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Memphis Pulled Pork Rub

Amp up your pulled pork game by using my Memphis Pulled Pork Rub. You’ll be glad you did!

Memphis BBQ

If you know Memphis Barbecue, you know how important the rub is for the meat. This barbecue style is all about pork, particularly roasts like pork shoulder and ribs. This Memphis Pulled Pork rub is one of the most important factors for producing a savory, delicious smoked pork butt.

What you’ll need to make our Memphis Pulled Pork Rub

  1. Paprika: We are looking for regular paprika. Do not use smoked paprika or any other variation for this recipe.
  2. Chili Powder: Use American-style chili powder for this recipe.
  3. Coarse salt and black pepper: Kosher or sea salt works great. Fine ground black pepper.
  4. Dark brown sugar: This type of brown sugar contains more molasses. The deep rich flavor shines in this pulled pork rub.
  5. Onion powder
  6. Granulated garlic: I recommend using granulated garlic in BBQ rubs because it does not form clumps. However, if you do not have any on hand, then substitute with garlic powder.
  7. Dried oregano
  8. Celery seeds: This is an important addition to our Memphis pulled pork rub. Not only do celery seeds work well with pork, but it gives this rub a subtle citrus note. We recommend grinding the celery seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder before using. You can also find celery seed powder in some local chains and online retail shops. Of course, this is merely a suggestion. If you’d like to use whole celery seeds, then give it a go!
  9. Cumin powder: This spice offers a nice earthy, aromatic flavor that works well with the chili powder to form a solid foundation for the rub.

How to make this Memphis Pulled Pork Rub.

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized bowl. Use a fork or a small whisk to break apart any clumps that might form. Some folks place their rubs in a food processor and pulse a few times to create a uniform rub.
  2. Use this Memphis pulled pork rub right away, or store it in an airtight container in a cupboard for up to 1 year.

If you are a visual learner, please watch my step by step video below.

How to use Memphis rub

I like to apply my BBQ rubs by hand, but some folks prefer to transfer their homemade spice mixture into a Metal Spice Shaker and apply it that way.

You can coat your pork shoulder in a thin layer of mustard before sprinkling on the rub. However you choose to do this, make sure all of the exposed meat surfaces are well coated. Once this step is complete, you can take your pork roast to the smoker!

Memphis Pulled Pork Rub

Memphis Pulled Pork Rub

If you know Memphis Barbecue, you know how important the rub is for the met. Memphis style traditionally does not rely much on sauces for flavor. This Memphis Pulled Pork rub is one of the most important factors for a savory, delicious, smoked pork.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Rubs
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: pork rub, pulled pork, pulled pork rub
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes


  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder


  • In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients listed above. Apply onto all exposed surfaces of pork butt or shoulder cuts. If making ahead of time, store in an air tight plastic container or jar (with the lid on tight), in a cupboard for up to 6 months after preparation. Discard any rub that has come into contact with raw meat.
  • This recipe makes enough for 1 large pork roast. Double or triple the recipe based on your cooking needs.


Photo by: Sabrina Baksh

Not the Pulled Pork Rub you were looking for? Try looking at my list of the Best Pulled Pork Rub Recipes! Or check out our recipe for making pulled pork on a pellet grill.

Back of House Ltd. Metal Dredge Shaker

Apply your spice rubs like a professional with a spice shaker (aka Dredge). This one from Winware has a heavy build, is machine washable, and holds plenty of spice rub. Plus it costs about $7. Just make sure you don’t use this to store your rubs. It isn’t airtight.

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