Best Tennessee BBQ Dry Rub Recipe (sugar-free, Keto)

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This sugar-free, keto-friendly Tennessee dry rub is perfect for adding a spicy-sweet kick to your favorite meats. Made with classic ingredients like paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper, this versatile dry rub is sure to take your dishes to the next level without adding unnecessary sugars or carbs.

bbq rub in a gold measuring cup.

Tennessee BBQ Dry Rub is my sugar-free version of Memphis dry rub seasoning. I moved to Tennessee in 1998 and have since developed a love for all things BBQ! Memphis, Tennessee, is known for its barbecue, perfected over generations. In the early days of Memphis-style barbecue, pitmasters would smoke their meats without any seasoning or sauce, allowing the meat’s natural flavors to shine through. Later, they began experimenting with spices to add more depth and complexity to the taste of the meat. It is used to season all types of meat, including pork ribs, beef ribs, chicken wings, and even pork belly.

Why You’ll Tennessee Dry Rub

If you’re looking for a dry rub that will give your ribs or other meats a unique and fantastic flavor, this sugar-free, keto-friendly Tennessee dry rub is the perfect addition to your low-carb barbecue menu. This seasoning blend is made with classic ingredients like smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Some dry rubs contain sugar; this recipe uses a brown sugar substitute. It gives it a delicious smoky sweet flavor. It is perfect for adding a spicy kick to your favorite meats without adding unnecessary sugars or carbs.

Ingredients Needed

Just a few simple pantry staples are needed to make BBQ dry rub:

Brown Sugar Substitute

Smoked paprika

Black pepper

Ground cumin

Dried Oregano


Onion powder

Cayenne pepper

How To Make Sugar-free Dry Rub

Add all the spices to the bowl or mason jar.

Stir or shake everything together until well combined.

Pro Tips

Spices lose their flavor over time, so make sure to use
fresh spices for the best taste.

Make a double batch: BBQ rubs can be made in large batches and stored for future use. This is a great way to save time so that you always have a flavorful seasoning on hand.

You can adjust the heat level and flavor of the rub by changing the amount of cayenne pepper or chili powder. For a milder rub, reduce the amount of these spices, or for a spicier rub, increase the amount.

Uses for BBQ Dry Rub

Tennessee dry rub can be used on a variety of meats, but it is especially popular on pork and brisket. It also works well on beef ribs, pork chops, pork shoulder, and fish. The combination of savory and spicy flavors in the dry rub is an excellent complement to the natural flavors of the meat. My family loves the rub on chicken wings!

Here are some more uses:

  • Sprinkle rub on roasted vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini and squash for an added layer of delicious flavor.
  • Add Tennessee dry rub to soups and stews to enhance their flavor.
  • Add some spice to your scrambled or fried eggs by sprinkling them with dry rub seasoning.
  • Add a sprinkle of dry rub to your favorite stir-fry recipe for added flavor and complexity.
  • Mix a bit of dry rub into your favorite meatloaf mixture for a unique twist on this classic comfort food.
  • Combine dry rub with oil and vinegar to create a delicious marinade for meats.

Storage Instructions

By storing your homemade BBQ Dry Rub properly, you can ensure it stays fresh and flavorful for as long as possible.

Store your tg in an air-tight container to keep it fresh and flavorful. A small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid or a plastic container with a snap-on lid works well.

Keep it in a cool, dark, dry place like a pantry or spice cabinet. Exposure to light and heat can cause the spices to lose their flavor more quickly.

Date and Label – To keep track of the freshness of your taco seasoning mix, be sure to label the container with the date you made the seasoning. Spice mixes can lose their potency over time, so it’s best to use your seasoning within six months to a year

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this rub spicy?

This rub does have a bit of heat, thanks to the cayenne pepper, but it’s not overly spicy. The brown sugar substitute helps cut the heat. If you’re sensitive to heat, you can reduce the cayenne chili powder in the recipe.

Should I apply the dry rub right before cooking or let it sit on the meat for a while?

It’s best to apply the dry rub at least 30 minutes before cooking and up to 24 hours beforehand. This allows the flavors to fully penetrate the meat, creating a more delicious and flavorful taste.

Is this dry rub sugar free and gluten free?

This Tennessee dry rub recipe is sugar-free and contains no gluten-containing ingredients. However, it’s always best to double-check your ingredients to ensure they do not contain gluten.

If you love down-home southern cooking, Check out my Southern Keto cookbooks! I’ve written 3 cookbooks that have over 300 fabulous recipes in them. As always, they use easy-to-find ingredients.

bbq rub in a gold measuring cup.

Best Tennessee BBQ Dry Rub Recipe (sugar-free, Keto)

This sugar-free, keto-friendly Tennessee dry rub is perfect for adding a spicy-sweet kick to your favorite meats. Made with classic ingredients like paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper, this versatile dry rub is sure to take your dishes to the next level without adding unnecessary sugars or carbs.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Seasoning
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Calories: 44kcal


  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar substitute
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • In a small bowl, stir the ingredients together until well combined. Store in a jar with a lid. Shake before use.


Net carbs 4.7g
Nutritional information is for entire recipe: 1/4 cup dry rub
Tried this recipe?Mention @ketoislife or tag #natashassouthernflavor!


Calories: 44kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1.5g | Fiber: 4.3g

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is included as a courtesy and is calculated to the best of my ability, using my preferred brands. I recommend calculation your own macros, as they can widely vary depending on the brands of ingredients you use.

Author: Natasha Newton (Natasha's Southern Flavor)
Natasha is the founder of Natasha’s Southern Flavor. She has a passion for sharing delicious family friendly low-carb recipes that are easy to make and use readily accessible ingredients. Natasha has published three bestselling cookbooks. Her books and recipes have been featured by CNET, Delish, Mindbodygreen, Parade and Women’s Health. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, two adult children, and three furbabies.
Read more about Natasha here.

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