How Do I Choose the Best Pork Shoulder Rub?

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  • Written By: Lakshmi Sandhana
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 11 January 2020
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Choosing the best pork shoulder rub is all about the type of flavor you'd like to impart to the meat. Many prefer a pork shoulder rub that is rich in spices or has an excellent balance of sweet and salty flavors. There's no shortage of rub recipes, and making your own rub with a signature ingredient is very easy. If you plan to check out barbecue rubs in stores, look for a rub that features a combination of salty and sweet flavors. A really great rub can add "bark" to the meat and give it a heavenly flavor.

A great rub can make or break the meat, so experiment with the ingredients you prefer to use first. You can quickly put together a flavorful rub and test it out by tasting it with your finger before seasoning the pork shoulder. To add a bit of bark to the meat, add more sugar. To add heat, use powdered forms of white or black pepper, red chillies, and cayenne pepper.

Shoulders with marbled meat that have a bit of fat in them are truly delicious when smoked, grilled, or roasted with a dry or wet rub. A pork shoulder is a large piece of meat, and quite a few chefs prefer to use meat with the bone. Many believe that the meat is slightly sweeter when it cooks along with the bone.


Some of the popular ingredients for a pork shoulder rub are paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. You can use a mixture of herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage too. Some prefer to use ingredients like all-spice powder, cinnamon powder, lemon pepper, and celery seeds. Oregano, garlic or sea salt, and white or brown sugar are other popular ingredients. To make a really aromatic rub, make your own fresh powders out of spices instead of using store-brought spice powders like pepper and cumin.

Chefs typically use turbinado brown sugar to make a dry pork shoulder rub because it burns at a higher temperature than the regular version. To come up with your own signature rub recipe, experiment with different types of ingredients and quantities. Some even use light cocoa powder or rub the meat with mustard. Aim for a good blend of sweet and salty flavors.

To get really delicious pork meat that falls apart when you touch it, apply the dry pork shoulder rub to the meat a few hours in advance of cooking it. Chefs typically prepare the pork shoulder by scoring the meat with a sharp knife and rubbing salt into it. They apply the special rub after brushing the excess salt off the skin and put liberal amounts of the rub onto the meat, massaging it thoroughly into the scored flesh with their hands.

Letting the meat sit for a few hours before cooking it gives it time to absorb the flavors from the rub. Some even apply more of the rub right before cooking the meat. Leftover pork shoulder rub can be easily stored in a plastic container.



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