Spice-Rubs ~ Super Spices

These are fast gaining in popularity with chefs around the world, and it's easy to understand why.

Rubs are a fantastically simple way to add flavor and nuance to everyday meals.

Basically, they're a mixture of spices and herbs that are applied directly to meats before cooking.

What makes them different from marinades is that you apply the flavoring directly to the surface of the meat itself.

This gives you a different way to control the intensity and distribution of the seasonings.

There are two categories of rubs.

Dry-rubs, which are made with spices and seasonings only.

And wet-rubs, which contain some moist ingredients.

Many chefs prefer dry-rubs for grilling because they won't burn.

Which also makes them perfect for meats that require long cooking times, like briskets and ribs.

And, just like any form of cooking, there are some general tips and tricks that will make your first of many spice-rubs a lot easier.

Use one to two Tbs. of a dry-rub for each lb. of meat.

Rubs using lemon juice or vinegar also change the food’s texture because acids cure meat.

After applying a rub, wrap the meat in plastic and place it in the refrigerator before cooking.

This will allow the meat time to absorb the flavor from the various spices.

A plastic zipper bag is great for this.

Get a head start by freezing meat after applying spice-rubs.

Just thaw and enjoy at a later time.

Dry spice-rubs can be stored for a few months, but don’t try to use the mix beyond that.

Make a fresh batch.

That being said, here are a few basic spice-rubs with a couple of exotic variations to get you started.

Spice-Rub # 1 ~ Carolina Barbecue Rub

Carolina barbecues are renowned for their slow-cooked style and taste.

This rub, which is based in the Carolina tradition, brings that taste to whatever you cook.

It’s terrific on beef, chicken, lamb or pork.

If you've never done a rub before, this one's ideal to start with.


2 Tbs. salt

2 Tbs. sugar

2 Tbs. brown sugar

2 Tbs. ground cumin

2 Tbs. chili powder

2 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbs. cayenne pepper

1/4 c. paprika


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Store any of your spice-rubs in an airtight container.

Spice-Rub # 2 ~ Chipotle

This one’s for the Tex-Mex and chili fans!

The chipotle peppers and smoked jalapenos in this rub give it a lot of flavor.

Finely grind this rub for maximum results.

Works great on brisket, steak and pork.


2 dried chipotle peppers

3 Tbs. black pepper

2 Tbs. dried oregano

1 Tbs. dried cilantro leaves

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. ground dry orange peel


Combine all ingredients in a spice mill or blender, and grind until even.

Store this rub in an airtight jar and it'll keep for six months in the freezer.

Spice-Rub # 3 ~ Creole

Creole cuisine marries Spanish, French Caribbean, African, and American influences.

Takes classical European styles of cooking and applies them to foods of the American South.

Because of its complexity, a genuine Creole flavor can be hard to nail, but this is one that does it!


1/2 c. Creole mustard

1/2 c. minced onion

1-1/2 Tbs. minced garlic

1 Tbs. hot pepper sauce

1/4 c. dry Cajun seasoning blend


Mix together all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Spice-Rub # 4 ~ Mustard

This is a take on a classic wet rub that really adheres to meats.

If you’re feeling like it, try changing the type of mustard used.

If you’re not already familiar with them, the range of mustards available can be pretty dazzling, varying from town to town, and from England to France.

Try Meaux, Norwich or Tewkesbury mustards.

They can really change the overall flavor.


2 c. Dijon mustard

1 c. minced parsley

1/2 c. dried orange or lemon peel

1/2 c. rosemary leaves, crushed

1/4 c. fresh cracked black pepper


Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Spice-Rub # 5 ~ Tropical Poultry

This rub is an easy, surefire way to add a little taste of the islands to your bird.

The orange flavor combined with nutmeg and cloves can’t be beat.

And if you’re looking for a novel twist on traditional Thanksgiving poultry, this will definitely do it!


2 Tbs. ground ginger

2 Tbs. brown sugar

2 Tbs. orange zest

1 Tbs. finely ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves


Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

If you are cooking a large bird, double the recipe.

Three Flavour Enhancers:

Moroccan Rub:

Stir 1/2 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon.

Mix with 1 tsp oil.

Brush over fish before grilling.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Maple Glaze:

Stir 2 Tbs. maple syrup with 1 Tbs. soy sauce.

Brush over fish during last 5 min of grilling.

Herb Fish Topping:

Stir 2 Tbs. each chopped parsley and dill with 1 tsp chopped capers.

Sprinkle over fish during last 5 min of grilling.

These are just a few options from the hundreds of existing, and yet to be discovered, meat & spice-rub recipes.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, be sure to try some of your own variations.

And be sure to write down your recipes and their expiration dates on each of your storage containers.

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