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The Best Dry Rub for Steak

The Best Dry Rub for Steak


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Take your steak to the next level with this pre-made Steak Rub! It smells so good and will make your steak taste even better. It works with any beef cuts, plus it lasts a long time!

Photography Credit:Irvin Lin

A good quality steak doesn’t need much more than a sprinkling of salt and pepper for seasoning. But if you want to take it to the next level and give your steak that extra punch of flavor, this all-purpose rub will do it.

I bring a zip-top bag of it with me whenever we go camping and plan on grilling steaks at our campsite. It smells so good, I’ve had other campers walk over and ask what I’m grilling!

WHAT’S IN THIS SPICE BLEND?

Here’s what’s in this blend:

  • Smoked paprika, for a little bit of smoke.
  • Dark brown sugar, for a hint of sweetness and molasses.
  • Onion and garlic powder, for some aromatic notes.
  • Oregano, for a touch of herbal greenness.
  • Cumin, for a little earthiness.
  • Cayenne, which brings a slight heat but not enough to light your tongue on fire.

CUSTOMIZE THE RUB

Like all spice blends, you can customize this one to your own taste:

  • If you like your steak less sweet, reduce the brown sugar or swap it for the same amount of coconut sugar to make it paleo-friendly.
  • Add dried parsley if you want a more herbal note.
  • Consider more pepper or reduce the salt to your own taste.
  • Omit the cayenne if you don’t like spicy.
  • Swap out the cumin for coriander if you want a bit more citrus flavor.

DON’T USE OLD HERBS AND SPICES

Old herbs and spices mean less flavor. And for this spice blend, we definitely want newer dried herbs and spices!

Dried spices and herbs have a shelf life of about two years when properly stored, depending on the spice or herb. To test potency, crumble some of the herb or spice into the palm of your hand with your fingers. If you can barely smell it or it’s dusty smelling, it’s time to get some new stuff!

Pro tip: Use an airtight glass jar to mix the ingredients together and you’ll save on cleanup!

HOW LONG DOES THIS RUB LAST AND HOW SHOULD I STORE IT?

If the spices you used are fresh, the rub should last about a year stored in an airtight container, clearly labeled with the date. Keep in mind the brown sugar might harden a bit in the meantime. This makes the rub difficult to use, and you should make a new batch if it happens.

WHAT TO USE IT ON

This spice rub is great on hearty steaks like ribeyes, New York strip, or skirt steak. Avoid using it on tender steaks like filet mignon where you want the delicate beef flavor to come through. You can also mix it in with meatloaf or burgers if you want!

HOW TO USE IT

Pat your steak dry with paper towels, then sprinkle a generous amount of rub on one side of the steak. Use your fingers and hands to rub the spice blend into the steak. Flip and repeat on the other side.

Though you can immediately cook the steak, if you let it sit at room temperature for an hour the rub will penetrate the meat and give a deeper flavor. You can even cover and let it sit overnight in the fridge for a more robust flavor.

Once it’s ready, grill or fry in a pan as you normally would. You can even sous vide the steak with rub on it, though I would add more rub right before reverse-searing it.

CURIOUS? HERE ARE MORE WAYS TO TRY OUT THIS RUB!

  • Season your steak and then learn How to Grill the Best Steak.
  • Make a Sous Vide Steak—just season it again before you reverse sear it and serve.
  • Swap out the salt, pepper, and garlic powder in this recipe and use the rub instead for Garlic Herb Steak Bites.
  • This rub is a great addition for a Quick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak.

Three More Rubs to Know:

  • The Best Dry Rub for Fish and Seafood
  • The Best Dry Rub for Ribs
  • The Best Dry Rub for Chicken

The Best Dry Rub for Steak Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method

1 Mix: Place all the spices in a small glass jar and shake gently to combine.

2 Store: Store for up to 1 year.

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The Best Beef Rub You’ll Ever Use

Why do my beef rubs taste slightly different on different parts of my beef? Should I throw out the spice rub that I made last month? These are a couple of questions that I have asked myself after I would make a beef rub and use it. If you're on the lookout for new recipes , then continue on!

