The Art of The Rub

How to Rub Your Meat Like A Pro

If you’re like us, we started out not knowing much about seasoning or rubbing our meat. Like any good friend would do, we’re here to help spice up your meat game!

Let’s start with the basics and a brief overview of the components that go into rubbing your meat.

Seasonings: Mixtures of salt and spices used to season foods before, during, and after grilling. Different from rubs in that they are applied just prior to and/or during the cook (think hot & fast cooks).

Rubs: A mixture of herbs, spices, and seasonings used to give a base flavor to the meat. Often times, rubs include sugar or other sweeteners too. Other rub ingredients typically include garlic and onion powders, cumin, oregano, paprika, and chili powder  Rubs are generally applied to the meat several hours before cooking to allow for marinating and are used on meats that are meant for barbecuing (think low & slow, not fast & hot).

Dry Rubs: Contain only dry ingredients and are sprinkled over the food in powder form. Most dry rubs contain such things as paprika, chili powder, garlic, cayenne.

Wet Rubs: Mixing a wet substance like oil with your spices makes a “wet rub.”  These may also be referred to as spice pastes. Great for tougher cuts like flank steak and skirt steak because they add more moisture.

How To Apply Rub To Your Meat

To get the full effect of the flavors, a rub needs time to work its delicious magic. Timing can depend on your meat and can rest from 15 minutes to 2 hours (or several hours more if you’ve got time) before cooking. As a general rule, apply wet rubs 2-6 hours before cooking and leave a dry rub on for as little as 30 minutes and then put it on the grill.  Keep rubbed food in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

It’s Called A Rub, Not A Sprinkle

So massage it into every peak and valley! Make sure to be mindful that the surface of raw meat can be ground zero for all kinds of bacteria. Feel free to use gloves if you wish or wash your hands regularly during and after the process.

The best way to apply the rub is to use the two-handed method: use one hand to scoop and sprinkle the rub (or hold the bottle of your favorite brand), and the other to massage it into the meat. Keep your rubbing hand well clear of the bowl, bag, or other containers of rub because you’ll want to save the leftovers for future use.

How Much Rub To Use

This is all about personal preference. The BBQ nerds will tell you to use approximately 1 tablespoon for every pound of meat. Go with your instincts and experiment a little. Make sure to apply it evenly!  Just remember the more you apply, the more strongly you’ll taste the rub.

It’s Go Time!

Time to get that tasty meat on the grill or smoker!  A good rub can really turn your meat into something heavenly!

What’s your go to rub?  Let me know in the comments…

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!



  • Lori Eisch

    Sweet Smoky Chipotle is our rub of choice

  • Neil LaGrow Jr

    Interested in rubs and recipes

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