Making an amazing piece of smoked pork or chicken starts by prepping the meat with the right dry rub recipe, to marinade and add a delicious coating that locks in smokey flavor and juicy goodness. This Traeger pork and poultry rub recipe is perfect for making pulled pork, pork chops, and pork roast.
After smoking, the flavor profile of this spice rub delivers a dash of delicious sweetness from the apple and raw sugar lightly mixed with the flavors of an earthy spice mixture that soaks up and enhances the smokey flavor with a taste that perfectly complements white meats, such as pork and chicken. And this same spice blend is just as perfect for grilling as it is for smoking.
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Though you could pickup the Traeger Pork & Poultry Rub cheaply on Amazon, making your own rubs with this easy yet delicious spice rub recipe at home allows you to bathe your meat in fresher ingredients, free of preservatives and anti-caking agents and filled with more flavor as you grind the rub shortly before use.
Approximately 1/4 cup of each will be sufficient to coat a 5 lb pork shoulder in a pre-coat, for the dry marinade overnight, and a re-coat before smoking, to get that beautiful tasty “Mr Brown” pork shoulder smoking bark.
Read on for this great recipe inspired by the legendary Traeger pork and poultry rub , and tips for making whatever chicken or pork creations you coat and roast turn out amazingly delicious.
Table of Contents
- Quick Instructions for the homemade Traeger pork & poultry rub recipe
- How to Use Your Dry Rub
- Spray Mop Ingredients
- Detailed Instructions for Rubbing and Smoking Your Pork or Chicken
- How to Store for Later Use
Quick Instructions for Making the Traeger Pork and Poultry Rub Recipe, and Smoking Your Meat
Traeger Pork and Poultry Spice Rub Ingredients
- 1/4 Cup Sugar – Dark Brown Sugar or Turbinado sugar ideally, but cane sugar will do
- 1/4 Cup Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Garlic Powder
- 1/4 Cup Ground Onion Powder
- 1/4 Cup Ground Paprika (Smoked Paprika is even better)
- 1 Tbsp Kosher salt, sea salt, or Himalayan salt
- 1 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper (Powdered), or Chili Powder – if you like it spicy.
- Instead of dehydrated apple, we’ll simply spray apple juice (~1 cup) onto the meat, ideally apple cider with apple solids and a bit of tangy taste, during the smoking process for more flavor, a carmelized sweetness, and to keep the meat moist.
- Optionally, add honey to your “spray mop” for additional flavor if you want authentic honey flavor
“Spray Mop” Ingredients, to Add Apple Flavor, Honey Flavor, and a Sweetened Brown “Bark”
- 1 Cup of Apple Juice or Unfiltered Apple Cider
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
This ingredient mixture yields enough rub for about 4 to 6 rounds of dry rub for smoking a 5lb pork shoulder, including rub for overnight marinade, and an additional pre-smoke rub
How to Use Your Dry Rub
- Choose the right cut of meat – big cuts of meat (4lbs+), appropriate for low and slow (pork shoulder, Boston butts, whole chickens, etc.) are best, and should use two coats of rub – a dry marinade, and a pre-smoke coat
- For best results, season meat 24 hours before, refrigerating overnight as a dry rub marinade, and immediately before smoking.
- As a general kitchen rub, poultry rub, and for smaller cuts of meat, one coat may be fine as not to overpower the meat
- Use your honey apple spray “mop” to throw in the apple honey flavor and keep meat moist
Steps for Prepping Your Meat with the Dry Rub
- Grind and blend the ingredients (with spicy ingredients as optional)
- Coat the pork shoulder or chicken 12 to 24 hours in advance, and wrap in cellophane wrap or foil, to hold the rub as close to the meat as possible – refrigerate overnight.
- Prior to smoking, coat the pork or chicken one more time, to impart a thicker “bark” and more flavor to the pork
- Smoke the pork shoulder, pork chops, or chicken as originally planned, being sure to smoke according to the recommended internal temperature for maximum tenderness (190F for any pork), not focusing on time.
Steps for Using Your Honey Apple “Spray Mop”
- Mix your apple juice or apple cider with honey, and place is a convenient spray bottle
- During the smoking process, every 20 to 30 minutes, spray the pork or chicken to keep it moist and add a sweet hint of apple and honey flavor
Detailed Instructions with Tips
Step 1: Blend the spices – Aim for using coarse grind spices, and grind fresh
If you’re using pre-ground spices (instead of coarse grind ingredients) then simply mix the spices in a bowl and stir.
However, I recommend using course grind spices and fine grinding the mix for better flavor, and a more flavorful rub.
