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Signature Sweet & Smoky Rub

This is my Signature Sweet & Smoky rub

Notes of chipotle and ancho chiles bring a burst of flavor to smoked meat with my Signature Sweet & Smoky Rub. Pulled pork, smoked chicken, or even grilled salmon will benefit from this blend!

This is my Signature Sweet & Smoky rub

Sweet & Smoky Secrets

It’s not a secret anymore, this blend is the rub recipe I use for a variety of smoked meats and side dishes. I love to dry-brine my Smoked Chicken Halves with this rub for Smoked Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, Try it with pork ribs or pork shoulder, or even dust it onto your Hot Smoked Salmon.

Yes, it’s great for grilling too. Don’t let that sugar fool you, it adds a wonderful crust to grilled pork chops, chicken breast, and even grilled carrots.

Mixed up the signature rub, which is sweet and smoky.

Ingredients for this Rub

Making this sweet and smoky bbq rub is pretty simple, and it’s very likely that you’ll have all of the ingredients on hand in the house. The only thing you’ll really need to do is measure everything, mix it, and start using it. Thankfully there’s no toasting or grinding involved for this one, just keeping it simple.

  • Light brown sugar – The base layer for the sweet profile
  • Kosher salt – Essential for BBQ, and my preferred primary choice of salt for rubs
  • Celery salt – Using this salt adds some peppery flavor
  • Smoked paprika – Part of the smoky component, while adding color
  • Granulated garlic – Savory flavor, adds a nice texture
  • Onion powder – Just a touch for a sweet and savory note
  • Chipotle powder – Another note of smoke, with a little heat to round out the flavors
  • Ancho chile powder – This smoky, fruity chile is mild with heat and adds some nice color
  • Fine mesh black pepper – Key ingredient for a bite
  • Mustard powder – Works well with both sweet and heat
Ingredients for the sweet & smoky rub.

How to Prepare this Rub

Let’s not overcomplicate it, you just mix the ingredients together, taste, and adjust! There are a few tips I have in case you’re seeking variations for my Signature Sweet & Smoky Rub, or to find substitutions.

Variations for Flavor

Stick with Kosher salt: You do not need to use celery salt, especially if that’s a flavor you just don’t enjoy. The earthy, peppery flavor really shines with smoked meats, but I’m not going to twist your arm. Just replace it with more Kosher salt.

Kick up the heat: Try adding in some cayenne chile powder, or more chipotle if you want it spicier. This is meant to be an all-around sweet & smoky rub, but it never hurts to kick it up.

Dark brown sugar: The dry rub recipe uses light brown, but a dark brown will add a richer, deeper flavor. It contains nearly twice as much molasses, so be aware that if you’re grilling with it there’s more caramelization, just be aware.

Less smoke flavor: Swap out the smoked paprika for regular paprika. The overall color will also brighten, and this is the simplest way to reduce the smoke profile without completely changing the recipe.

Smoked chicken with the Signature sweet & smoky rub, glazed with BBQ sauce.

Tips for Storing This Dry Rub

Simply store this sweet dry rub in an airtight container, at room temperature. This blend will stay fresh for weeks.

Light brown sugar is the base ingredient for this Sweet & Smoky Rub and has a tendency to clump together over time. If you’re planning to make a large batch to store, I recommend drying out the brown sugar a little to prevent long-term clumping. There are two ways to do this:

Dry out in an oven: Spread out the brown sugar on a large baking sheet. Place it in the oven at 200°F for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it to ensure it’s not toasting. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool at room temperature. Break up any clumps and use it for the recipe when ready.

Let it air dry: If you have patience, this is the preferred method since it’s fail-proof. Spread the brown sugar out on a baking sheet and let it sit out overnight, allowing it to dry out on its own. Break up any clumps and use them when ready.

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This is my Signature Sweet & Smoky rub

Signature Sweet & Smoky Rub

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Notes of chipotle and ancho chiles bring a burst of flavor to smoked meat with my Signature Sweet & Smoky Rub. Pulled pork, smoked chicken, or even grilled salmon will benefit from this blend!

  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: About 1/2 Cup 1x


  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine mesh black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder


  1. Mix the ingredients together. Make sure to remove any clumps in the brown sugar, if any.
  2. Store in an airtight container. This dry rub recipe will stay the freshest for about a month.


  • Read the notes in the blog for tips on how to dry out the brown sugar, which will prevent clumps for a longer period of time.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Category: Rubs & Seasonings
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: Seasoning
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