What is a BBQ Rub?

Grilling brings out the delicious flavors of meat, poultry, and seafood. Grill rubs are blends of herbs and spices that infuse even more flavor into grilled food. The typical rub is dry, though there are also wet or paste-style versions. Rubs are used on pork, steak, chicken, turkey, fish, and shrimp and represent an alternative or complement to BBQ sauce.

Experimenting with different rub recipes is fun because it allows you to achieve a mild, sweet, salty, or hot flavor. The recipes are easy to follow and usually include only a combination of spices. However, if the world of grill rubs is new to you, start by using pre-made rubs. These will give you an idea of the combinations you prefer. Use these preferences as the foundation to create delicious original rubs.

Understanding how to use BBQ rubs is as important as knowing how to make them. When cooking turkey or chicken, rinse the poultry and pat it with paper towels until nearly dry. Massage the rub into the bird, covering each piece. Some rubs are designed to be applied when poultry has been partially or fully cooked. If the rub contains sugar, it tastes best when it has melted into the poultry.

When grilling steak, massage the rub into the meat or marinate the steak and then do the massaging. The amount of rub to use depends on whether tasting the meat or the rub is preferred. Traditional meat eaters prefer to taste their steak and use only a small amount of rub. Those who enjoy steak packed with flavor should add the amount of rub listed on the container or in the recipe.

Pork is a lean meat, so BBQ rubs can be used both before and during the grilling process. Massage the rub into the pork and add more rub after the meat has been partially cooked. Before grilling shrimp or fish, apply the rub. A savory rub usually tastes best with fish, while an assortment of rubs go well with shrimp.

The food being cooked should always contain some moisture because this helps absorb the rub. To help food absorb a BBQ rub, loosely wrap it or place it into a plastic bag and refrigerate it for a few hours. The more time a rub has to soak into the food, the more flavorful the meat will be. With rubs, the taste of grilled food reaches a new level.

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