Hope this isn't too boring...
Some time ago I made a small database of rub recipes, so I could examine what the common ingredients are in BBQ rubs. Recently, I was looking over some more recipes, and it seemed that my general notion of what is common among rubs was not accurate. I expanded the database to include 84 recipes found at various web sites. I included those that would work for traditional lo-n-slo cooking of pork or and/or beef. I did not rule out ones that could be used for poultry or other meats, but passed on ones specifically for other than beef or pork.
There is a lot of variation between the recipes, and a fair amount of imprecision. For instance, some recipes will call for chili powder, but stipulate that the powder is only to contain ground chilis, whereas other recipes make no stipulation, and may be calling for chili powders that are blends of capsicum, garlic, cumin, and Mexican oregano. Or, is red pepper synonymous with cayenne, or is it referring to some other powdered capsicum?
Also, because the recipes are in volume measures (cups, tablespoons and teaspoons) there is not an easy way to have an accurate comparison between recipes that call for Kosher salt as opposed to plain salt, or raw sugar to packed brown sugar.
So, here are some numbers. The simplest recipe was just 3 ingredients, the most complex 15. The average is 8.
There are at least 52 different ingredients that might be used in BBQ rubs. Because some of the ingredients are composites, such as curry powder, or seasoned salt, the list is probably longer than 52.
24 of the 84 recipes have a single ingredient making up more than 40% of the volume. The big player is sugar, which makes up at least 50% of 10 recipes. Chili powder and paprika make up more than half the volume a few times. One peculiar recipe has more than 50% cocoa powder.
There are 6 ingredients that are used in more than half of all recipes. They are:
black pepper 74
sugar in some form 72
salt of some kind 66
garlic powder 61
onion powder 46
and half of all the recipes use:
chili powder 42.
I had hoped there would be some easy to remember set of proportion numbers for an average recipe. Some recipes do have rather regular portions. For instance, Elder Ward's pulled pork rub is 2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1. Unfortunately, there isn't any easy to remember ratio.
What I did to come up with an average recipe was to make a weighted average of each ingredient. I divided the ingredients into classes, those appearing in at least half the recipes, those appearing in a quarter, those appearing in less than a quarter, and those occurring in less than one eighth. I gave the classes a "weight" number, 1, .75, .5, .25 I multiplied the average percent used for each ingredient times the number of times it appears in recipes, and then by the weight number to give an "importance" number.
Here's what I'm going to call the "Mr. Average Rub." Note that the first 5 ingredients appear in more than half of all recipes.
19 brown sugar
15 sweet paprika
9 Kosher salt
8 black pepper, freshly ground
5 garlic granules
4 chili powder blend
3 onion powder
and, just one place out of order, it would have been 10, because it seems to be a strong flavor component
1 cayenne pepper
A Mr. Not-average Rub may contain any of the following besides,
adobo, allspice, basil, bay leaf, cajun seasoning, celery salt, celery seed, chili flakes, chipotle, cinammon, cloves, cocoa powder, coffee, coriander, cumin, curry powder, file powder, garlic salt, ginger, jalapeno seasoning, lemon peel, lemon pepper, lemon powder,, marjoram, molasses powder, msg, mustard powder, mustard seed, nutmeg, old bay, onion salt, oregano, poultry seasoning, red pepper, rosemary, sage, salted meat tenderizer, savory, sazon, seasoned meat tenderizer, seasoned salt, tarragon, thyme, white pepper