3 Essential Dry Rubs for Every 4th of July Pitmaster

You and your steak both bleed as red as the flag—treat it right this weekend.

The 4th of July is one of the most important holidays on every red-, white-, and blue-blooded American’s calendar. But it’s not just about taking the time to celebrate our history and heritage, and commemorate those who remind us that freedom is fucking awesome.

It’s about drinking a lot of beer, and blowing shit up. It’s about listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd, even though you don’t really like Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s about watermelon and fireworks, and swimming pools, and corn on the cob.

Most importantly, it’s about eating stupid amounts of meat. A 4th of July celebration without a good assortment of barbecue is like Christmas without a tree; Halloween without candy; Valentine’s day without a glass of scotch and Facebook-stalking your exes. Goddamn it, it’s just un-American to have it any other way.

So put down those celery sticks and throw away your hummus—we scoured the web to bring you three meat rub recipes that’ll remind your taste buds why the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave deserves nothing but the best.

Memphis Dust Recipe for Ribs

This straightforward rub recipe is perfect for simple but tangy ribs that will have you and your guests crying tears of joyous freedom. [Via Amazing Ribs]


¾ Cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

¾ Cup white sugar

½ Cup paprika

¼ Cup Garlic powder

2 Tablespoons ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons ground ginger powder

2 Tablespoons onion powder

2 Teaspoons rosemary powder

Prep your meat 12 hours in advance by sprinkling a half-teaspoon of table salt per pound, then give it a light baste in some peanut oil before laying on the rub. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl, massage it onto the meat, and don’t be a gentle with it—lay it on nice and thick. There should be a visible crust-like layer when you’re done. The rest is up to you.

Bourbon Barrel BBQ Dry Rub for Chicken

This stuff is a welcome complement for everything from poultry to pork: the cayenne pepper and cumin give the rub a powerful kick, and the smoked paprika lends an earthy undertone to the mix.  The absence of sugar is a welcome respite to holiday bloat, but keep in mind that means you won’t get that classic, crusty sweet coating that comes to mind when most people think of barbecue. That said, we prefer to use this rub on chicken. [Via Palatable Pastime]


1 ½ Tablespoons of Oak Bourbon Barrel Smoked Paprika

1 Teaspoon garlic powder

1 Teaspoon onion powder

½ Teaspoon sea salt or table salt

½ Teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

¼ Teaspoon ground cumin

¼ Teaspoon ground mustard

½ Teaspoon thyme leaves

¼ Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Throw everything together in a large bowl or sealable container (it can be stored for later) and mix thoroughly—the last thing you want is someone inhaling a glob of poorly mixed cayenne pepper—then spread very liberally on the meat. Cover it in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Grill accordingly and enjoy.

Chipotle Dry Rub for Brisket or Ribs

This is our favorite rub on the list, hands down. Smoking a perfect brisket is an art form in and of itself, but if you know what you’re doing, this rub will change your game forever. The chipotle chilies add a special kind of heat to this mix that’s temperate enough for people with mild palates, but complex enough to satisfy the most daring of your party’s patriots. [Via About Food]


2 Dried chipotle peppers (or 3 if you want a little more heat!)

3 Tablespoons black pepper

2 Tablespoons dried oregano

1 Tablespoon dried cilantro leaves

1 Bay leaf

1 Teaspoon cumin

1 Teaspoon onion powder

1 Teaspoon ground dry orange peel

Blend ingredients until mix is fine and even. Since this is pretty potent, you don’t want to pre-coat the meat with any kind of oil. Just apply the rub evenly over the brisket, and whatever sticks is what’s perfect. Toss it in the smoker for 12 to 16 hours, and proceed to let freedom ring! If you’re looking for an extra dimension of flavor, slather on a light layer of a sweeter BBQ sauce two hours before removing from the smoker. Boom! Fireworks for your face.

Photos by Getty Images