Whether wet, dry, sweet, or spicy, barbecue rubs are a popular option for smoked meat enthusiasts. Using rubs is the perfect way to experiment and customize the flavor of your meat. As you ride the learning curve over time, you will discover the flavors that truly fit your palette, allowing you to produce the ultimate smoked meat masterpiece, every time! It is common to forgo rubs altogether, but if you are interested in giving your product a new twist, trying out a few rub combinations is a great place to start.
Continue reading to learn what you need to know about using BBQ rubs, as well as, some relevant meat smoking tips too!
What is a BBQ Rub?
A barbecue rub is simply a tailored mixture of herbs, spices, and other flavoring ingredients. Rubs can be either wet or dry, or on a spectrum in between the two. Wet rubs are often referred to as a “rub paste”, while dry rubs are often called “seasoning rubs”, “spice rub”, and “dry marinades.” Barbecue rubs are applied onto meats and other foods for the purpose of enhancing and customizing the flavor. Aside from flavor, barbecue rubs also enhance color and create a highly desirable “bark” on the meat. The bark is one of the most prized parts of a smoked meat; it is a heavy, flavorful, smoke-infused crust that is very juicy and delicious.
Why Use Rubs?
Barbecue rubs are popular methods of flavoring because they stick well to the product while smoked or grilled. In most cases, barbecue rubs are the “secret ingredient” to great smoked meats. If you were to ask any professional smoked meat competitor, they will likely tell you that the secret to their product is “in the rub.” Of course, the method of smoking is also very complex and influential to the overall flavor profiles and colors of the meat. You can’t just rely on the rub alone!
How to Make Rubs
The foundation of nearly all rubs is a salt and sugar combination, with more of an emphasis on the salt side. Since sugar burns at 265 degrees Fahrenheit, and smoked meats are generally cooked below this temperature, you can be generous with your sugar increments. Once you have chosen the perfect salt-to-sugar ratio, you have built the base of your rub. From there, you can add whatever ingredients you like relevant to your cuisine culture or personal taste. Keep in mind that a rub is really just a tailored mix of spices.
Common spices and herbs used to make rubs include:
🌶 Cayenne Pepper
🌶 Black Pepper
🌶 Chili Powder
🌶 Onion Powder
🌶 Lemon Juice
🌶 Lime Juice
🌶 Orange Juice
🌶 Worcestershire Sauce
The proper amount of rub to use is whatever will stick to the meat. Any excess is not necessary. Mix your rub combination together ahead of time, and then transfer it to a shaker. Then shake the mixture evenly all over your product, covering all sides. It is recommended to make a large amount of rub to have on hand for future meat products. Dry rubs can be stored safely for months in a cool, dry area. Wet rubs should be refrigerated and used with two weeks for the best flavors.