Rub Potion Number Swine

Sam Jones Rub

We’ve done whole hog all our lives. It doesn’t take much more seasoning than salt and a little sauce at the end. Barbecue rubs were never something we had lying around the kitchen.

When we opened Sam Jones BBQ, we were cook- ing things besides the whole hogs we’d done at Skylight. We added spare ribs, turkey breast, and chicken, and we needed a barbecue rub to season them. I’ll let Michael Letchworth explain how he developed the one we use today. He calls it Rub Potion Number Swine:

I was playing around on a new pit I’d built in the backyard, cooking ribs and chicken. I was spending a fortune on commercial rubs at the grocery store, so I asked my friend, Reid McMillan, for a rub recipe. His was kinda hot, and it had more stuff in it than I had at home. I’d never tasted celery salt. I pulled all the stuff out of my cabinet that qualified for a rub. I started writing down the mixtures and cooking with it. I would tweak it, and friends would give me comments until I dialed it in.

I didn’t really know what I was doing at the beginning. The first recipe had both garlic salt and garlic powder. It also had both onion powder and minced onion. I made a few changes, then bottled it for a Christmas gift in 2012. I needed a funny name for the label, so I called it Rub Potion Number Swine. I had a company bottle it in Memphis and I started selling it locally. When we were developing recipes for Sam Jones BBQ, Samuel asked if we could just use my rub recipe. Now it goes on just about everything, even the burgers.

There’s a bottling company here in Ayden that makes our rub for us. You can purchase it on our website if you’d rather get the finished product.


Makes 3 1/2 cups


1 cup paprika
1 cup light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup salt
1⁄4 cup ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup garlic powder
1⁄4 cup ground mustard
1⁄4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper


In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together well with a whisk or with gloved hands. Toss generously on any barbecue you cook, except the whole hog. Any remaining rub can be stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry place for several months.

Reprinted with permission from Whole Hog BBQ by Sam Jones & Daniel Vaughn, copyright © 2019. Photographs by Denny Culbert. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.

RecipeFresh1 Comment