Last Updated on: 5th November 2022, 01:45 am
Rubs are applied to ribs while smoking to improve the flavor .
These help us achieve a good crispy bark along with enhancing the flavor of ribs.
But there are many misconceptions when it comes to applying rub on ribs .
One of these misconceptions is when to apply rubs when smoking. Smoking is a sensitive process, and a simple flaw can lead to bad flavor.
In this article we are going to explain to you all the ins and outs of applying rub on ribs.
There is no simple answer to the question of when is the best time to rub your ribs.
Different pitmasters have different opinions on this , but in our opinion , rubbing time for ribs when smoking can range from 15 minutes to 8 hours.
Being a passionate pitmaster, I often find myself among such situations.
I personally prefer to rub ribs for 15 minutes to 2 hours when using a dry rub and 2 to 6 hours when using a wet rub.
You should preferably take into account the rib texture before deciding on rub time.
Rub time for ribs is a personal choice. There is no hard and fast rule for this .
You should try different ranges and select the one that you like. But it’s better to start by applying for less time and then increase the time if you want to.
Some people even prefer to rub ribs the night before smoking them to allow the ribs to properly absorb the flavor.
But in our opinion, rubbing ribs overnight is not necessary because usually the rubs sink into the pores of the ribs when they are heated.
Factors affecting rub time
Rub time is a really controversial topic in the smoking space, and many pitmasters have different opinions on this.
different type of meats like,ribs turkey and brisket have different rub time.
There are various factors that affect the rub time of ribs while smoking.
These factors usually include rib texture and rub type.
If you are going to smoke stiff ribs, then you may need to apply rub for more time because it will take more time for the rub to properly sink into the ribs.
Rub time for such ribs can range from 3 hours to 8 hours.
Similarly, if you are applying rub on lean and soft ribs, then it’s better to apply rub for a shorter duration because applying rub for too long can affect the appearance of ribs.
Some people even prefer applying rub just before placing it into the smoker.
But it’s better to give it some time so that the rub should sink in and stick properly to the rib surface.
The rub time for lean ribs like chicken can range from 10 minutes to 6 hours .
It will give the rub enough time to sink in without affecting the appearance of the ribs.
The quality of rub is as important as any other factor. you should make sure that your rub is not clumped when applying it onto the ribs. here is a complete guide on avoiding the clumping of rub.
When deciding the rub time , you should consider taking into account the rub type that you are planning to use.
There are two main types of rubs used in smoking : dry rub and wet rub.
Both of these require different amounts of time to sink in properly.
When to apply dry rub
As is obvious by the name, dry rub is dry and is rubbed onto the ribs to get a better flavor and produce a good bark on the ribs.
The most common rub time for a dry rub can range from 10 minutes to 2 hours.
Some pitmasters prefer to apply dry rub for a longer time to give it proper time to sink in.
But in our opinion, giving more time is not needed because dry rub sinks into the ribs when the ribs are heated and the pores of the ribs open.
After opening the pores of the ribs , the rub sinks in and sticks to the surface of the ribs .
Giving more time while applying dry rub can make the ribs reddish.
The appearance of the smoked ribs is as important as the flavor.
You can apply a dry rub on lean and soft ribs just before placing them in the smoker.
To make sure that the rub properly seeps in ,it’s best to give at least 10 minutes before placing it into the smoker.
However, applying dry rub on the hard ribs is tricky.
Hard ribs are stiff and dry rubbed can stay on the superficial surface, due to which the deeper ribs can become tasteless.
So it is better to give it a bit longer time to let the rub stick to the ribs properly and seep in as deep as possible.
Dry rubs are applied to the ribs to increase the flavor and get a good crispy bark.
There is no hard and fast rule for the dry rub time, but you should give it enough time to stick to the ribs properly.
If you are in a hurry, then you are good to go with applying the rub just 10 minutes prior to placing it into the smoker.
For a better flavor of the rub , you should consider applying it dry to the ribs for around 2 hours to allow the dry rub to stick to the surface of the ribs and sink in properly to increase the flavor.
When to apply a wet rub
The second type of rub that is used most commonly when smoking hard ribs is wet rub.
As is obvious by the name, it is in liquid form and the ribs are submerged into it to allow the rub to seep into the ribs properly.
