Barbecue Dry Rub Recipe: The Basic “Mama Rub” Recipe

The “Mama Rub” is a barbecue dry rub recipe. Sounds like a funny name right?  But it ACTUALLY came from French cooking…Well it KIND OF came from French cooking—except they were not talking about barbecue rubs….and French cooking likely never would have nicknamed a rub “Mama”.   🙂

It came from French cooking in the sense that you always hear about using a “Mother sauce” in French cooking with five basic but great sauces used to enhance the flavor of many, many meals.

Well we decided to have some fun with the naming of our Rub and create a “Mama Rub” for barbecue that works throughout a variety of cuisines and can enhance the flavor of your barbecuebut instead of having 5 Mother Rubs (as they have 5 Mother Sauces in French Cuisine), we’ve created one Rub that you can add 5 different flavor variations into the rub, depending on what type of food you are cooking.

Quite honestly, we use the rub the majority of the time on it’s own—it is that GOOD.   But the great thing about the rub is if you want to modify it for an Asian food flair, Mexican food flair, etc. you can add some other key ingredients to give it the extra kick in the rub that you are looking for.  We’ll follow up with another blog article to get you these variations in a few weeks—for now you should test out the rub on it’s own!

So we have nicknamed it the “Mama Rub” due to it’s flexibility in working with other ingredients depending on the fusion you are looking for—but it is also a solid enough rub that 90% of the time we use it in on it’s own without modifying.

Now the base Mama rub recipe below creates a HUGE batch.  Ideally you don’t want to make this huge of a batch if you aren’t going to use it within 6 months, stored in an airtight container.   We make a lot and then share it with friends and family.    So if you are not barbecuing often and/or don’t plan on sharing it with friends, we suggest cutting the recipe in half.

Mama Rub Ingredients

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups granulated white sugar

1 ½ cups Smoked Paprika

1 ½ cups of ground black pepper (fresh ground is best)

1 ½ cups kosher salt

1 cup Paprika

½ cup smoked salt   (See instructions below-or use kosher salt)

½ cup chili powder

1/3 cup garlic powder

1/3 cup onion powder

1/6 cup cayenne



  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. After combine everything well, get another bowl and transfer it over to the other bowl through a sifter so you can break up any chunks of spices that have clumped together.
  3. Make sure you store in an airtight container.
  4. Use rub for all sorts of seasoning opportunities.  Great on steaks, chicken, pork and even veggies!

**Smoked salt: Hopefully you didn’t see this ingredient and stop there with wanting to make this rub recipe due to how expensive smoked salt is.  We wouldn’t spend money on expensive smoked salt either! It can be upward of $40 for 2 pounds of it. Where if you use kosher salt you can find it for $2.50 for 2 pounds.  Now you can use just kosher salt in this recipe if you would like—but that smoked salt adds just an extra little smoked flavor that we just love!  

How to Smoke Salt—the easy way:

Do this some day after you’ve barbecued on your charcoal grill and used some wood chips in your cooking.  Pull your meal off the grill and as long as the coals are not too hot (low to medium low is ideal) then put a sheet pan in there spread out with kosher salt, close the lid and leave it in there overnight.  Pull it out in the morning and there is your smoked salt!

**Smoked Paprika can be expensive as well if you buy in the little spice sizes available at most grocery stores—but search online and you can find it in larger quantities for a much better price. This is one of our FAVORITE ingredients in a lot of our cooking—you can never have enough of it on hand in our opinion.

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