​There are as many different dry rubs, as there are meat cuts to cook: rib rub, steak seasoning or steak rub, pork rub, bbq rub, smoked beef brisket dry rub, tri tip rub, smoked chicken rub - and this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are like me and have asked these questions, then this dry rub recipe and steps below for the best beef rub I have ever used will help you like it helped me. It has many different ingredients, and all of them are extremely essential to the amazing flavor they give. This is one of the easiest yet tastiest meat rubs I've ever tried, it includes simple ingredients and you will not have any problems following these easy steps even if this is your first time !

​The steps the recipe has give exact instructions so that your good steak will become perfect every time

What you will need to follow this ​ best beef rub ​ recipe :

Alternatives to Ingredients

Paprika: Chipotle powder can be a good substitute. However, it has a naturally smoky flavor compared to paprika. Another choice is a pinch of cayenne pepper powder. Only use a pinch because this is much stronger compared to paprika.

Mustard powder: Wasabi powder and horseradish powder are good substitutes because they are both pretty strong, like mustard powder. Both of them also share similar consistencies. The downsides with them are that wasabi is a little hotter/spicier, and horseradish has a slightly sour taste compared to the mustard powder.

Onion powder: For every teaspoon of onion powder you use, use 1 tablespoon of onion flakes. The flavor will pretty much be exactly the same.

Garlic powder: For every 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder, you can use 1/2 a teaspoon of garlic flakes. Another replacement is using 1/4 teaspoon of granulated garlic for every 1/8 teaspoon or garlic powder that would have been used.

Dried basil: If you are out of dried but have fresh, you can always use fresh. Use 1 tablespoon of fresh basil for every teaspoon of dried basil you would have used. If you do not have dried or fresh basil, used oregano or thyme. The flavor will be slightly off, but the general taste will get as close as you can get, and the dried/fresh substitutions can be used for these herbs as well.

Dried bay leaf: The dried/fresh herb rule can be applied here as well. If you have neither, use the same amount with thyme. The only difference is that you might taste a slightly minty flavor that is the thyme.

Ground coriander seeds: Cumin, fennel, and caraway seeds can all be a substitute for ground coriander seeds, and you can even mix them together to get a closer taste. Use the same amount of the substitute as you would the ground coriander seeds, even if you are combining them.

Dried savory: Like with the ground coriander seeds, there are three different substitutes that can be used separately or combined: thyme, marjoram, and/or sage. The rule of using the same amount is applied.

Dried thyme: Basil, marjoram, oregano, or savory are all good substitutes. Oregano is stronger and a little more bitter than the others. Savory works better as a substitute, but choose the right one. Summer savory is more accurate because it has a slight peppery taste, like thyme, while winter savory has a more piney taste.

Ground cumin: Chili powder can be a good substitute for ground cumin, as long as you make sure not to increase the amount. This can make the rub a lot spicier than intended. The better option would be caraway seeds because they share much of the same flavor.

Step 1: Mix together all ingredients

When doing this step, you want to make sure that you don't let some of the ingredients clumps because this will cause inconsistent flavoring. There are two simple methods to prevent this: a whisk or a sifter.

Make sure you use a large enough bowl. If you are using a whisk, put all ingredients in the bowl and carefully begin to whisk, and make sure not to do it too fast or the ingredients will fly everywhere.

Do this until you are satisfied. If you are using a sifter, put the sifter over the bowl, add the ingredients and begin sifting. Then, stir and repeat the process until you are satisfied.

Step 2: Use on beef the night before you are going to cook

After you prepare your beef, lay it on a flat surface. Then, take the spice rub and lightly sprinkle it over the meat. Using your hand, mostly the fingers, rub and massage the rub into the entire surface of the meat. (Make sure your hands are properly washed) Next, flip the steak and repeat the process.

Try to apply the rub as evenly as possible, and it will taste even better. Once it is seasoned, wrap the beef in plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag and put it in the fridge. Most beef should be in there for no more than 24 hours. The longer it is sitting, the deeper the flavors will travel in the beef.

Step 3: Store in an airtight jar

If you store your rub mix in an airtight jar, the seasonings will keep their flavor longer, allowing you to use them on a later date. If you used fresh herbs and spices, or recently dried herbs and spices, and then stored the rub right away, they can even stay good for up to a year.

Start to check the rub six months after storing it to know if it still has a fresh smell and taste. Also, make sure to date the jar when you store it so you know how much longer until you can use it.

