Full-Flavored Kansas City Rib Rub Recipe

Growing up near Kansas City, I enjoyed lots of great barbecued ribs. This Kansas City rib rub recipe is where to start if you're wanting to smoked some of your own home-barbecued Kansas City style pork ribs.

Three Baby Back Pork Rib Slabs Seasoned Kansas City Style

The barbecue sauce in KC is typically sweet and tangy with the flavors of cider vinegar, brown sugar and molasses backed up by a host of other spices and seasonings. And to complement the sauce, the rib rub used before smoking should contain a lot of those same flavors.

Putting a Kansas City Rub Together

You may notice that the following ingredient list contains no salt, and that's for a reason. When salt is added to a rub recipe it's difficult to know just how much salt is going onto the ribs. There's a fine line between not salty enough and too salt.

When using this rub, salt the slab first, at the rate of 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of ribs, raw weight.

This way, the ribs will have just the right amount of saltiness, no matter how heavy your hand is when you apply the KC rib rub.


  • One-quarter cup brown sugar
  • One-quarter cup sweet paprika
  • Two teaspoons ground black pepper
  • Two teaspoons chili powder
  • Two teaspoons onion powder
  • One teaspoon garlic powder
  • One teaspoon mustard powder
  • One-half teaspoon powdered cayenne

The rub will keep longer if the brown sugar is dried before it's mixed with the other ingredients. Spread it on a cookie sheet and let it air dry overnight.

Combine the ingredients and store in an airtight container until used. To add more bite to the rub use hot paprika.

Season your pork rib slab (a Kansas City Style slab, of course) first with kosher salt, and then with a generous amount of the Kansas City rib rub a couple of hours before it hits the smoker.

I let the slabs rest at room temperature during that time. That gives them a head start so they finish smoking a little sooner than if they started out cold.

And don't forget to make a batch of KC bbq sauce while those ribs are a smoking.

Use This Kansas City Rib Rub Recipe On Spare Ribs and Baby Backs