Meathead's Magic Dust

This was taken from It is an outstanding dry rub for pork! Yield. Makes about 3 cups. I typically use about 1 tablespoon per side of a slab of St. Louis cut ribs, and a bit less for baby backs. Store the extra in a zipper bag or a glass jar with a tight lid.

Preparation time. 10 minutes to find everything and 5 minutes to dump them together.


  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary powder

Optional. Add up to 2 tablespoons crushed dried chipotle, cayenne, chili powder, or other hot pepper. Be careful with this ingredient. Not everybody likes it as hot as you do! You can leave it out if you are serving to a large crowd that is bound to contain a few wimps, and serve pepper flakes on the side.

Substitution. Try substituting some smoked paprika for regular paprika. Beware, it is usually a bit hot.

About the sugar and salt. I encourage readers to experiment with recipes and "no rules in the kitchen or bedroom" is my motto, but I have gotten two emails from people that require a comment. One said he loved this recipe but left out the salt. Another left out the white sugar. I appreciate the need to reduce sugar and salt in our diets, but they are in the recipe for more than flavor enhancement, they help form the crust (a.k.a. "the bark"), an important part of the texture of the surface of ribs and slow smoke roasted pork. The salt pulls some moisture to the surface to form a "pellicle" and the sugar mixes with the moisture, caramelizes, and also contributes to the crust, called bark by the pros. There's only about two tablespoons of rub to a large slab. Of that about 1 tablespoon is sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. If you eat half a slab, you're not eating much sugar and salt. I recommend you leave them in. And for those of you who object to white sugar for non-dietary reasons, and use brown sugar instead, you need to know brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added. It is not unrefined sugar. I use brown sugar for the flavor and white sugar because it improves the bark. You can substitute table salt, but beware that if you do you should use about 2/3 as much. Read my article on salt.

About the rosemary. If you can find ground rosemary, good for you. It's hard to find. So just grind the rosemary leaves in a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder. It will take 2 to 3 tablespoons of leaves to make 2 teaspoons of powder.

About the ginger. I think it is a very important ingredient. If you don't have any, get some.

Do this 1) Mix the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. If the sugar is lumpy, crumble the lumps by hand or on the side of the bowl with a fork. If you store the rub in a tight jar, you can keep it for months. If it clumps just chop it up, or if you wish, spread it on a baking sheet and put it in a 250°F oven for 15 minutes to drive off moisture. No hotter or the sugar can burn.

2) For most meats, sprinkle just enough on to color it. Not too thick, about 2 tablespoons per side of a large slab of St. Louis Cut ribs. For Memphis style ribs without a sauce, apply the rub thick enough to make a crunchy crust, about 3-4 tablespoons per side (remember to Skin 'n' Trim the back side). To prevent contaminating your rub with uncooked meat juices, spoon out the proper amount before you start and seal the bottle for future use.

3) Wrap your ribs it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them overnight before cooking.