Did those ingredients make your mouth water at the thought of eating a piece of juicy beef with this rub? This certainly helped me with how I should have been mixing and apply my dry rubs. Just following those three simple steps are enough to help your beef taste that much better. You can use this dry rub recipe for beef ribs , as a steak rub , bbq rub , any other beef recipes or maybe even as a pork chops spice rub , but this is something that should definitely be in your spice cabinet and on your brisket rub recipes list.

If you liked the article and know someone who could use a new beef rub recipe and these tips, feel free to share it. If you tried the recipe or want to share your thoughts on anything mentioned, feel free to leave a comment for us.


The Best Dry Rub for Steak - Recipes

You can follow our proven, simple dry rub recipes to ensure your barbecue fame, then you can call it your own!

The "Cookin' Cousins" believe that a barbecue dry rub is one of the six secrets to a great barbecue!

Dry rubs are generally used when "barbecuing" vs. "grilling". Barbecuing is the traditional method of roasting meat over a low temperature heat source, with hardwood smoke. Grilling uses high, smokeless heat, and renders sugar-based dry rubs ineffective! It burns. Period.

We barbecue using the indirect cooking method to attain that incredible smoked, moist, cooked to perfection result that alludes so many! The heat is kept low and the meat is cooked slow. Patience pays big dividends!

Do you want a rub with nothing more than a couple of spices, or a grand mixture of complimentary flavors? We like to keep it simple, and share these proven rub recipes, to ensure your backyard barbecue notoriety!

Wet or dry rub? We prefer a dry rub, as there is less mess. If you want the rub to stick better to a dryer meat, just use any good ol' inexpensive table mustard, slathered liberally on the meat, then sprinkle plenty of dry rub all over the meat. The mustard does not impart a flavor (as it cooks out) and leaves a nice, tasty coating.

Got a great original Rub?

Dry Rub Recipe Secrets

You want fresh spices and herbs. Buy the freshest, best quality spices you can find. There is a huge difference between the old, been-in-the-cupboard-way-to-long, "buck-a-bottle" spices, and the better, fresh stuff (one important difference between a "tenderfoot", and top competitors).

For example, and for award winning results, we like to use fresh 
ground, dry chili pods vs. "chili powder" for many of our special recipes, however, fresh਌hili powder works very well.

You can review our "6 Secrets for Smoking Meat" in detail at our "The 6 Secrets" page.

You want to grind your own spices? Why not? You can't get any fresher, and hey, it's your reputation! Use a high quality, inexpensive electric spice/coffee grinder like the Krups model, for faster preparation. Chefs often prefer a mortar and pestle for small batch recipes.

We like our favorite indestructible Stone (Granite) Mortar and Pestle for superior grinding or crushing control. We often prefer to "coarse" grind spices for large roasts that will be cooked over an extended period (6-12 hours). This helps impart more flavor for the duration.

You can use a proven ratio of ingredients, at first anyway. Dry rub recipes, used by top competitors, often start with two basic ingredients, sugar and salt.

You then add spices at a ratio known as the 8:3:1:1 rub. It works! Like this:

  • 8 tablespoons light brown sugar tightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (the no-salt type)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (crushed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Regardless of the spices you choose to use, just maintain this ratio for a fool proof recipe! Not all rubs are this ratio, but it takes experience to stray from this method. For example, we use little or no sugar in our poultry rub recipes, but that's our taste.

You should use darker sugars like turbinado (sugar-in-the-raw), light muscovado, or high quality brown sugar. Coarse Kosher salt is much preferred for the best dry rub recipes. Both of these ingredients are chef's secrets, and the top BBQ competitor's edge!

A rub should be absorbed for the best results, and this does not mean you need to be rub it into the meat. Rubs are applied liberally to moist, thawed meat (preferably under the skin of fowl) for at least a couple of hours. You have maximum effect if you apply the rub 24 hours before hitting the fire. This allows the rub's ingredients to mix with the meat's natural juices, effectively marinading without the muss!

Wrap the meat in plastic wrap, or your favorite non-reactive container, and put it back into the refrigerator pull meat out about an hour prior to cooking (room temperature). No sense in wasting fuel!

