The Best Grill Rubs

Grill rubs are a combination of spices and herbs that infuse flavor on food prior to grilling. Even the humblest blend of salt, pepper, and sugar can be enough to make food super tasty. Rubs made of fresh ingredients usually make the best ones. Add cayenne, paprika, tarragon, and other spices, and your grilling is at its best.



Making the best grill rub is establishing a taste. Maybe you like yours to come a little salty, maybe you like it sweet, or maybe you like something super peppery and spicy. If you're like me, you just want to keep it simple. Everyone has different tastes and I bow to that. 

For Best Results

Barbecue rubs are typically dry, although they can also be wet and paste-like. Measure and mix together herbs and spices in a small bowl then rub them onto pork, poultry, or fish. Do this a day before grilling to allow flavors to develop. For liquid rubs, most of the flavorings used are soluble oils which require a coating of the meat with a thin layer. The oil will help the flavor get beyond the surface.



If you want your grill rub to have some touch of sweetness, use brown cane sugar. Sugar works best for pork. However, direct grilling or roasting can burn sugar-based dry rubs that can result in an unpleasant odor and flavor of the burnt sugar. Take note that sugar renders best flavors to foods that require short cooking or grilling time where the item is done before sugar has a chance to burn. 

Here's an example of a versatile grill rub recipe loaded up with smoky spices like chili powder mix, smoked paprika, and dried chile from Kitchen Treat. You can use this to spice up just about anything you wish to grill. If you like, throw in more herbs and spice that you love.


While it's free to mix and match your own sauces, make sure your rub harmonizes with the natural taste of the meat. It may sound like it takes a lot of practice to make a good rub, but all you need to is an experiment. Put together all ingredients and blend them thoroughly. Some say salt can dry the meat out, but this is not necessarily the case. Salt can actually help in absorbing the flavor in the barbecue rub into the meat. 

How to Salt Food the Right Way

Special Tip:
Note that food overpowered by seasoning is unpleasant.


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