This Kansas City rub is an evenhanded blend of sugars, spices, chili powder and a little heat. In the true egalitarian style of Kansas City, their KC BBQ rub is probably the most universally accepted recipe. It’s equally at home with chicken, pork and beef and this homemade, all purpose rub delivers pure barbecue flavors that everyone loves. Making Kansas City dry rub from scratch is quick and easy and the seasoning will last for up to 3 months in a well sealed container.
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This recipe is adapted from Steve Raichlen’s Sauces, Rubs and Marinades cookbook. Steve is our grilling, smoking and barbecue Yoda and we never fire up the grill without his input first. This easy bbq rub recipe is a great jumping off point for all your grilling, smoking and barbecue creations.
Table of Contents
What makes Kansas City dry rub special?
KC BBQ rub has a little bit of something for everyone and borrows flavors from many regional BBQ styles. Instead of going heavy in one direction, it incorporates a variety of spice flavors without claiming dominance in any.
Instead of being salty, it has more sweet flavor.
Kansas City rub is not aggressively spicy or hot like you might find in Texas, but it does contain chili powder and cayenne pepper. If you have diners who are sensitive to heat, this is a good all purpose rub for them.
And in a nod to Memphis BBQ, this KC dry rub contains mustard powder.
Allspice and ginger, found in this Kansas City rub, are also common ingredients in some Caribbean rubs, so it truly is an amalgam of flavors. And they work GREAT together.
Open up your spice cabinet and let’s mix it up!
Ingredients for Kansas City rub
- Light Brown Sugar
- Granulated Sugar
- Smoked Hot Paprika
- Smoked Salt
- Seasoned Salt (like Lawry’s)
- Onion Salt
- Celery Salt
- Black Pepper
- Chili Powder
- Mustard Powder
- Ground Ginger
- Ground Allspice
- Cayenne Pepper
It may look like a daunting list of ingredients, but it’s likely you’ve already got some of them in your pantry.
Best way to blend dry rub seasoning:
Of course you can add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl and blend well with a whisk. Easy peasy.
However, I’ve found that sometimes the brown sugar (or even the granulated sugar is clumpy and sticks together and other ingredients (like the smoked sea salt) can be larger and flakier than the rest of the spices.
In order to have a smooth dry rub that’s good for massaging into meat, ribs and chicken, I’ve found that using a mini food processor is invaluable.
Just add all the sugars and spices into the bowl of the food processor and pulse 2-3 times until it’s well blended and the spices are evenly distributed.
This makes about 1 ½ cups of dry rub, which can be unwieldy to try to tip into a storage jar.
To transfer your Kansas City rub to a storage container without spilling half of it on the counter top, use a kitchen funnel.
Funnels are handy items that are great for everyday tasks like filling salt and pepper shakers and oil and vinegar cruets, but you’ll really love a kitchen funnel if you like to buy in bulk.
Dry rub FAQ’s
I recommend an airtight glass or plastic storage container with a tight fitting resealable lid.
Typically, you want to use up the rub within 2-3 months. It will last longer, but the flavors become more muted the longer it sits. It also depends on whether you use whole spices and grind them yourself or if you’re using pre-ground spices (like I did). If you’re grinding your own, you’ll get another month or two out of the KC BBQ rub.
Essentially, this is nothing more than a seasoning blend. So you can add it to anything you want to impart a smoky, spicy, sweet flavor too. Add a teaspoon or two to a homemade vinaigrette. Spoon some into your cornbread batter and sprinkle it over your sunny side up eggs. It’s even good over avocado toast.
We use this all purpose spice rub on everything from slow smoked pork shoulders to briskets and barbecued chicken. Of course, you’ll also want the KC BBQ rub on your pork and beef spareribs. What else will you use it on?
More BBQ rubs and marinades and sauces you might like:
- Smoky Chipotle Seasoning and Dry Rub
- Brown Sugar Bourbon Marinade for Beef, Chicken and Pork
- Spicy Guava BBQ Sauce
- Rum and Pineapple BBQ Sauce
- Tongue Tingling Jim Beam BBQ Sauce
Kansas City Spice Rub
FOR THE KANSAS CITY RUB
- ? cup light brown sugar packed
- ? cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons seasoned salt
- 2 tablespoons smoked salt
- 2 tablespoons onion salt
- 2 tablespoons celery salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
FOR THE SPICE RUB
- Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix until well incorporated. If the brown sugar is a bit stiff or other ingredients seem to clump you can transfer everything to a food processor and pulse several times until well combined.
- Makes abour 1 ½ cups of rub. Store in an airtight container.
Laura White says
I made the rub and followed the recipe, but I’m sensitive to sodium, so when I make it again, I plan on using onion powder instead of salt.
Lisa Lotts says
I think onion powder would be a good substitute if you’re sensitive to salt.
If I were to use dark brown sugar. how would it change the flavor profile?
Lisa Lotts says
No, I think you’ll be fine with Dark Brown Sugar in this recipe.
Katie Beck says
I am keeping this in mind for my smoked spareribs come summer – perfect blend of spices.
This rub looks amazing. I bet it would be really good on ribs.
Lisa Lotts says
Gail Montero says
I was just looking for a spice rub for our ribs and this surely is the one to try. I can imagine so much flavor this spice rub imparts!
What an amazing rub recipe. So flavorful. Pinned to make this soon.
I am yet to experiment with this rub as I’ve never tried making at home. With that said, your instructions look so easy that I can’t wait to finally give it a try! And thank you for the info on how long this rub can last – so important!
Beth Sachs says
Such a flavourful spice rub and great with chicken on the grill!