You can add or subtract spices/herbs to your liking, and if you stay with just the "competitor's ratio" for rubs, you'll always have a winner! For more fun, experiment with adding one or more of the following:

  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Coriander
  • Peppercorns (you'll get superior results with Tellicherry Pepper, or a wonderful blend!)
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

You will notice a marked difference in your rubs, sauces, etc. if you use the best available no-salt chili powder. And.

You'll probably never go back to everyday black pepper when you experience the remarkable difference of our preferred peppercorn choices.

Sometimes when time is a factor, or we feel just a little lazy, we'll use nothing more than lemon pepper as a rub for our birds. It's great!

And please remember, for great dry rub recipes that will "knock their socks off", use the highest quality, freshest ingredients!

Here are some of our favorites, gleaned from a collection of recipes written on scraps of paper, passed down from goodness knows whom, and years of backyard research.


Skirt Steak Recipe with All Purpose Steak Rub and Chimichurri Sauce

This fast and easy steak rub recipe is my go to recipe for quick grilling, especially on cuts like skirt steak, flank steak and flap steak. Right now my favorite cut of beef is flap steak, sometimes called flap meat or bavette steak. It’s becoming more common and I’ve seen it Whole Foods but if you can’t find it, the more common skirt steak or flank steak works just as well. You may need to adjust the cook time though with the different steaks and their thicknesses. Don’t overcook the meat though, as these cuts get pretty tough beyond medium rare.

[Editor’s Note: Someone mentioned that the rub was way too spicy because of the large amount of chili powder. Chili powder comes in different strengths of heat. The one I use is a chili powder blend by McCormick, a commonly found brand at most grocery stores. It’s is not very hot but has a nice savory note with a little bit of heat. Do not substitute cayenne powder or chili pepper flakes for the chili powder, it will be too spicy. You may want to add less chili powder first and add more after tasting if you are sensitive to spicy food.]

Ingredients
Steak Rub
1-2 tablespoons chili powder (see editor’s note above)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

2 lbs skirt steak brought to room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil

Chimichurri sauce
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove , minced or forced through a press
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Directions
1. Lightly oil your grill grates then heat the grill to high. Combine all the steak rub ingredients together in a medium bowl and toss with a fork until uniform in color. Taste the rub and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle half the olive oil over one side of the steak and rub steaks until they are shiny all over with oil. Sprinkle with half the rub generously on the steak and rub into the steak meat. Repeat on the other side.

2. Once the grill is heated up, place the steak on the grill and cover. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side or until medium rare (check out Simply Recipes guide on how to finger feel the doneness of meat). Try not to over cook the meat past medium rare. Take the meat off the grill and let it rest on a plate for 10 minutes before slicing into it.

3. While the steak is resting on the plate, make the chimichurri sauce by chopping the parsley and cilantro leaves finely. Place in a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients and toss with a fork. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve the steak with the chimichurri sauce on the side or over it.

If you like this grilled skirt steak recipe with chimichurri sauce check out these other great steak recipes from around the web:
The Wanderlust Kitchen’s Skinny Vietnamese Steak Salad
Baked Bree’s Flank Steak with Garlic Butter Sauce
Food Republic’s Beer and Brown Sugar Ribeye Steak Recipe
My Man’s Belly’s Brazilian Flank Steak
No Recipe’s Steak with Brie


How Much Rub Do You Use to Make the Best Steak Recipe

I don’t usually measure this out because every steak is different in size. But, I’ve found that to make the best steak recipe, you need to make sure that both sides of the steak have a good coating of the steak rub.

I’ve also learned that if you allow the steak to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature with the homemade steak seasoning on it, you will get a juicy, tender steak that is incredibly flavorful.


How To Make Steak Seasoning

  1. Measure out all the ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  2. Next, mix with a dry spatula or whisk.
  3. Then transfer the seasoning into an airtight spice jar or a mason jar (if you make a large quantity).

Recipe Tips

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this homemade Steak Spice Seasoning.

