How To Use Dry Rub for Grilling

June 13, 2023

Many people prefer to use marinades for grilling, but marinades can sometimes overpower the flavor of the meat, rather than enhance or complement its natural flavors. While marinades have their benefits, dry rubs still reign supreme when it comes to seasoning. It’s safe to assume that everyone has a general understanding of what dry rub is. However, do you know the full potential of what dry rubs possess?

Imagine this: You're surrounded by your loved ones on a hot Summer afternoon. You’ve invited everyone over to join in a feast consisting of the finest ingredients you could get your hands on. Your grill has been fired up for hours, marking those meats, vegetables, and maybe even fruits with the most perfect black searing. Stomachs have been rumbling while patiently waiting to indulge. The last thing you want is for everyone to finally sit down and bite into that first cut of meat, only to discover that it is not as delectable as you all had hoped.

Don’t worry, this disappointing scenario is preventable! All you need to do is get your desired cuts of meat and make sure you have the perfect dry rub to accompany them. 

Dry rub is a combination of ingredients, usually consisting of spices and herbs, blended into an almost finely-ground powder. The possibility of herbs and spices used in a dry rub are endless. That said, it’s important to choose a dry rub that has flavors you & your guests will most enjoy.


Choosing the Best Dry Rub

Dry rubs work well on various protein picks. Keep in mind, though, that dry rubs will work best on cuts of meat that are naturally juicy. This helps to retain moisture, producing a more tender meat when grilling. Finding the best ingredients to complement the type of protein/produce you choose is crucial to cultivate the best possible flavors imaginable. If you don’t have time to research what spices work best on what proteins/produce, simply refer to this helpful list: 

Bison – Are you tired of the same old types of protein you keep in your normal grilling rotation? Look no further than a surprising and delicious cut of bison. 

Dry Rub: What's a unique protein like bison without the proper dry rub to complete it? To fully experience the true taste of bison, you must try our Tocabe Bison Rub to enhance your grilling experience. The perfect earthiness of the bison meets floral notes of rubbed sage in this dry rub. Your taste buds will thank you!

Beef – A tried and true grilling favorite, with a wide array of cuts to choose from. Whether you choose steaks, ribs, or roast, you are bound to end up full and happy after partaking in a helping of beef, especially when grilled with the proper dry rub. It’sbest to use a lighter dry rub, so not disturb the internal chemistry of the beef. 

Dry Rub: Most beef only requires the simplicity of some salt and pepper to bring out its natural flavor. When you want to take the beef you’re grilling to the next flavor level, consider using a dry rub that has smoked paprika for a signature smoky taste. If you’re seeking sweetness, add a touch of brown sugar which will give the beef a hint of molasses. Anytime you want to increase the heat/spiciness of the beef cut, add a touch of cayenne.

If making your own homemade dry rub doesn’t fit into your schedule, add Tocabe House Dry Rub to your pantry from our Indigenous Marketplace. This dry rub is a customer favorite and one of the best Indigenous food staples you need to try. 

Pork – The flavorful, juiciness of pork makes it the perfect protein for the high-heat of the grill, as it will naturally retain its own moisture, especially when it has the added benefit of a delicious dry rub to protect it. 

Dry Rub: The best all-purpose dry rub for pork consists of coarse salt, ground pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and dried thyme. These simple ingredients are key to  have on hand in your kitchen and can be thrown together quickly to enhance your next grilled cut of pork. This dry rub mix is the perfect combination of both sweet and savory ingredients. If you prefer some added heat, you can always add cayenne to taste. 

Chicken – Grilled chicken is a great source of protein, but it has a tendency to dry out if not cooked properly. This makes chicken one of the top proteins in need of the perfect dry rub. 

Dry Rub: Chicken benefits from traditional dry rub ingredients, such as salt, pepper, brown sugar, cayenne, onion powder, and garlic powder. It also benefits from unique ingredients like ground mustard or an italian herb blend like Herbs de Provence. 

Fish – The delicacy of a nice filet of fish benefits from the addition of a good dry rub. Dry rub is great on fish because it adds a crunchy layer of flavor to the outside, while retaining the natural moisture within. 

Dry Rub: Fish is a meat that cooks rather quickly, so a good dry rub can help add flavor in the short amount of time it takes to cook. For this reason, it’s best to use the freshest herbs and spices you can find. Trying flavors like nutmeg, dried mustard, ground ginger, celery salt, or allspice can enhance your final fish. 

Shrimp – Another delicious protein option that cooks quickly! Shrimp is versatile and can be used in almost any type of cuisine you can think of. When grilling, it’s best to add shrimp on skewers so the shrimp doesn't fall through the grates on your grill. 

Dry Rub: For seasonings you can use for your next grilled shrimp meal, the possibilities are endless! As far as a dry-rub, consider using paprika for a bold, smoky flavor. If you’re craving something more spicy, add either cayenne or red pepper flakes to your basic dry rub mix. For a sweeter, BBQ kick use some brown sugar with your other basic BBQ ingredients. 

Vegetables – You can grill any vegetable you can think of!  

Dry Rub: A simple pinch of a delicious salt works wonders. Check out our Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace for Sakari Farms Smoked Salts that will make your grilled vegetables extra tasty. 


Applying Dry Rub: Unlock Your Protein’s Full Flavor Potential

There are two methods of application for adding dry rub to protein. One way is to use a binding agent that will help the dry rub stick to the surrounding surface of the meat. The other way is to apply the dry rub directly to the meat, after the meat has been completely patted dry to remove excessive moisture. 

Determining which of these two methods is best depends on the amount of time it will take for the meat to cook.

Meats that will cook for shorter amounts of time will work best when you apply the dry rub directly to the meat, without using any sort of binder, after the meat has been patted dry with paper towels, etc.

Meats that will cook for longer amounts of time will work best when you apply the dry rub to the meat after you have patted it dry with paper towels and then liberally applied some sort of binder, such as olive oil, mustard, or raw egg. The binding agent serves as a protector by creating a moisture barrier around the entire surface of the protein, which prevents the meat from being too dry or tough when finished cooking. 

Regardless of which application method you choose, the use of dry rub on the surrounding exterior of the meat creates a crust (or bark) layer on the perimeter of the protein. These herbs and spices work together in harmony unlocking the meat’s full flavor potential. 

For maximum flavor, apply the dry rub to the meat at least 15-30 minutes prior to cooking it. The longer the dry rub stays on the meat prior to cooking, the dry rub will soak into the meat, enhancing its natural flavor profile. Remember to always store your meat in the fridge when not applying dry rub or cooking it, to prevent the meat from spoiling. It’s also crucial to remember that any salt applied to the meat has the potential to dry out the meat if it stays on the meat for too long.

* PRO TIP: When applying dry rub to meat, use the “wet hand/dry hand” method. Dedicate one of your hands to applying the dry rub to the meat (dry hand) and dedicate your other hand to rubbing the dry rub into the meat (wet hand). 

Whether you’re grilling for yourself, your family, or your friends, utilizing the freshest combination of herbs and spices for your dry rub will be a tastebud pleaser. Go with a simpler blend of ingredients or a more complex concoction. Either way, you can't go wrong when the dry rub works its magic.

Remember, it is always nice to surprise your guests by serving a unique cut of meat, like grass-fed bison and be sure to snag the rest of your pantry needs from our Indigenous Marketplace. Check out our entire lineup of Indigenous foods by clicking here: Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace.

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