Sauces & Rubs

Memphis Make Mouth Smile Rub

In the vibrant heart of Memphis, a city celebrated for its soulful tunes and even more spirited barbecue culture, there resided a pitmaster legend known as Eli. His reputation for crafting the most succulent, fall-off-the-bone ribs was renowned, but the true secret behind his acclaim lay in a special concoction he had perfected over years: the Memphis Make Mouth Smile Rub.

This rub was Eli’s love letter to the barbecue tradition of Memphis, a carefully balanced symphony of flavors that included four tablespoons of garlic powder for a robust foundation, complemented by two tablespoons each of onion powder and both smoked and Spanish paprika, introducing a rich, smoky depth with a hint of sweetness. The addition of half a teaspoon of sumac offered a surprising tang, while two teaspoons of dried oregano brought earthy notes. The heat was carefully dialed in with four tablespoons of chili powder, complemented by a teaspoon of white pepper and a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper for a kick that lingered. The blend was rounded out with two teaspoons of kosher salt for seasoning and two teaspoons of xylitol (or Swerve) to balance the heat with a subtle sweetness.

Eli’s Memphis Make Mouth Smile Rub quickly transcended its origins, becoming a must-have in kitchens and at grills far beyond Memphis. Its versatility shone not only with traditional pork ribs and pulled pork but also when applied to chicken, brisket, and even vegetables. Eli often recommended it for non-traditional uses too, like a sprinkle on popcorn for a smoky treat or mixed into burger patties for an unforgettable cookout experience.

The rub did more than season food; it brought people together, sparking conversations and laughter around the grill and at the dinner table. It wasn’t just the deep, complex flavors of the rub that made it special but the joy and community it fostered. Eli’s Memphis Make Mouth Smile Rub was a reminder of the simple pleasures in life, like sharing a meal with loved ones, and the power of a good seasoning to turn any dish into a celebration of flavor and fellowship.

Harlan Kilstein’s Memphis Make Your Mouth Smile Rub

Course: Sauces & Rubs
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2
Calories: 87 kcal


  • 4 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp Spanish Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 2 tsp oregano dried
  • 4 tbsp chilli power
  • 1 tsp. pepper white
  • 1/2 tsp pepper cayenne
  • 2 tsp salt kosher
  • 2 tsp xylitol or swerve


Step One: Stir Together In A Bowl

  1. Sumac is a middle eastern spice that adds a savory flavor to the rub

Step Two: Coat Meat With Rub and Let It Sit Before Grilling Or Smoking

  1. If there is a Grill Master in your house, they will appreciate this fine gift.

If there is a Grill Master in your house, they will appreciate this fine gift.

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