A Beginner’s Guide to Spice Rubs
What Is a Rub?
A rub is a mixture of seasonings applied to a meat or vegetable before cooking. Usually used for dry cooking methods like grilling, roasting, or smoking, rubs come in two main flavor profiles: salty and sweet. While often used solo, rubs can also be combined with marinades (see our guide to marinating here) or finished with sauces like barbecue sauces or grilling sauces. Galena Canning Company offers a variety of premade seasoning rubs, ranging from our fan-favorite Hickory Apple Barbecue Rub to our Lemon Pepper Rub to our spicey Blasting Powder.
How Do Rubs Work?
Made with either a salt base or sugar base, rubs work by combining with juices to form a light crust on the meat that seals in juices and develops flavors.
Note that spices typically lose their aromas after about 8-10 months, so rubs will need to be replaced every year.
How Do I Use a Rub?
There are several ways to use a rub. You can apply a rub directly to the meat, or you can drizzle oil onto the meat before adding the rub. You can also make a paste out of the rub and the oil or use a rub in combination with a marinade for extra flavor.
To use a dry rub, simply sprinkle the spice mix over the meat. You can use a spoon or your hands, and you can also pour directly from the bowl. For a more intense cover, you can also put the rub into a bowl and dip the meat into the rub, covering thoroughly like a breading.
How Much Rub Should I Use?
We recommend using about 1 tablespoon of rub per pound of meat or vegetables. However, this can be adjusted based on preference and to more thoroughly cover the meat or protein.
How Long Does a Rub Take?
Rubs are a simple way to flavor a dish. Unlike a marinade, you can apply a rub and place your meat right in the pan, in the oven, or on the grill. However, for best results, we recommend applying the rub and letting it sit for the times listed below:
- 2-8 hours: big cuts of meat like rib racks, whole hams, turkeys, and pork shoulders
- 30-90 minutes: whole chickens and chicken thighs, beef roasts, racks of lamb,
- 15-30 minutes: thin, boneless meats like fish fillets, tenderloins, pork chops, and steaks
- 1-15 minutes: vegetables, shellfish, and thinly sliced meats
How Does a Rub Compare to a Marinade?
Rubs and marinades are different in how they work. Rubs are typically dry and add flavor to the surface of the meat. Marinades use acids to add flavor by soaking the meat with the spices and liquid over an extended period of time. For more information, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Marinating.
If you sprinkle the rub onto the meat directly from the bottle, simply place the rub back into the storage area. If you dip the meat into the rub, you can either apply leftover rub onto the meat, or you can discard the leftover rub. If you choose to let the meat sit for more than 10 minutes, always place in the refrigerator to avoid bacteria development. Never reuse any spices, seasonings, or sauces that have touched raw meat due to the risk of food poisoning.
What Are Some Rub Pairings You Recommend?
- Beef: Chef Ivo’s Ultimate Signature Steak Seasoning
- Pork: Chef Ivo’s Ultimate Hickory Apple Seasoning and Rub
- Chicken: Chef Ivo’s Ultimate Mango Chipotle Rub
- Seafood: Chef Ivo’s Ultimate Lemon Pepper Seasoning
- Vegetables: Chef Ivo’s Ultimate Lemon Pepper Seasoning