This BBQ seasoning recipe mixes up in just 5 minutes with pantry spices that you probably already have on hand, and has a sweet, spicy, and smoky flavor profile. It’s perfect as a dry rub for meat, but it's very versatile – use it on roasted vegetables, corn on the cob, or combine it with sour cream for a BBQ dip for chips and raw veggies.
If you like the flavor of a sweet and spicy barbeque sauce, you’re going to love this easy BBQ seasoning. It’s great for chicken, beef, salmon, and even vegetables. And bonus, it serves double duty as a BBQ dry rub!
Here blend together a few simple pantry spices to make this BBQ spice mix that really tastes like something you grilled up. The trick to balanced BBQ flavor is a combination of sweet, smoky, and spicy components. If you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you may already have everything on hand to make this delicious spice mix.
What I really love about BBQ seasoning is that it gives the flavor of barbecue to food without having to fire up the grill!
The Best Easy BBQ Seasoning
In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), please see the recipe card below.
- Light brown sugar – or you can use dark brown sugar for a more robust molasses-y flavor
- Sweet paprika – for color and subtle fruity pepper flavor
- Garlic powder and onion powder – these pantry staples add savory depth of flavor to our BBQ mix
- Salt – to enhance the flavor of everything else
- Chili powder – this is a spice blend that usually contains ground dried chilies, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano
- Smoked paprika – for smoky flavor and subtle earthy sweetness
- Black pepper – for a touch of piquancy
- Cayenne pepper – this adds a touch of spicy heat to balance the brown sugar’s sweetness
How to Make Homemade BBQ Dry Rub
This recipe couldn’t be easier to make! You simply add everything to a bowl and stir to combine. Or you could add it to a mason jar, cover the jar, and shake to combine.
For best flavor, store in a covered glass jar in your pantry for 6 months. This is because ground spices tend to lose their flavor after about 6 months.
How Do You Use BBQ Seasoning?
I like to think of barbecue seasoning as a versatile spice mix – because that’s exactly what it is! Here are a few different ways you can use it:
- Add a sprinkle to buttered corn on the cob instead of salt
- Season sour cream with a generous spoonful of BBQ seasoning and eat it as a dip with raw vegetables or potato chips
- As BBQ chicken rub or BBQ beef rub
- On salmon or other seafood
- Sprinkled on roasted vegetables
Barbecue Seasoning Recipe FAQs
How Do You Make Something Taste Like BBQ?
It's interesting to think of barbecue as a flavor, but it is! For example, BBQ potato chips.
Think about what makes BBQ flavor unique. It’s a combination of sweet and spicy with an underlying smokiness. For this recipe, we use a mixture of seasonings and spices to achieve the same flavor profile.
What is BBQ Seasoning Made Of?
BBQ seasoning and BBQ rub are made from a blend of spices that create a sweet, spicy, and subtly smoky flavor profile. Common ingredients are brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.
Is BBQ Rub the Same as BBQ Seasoning?
The ingredients in BBQ rub are pretty much the same as the components of BBQ seasoning.
However, the difference between the two is that a rub is typically used to flavor meat before cooking, and a seasoning (also called a spice mix) is used to add flavor before or after cooking.
You can use this BBQ seasoning recipe as a BBQ rub for chicken, beef, pork, or pretty much any type of meat you like.
Why Do You Put Sugar in BBQ Rub?
Sugar serves two purposes in barbecue rub: 1) it adds sweet flavor to balance out the spice, and 2) it helps caramelization.
You know those beautiful char marks you get from cooking steak on a grill? Use this seasoning as a dry rub before grilling and the bump up the caramelization even more.
Side Dishes for Grilled Meat
BBQ Seasoning (Homemade BBQ Dry Rub)
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine.
- For best flavor, store in a covered glass jar in your pantry for about 6 months.
- Net Carbs: 5g net carbs per 1-tablespoon serving
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes 22 tablespoons (1 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons) of spice mix, or 11 (1-tablespoon) servings.
- Make it Your Own: Feel free to adjust the spice amounts in this recipe to suit your own tastes. For example, if you like things on the spicier side, bump up the cayenne pepper!