  • Mix up the salt. You can use pink Himalayan salt, Kosher salt, or even the regular table variety. BUT you would need to adjust the ratios of the ingredients you use.
  • Vary spices. Feel free to add a teaspoon more or less of the ingredients to your taste. Add-ons I have used include dried parsley and dried dill. Delish!
  • Awesome rub. This makes an awesome rub and works great on steaks (of course), other meats, and fish which you can then cook up in a skillet, Instant Pot, Air Fryer or oven.
  • Blend into a powder. If you prefer you can add all the ingredients into a spice grinder and then blend into a powder.
  • Make a big batch. Double or triple the recipe depending on how often you use this.
  • Make a paste. Sometimes it is easier to mix the seasoning blend with some oil and make a paste before rubbing on meat, veggies, etc.
  • Suitable for various diets. This is suitable for vegan, gluten-free, paleo, low carb, Keto, and Whole30 diets.

How To Use This Seasoning

I use it to flavor almost anything and everything such as:

  • A rub for meats and fish &ndash this works great as a steak rub as well as a rub for lamb, fish, pork, and chicken.
  • A marinade &ndash mix with olive oil and vinegar or lemon as a marinade.
  • All the veggies. Sprinkle liberally over vegetables for roasting.
  • On the grill &ndash season your steak, kebabs, and other meats before you grill them.

How To Season A Steak

  • For the best results let the steak sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before you cook it.
  • Pat the steak dry before you season it.
  • Add the seasoning just before cooking.
  • Season the steak on both sides.
  • The thicker the steak is the more generous you should be with your seasoning so you have enough flavor in proportion to your meat.
  • You can also lightly brush the steak with some oil before you season it.

How Much Seasoning To Use

If it is the first time you are using this start with less than you think you need and add more to taste. I recommend you start with 1-2 tablespoons of seasoning for a recipe that serves 4 the first time and then adjust up or down to your taste.

Seasoning Substitute

Don&rsquot have all the seasoning mix ingredients to hand? Worry not, you got this.

First thing is to see which ingredients you have and then simply use a mix of these to flavor your food. Alternatively, you can scan through your spice cupboard and see what other spice blends you have that you like.

How Long To Store It?

You can store this for up to 6 months in an airtight spice jar or mason jar for larger quantities. Just make sure you keep it in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

This homemade spice mix can actually last a long time, but it loses its freshness and vibrant flavor as time goes by. I suggest you only make only enough to last you for up to 6 months at any one time. After that simply make a new batch.

Use For Edible Gifting

This easy blend makes for a super unique DIY gift. Mix up a couple of batches, decant into cute spice jars or mason jars, add a ribbon and a label and hand out to all your foodie friends. #bestfriendsforever.

Recipes You Can Use This Seasoning Mix With

Other Homemade Spice Mixes And Seasoning Recipes

Weight Watchers Points

This Homemade Seasoning Mix contains 0 (yeap, zero!) Blue Plan SmartPoints.

Thank you for reading my Steak Seasoning Mix recipe post. And please visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, Homemade Seasonings, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, and much more for you. Thanks for supporting Recipes from a Pantry, food blog.

Get The Steak Seasoning Recipe

Don&rsquot forget to tag #recipesfromapantry on Instagram or Twitter if you try Easy Steak Seasoning ! It is really, really awesome for me when you make one of my recipes and I&rsquod love to see it. You can also share it on my Facebook page. Please pin this recipe to Pinterest too! Thank you for reading Recipes from a Pantry.


Stacy Lyn Harris logotype_2

Tenderizing meat is an easy process that will always result in rave reviews at the table. Feeding a large family, I save money by buying less desirable cuts of organic beef and turning it into the most succulent meat. When preparing venison, I am able to use any part of the deer and have it be tender and tasty.

Tenderizing meat gives more preparation options. By tenderizing the meat you will be able to cook tougher cuts of meat using the same methods you would use for prime cuts. Below are my top three methods for tenderizing meat which always results in flavorful, juicy, tender,non-gamey meat.

Tough cuts of meat are usually tough due to the connective tissue and muscle fiber in the meat of the animal. One excellent way to break this down is to cut your meat into about 1 inch slices and pound it with a meat mallet until it is about 1/8 inch thick. At this point, you could season it, cut it into strips, lightly stir fry it for various dishes. You could also bread it and pan fry it for delicious Parmesan Venison or Venison Piccata. Watch my video for a demonstration of this method.

Another method of tenderizing meats is by using marinades. Marinade your meat for several hours (for me, 24 hours) using a combination for the marinade of acid (vinegar, lemon juice, or wine), oil, and herbs and spices of your choice. Not only does this add flavor to your meat, the acid will break down the connective tissue and muscle fiber in the meat. To use this method, combine ingredients in a non reactive bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. You could also put the ingredients in a zip top bag and refrigerate.

