Spicy cocoa dry rub

You don’t have to wait until dessert to eat chocolate. We’ve been experimenting with cocoa for some time, and it’s really not that weird. In Mexico, they have known for a long time that adding bitter chocolate gives meats and sauces great depth.

We have already made a coffee and cocoa dry rub for short ribs, but this spicy and sweeter version goes better with pork. We tried it on some pork ribs, and the result, strangely enough, doesn’t taste like chocolate, but together with the cinnamon and the smoke flavour, it gets a more profound taste that leans much more towards coffee.

Fortunately, the list of ingredients for this dry rub is not that big, so that you can still taste all parts. Try to use unsweetened cocoa powder. You need that bitterness for this dry rub. The amount you make in this recipe is just enough for three large pork ribs.

During the transport of the spare ribs to the barbecue, you always cause some damage in the carefully applied layer of dry rub. That’s why we always sprinkle a little after, even if it’s just for looks.

After smoking and wrapping the ribs, you will be rewarded with a beautiful dark brown crust that smells great. You can still smell chocolate in the distance, but the taste has now changed to a deep coffee-like taste that, together with the smoke and the fat, has become something extraordinary.

If you try this cocoa dry rub, let us know in the comments below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • 3 tbsp smoked sea salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp chilli powder


  1. Mix all the ingredients and sprinkle an even layer over spareribs, porkchops or ham before smoking them. It doesn’t get much more complicated than that.

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