Mention the start of grilling season to a diehard grill master and prepare to get an earful about how grilling is always in season. It certainly was in my house growing up. The Midwest’s unforgiving weather didn’t deter my father from firing up our grill. The frequency of grilled meats, fish and veggies at my house meant we experimented a lot with added flavors, from Cajun to Asian-influenced, smoky to sweet spices.
If you haven’t already befriended dry rubs, it’s time. They add depth of flavor to your favorite grilled foods, but try them when you’re baking and pan-frying too. The right combination of spices can give your meal a Southern kick, an island flare or a Texas twist. Try them with beef, tofu, fish, pork chops, chicken breasts and vegetables.
Explore a wide variety of combinations and follow these guidelines for best results:
Three to four tablespoons of spice rub seasonings should be enough for two pounds of food.
To apply a rub, sprinkle it over your choice of meat, poultry, fish or veggies and lightly rub into the surface with your hands. Or place the rub in a large plastic bag, add your ingredients and shake to coat. Let spiced food sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight before cooking.
Prepared dry rubs already contain the right mix of flavors ranging from Asian to Mediterranean styles. Or mix your own rub and store in an airtight glass jar in a cool place.
Your Signature Flavor
Why not spent these weeks leading up to summer developing your own signature dry rub? (Tip: dry rubs make an excellent hostess gift if you’re traveling.) Here are a few recipes for inspiration.
Coffee-Rubbed Roasted Chicken. This coffee rub adds a unique crispness to chicken, pork, beef or duck.
Spiced Grilled Sweet Potatoes. A simple spice rub makes a tasty complement to grilled sweet potatoes.
Lone Star Dry Rub. Spoon some of the dry rub onto a plate and lightly dredge cuts of meat, fish, poultry, tofu or tempeh in rub before grilling or broiling.
Sweet and Savory Seafood Dry Rub. A dry rub like this one, sweetened with brown sugar and flavored with paprika and basil, is ideal for salmon, red snapper or tuna fillets.
Hot and Sweet Spice Rub. Enjoy this versatile rub on chicken, pork, beef or vegetables.
Fired up about summer grilling? Us too. Check out our complete guide to grilling for more recipes, methods and techniques.