Using a dry rub is also a fantastic way to tenderize meat as well as extract major flavor from the meat. There are endless combinations of herbs and spices that can be used. To use this method, combine spices and rub vigorously into the meat, cover, and refrigerate overnight to allow the spices to permeate flavor into the meat and to tenderize the meat.

After removing it from the refrigerator, proceed with your favorite preparation of the meat. One of my favorites is to heat a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet until the skillet is almost smoking. Place the meat into the skillet and let it brown for about four minutes (depending on the thickness of the meat) then turn and brown the other side or about three minutes. Remove the meat and let rest covered for about 10 minutes. Slice the meat and serve.


Before you apply your dry rub to your meat, make sure you pat your meat down with a paper towel to remove as much of the moisture you can. Next you need a binder to help the dry rub stick to the meat. You can use an egg wash, olive oil or even yellow mustard. I prefer to use Olive Oil most of the time.

Once the binder has been applied to the meat, liberally apply the dry rub all over the meat. Make sure you take the proper precautions to not cross-contaminate! I suggest you use one hand to apply the dry rub and the other to rub the dry rub into the meat.

For more great recipes like this one, I suggest you check these recipes out:


Fact: Dry Rubs Are Better Than Marinades

We usually don’t like to use the word "dry" when talking about our food. But there are exceptions. A dry martini? Sure. Dry-aged steak? Absolutely. Dry rubs? Oh, yes. We love dry rubs. We prefer them to marinades almost every time. That's right: When it comes to seasoning meat and developing a exceptionally-textured exterior, nothing beats a dry rub.

What is a dry rub though? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like: A dry rub is a blend of seasonings and spices, without any wet ingredients, that you rub on meat. This might sound kind of like a dry brine, but we’re talking about something else entirely. Unlike a dry brine, which stays on a piece of meat for a long period of time before being rinsed off, a dry rub is usually applied to meat shortly before it is cooked.

There are varying degrees of involvement when it comes to dry rubs. The simplest dry rub we find ourselves using is made from salt, pepper, and brown sugar, which delivers a solid dose of seasoning, flavor, and sugar to be caramelized. But that’s just the baseline. You can go in just about any direction with a dry rub, as long as you include a good dose of salt and sugar.

As far as the other flavor enhancers we like to include, some heat is usually welcome—cayenne offers plenty of kick, but we also like the fruity muskiness of both sweet and hot paprika, or even mustard powder. A little bit of cumin, coriander, or black pepper lends some nice earthiness to the mix, and onion or garlic powder are almost always welcome. Crushed toasted fennel seeds, good dried oregano, tangy sumac—you can go in whichever direction you please, as long as you remember to keep a balance between all of the components. You don’t want a dry rub that’s 90 percent heat. No one’s going to enjoy that.

The big advantage of dry rubs, and the reason we love using them so much, is that they don't add any additional moisture to the exterior of a piece of meat the way that a marinade does. Whenever you apply heat to chicken thighs, pork chops, or any other piece of protein, the moisture on the surface needs to evaporate before a sear can start to develop, so dousing them in liquid beforehand doesn't make a whole lot of sense. A dry rub—which is, naturally, dry—is going to put you on a faster track to the beautifully-caramelized crust you're after.

But while a dry rub is our preferred pre-cooking treatment for meat, there's nothing wrong with incorporating a liquid element after you've gotten some browning going. We love brushing a glaze, be it a mixture of maple syrup and soy sauce or just some store-bought barbecue sauce, onto chicken thighs during the last few minutes that they're on the grill or in the oven, creating layers of complex, concentrated flavor. And we're all about finishing a grilled skirt steak with a pungent sauce once it's cooked, rested, and sliced—nobody's ever gotten mad about a drizzle of bright, herby salsa verde or chimichurri. So, yeah: It's not that we have a problem with liquids, it's just that we don't want to apply them to proteins until after it's gotten its sear on.

That’s not to say a dry-rubbed piece of protein needs a secondary element. It doesn’t. If you balance all of the elements of a dry-rub correctly, that aggressively-seasoned crackly exterior will hold its own. And by hold its own, we mean make you forget about marinades all together. Which you probably should do.


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