It is also used to increase the flavor of ribs .
It doesn’t have much effect on the texture of bark, but it is usually used to increase the tenderness of ribs.
So it requires more time to sink into the ribs and increase its moisture.
A wet rub is usually used on the hard ribs because the hard ribs can dry out when smoked for a long time.
The sweet spot for wet rub time can range from 2 hours to 8 hours because it takes more time for the wet rub to seep in and stick to the ribs.
In contrast to the dry rub, the wet rub needs to seep into the ribs to perform its function properly.
If wet rub is applied for a shorter time, then it might not sink properly into the ribs .
Ribs can dry out if the smoking process is prolonged.
Similarly, you also can’t apply wet rub for too long because it can result in a messy shape of the ribs because of the different ingredients used in wet rub, e. g.vinegar.
A good range for applying wet rub on ribs is 2–8 hours, which allows enough time for the wet rub to sink into the ribs without affecting the appearance of the ribs.
When to put rub on chicken before smoking
There is no black and white answer to the question of what is the right time to apply rub on your chicken .
Different pitmasters have different opinions on this , but in our opinion , rubbing time for chicken when smoking can range from 10 minutes to 6 hours.
Being a passionate pitmaster, I often find myself in such situations.
I personally prefer to rub chicken for 10 minutes to 2 hours when using a dry rub and 2 to 6 hours when using a wet rub.
You should preferably take into account the meat texture before deciding on rub time.
for a detailed guide, consider checking our detailed article on When to put rub on chicken before smoking
Can you leave a rub on too long?
There is no black and white answer to this question because many people have different opinions over time.
So a long time for you may be a normal rub time for someone who wants to get more flavor from the rub than ribs.
- Typically, you should apply the rub to your ribs for 10 minutes to 6 hours.
But it’s a personal choice to apply for an even longer time.
- It depends on whether you want to enjoy ribs’ flavor or if you are using ribs as a carrier to enjoy rub flavor.
- It’s often known that applying the rub for more time results in more flavor .But it can affect the appearance of the ribs if left for too long.
- You should consider taking this into account because no one wants to taste a delicious cut of ribs that looks messy.
- Furthermore, applying rub for an extended period of time can result in the conversion of the rub to a paste-like structure.
The rub absorbs the internal moisture of ribs , due to which ribs can dry out during the smoking process.
- Sometimes you should consider that less is more. Because if you rub lean and soft ribs for a long time, then you may end up with reddish ribs along with more flavor of rub than ribs.
In either case, you can’t go wrong with it.
If you are still interested in applying rub for a longer time, then you should consider the following points.
- First, you should consider using a rub with a low salt content because if the salt content is higher, it can result in absorbing the moisture of ribs
- due to which ribs can dry out during the smoking process.
- Secondly, you should only apply rub for a longer time if you are smoking hard and thick ribs.
Because lean ribs don’t require much time and applying rub for more time on the thick ribs often results in enhancing the flavor of ribs.
Personally, we would recommend always being careful about rub time because it can enhance or destroy the flavor of ribs.
You should consider applying the rub at the appropriate time to get the best flavor possible.
When deciding the rub time for ribs, you should consider taking into account both the rub type and the rib texture as mentioned above.
However, if the weather is bad, you should not leave the rub on your ribs for too long.
Do you put rub on both sides of the ribs?
The simple and straightforward answer to this question will always be “yes,” because everyone wants to have the same flavor in every bit of the ribs.
Even if you mistakenly leave a piece of ribs without rubbing it in, it may feel tasteless when it goes into your mouth.
But you should not only restrict yourself to two sides of ribs because some chunks of thick ribs like brisket can have more than two sides .
So you will have to apply the rub all around to smoked ribs with the same flavor in every bit.
Lean ribs don’t involve much complexity because they have less surface area and you can easily rub them to get a better flavor.
The real problem is faced when rubbing hard ribs because it can have multiple sides and the rub may not seep in.
The best method to apply rub on ribs with irregular shapes is to simply place them into a jar of wet rub.
It will allow each and every bit of rib to absorb the rub equally without the issue of leaving any side without rub.
Can you leave a rub on the ribs overnight?
There is no black and white answer to this question because many pitmasters have different opinions over how long to leave the rub on the ribs.
