Sweet Dry Rub for Pork and Chicken

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This is an amazing recipe for homemade dry rub that will spice up your meals and enhance the flavor of meats. Use whether you are grilling, air frying or smoking.

I love this sweet dry rub recipe with just a little bit of heat added. It has only 6 simple ingredients and can be used to season chicken, pork, lamb, vegetables, and more.

My favorite thing to use it on is pork though! The brown sugar in the rub caramelizes on the meat as it cooks giving it a nice brown color and a tasty bark.

Check out these recipes for air fryer pork loin, smoked pork tenderloin or air fryer ribs to get ideas on how to use this rub! It is also amazing for grilling or using a smoker and making dishes like pulled pork.

Why You Will Love this Homemade Dry Rub

  • This rub is mostly sweet making a kid friendly spice rub. There is a little bit of chili powder, but not enough to make it spicy.
  • It is much cheaper to mix your own spice rub than to buy expensive premade bottles!
  • When you make from fresh spices you get the best flavor.
  • Making your own spices can seem intimidating, but it is very simple! You can mix this together in just 5 minutes.
  • Make a few jars of this mix and give them to your friends or family for a simple, homemade holiday gift.
dry rub ingredients

Key Ingredients

Brown sugar – The brown sugar makes the rub sweet and helps make the outside of the meat nice and brown.

Smoked paprika – Smoked paprika tastes amazing with a deep rich taste. I like to use it to add smoky flavor to the meats I cook in the air fryer, like ribs. But it you don’t have smoked paprika use regular sweet paprika.

Chili powder – The chili powder adds a little bit of spice to balance out the sugar without making the rub hot.

Garlic powder – Powdered minced garlic or roasted garlic would also work.

Salt – I prefer to use a coarse salt like kosher salt or sea salt.

Black pepper – A coarse fresh ground pepper will add the most flavor.

How to Make Pork Dry Rub

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

combining spices in a bowl
Mixing the ingredients

How to Store Homemade Dry Rub

Store the homemade spice mix in airtight container or jar. A small Mason jar is great for storing the mixture, or Weck jars.

You can also reuse empty spice jars from pantry, which is a great way to reduce waste. Just make sure whatever you use has an airtight lid.

Use the dry rub within 6 months. This recipe makes about 3/4 of a cup.

mixing the spices

How to Use

When you are ready to use the rub stir it or shake the jar to loosen up the spices and sure everything is well distributed. Then coat the chicken or pork with rub and spread it around.

Pork and chicken taste so much better when they are flavored with more than just salt and pepper! You can refrigerate the meat and let the rub work its way into the meat or start cooking right away.

I rarely let the rub sit on the meat before cooking because that adds extra steps and takes planning, which isn’t my strong point! Once you have the meat seasoned cook it as the recipe directs.

Check out my air fryer BBQ chicken, air fryer pork ribs or air fryer pork tenderloin recipes for delicious dinners that use this dry rub recipe! But it isn’t just for the air fryer, use it on meat for the grill or smoker too.

air fryer pork tenderloin before slicing
Pork tenderloin with dry rub


You can add some extra spices or herbs if you like. Some possibilities are onion powder, cayenne pepper, dry mustard or thyme. 


How long does dry pork rub last?

This rub lasts for about 6 months if the spices you used were fresh and you store it in an airtight container. Before using it shake the bottle or stir it.

How do you get the rub to stick to meat?

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and put the rub on the meat. Yes, some will fall off, but most will stick. For chicken I sometimes lift up the skin and put the rub underneath in addition to on top.

How long should you marinate with a dry rub?

Letting the meat stand with dry rub on it will give the salt some chance to permeate into the meat and add some flavor. You can let it stand, refrigerated, for anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours. Or you can just cook it right away.

What cuts of pork can I use this dry rub on?

This pork rub recipe is great on any cuts of pork. Some of my favorites are pork tenderloin, pork roasts, pork chops, baby back ribs, pork loin, pork shoulder and spare ribs. You can use it on a pre-cooked ham or even sprinkle it on bacon. Pretty much anything goes.

Looking for more homemade spice blends? Try Apple Pie Spice, Pumpkin Pie Spice or Pizza Seasoning.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Sweet Dry Rub

top view of dry rub for pork or chicken

This is an amazing recipe for homemade dry rub that will spice up your meals and enhance the flavor of meats. Use whether you are grilling, air frying or smoking.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoon garlic powder


  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir.
  2. Store the mixture in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
  3. Use to flavor meat cooked on the grill, smoker or air fryer.


This makes Makes about 3/4 cup of spice mix.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 23Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 420mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

sweet pork dry rub in a glass jar
sweet dry rub pin for pinterest

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

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