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Easy Rubs That’ll Shake Up Summer Grilling

Created May 23, 2019
7 spice rubs to shake up summer grilling
With these easy spice rubs at the ready, you’re halfway to a great grilled dinner. MORE+ LESS-

Everything you need to perfectly season a grilled dinner is probably already in your spice cabinet. Seriously, there’s a lot you can do with a few simple spices—no matter what cuisine you’re craving. So buckle up because the recipes below will take your taste buds on a trip across America and to destinations beyond.

What’s the deal with “rubs”?
Rubs are a pretty ingenious way of seasoning meat or vegetables. These mixtures of spices and herbs don’t just add flavor, they also help you get a nice char on your grilled meats. Rubs are either dry or paste-like, which means meats covered with them will begin browning right away, rather than steaming, as they would if covered in a moist marinade. The browning on the outside of the meat adds loads of flavor. Additionally, rubs can help tenderize meat. This is because most rubs contain ingredients, which break down the tough tissues in meat over time—particularly salt. And yet another great thing about rubs is that they’ll keep for up to six months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. So set yourself up for a whole summer’s worth of easy grilling by mixing up a few right now!

 

1.  Taco Seasoning—without the salt!

sodium-free taco seasoning

We hear you, sometimes the extra sodium is not just wanted. With this recipe, you get all the smoky, savory flavor of your favorite Mexican seasonings blend, but you control the salt level. Try using this mix when you’re grilling a meat that’s naturally salty—like pork—or use this recipe as a base and add salt to suit your tastes.

Sodium-Free Taco Seasoning
Mix ingredients below. To apply, spread rub evenly over 1-pound boneless meat (chicken, pork or beef). Cover, refrigerate at least 15 minutes but no longer than 24 hours. Cook meat as desired.

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (or substitute ancho chili pepper powder)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons paprika (or substitute smoked paprika)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 

2.  Basil & Lemon-Pepper

basil and lemon-pepper rub

Mediterranean flavors of basil, garlic and lemon make almost anything delicious, but add brown sugar to the mix and we’re talking a next level rub. The brown sugar causes caramelization—in other words, more flavor! So this ultra-simple, 5-ingredient rub is perfect solution when you’re not sure what to make for dinner but know it needs to taste great. Try this rub on chicken, pork chops, veggie kabobs … to be honest, we can’t think of anything it won’t go with!

Basil and Lemon-Pepper Rub
Mix ingredients below. To apply, spread rub evenly over 1-pound boneless meat (chicken, pork or beef). Cover, refrigerate at least 15 minutes but no longer than 24 hours. Cook meat as desired. Recipe makes 2 tablespoons of rub.

  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

 

3.  Old El Paso Taco Seasoning

Old El Paso taco seasoning mix

With smoky, spicy and savory notes, Old El Paso taco seasoning delivers on all the flavors you want when craving Mexican. That’s why we recommend tossing this lightweight flavor packet into your suitcase when heading out on summer vacation. No matter if you’re headed to a cabin with scanty spice selection or camping in the woods, you’re halfway to a flavorful dinner with this ingredient in your kit. Try using it to season a foil-pack meal or beer-can chicken.

 

4.  Barbecue

barbecue dry rub

Give the bottle a break—rich barbecue flavor can come from a rub, too! Dare we suggest that a rub could be even better than bottled sauce? Don’t get us wrong, we love a quick, saucy barbecued dinner as much as the next person, but there’s a benefit to using a rub. A rub will infuse your meat with sweet, savory and smoky flavor, help you get a caramely crust and tenderize it—especially if you apply in advance of grilling and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. So why not take 5 minutes to mix up Betty’s seasoning? That way your rub will be just as ready-to-go as your bottle of barbecue!

Barbecue Rub
Mix ingredients below. To apply, spread rub evenly over 1-pound boneless meat (chicken, pork or beef). Cover, refrigerate at least 15 minutes but no longer than 24 hours. Cook meat as desired.

  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (or substitute sweet, mild or hot paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder

 

5.  Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Rub

Jamaican Jerk seasoning rub

Warming spices you might associate with baking, like cinnamon and allspice, take on a whole new life when combined with thyme and savory onion. Things get really exciting when spicy cayenne pepper gets added to the mix. While it might sound unexpected, this array of spices, herbs, aromatics and chiles adds up to deeply savory flavor that’s so delicious you might be tempted to lick your plate. Ready to give a try? Betty’s Jamaican Jerk seasoning rub recipe tastes great on pork or chicken, as it’s often served in the Caribbean, but don’t let that stop you from experimenting with other types of meats, or even veggies.

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Rub
Mix ingredients below. To apply, spread rub evenly over 1-pound boneless meat (chicken, pork or beef). Cover, refrigerate at least 15 minutes but no longer than 24 hours. Cook meat as desired. Recipe makes 3 tablespoons of rub.

  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

 

6.  Tandoori Spice Rub

tandoori spice rub

In the United States, tandoori seasoning is usually associated with a particular dish: tandoori chicken. You might have tried this smoky and heavily spiced dish at an Indian restaurant—or one of its cousins, like Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala. Tandoori chicken is typically made by marinating chicken with yogurt and a blend of warm, fragrant spices, including ginger, cumin, cayenne and more. Now you can try tandoori flavor using spices you likely already have in your kitchen. Want to make it like they do at the restaurant? Add yogurt to your rub but don’t let chicken soak for more than two hours or this aggressive tenderizer will begin to break down the meat.

Tandoori Spice Rub
Mix ingredients below. To apply, spread rub evenly over 1-pound boneless meat (chicken, pork or beef). Cover, refrigerate at least 15 minutes but no longer than 24 hours. Cook meat as desired.

  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons Ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons Salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

 

7.  Harissa

harissa

Ready for something spicy and a little more bold? Then it’s time to try your hand at harissa, a Tunisian chile-based rub featuring cumin, garlic and more aromatic spices. Harissa is a wet rub—basically, paste that starts as a dry rub and gets added liquid; in this case, olive oil. It’s delicious on grilled meats or in sauces, like hummus. While this recipe requires a little more work than the rubs above, it’s well worth the effort, especially because you can store it in your freezer for up to three months.

Harissa

  • 1 Large red bell pepper
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 oz. dried ancho or pasilla chiles
  • 2 oz. dried guanjillo or New Mexican chiles
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seed
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint

Ready for more tutorials to help you master grilling this summer? Learn how to grill chicken next.



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