However, there are no negative consequences to leaving rubbed on ribs overnight.
Rub time on ribs is a personal choice.
You should consider testing different rub times and choosing the one that suits you .
Leaving the rub overnight can surely result in more flavor of the rub and less flavor of the ribs.
Personally, I don’t prefer to leave the rub overnight because it doesn’t have much effect on the flavor of the ribs.
The rub actually seeps in when the ribs are heated and the ribs are poured out.
You can leave overnight if you are not able to smoke right away.
Ribs can be left overnight if you want to enjoy the intense flavor of rub, but you should keep in mind that it will result in less flavor of meat.
When rubbing overnight, you should consider applying the rub for a maximum of 12 hours, because after that the rub will start affecting the appearance and texture of the ribs.
How to store wet rub
When it comes to wet rubbing, it’s very sensitive and can’t last for a long time.
You should preferably make enough wet rub to be used only once .
The wet rub can only remain in its original shape for a few hours.
If you are somehow left with a huge amount of unused wet rub that you can’t afford to discard, then you should consider storing it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.
Even then, it can only last for a few days .
How to store dry rub
Dry rubs are frequently unused because they are prepared in excess of what is required.
So you may consider storing the leftovers of the rub to be used for the next smoking process.
But while doing so, you should consider removing the mixture of rub that has come in contact with ribs or is wet in texture.
because these can clump over time and affect the texture of the rub. you can read our guide on How do I keep my rub from clumping? for more information
When it comes to storing dry rub ,you can store dry rub in an airtight jar so that the rub should retain its flavor over time .
The dried can last for 6 months or even a year if stored properly.
After that, its flavor will fade.
Should you use olive oil before a dry rub?
Another misconception related to applying rub on ribs is whether you should apply olive oil onto the ribs before the dry rub or not.
The short answer to this question will always be yes, because it helps stick the rub to the rib surface.
Applying olive oil to the ribs before a dry rub is a personal choice .
Some people prefer using mustard in place of olive oil.
You can use any of the above materials because the main purpose of them is just to help rub stick to the surface of the ribs.
In our personal opinion, olive oil is better than mustard because it is easy to apply and, in addition to helping rub the ribs’ surface, it also helps to increase the moisture content of the ribs and prevent them from drying out.
The right way to apply olive oil onto the ribs is just to apply it in an excess amount on the surface of the ribs and massage them properly.
After that, you can just move on to applying your dry rub and smoking the ribs as planned.
How long before smoking should I put the rub on?
Now that we have discussed most of the miscommunication related to rub time, you may be thinking how long before I put rub on the ribs.
Rub time can range from 10 minutes to 2 hours for lean ribs and 2 hours to overnight for hard ribs.
Hard ribs require more time because the primary function of the wet rub applied on them is to increase the moisture content of ribs and avoid them drying out during smoking.
So it requires more time to seep in and perform its function properly.
For soft ribs , the rub time is lower because the dry rub is applied on soft ribs to get a good bark on the ribs.
So we don’t need to wait for it to sink in , rather it stays on the surface of the ribs and sinks in when it is exposed to heat.
Can you leave a dry rub on the ribs overnight?
When using dry rub, there are no benefits to leaving the rub overnight because dry rub is applied to get good bark and it usually stays on the surface of the ribs.
Applying dry rub for more time can make the appearance more reddish.
it is better to apply rub on ribs only few hours before smoking. it will make your rub more flavorful and avoid affecting its appearance.
Can you leave a wet rub on the ribs overnight?
Usually, wet rub is left overnight because it requires more time to seep into the ribs.
A wet rub is applied to increase the tenderness and moisture of the ribs .
So if you give it more time to rub ,then it will result in more moisture in the ribs, and the ribs will not dry out during smoking.
There is no right or wrong time about when to rub ribs before smoking.
You can apply rub for around 15 minutes to 6 hours or even longer if you want to. You should preferably test different rub times yourself and decide what suits you
You should keep in mind that overnight rubbing will not increase the flavor of ribs .
In our experience the taste of ribs rubbed overnight and the one rubbed for couple of hours is just the same.
But rubbing overnight doesn’t demage the flavor either. It’s your personal decision to select which one to go with.
if you are interested in learning more then make sure to check our article on When to rub meat before smoking
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