Barbecue rubs strive to create a balance between salty, sweet, savory, and sour. They’re an integral part to great barbecue, as they impart a tremendous amount of rich flavor to meats, enhancing the innate taste of the meat instead of hiding it under a sauce. Though balanced, rubs tend to be fairly assertive in order to stand up to prolonged, “low and slow” cooking times that will coax maximum flavor out of your food. Sugars in the rubs caramelize into a textural “bark” on the outside of the meat, which helps hold in juices and adds snap to each bite. Choose one of the rubs we’ve put together, or create your own with the tips we’ve compiled from barbecue restaurant pitmasters for your own signature flavor.