Barbecue Rib Rubs and Sauces
Did you read my post on Barbecue Ribs? It describes some of the different styles of ribs based on location around the country.
Some areas use rubs, some sauces, some both. Here I’d like to share with you a few recipe selections for both rubs and sauces that you can prepare at home instead of traveling all over the country to taste a particular style.
There are lots of commercial rubs on the market. Some of my favorite were from my buddy Chef David Nelson called Naughty Nelly’s Fiery Foods. Unfortunately Chef David is no longer producing his rub line so I’ll have to find an alternative brand or you can just make them yourself as shown below.
Making Your Own Rubs
For these rubs, simply put all the ingredients in a jar, put the lid on, and shake to combine. Don’t take the lid off for a few seconds, unless you enjoy sneezing!
All these recipes can be scaled up or down, depending on how many ribs you are cooking. You will probably need at least 2 tablespoons of rub for each rack.
Barbecue Sauce Recipes
As you can tell from the rub recipes above, most contain fairly similar ingredients. It’s the sauce that really lets you know what style of barbecue you’re eating. Here are a couple distinctive barbecue sauce recipes.
Eastern Carolina-style Barbecue Sauce
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well. Let mature for 2-3 days in the refrigerator before using. This sauce can also be used as a mop for your ribs during cooking.
South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce
- 1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard (yellow is traditional, but feel free to experiment with grain mustard, Dijon mustard or even beer mustard)
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate for 2-3 days before using.
St. Louis Style Barbecue Sauce
Not too thick; not too thin. Just right.
- 2 1/2 cups ketchup
- 3/4 cup water or beer
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Cool and chill in the refrigerator for a day or two before serving.
Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1/4 cup chili sauce
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons liquid hickory smoke flavoring, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
In a sauce pan, sweat the onion in the butter over medium low heat. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and keep at a low simmer for about 30 minutes. Cool and chill in the refrigerator for a day or two before serving.
There are so many more great rubs, mops and sauces representing geographic regions around the country. There is this great book that’s been available for a number of years and is still a great source for anyone interested in learning more about barbecue called Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures & Glazes by Jim Tarantino. I encourage you to check out his book if you want to get serious about barbecue.