Low Carb BBQ Dry Rub & Grilling Tips

By Laura Mack
July 14, 2016 

If you love the flavors of barbecue, this fast and simple Low Carb BBQ Dry Rub is truly a pantry essential. You may have seen it before in one of our first posts, Crispy Baked Chicken with BBQ Dry Rub. Now, with summer in full swing, the grilling is easy, and we thought it was time to give the rub ‘star billing’ in its own post.

Here’s a comment about our Low Carb BBQ Dry Rub from one of our readers, Eddy C.:

“Made this rub, used it on pork chops that I grilled. OMG! It was fantastic! I’ll be making wings and ribs for the 4th can’t wait to taste them!”

There are lots of packaged rubs and spice mixes on the market, but the problem with many, if not most, of them, is that they contain sugar (at best), as well as other questionable additives, such as wheat/gluten derivatives and MSG (at worst). A bonus is that you’ll spend a lot less when you make it yourself, but the best reason is that you control what goes into it (and your body). And you can tweak the ingredients to suit your taste, such as more or less salt, sweetener, or spice.

The rub includes xylitol for a touch of the sweet-salty balance traditionally found in barbecue. Deb and I use xylitol (birch-derived and made in the USA) for most of our applications that would use sugar (we start with a 1-to-1 ratio and adjust from there). We prefer the taste to some of the other low carb natural sweeteners, and it doesn’t seem to affect our blood glucose or cause cravings. If you have a different sweetener that you prefer, go ahead and use that or leave it out altogether. If you leave it out, you’ll probably want to reduce the quantity of salt to taste.

This recipe makes about 1 1/4 cups, which is enough for about 15 pounds of meat, but the rub is great to have on hand for all kinds of things such as ribs, steaks, burgers, chicken, and seafood. I even sprinkle it over pork rinds for a tasty snack from time to time. The point is, you’re likely to use up every last bit of the rub sooner than you think and you’ll be making a double batch (like I do) the next time!

Deb and I have been using this Low Carb BBQ Dry Rub a lot lately and you’ll be seeing more recipes from me soon that will incorporate it. For so many grilling applications, however, you don’t need really need a recipe, just a few tips.

  • Make sure the surface of the protein is dry. Blot with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
  • If the protein is lean, drizzle some avocado oil over it and toss to coat thoroughly before adding the rub. This will help keep lean proteins from sticking to the grill.
  • Generously sprinkle the dry rub on all sides and pat to adhere the rub to the surfaces. Let the protein sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes before grilling. This will help it cook more evenly.
    • If the cut is on the thinner side (1/2″ or less) or you’re working with seafood, I recommend a 20 to 30-minute rest instead. Now, if you’re in a big hurry, you can sprinkle on the rub shortly before grilling, but the long rest will give it more time for the flavors to absorb into the surface.
    • I don’t recommend letting it rest with the rub longer than about 60 minutes or the salt will draw too much moisture out of the meat. If you do notice surface moisture after the rest, blot the surface gently with a paper towel before placing the item on the grill.
  • Make sure that your grill is clean. Turn the flame on high, lid closed, and let it heat up for 10 to 15 minutes. Then run a wire brush over the surface of the grates to remove any residue. If the item I’m preparing to grill is delicate or prone to sticking (seafood, leaner cuts), I fold up a couple of paper towels into a wad and, using tongs, generously dip the wad in avocado oil and run it along the surface of the hot, clean grates to further help prevent sticking.
  • Once you place the item on the grill, shut the lid and give the item at least 3 minutes on the grill before you try to move it. If you try to turn it too soon, it will not release easily and can tear. Thinner items might take only a few extra minutes on the second side to finish cooking.
  • If you have thicker items, it is helpful to use indirect heat to finish cooking so that the outside doesn’t burn. This method is also helpful if you are grilling fattier items that cause flame-ups.
  • I rely on a thermometer to know when to pull an item from the grill. (Two of my favorite instant-read thermometers: Thermapen and Thermopop.) Many people just guess at doneness, but if I’m going to spend the money and time to prepare a good piece of meat or seafood, the last thing I want to do is over- or under-cook it. (Do avoid cutting into the middle to check  — the juices will run out!) Here’s a temperature chart you can use for reference.
    • Larger items, such as thick steaks or chunks of chicken will continue to cook for a bit even after they are removed from the heat (“carryover cooking”), so you’ll want to remove the item when it’s 5 to 10 degrees lower than the desired finished temperature.
  • The thicker the item, the more important it is to let it rest, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing or serving. This gives the juices time to redistribute throughout the meat. If you cut into it too soon, the lovely juices will escape and leave the item drier than it should be.
    • Smaller items, such as thinner burger patties, skewers, sausages, and seafood don’t usually need to rest before serving.
  • If you’re going to use a sauce, such as our Our Favorite Low Carb Barbecue Sauce, you’ll want to brush it on the already-seared item in the last few minutes of cooking. Of course, it’s always nice to serve extra sauce on the side, too!

For great flavor, as well as minimal time in the kitchen, nothing beats grilling. It’s my go-to way of cooking in the summer. I may not be a pitmaster, but I’m a big fan of the art of barbecue. Nothing gets my mouth watering like the scent of meat on the grill, carnivore that I am!

We’d love to hear about your favorite ways to use our Low Carb BBQ Dry Rub, as well as your tips for grilling.

Low Carb BBQ Dry Rub & Grilling Tips

Author: Laura Mack
Prep time:  5 mins
Total time:  5 mins
Serves: 60

Print the Recipe

If you love the flavors of barbecue, this fast and simple low carb BBQ Dry Rub is truly a pantry essential. Perfect for grilling or oven barbecue!


¼ cup kosher sea salt

¼ cup chili powder

¼ cup smoked Spanish paprika, sweet

¼ cup xylitol (or your choice of sugar equivalent)

2 tablespoons garlic powder

4 teaspoons dry mustard powder

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, if you like it spicy!), more or less to taste


  1. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Store, tightly covered, in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months.


Nutritional info* for a 1 teaspoon portion: 7 cal, 0.2 g total fat (36%), 1.0 g total carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 0.5 g net carbs, and 0.3 g protein. Please note that I do not count the sugar alcohols from xylitol in the total or net carbs.

*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.

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