Whether you’re a pro at the grill or just looking to fire up the BBQ on occasion, having a sugar free BBQ rub for chicken, pork, and beyond is a must! Keep the flavor in your food while keeping it keto friendly at the same time with this general recipe for making a cabinet staple keto BBQ rub!
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If you have been following along with me over the past two years on Instagram or just here on the blog, then you know I LOVE to grill and BBQ! As a low carb and keto recipe developer, finding ways to recreate delicious sugar free keto barbecue sauces and rubs has become a pretty big passion of mine.
I have several keto friendly BBQ sauce recipes here on my site, but realized I have never shared any sugar free rub recipes to go with your favorite foods like smoked ribs, pork chops, or BBQ chicken drumsticks, etc. This recipe is better than a store bought (cheaper too), uses mostly pantry staple spices, and works for so many meals (even off the grill).
The BBQ dry rub recipe is below, but I suggest reading through the post where I break down some tips and tricks to using keto friendly sugar substitutes and provide insight into techniques for applying rubs to different meats.
- Small Bowl
- Spice Grinder (this makes a huge difference in creating a well mixed, fine dry rub)
Are BBQ rubs keto?
Every cook and chef needs to have a good go-to dry rub recipe that you can whip up with pantry staple ingredients. Many store bought rubs are great, but if you follow a low carb or sugar free way of eating, you will find yourself avoiding most pre-made rubs and mixes (because of preservatives, additives, and sugar).
Building your own keto BBQ dry rub is an easy way to avoid the unwanted additives from store bought rubs. It also allows you to customize and create different flavor profiles, like I did here with these Keto Chipotle Ribs. This specific recipe is a great all purpose rub. It’s keto and gluten free as well. Having a small batch of this on hand helps when you’re cooking ribs, fish, chicken and even veggies.
Most standard dry rubs are salt and pepper based. Add in seasonings like garlic powder, some paprika for color and a little cayenne pepper for heat and you have a good base to start with. What makes a rub a BBQ rub specifically is usually the addition of brown sugar.
Using Low Carb Sweeteners-
Sugars in dry rubs for pork or dry rubs for ribs often help with carmelization and creating a nice outer bark that you often want to achieve when smoking meat, not to mention flavor. I’ve spent time working with a variety of low carb sweeteners to achieve a similar affect, with minimal impact to flavor.
In the past I often left out a sweetener replacement altogether, but found that even though it was doable it was just missing that “somethin’ somethin”. Now, there are a lot of low carb sweeteners on the market. I test a lot of my recipes out on non-keto eaters to get their unbiased opinion and really feel like this recipe is honed in.
For most of my keto BBQ sauces, I typically like using my Keto Simple Syrup recipe which is allulose based. Allulose works great for caramelization but doesn’t really add much sweetness in my opinion but it can be an option here.
My go to for rubs however, is Sukrin Gold brown sugar substitute. Out of many different brands and types of sweeteners on the market, this one is my go to that I prefer personally for BBQ.
The trick I have found to cutting that cooling effect you often get from erythritol based sweeteners is to mix all the spices together with the brown sugar substitute and then blend them in a spice grinder.
Making The Rub-
Creating a fine, well mixed spice blend is key here. It helps for even coating while cooking and allows for better overall application of the rub. Combine the spices into a bowl, add the keto brown sugar substitute and whisk it together. Place into a small spice grinder and blend it until its a fine powder.
Applying The Rub-
No matter what meat you are using (pork ribs, chicken wings, pork butt, etc), be sure to always remove excess moisture from the meat. Pork based cooks often need a binder for the rub to adhere to the meat. I usually prefer a little yellow mustard or hot sauce. Apply your rub in a thin even layer, toss with chicken, or sprinkle over shrimp or fish. You can let the rub soak in overnight or use immediately.
Store in an airtight container or glass jar. The rub lasts for a long time and if you find it clumps or cakes together, use a whisk to break it up or pulse it again in a spice grinder briefly. If you have a BBQ lover in your life, these make great gifts too!
Love to BBQ but want to keep it keto? Check out these other recipes –
Keto All Purpose BBQ Rub
- 1/4 cup Keto Brown Sugar Substitute
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Celery Salt
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1. Combine all the ingredients together and whisk together. Add the mixture to a spice grinder and blend it together a few times to create a fine rub.
2. Use as desired over your favorite meat, fish, or poultry. Store the remainder in a airtight container or glass jar.
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