili for the ultimate multi-purpose rub.

BBQ Guys x Spiceology Rubs, from $17 at bbqguys.com

Spicewalla

Spicewalla

Spicewalla worked with North Carolina’s beloved Buxton Hall BBQ to create three signature blends: Barbecue Turkey Rub (with fennel and Herbs de Provence), Barbecue Rib Rub (great wet or dry on ribs or pork butt), and pitmaster Elliot Moss’ go-to Barbecue Chicken Rub. Spicewalla also has several signature blends of their own, including Al Pastor Rub perfect for adobo sauce, a Carolina Pork Rub, a Honey & Herb Rub for seafood, and a Cowboy Steak Rub that works with pretty much anything that goes on the grill.

Buxton Hall Barbecue Collection, $26 at spicewalla.com

Choose Your Own Essentials Collection, 6-Pack, $30 at spicewalla.com

Bad Byron's Butt Rub

Amazon

This rub is the best-selling barbecue seasoning on Amazon, and it lives up to its pork butt name. Bad Byron’s Butt Rub is lauded by everyone from professional chefs to top pitmasters and works for both its namesake and as an all-purpose seasoning. The simple but special blend of onion, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and chipotle makes for the ultimate savory rub.

Bad Byron's Butt Rub, from $7 at amazon.com

Stonewall Kitchen

Stonewall Kitchen

Regularly known for its jams and gift boxes, Stonewall Kitchen also has spices and rubs on offer. Use the Texas Rub on everything from brisket to chicken and let it rest in the fridge for several hours to get deepened flavors and tender meat. Try the Chicken & Pork Rub for herbs and garlic; it’s great on vegetables as well. The brand also offers a Turkey Seasoning, if you’re trying your hand on a bigger bird to practice for Thanksgiving.

Stonewall Kitchen Texas Rub, $6 at stonewallkitchen.com

Fire & Smoke Society

Wal-Mart

The makers of PK Grills (one of our favorite grill brands) developed a line of rubs and seasonings that are great for smoking purposes. The Usual has the right standard rub mix of salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, lemon, and cayenne. Pork Perfect adds mustard and paprika into the mix for the right combination of hot and sweet. Chicka Licka Bam Bam is the perfect bird rub for poultry with garlic, thyme, mustard, and spices. Finally, the Potato Slayer blends garlic, onion, smoked paprika, and dill to make vegetables and all forms of potatoes even better.

Fire & Smoke Society Rubs, from $7 at walmart.com

Williams Sonoma

Williams Sonoma

Williams Sonoma also has an array of rubs, sauces, and spices to fit every type of barbecue need you can think of. Memphis barbecue lovers will love the brand’s collaboration with world barbecue champion Melissa Cookston; find four of her own rub mixes for ribs, steak, pork, and chicken. Go for a spicy mini rub set with chipotle and sriracha flavors, a regional set with Carolina, Kansas City, Texas, and Memphis styles, or the classic set of four rubs (smokehouse/applewood, chile-lime, potlatch, and butcher’s rub). If you’re torn or want to gift the best set for a loved one with a smoker, the Rub Library of 12 mixes is a great find.

Mini Rub Set, $30 at williams-sonoma.com

Rub Library, $90 at williams-sonoma.com

Omaha Steaks

The popular mail-order meat company also does its own sets of rubs, and the package is on sale right now for 60% off. Get the “private reserve” rub, the signature steak rub, garlic and herb, smoky applewood (great for pork), seafood rub, and signature seasoning for just $25. Omaha Steaks sells everything from meat, poultry, and seafood to sides, desserts, and even wine. Call it an all-in-one for the best barbecue ever.

Here's the Rub Set, $25 at omahasteaks.com