Seasoning food with dry rub spice blends has been around for many years. However, over the last few years, this form of pre-seasoning meats has become pretty popular. Dry rubs add greater intensities of flavor and it is catching on.
What is a Dry Rub?
A dry rub is a combination of “dry” ground spices that are rubbed onto raw meat before it is cooked. The meat, which is moist, will cause the dry rub to become moist and form a coat on the meat.
Dry rub spice blends come in a wide range of flavors. There are barbecue rubs, chili powders, curries, jerk seasonings, Old Bay, Cajun and many more. The best dry rub spice blends in the world are the ones you like best. Most of the time the rub you like best is the one you make yourself and it is cheaper! So find some dry rub spice blends recipes you like, make a big batch, and put them in a spice shaker with a lid for safe keeping.
What are dry rub spice blends made of?
So where do you start? Generally, dry rubs start out with four basic ingredients: Sugar, Savory, Spices & Herbs and a Spicy. Let’s talk about which each of these ingredients has to offer.
Sweetness is a common addition because it is a flavor enhancer, aids in browning, and it helps to form a crust. There is no substitute for sugar because the chemical properties of sugar are unique.
Although there is a herb named savory, the word savory is commonly used to describe something having a pleasant smell or taste. In culinary arts, savory flavors come from amino acids called glutamates, green herbs, some spices, garlic, and other flavorings.
Spices and Herbs:
They don’t all work together nor do some of them work on all foods, but spices a broad range of great flavors.
Hot pepper sensation or “heat” is often used in rubs because they add excitement. Black pepper is common, so are ground hot peppers such as cayenne or chipotle. Ginger, horseradish, and mustard powder also fit in this. Just remember that not everybody can tolerate heat. Season to your taste, but when cooking for other people you may want to hold back a little on the spice. Not everyone can handle the heat!
Things to keep in mind about dry rub spice blends:
The most important thing to keep in mind when making your own spice blends is that a rub is not only a mixture of spices and herbs, it is a mixture of flavors. A good rub will have a balanced flavor that adds to meats but doesn’t overpower them. Have fun experimenting with variations, but remember, you cannot judge a rub raw. It can taste very different after cooking. The juices of the meat mix with the herbs and spices, melt them, and they undergo chemical reactions that are invoked by the heat of the fire. You have to keep in mind there will be a bite-sized piece of food underneath the rub and it will dilute it. You may not like rosemary, but after it mixes with the juices of the meat, a mouthful of pork with rosemary in a spice blend tastes pretty darn good!
How to use a dry rub spice blends:
If you’re cooking a large amount of meat, the best way to use it is to pour a large amount of it directly onto the meat and lightly rub it around to disperse it. Take the meat and roll it over and do it again until all sides are evenly coated. For smaller cuts simply sprinkle it on evenly.
Below are a couple of dry rub spice blends to start you off with dry rubs. Try them out and adjust them to your taste.
I think you’ll enjoy rubbing your meat!
Pork Dry Rub
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and stir to mix. Rub onto the pork on all sides.
Beef Dry Rub
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and stir to mix. Rub onto the beef on all sides.