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Rodney Scott’s Rib Rub Recipe

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Two Bottles of Rodney Scott's Rib Rub
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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 he uses on ribs, 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 holding rack of ribs over pit.
Rodney Scott holding a rack of ribs over his pit.

“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.

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.

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.

Whole hogs smoking on the Pit at Scott's BBQ Hemingway
Whole hogs smoking on the Pit at Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway.

Scott’s Variety Store

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.

Scott's Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, SC
Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, SC

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 coming soon to 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.

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.

At the James Beard Awards, Rodney Scott named winner as Best Chef Southeast.
At the James Beard Awards, Rodney Scott named winner as Best Chef Southeast.

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.

“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, 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.

Two Bottles of Rodney Scott's Rib Rub

Rodney Scott’s BBQ Rib Rub

A flavor-packed rub that doesn't overpower the meat.
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Check out our SCBBQ Cookbook!Authentic SCBBQ Recipes: Going Whole Hog!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Main course
Cuisine: Barbecue, BBQ, Southern
Keyword: Ribs, Rodney Scott, Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Rub, Scott’s BBQ
Servings: 2
Calories: 707kcal


  • 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


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



Calories: 707kcal | Carbohydrates: 160g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 57623mg | Potassium: 2997mg | Fiber: 49g | Sugar: 62g | Vitamin A: 31991IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 666mg | Iron: 24mg
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Rodney Scott’s Cookbook, World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day

Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day will be published in hardcover and digital format and will be released on March 16, 2021. You can pre-order this right now

In Rodney Scott’s cookbook, he shares what makes his award-winning whole hog so special. In addition, he shares insights about his pit-smoked turkey, barbecued spare ribs, smoked chicken wings, hush puppies, and Ella’s Banana Puddin’. 

More importantly, whether you’re a barbecue pro or a novice, Scott’s recipes will enable you to create these special flavors yourself.

In addition, details about building your own pit coupled with deeply felt essays on South Carolina’s culinary traditions make this more than a simple collection of recipes. 

Rodney Scott flipping whole hog on pit
Rodney Scott flipping whole hog on pit

“It is also a powerful work of storytelling. In this modern American success story, Rodney details how he made his way from the small town where he worked for his father in the tobacco fields and in the smokehouse, to the sacrifices he made to grow his family’s business and the tough decisions he made to venture out on his own in Charleston.”

Rodney Scott’s cookbook is an inspirational story that reveals how “hope, hard work, and a whole lot of optimism” enabled Scott to become one of SC’s most beloved pitmasters.

Rodney Scott’s Recipes

You don’t have to wait for the Rodney Scott’s cookbook to make some of his recipes today.

While he has not shared many recipes over the years, here is one you might enjoy making in the meantime. Rodney shared this recipe for the collard greens from Rodney Scott’s BBQ

In order to make those greens, you’ll need Rodney Scott’s BBQ sauce recipe.

And while you’re at it, you might as well throw together Scott’s “potent” rib rub recipe.

And if you’re a fan of SCBBQ, check out our SCBBQ cookbook which includes this and other recipes from Rodney Scott.

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