Purchasing spice ingredients with a coarse, larger grind, and less contact with the air in the storage process, ensures a fresher spice holding more aroma and flavor in your dry rub. As a result, when the heat of the smoke hits the dry rub, your spices will release more aroma and flavor into the meat.
When bought off the shelf, onion powder and garlic powder run the risk of being near aroma-less and tasting like cardboard. Buying coarse grind onion, garlic, and black pepper, and grinding using a coffee maker ensures you’re getting a little more aroma that is still locked into the spice grinds.
I highly recommend grinding the dry rub mix into a fine powder using a coffee grinder, as it would coat the meat more evenly and release even more flavor.
Once your dry rub is ground, mixed, and fully prepared, store it an airtight container with as little excess air as possible.
One of the best parts about making your own rub is
Step 2: Coat your meat to dry marinade overnight, and once more before smoking
Though you do not need to dry marinade your meat by leaving it coated overnight, doing so does impart even more of the flavor of the rub into your meat. Additionally, giving the rub time to moisten creates a layer of sticky rub that will stay through the process of smoking over 8 to 16 hours, giving a beautiful layer of sweet and savory “bark.”
To coat, simply cover your meat – pork or chicken – completely and liberally with your rub, and wrap it in cellophane wrap, to keep the wettened rub close to the meat. Place in the refrigerator and allow the meat to soak up the flavor for 12 to 24 hours or more.
The following morning, just prior to smoking or grilling, add one more liberal coat to your meat, to fill in any “bald spots” and add more flavor.
Then, smoke as planned – except – use your Apple Cider and Honey spray mop to add extra moisture and flavor.
Step 3: Smoke your meat as planned, and spray with apple cider and honey along the way
The original Traeger Pork and Poultry Rub Recipe calls for everything we have here in our recipe except dehydrated apple and honey – which is why dry rubs made at home can easily be better than anything purchased out of a bottle.
When it comes to cooking, fresher is always better.
Plus, when it comes to smoking and whit meats, Traeger has it right, apple and honey are excellent and almost essential flavors.
So, for this recipe, instead of adding more dehydrated and processed foods, we’ll use our “spray mop” to add back moisture during the cooking process, and coat our meat with a strong hint of delicious honey apple flavor.
To use your honey apple “spray mop” simply wait until your meat starts to develop the dry crust that is in the process of browning, spray your meat liberally every 20 to 30 minutes. In the process, you’ll add back moisture, and your meat’s honey brown “bark” will soak up just enough of the honey apple flavors and a caramelized sweetness.
Why Make Your Own Dry Rub at Home
Though buying a premade rub is easy, making your own dry rub is just as easy, puts you in control of the flavor and spiciness, and can taste even better as you fresh grind your ingredients.
One of the best steps you can take in preparing your dry rub is choosing coarse-grind spices, and fresh herbs and running them through a coffee grinder or spice grinder until fine, immediately before cooking. If you don’t plan to use your rub immediately, a solid flavor-improving hack is mixing your coarse grind ingredients immediately, and waiting until just before you marinade and coat to fine grind the rub in prep for the marinade and smoke.
You can only do this when making your own rub.
- Aim for natural flavor by using natural ingredients
- Shoot for spices to blend with no caking
What types of meat is this rub good for
Due to the mild flavor of this rub, and potentially the low spiciness, the spice rub is perfect for milder meats and delivers excellent flavor without being overpowering, even after hours in the heat and smoke. As such, it is great for any white meat being smoked or grilled.
I’ve used this rub on the following meats with great results.
- Turkey – whole and smoked
- Chicken – whole, or cuts (drums, wings, thighs, breasts, etc.) smoked
- Large pork cuts and fattier pork cuts – Pork shoulder, chops, pork belly and ribs all smoked
- Smaller pork cuts – pork chops
How to Store for Later Use
Now that you have an excellent homemade pork and poultry rub, how do you store it?
My favorite short-term storage option is placing the rub back into the spice containers that I used ingredients from. These oddly make the perfect medium for sprinkling the rub back onto the pork. If you’re a gourmet that loves to cook and feel good equipment, then grab some spice shakers.
For long term storage of your spice rub, use an air tight container with as little space for air as possible.
Contact with air will degrade the flavor and aroma of your rub quicker than anything. To keep the deliciousness and freshness, use heavy duty ziploc freezer bags (for their thicker plastic and seals) or heavy duty airtight containers to store your rub between grill and smoke session.
What Next: Learn how to cook the perfect steak…
Now that you know how to make the perfect cut of smoked pork, its time to learn how to grill the perfect steak, and the first step to making a great steak, is picking the perfect steak.
In our next article we’ll break down the types and grades of steak best to worst to help you start off your grilling fun with the perfect piece of meat.