Smoking101 - Basis for smoking rubs and BBQ sauces

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dbclark, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. I have been a long time griller and am branching out to smoking.   I can slap a steak on the grill or a roast on my rotisserie and have everyone at the diner table chowing down rather than talking, but for some reason have never tried smoking before last weekend.   My first attempt were baby back ribs which turned out great and had my youngest son coming back for seconds when we usually have to force feed him anything with a bone in it.

    But here is the rub (pun intended) when it comes to smoking......   I am an experimenter and prefer to make my own rubs and sauces.  I am trying to find a source for general "rules" (which I will be sure to break) for creating rubs and sauces.   Basically, what works and does not work with different meats.   For instance, I know that mint is good in preparing lamb but can ruin a good steak or a good orange marmalade is good for a roasted ham but did not work so well on a shoulder roast....... Yea, I tried them both.   I also would assume most of my grilling knowledge will transfer to smoking, but being that I rarely use rubs on my grill and when I do, I will take a commercial rub and add my own tastes to it, I am trying to find general rules for the meats I put in my smoker

    For my ribs this last weekend I used a rub made out of McCormick's Steak House Rub and added sage, scallions additional garlic and red pepper and for my BBQ sauce, I use a combination of Sweet Baby Rays regular sauce and Sweet Baby Rays Spicy and added white vinegar, Worcester sauce and a combination of spices I had laying around.....   What I really would like to develop is a rub with all fresh ingredients and a sauce I can call my own rather than enhance store bought.

    My question or what I am looking for is:

    What are the basic ingredients for rubs for pork, ham, beef, ribs, butt etc....?

    What should I use for glazes or do you even glaze for smoking? 

    What other things can I add to my smoking recipes?

    I am not looking for recipes as much as I am basic considerations for my own concoctions.   What are the ingredients I need to buy in bulk rather than a 2 oz spice bottle?   When do I use apple juice instead of white vinegar?    When should I go sweet rather than spicy?  And most importantly, what to use with the specific meat of the day?

    Finally, if there is a good book on this topic, please recommend.  So far, I have not found any that are what I am looking for.

    thanks in advance for your help and recommendations.

    Dan Clark

  2. Oh... and I almost forgot.... what smoke is best for what meat?    My ribs were great with Mesquite smoke, but understand from reading that it might be too strong a smoke for some meats.   I have a cherry tree I cut down last fall that I am told makes good smoke, so when is best to use cherry or apple?

    Thanks again.

  3. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Welcome DB. You'll have a flood of response here , smoking is similar to grilling only slower ,you know that, but the mix of rubs is wather a personal taste.

    Basically, gather the flavors and try on cheap meat ,Chix or Burger, or Lamb , etc. I like southwest flavors and use chilies , Clove ,Mex. Oregano , etc., etc.   The end product is up to you and what you like .

    Wood I use is all local , it's cheaper and better. You should have some Fruit and Nut Trees around , you  and you'll not spread Bugs or diseases to trees. Your Cherry will go great with PIG , the Mesquite mixed with ,say Oak for red meat and Game gets Mesquite when I have it ; I'm frotunate to be where I can find most any wood just riding around, and for free a lot of the time.

    But hold -on ,the gates will open in a bit and answers of all kinds will overwhelm you.

    Have fun and...
  4. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    My advice is to use the search bar at the top and read a lot. There are thousands of threads and posts on here and I'm sure you will find answers to your questions. If you're just looking for basic ingredients then after reading a bunch of recipes you will start to see a pattern.

    Here is a list of woods and what they are good for:

    I see this is your first post here, when you get a minute would you do us a favor and go to "Roll Call" and introduce yourself so we can get to know you and give you a proper welcome, also would you add your location to your profile, we like knowing where you are when we talk to you, Thanks!
  5. Dan hello and welcome.

    Did you sign up for the e-class and newsletter?

    Has a lot of great info...Also do a search for "Rubs" I'm am just learning what goes with what and trying to make my own. Good luck
  6. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    A basic list of ingredients for BBQ rubs-

    Turbinado sugar

    Kosher salt(or sea salt)


    Chili powder

    Granulated garlic

    Granulated onion

    Black pepper

    Cayenne pepper



    Other herbs and spices to consider-



    Five spice powder



    Dry mustared


    White pepper

    Crushed red pepper

    Buying in bulk is not nessecary but freshness is, those 2oz containers may not be the freshest around. There are many places that sell fresh herbs and spices, try to find one in your area.

    I use apple cider vinegar and apple juice in the sauce I make for pork and chicken. Sweet and spicy is a good combo IMHO. Sweet, spicy and tangy with vinegar is even better.

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