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Extreme Newbie - how is the rub applied?


New member
Extreme Newbie - Using Rubs

I am completely new to smoking meat. I have done burgers, hot dogs, chicken legs, etc. over charcoal grills, but never have I smoked a brisket, salmon, etc. I decided I needed to buy a pellet grill and up my game, so I have one ordered. I know it's a stupid question, but how do you apply the rub? I have seen shaker bottles of rub, and big bags of rub. Some pictures looks like its sprinkled on, and some look like its poured on (completely covered in it). How much do you put on and when? Do you actually "rub" it in?

Teach me :)

Also, are there good home made rub recipe's?

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There really are many ways to put it on. It will come down to what you like. Generally covering the meat is a good idea. How much and to what level is up to you. One example is pork butt. Personally, I lightly rub it with oil (others use mustard & some don't bother with either) then shake the rub so it covers all sides of butt. When to do it? Again, many variations here as well. Right before smoking, on the night before and back in to the fridge (wrapped or not) and anywhere in between. You can easily get overwhelmed so my advise is to start simple and learn as you go.



mcschlotz said:
There really are many ways to put it on. It will come down to what you like.

I agree wholeheartedly! There is no single right or wrong way to apply it.

Some people like to use a thin coat of mustard, molasses, vegetable spray, etc to act as glue before applying rub. Some just apply the rub directly to the meat. Then, the rub can be sprinkled on with a shaker or rubbed on whichever way you prefer.

My basic preferences are:

For Beef, & lamb I do like to apply a coat of spicy brown mustard because I like the slight tangy, horseradish-like flavor it imparts.

For pork, I usually just rinse the meat off and lightly pat it dry. The moisture that's left is plenty for the rub to stick.

To keep from contaminating the rest of the rub, I pour just what I think I'll need into a small bowl first (about 1/3 cup per roast/rack). Then I like to put my ribs & pork butts into a tub where I can just dump some rub on and spread it around. This makes cleanup much easier.


The only rub that I actually rub on is TX BBQ Rub. All others get evenly sprinkled on then patted down with my hand, not rubbed.


New member
For a total beginner at bbq, like I was a couple years ago, it is easy to be intimidated by the lingo, and the vast array of products.
Welcome to the forum!
As far as applying rub. Depends on the meat of course, but what I would generically do is rinse and pat dry with paper towels the cut of meat, then sprinkle on all sides patting it into place. I don't physically rub it into the meat, though I don't suppose there is much harm in that if you did or didn't unless it was some delicate food like fish.
Timing varies and for longer cooks like a brisket or a pork shoulder or butt, it probably isn't critical to get the rub on far in advance of placing the food onto the smoker.
Which smoker did you get?
Not sure what your cooking experience is, but I recently bought a book that I Love love love! I have lot of cookbooks but those goes several steps beyond. The title is the food lab by kenji Lopez-alt.
Another book I'm planning to buy which appears to be the bbq equivalent of the food lab, is called meathead science of bbq or something like that. Probably be a good place to start!
Good luck!
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