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Rodney Scott’s Rib Rub Recipe

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Rodney Scott’s secret spice blend revealed. Learn to create Rodney Scott’s Rib Rub recipe, as told by the pitmaster himself.

In a recent appearance on the Today Show, the James Beard award winner shared the recipe for his rub. This is the dry rub that plays such an important role in Rodney Scott’s BBQ ribs recipe, but Scott notes that it is also excellent on pork, chicken, or poultry.

Ah, but Scott’s dry rub recipe on those ribs mopped with Rodney Scott’s BBQ sauce recipe, a vinegar pepper sauce with a touch of citrus, you get the perfect combination and a true taste of South Carolina barbecue.

Rodney Scott's Ribs with two sides

“It’s a combination of the dry rub and the sauce that makes it,’ Rodney said in an interview with Gourmet Traveler. “We start out dry seasoning and then do our mop sauce.

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I like to layer my rub. My dad was very strict on not too much salt, not too much pepper.

Our mop sauce is a vinegar and pepper sauce with a little citrus in it. It helps to blend the ‘secret love stuff’ that we add to the dry rub.”

It’s that “secret love stuff” that has always foiled those who might try to emulate Rodney Scott’s rib rub recipe. Now, we know the meaning of love.He discusses “love” and a number of other things in this Q&A with Rodney Scott we published in March 2021.

In fact, love is the reason why Rodney Scott’s BBQ earned a spot on our feature entitled “BBQ in Charleston, SC: The Definitive Guide.”

A Little Background

Born in Philadelphia in 1971, Rodney Scott and his parents, Rosie and Ella moved rural South Carolina just a year later.

They settled near Hemingway in a small community named Nesmith and the Scott family became farmers. They grew a few crops and tobacco and raised some hogs as well.

Much of what the young family enjoyed depended on what they grew or raised themselves: butter beans, okra, sweet corn, cucumbers, and more.

If there was meat on the table it was meat that they slaughtered and cleaned for themselves.  On special occasions, the Scotts would cook an entire pig.

In many ways, Rodney’s past is an homage to the origins of barbecue itself.

Scott’s Variety Store

Scott's BBQ in Hemingway
Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway

There was one other thing that helped sustain the Scott family, Scott’s Variety Store. This humble spot was a simple, old country store where they sold gas and other goods.

At some point, the Scotts began cooking a hog or two to make a little extra money. It wasn’t long before two became three and then three became four.

When they opened the store in Hemingway in 1972, there is no way they could have known Scott’s Bar-B-Que would be the fertile ground they built an empire upon.

(Note: Our visit to Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway was the very first review we wrote when starting this site back in the summer of 2012.)

As a youngster, Rodney spent much of his time around those pits. In fact, learning from watching his father and uncle, he cooked his first hog by himself as an 11-year-old.

That young boy would later become an icon, first being written about in the New York Times in 2009, Time Magazine in 2011, and the Washington Post the following year.

Not long after, Rodney left Hemingway to create Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston. Today, he has locations in Alabama and Atlanta.

There’s a reason the national media took notice: whole hog barbecue and Rodney Scott’s BBQ rub recipe helped propel him to stardom.

Hugh Acheson, Rodney Scott, and Maneet Chauhan ất the James Beard Awards. Photo courtesy of Rodney Scott’s BBQ.

That acclaim was not fleeting. In 2018, Scott was awarded Best Chef Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, one of the culinary world’s highest achievements.

Bottle of Rodney Scott's Rib Rub in ashes of fire

Rodney Scott’s Rib Rub

“It’s a combination of the dry rub and the sauce that makes it,” Rodney said of his ribs. “We start out dry seasoning and then do our mop sauce [the sauce used to baste the meat]. I like to layer my rub.”

It is that special combination of Rodney Scott’s Rib Rub recipes and his incredible “mop sauce” recipe that makes his ribs stand out. But Scott takes them one at a time.

Rodney Scott mops ribs with vinegar-based BBQ sauce
Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ. Photo courtesy of Rodney Scott’s BBQ. Angie Mosier, photographer.

“We’ve put it all together in a recipe before, and it still works, but I like to do it one by one so I can see what I’m working with,” he told Gourmet Traveler. “You’d do a salt rub, a pepper rub, a couple of secret ingredient rubs.

“My dad was very strict on not too much salt, not too much pepper. It helps to blend the ‘secret love stuff’ that we add to the dry rub,” Scott finished.

Try this rub on spare ribs or baby backs, (it’s even used in Rodney Scott’s Smoked Turkey Recipe) and you won’t be disappointed…especially if you mop with his sauce as you go. But go lightly on the rub and don’t “rub it in.”

Rodney describes his rub as “potent,” and he suggests you apply it lightly as you see him doing here:

If you have any leftover, it can be used as an all-purpose seasoning for other meats, on potato salad, and more! Stored in an airtight container, Rodney Scott’s rib rub recipe can be kept at room temperature for 6 months.

Rodney Scott's BBQ Rib Rub

Rodney Scott's BBQ Rib Rub

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

A potent and flavor-packed rub that doesn't overpower the meat.


  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 cup MSG
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Mix all of the ingredients and place them in an airtight container. Cover and store in a cool dry place until ready to use.


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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 28784mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 16gSugar: 26gProtein: 8g

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Thursday 17th of March 2022

Can I use this rub for oven barbecue ribs? Thanx for your response

James Roller

Friday 18th of March 2022

@Ginny, I don't see why not. Just remember what he says above: Don't rub it in, just sprinkle it on.


Tuesday 21st of December 2021

Is MSG necessary? Would this recipe be significantly altered omitting it?

James Roller

Thursday 23rd of December 2021

@Bill, that's going to have a kick! I have to apologize (and edit my comment above). I replied to this in my admin dashboard, and I didn't actually read the title completely. I assumed you were talking about his sauce recipe, not the rub recipe. The rub does indeed contain MSG. Will it make a noticable difference? I'm not sure, but I suspect you won't miss what you haven't tried in the first place. I'm confident the rub will be fine without the MSG, but it obviously won't be the same. Let me know how it turns out.


Thursday 23rd of December 2021

@James Roller, thanks. I didn't have any cayenne pepper so I used some of my dried habanero that I grew this year. I also used plenty of salt as a dry brine. I think it will be fine. Smoking pork shoulder

James Roller

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

Not necessary and omitting will not impact the recipe. Looking on the label of his bottled sauce, there is no mention of MSG. I confess to comparing this recipe to the sauce from his parents' place in Hemingway. In retrospect, they are similar but the original is better in my opinion. (Edit: I was mistaken in replying originally, thinking Bill was asking about the sauce recipe. See correction in my reply below.)

Jennifer Pyos

Monday 15th of November 2021

Hi, My is Jennifer from Georgetown south Carolina were can I buy your bbq sauce. Thank you.

James Roller

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

Hey Jennifer. Rodney sells his sauce on his site. That said, if I were you and as someone who lived in Georgetown for 5 years, I would make a drive up to Hemingway and buy the original sauce at Scott's BBQ.

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