I absolutely love spice rubs, and I want to share my enthusiasm for them with you. These magical mixtures of herbs and spices are like a secret weapon in the kitchen, and they can do wonders to make your food taste better.
Not only do they add incredible flavors, but they also bring a pop of color and an exciting texture to your dishes. It’s like a burst of culinary fireworks on your taste buds!
Have you ever wondered how famous BBQ restaurants manage to make those scrumptious dishes?
But you don’t have to be a professional or BBQ competition pitmaster to enjoy the benefits of spice rubs.
Many readers of Better Grills use them in their own kitchens because they know how these rubs can change their everyday meals from ordinary to extraordinary.
You can also buy them in about any grocery store and in online stores.
However, I like to make my own spice mixes most of the time.
I’ve put together this comprehensive guide on spice rubs to help you unlock the full potential of your cooking.
Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting your culinary journey, this guide will provide you with all the knowledge you need to make your dishes burst with flavor.
What Is A rub?
I want to explain to you what a BBQ dry rub is. You see, a dry rub is a special mixture made up of certain ingredients like salt, herbs, and spices.
When we put this mixture on the outside of meat, it makes the meat taste really good in a certain way.
Now, let’s talk about how a dry rub can be different.
Sometimes, it can be very simple. For instance, we can use kosher salt, pepper, and garlic to make a dry rub for a Texas-style brisket.
On the other hand, a dry rub can also be quite fancy and complicated.
Think about an Italian seasoning with lots of different spices, dried herbs, and things that smell really nice. I use this kind of dry rub for a fancy Tuscan-style prime rib.
So, remember, a dry rub is like a special mixture that we put on meat to make it taste yummy, and we can make it simple or fancy depending on what we want the meat to taste like.
Types of Dry Rubs
There are different kinds of rubs that can make your food taste really good! You see, there are rubs that are all about making your food taste a certain way.
Some rubs are all about making your meat taste better, and some are about giving your food the flavors of a certain place.
Let me give you an example.
Basic BBQ Rub
Imagine you want to make some delicious barbecue. You can use a special rub for that!
These rubs usually have three main ingredients: salt, pepper and sugar (sometimes it’s raw sugar or brown sugar), and paprika.
These ingredients make your barbecue taste sweet and give it a nice color.
But that’s not all! Barbecue rubs can also have other dry spices like mustard powder and cayenne pepper to give it a little kick, like a tiny explosion of flavor in your mouth.
Now, if you’re in the mood for something with a bold taste, there are rubs for that too!
BBQ Rubs With A Kick
These rubs start with a base of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
These ingredients make your food taste strong and savory.
After this, you can add things such as red pepper flakes, ground Chili powder and, one of my favorites, Cajun seasoning.
BBQ Rubs With Deeper Flavor!
You can also add some onion powder, sage, cumin, and oregano to make the flavor even deeper and more interesting.
So, you see, there are different rubs for different flavors. Whether you want something sweet like barbecue or something bold and savory, there’s a rub out there for you.
The next time you cook, try using a rub to make your food taste even better!
In many of my Grill and BBQ recipes, you can find the spice rubs I use.
How Do You Use A Rub?
Using dry rubs to season your food is quite straightforward, and I’ll guide you through the process. You can choose from a few methods to apply the dry rub: a shaker, a spice grinder, or simply using your hand.
First, the way I apply a dry rub.
The key is to ensure that the entire surface of your food is covered.
If you’re preparing seafood or chicken wings, a thin layer of the dry rub will do the trick.
However, when dealing with thicker pieces of meat like brisket, ribs, or pork shoulder, you’ll want to be more generous.
Cover the entire surface generously with the dry rub to enhance the flavor.
Be thorough and make sure you coat all sides of the meat.
Then, take a moment to rub the seasonings into the meat gently.
How To Make The Rub Dtick
Now, here’s a little tip that some pitmasters like to use.
While this step isn’t absolutely necessary, it can be quite helpful.
The binder helps ensure that the dry ingredients are spread evenly and adhere well to the meat, ensuring a tasty and well-seasoned dish.
What Happens To The Meat When You Use a Rub?
In my experience, I’ve found that letting the rub sit on the raw meat for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking can greatly enhance the flavor of your dishes.
This is because, during this waiting period, the moisture present in the meat is absorbed by the rub, forming a delicious bond between the two.
The longer you allow the rub to rest on the meat’s surface prior to cooking, the better it can work its magic.
I personally try to leave the meat and rub sit in the refrigerator overnight if possible
This is especially true for the salt in the rub, as it gradually penetrates the meat and breaks down the protein walls within.
This fantastic process helps your food retain more moisture while cooking, resulting in meat that is exceptionally tender and juicy.
As your meat cooks, a transformation occurs. The sugars in the rub start to caramelize, creating a delectable outer layer known as “bark.”
Additionally, the Maillard Reaction takes place, causing the surface of the meat to brown beautifully.
At the same time, the fat in the meat melts and travels through the layers of herbs and spices in the rub, intensifying the overall flavor profile. All of these intricate processes collaborate harmoniously, crafting a complex and delightful flavor and aroma.
If you are ready to find out more you can read my in-depth article about the science behind BBQ and grilling.
Should you find that your dish needs an extra burst of seasoning, you can always sprinkle more of your dry rub on your cooked food. This allows you to tailor the taste to your liking.
Many pitmasters suggest that lighter proteins like seafood, chicken, or pork taste better with brighter, more delicate flavors, while bolder meats like beef taste better with bolder, robust flavors.
Don’t hesitate to experiment and get creative with your rubs—after all, it’s your chance to break free from tradition and invent exciting new flavor combinations!
Is Using A Rub Worth The Effort
I absolutely love using dry rubs because they are a fantastic way to make my food taste even better!
Dry rubs are like magical flavor mixtures made with different spices and herbs.
Here is a picture of my spice cabinet. At the top are the ones I use in larger quantities.
You see, dry rubs are like a treasure chest of flavors. They help me make delicious taste combinations that I might not have all the special spices and herbs for in my kitchen.
Plus, they introduce me to exciting new flavors that I might not have thought of on my own.
And the best part is, that dry rub mixes make it super easy for me to try new flavors without having to buy lots of different spices separately.
So, I never say no to a good dry rub and for me, this is an important part of my outdoor cooking.
More Ways to Use Dry Rubs
I highly recommend experimenting with dry rubs in your cooking adventures.
These delightful blends of spices and herbs can do more than just enhance the taste of meat.
I like to ad a good tasting BBQ rub to my tender meat such as chicken, turkey and lean pork after I have used my brining meat for tenderness on them.
In fact, my family and I enjoy using dry rubs in most of the foods we cook.
For example, we love sprinkling these flavorful rubs into our macaroni and cheese to give it an exciting twist.
It’s also a great idea to mix them into bread doughs for an extra burst of taste.
Another favorite trick of mine is to season egg dishes and potato-based meals with these rubs.
You’ll be surprised by how versatile dry rubs can be. They can add a unique and delectable kick to your barbecue sauce or even be mixed into butter or soft cheese for a delightful spread.
The beauty of dry rubs lies in their ability to unleash your creativity in the kitchen.
So, I encourage you not to shy away from experimenting with different dry rubs when you grill or smoke.
There are no strict rules you need to follow; simply go with the flavors that appeal to your taste buds.
You might just stumble upon a new favorite flavor combination that will delight your senses.
With spice rubs, the opportunities for tasty creations are practically boundless. Give it a try and savor the culinary adventure!
You can even sell your rubs if you like to.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews and the outdoor cooking tips he is writing about. You can read more on the About page for Eddie van Aken