Memphis-Style Spice Rub

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  1 cup
Prep Time:  10 minutes Cook Time:  0 minutes

Memphis-Style Spice Rub

For oven-baked chicken, ribs, tofu, tempeh or even a brisket, using this dry rub will have you imagining your stay in Memphis—planning your trip to Graceland, dreaming of the downtown trolley cars that take you to the Beale Street bars and thinking about your visit to the Civil Rights Museum. Now, if you are a smoker maven and you plan on smoking your meat, go for it! Simply omit the smoked paprika and substitute more traditional paprika, and then hot-smoke over very low, indirect heat so that the sugar will not burn, but subtly caramelize. The secret to this rub is the tamarind powder, a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce. It adds a tang that just can’t be replicated by anything else. You can find it online and in Indian, Caribbean, and Asian markets.


3 tablespoons sweet paprika

3 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika

⅓ cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons dry mustard, mild preferred

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons granulated onion

1½ teaspoons celery seeds

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon adobo spice mix

1 teaspoon tamarind powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground allspice


  1. Combine the sweet paprika, smoked paprika, brown sugar, mustard powder, granulated garlic, salt, granulated onion, celery seed, black pepper, adobo spice mix, tamarind powder, cinnamon, and allspice in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir well to combine fully. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and cover. This mixture will keep for about 1 month, but it’s best for the first 2 weeks.

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