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Favorite Rubs, and how to choose whats right for you.

FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
edited November 2011 in EGGtoberfest
I haven't counted, but I'm pretty sure there are about a million commercial rubs out there for different meats/styles of cooking/ethnic themes/etc.

I have picked up about 7 new store bought rubs in the past month, and since I use them on all sorts of different meats, it is really hard to decide whats best on what.  So this weekend instead of doing some huge cooks like shoulder, brisket, chuck roast, etc, I have a different plan.

Starting Friday night, I am going to grill chicken breasts. I'm cutting each breast in half, and using a different rub on each piece in addition to a simple salt and pepper rub.. We are then going to cut them up and evaluate how each rub tastes on the chicken and sort of do an unscientific but personal "rank" of our favorite flavors on that cut, and some notes about the taste (ie: sweet, spicy, savory, etc)

Saturday lunch, I'll do some pork with the same test,same spices, etc, etc.

I plan to try this on several different meats, fish, and poultry, to get a "head to head" comparison for OUR tastes.  The reason is, in the past I'd do ribs with one rub, then 2 weeks later do ribs with another rub and we try to decide which was our favorite using our memory....which isn't as accurate as a head to head comparison.  That and some days spicy is mouth watering, some days sweet is mouth watering.  So to know which rubs make which cuts taste a certain way can help plan which rub will be best for any given cook.

I think of a cup of coffee as my inspiration for this "experiment".  I grind my beans fresh every morning.  Heat my water in a kettle, and then combine them in a french press.  So to me, this is the ultimate coffee base, and my guests and better half agree.... but I add half and half, 2 Splendas, and stir to make the "perfect cup".  I have many friends who would completely disagree...they want 1 Splenda, or real sugar, or no creamer, or skim milk, etc.  So "perfect" to one persons tastes is completely irrelevant to another's.  So when you follow a recipe and expect it to be "the best ever"'s really only the best to that particular persons taste buds, not really to yours, or your families.

Has anyone else tried anything like this?  If so, was it an eye opener as to your tastes in seasoning on the grill?  I've found my favorite seasoning of all time, so far, for mixed vegetables is a "Salmon" rub we got at our local ACE hardware store.  So I don't really limit my seasonings to the purpose labeled on the bottle.

I'll try to update my findings throughout the weekend.  I'm interested to hear anyone else's experiments with this type of thing.



  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
    I just wanted to clarify, the "salt and pepper rub" will be on a separate piece of meat/fish/poultry than the rubs.  I didn't want it to sound like I was putting a rub on top of other seasoning.  The simple salt and pepper rub will be just to see how each cut tastes without a complex seasoning combination.
  • I would like to see your results even though it is your taste, not mine. I have to protect myself every time I open the cabinet cause about 50 bottles of seasoning comes tumbling down. For my personal taste, most seasonings are too hot, almost overbearing. I am partial to a moderate seasoning/marinate/rub prior to putting on the egg. Yesterday my wife came home with a sea salt mix with black truffle and I rubbed it on lamb chops with a little EVOO. Fabulous!
  • BMFDBMFD Posts: 25
    That's awesome, can't wait to see your findings. 
  • AD18AD18 Posts: 209
    I've done it a couple of times, although not to the extent you are going.  It is kind of fun and as stated to each there own taste wise.  What the results are can be interesting.  If you need additional help this weekend I would be open to joining your tasting panel:)
    Large BGE, Weber 22.5 kettle, Weber Genesis
    Cobourg, Ontario
  • I too, have a cabinet full of different rubs. Will be looking forward to your results postings..

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,946
    I'm as bad as burr_baby33, maybe worse. I have three cabinets with spices and herbs and rubs that fall out when I open the doors. (Evidently at some point I thought I couldn't have enough mustard seed, and the universe of dried chilis is immense.)

    I can tell you what I don't like. Rubs that are heavily dependent on salt. Why should I pay for something that I can add almost for nothing? Likewise black pepper, but that's because that is best fresh ground.

    Otherwise, for me its just what taste I have a hankering for that day. Some days I like ribs with a mild and sweet flavor, others I want my tongue stung with Jamaican jerk. If I am planning a whole meal, I try to pick something that has a flavor I can use on the sides. Mostly I have a few commercial blends that I use as a base, and adjust them with additions as I like.

    I have done tests like you mention, notably a big selection of pork tenderloin medallions, each one with a different flavoring. What I do now with new purchases is mix a little with butter, and spread it on hot toasted white bread.

    What you might enjoy even more than trying commercial rubs is to buy the 10 or 12 things most commonly found in rubs, and play with the proportions. In the following order are the ingredients I have found most often in rub mixes. Sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, mustard powder, thyme, white pepper.
  • SqueezySqueezy Posts: 1,102
    gdenby .... excellent idea which can also save $s
    Never eat anything passed through a window unless you're a seagull ... BGE Lg.
  • gdenby, Excellent suggestion.  Should have thought of it myself but I'm an old guy.

  • JLNCJLNC Posts: 73
    I make my own rubs and borrow ideas from various bbq sites/forums.  I like to make my own rubs because I can tweak the ingredients to my own liking-- especially (as gdenby said) salt and especially with ribs-- more about taste than price, but I'm as cheap as they come (the real reason I started making my own).   

    Because of the surface area on ribs you can easily end up with a salt lick, especially if your rub first and finish with sauce.  Even with just a rub, I just don't like super salty ribs.  A butt can handle something salty, because by the time you pull or chop, the salt to meat ratio is in your favor.  

    My rib rub has almost no salt and it seems to work well.  

    And of course, there's nothing magic in the commercial rubs.  If you have the time and a wide range of spices, you can typically back your way into most rubs or spice blends at home-- for a fraction of the price. 

    I do agree with FxLynch--- there's no such thing as perfect and I've tried a number of "the best" rub recipes and disagreed.  
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,786

    I have a few store bought rubs (got them as gifts) but primarily make my own using recipes (with adaptations) I have found in the "Smoke & Spice" cookbook by the Jamisons.  It's the only real BBQ reference book I have (the purists can cite many more) and is more than adequate for my tastes.  You may want to check it out.

    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • billyraybillyray Posts: 1,173
    gdenby; Good idea, we have been doing this for a long time and it saves a lot of $. The combination that we use on pork is:
    1-cup Light brown sugar
    1/4 cup Dry mustard
    1 Tbs. Chili powder
    1 Tbs. Cumin
    1 Tbs. Paprika
    1 Tbs. Onion powder
    1 Tbs. Garlic powder
    1 Tbs. Black pepper
    1 Tbs. White pepper
    1 Tbs. Cayenne pepper
    2 Tbs. Kosher salt
    This makes a good amount and we keep it in an air tight container.
    Felton, Ca. 2-LBGE, 1-Small and waiting on a mini
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,020
    one thing your missing is freshness, the store bought may have sat around for a while. buy some dizzy pig online direct and it was just ground, makes a big difference. i freeze alot of rubs also, seems to make a difference for me over storing in a cabinet.
  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
    Thanks for all the fresh ideas, maybe the next step will be making some rubs and testing them, as opposed to more store bought.  I have 2 Smoking/BBQ books that I recently bought that have a bunch of recipes, as well as the wealth of online info... I could see this taking a while :) Guess we will have to suffer through good food for years to come!

    I do have 2 bottles of rub by Dizzy Pig, but haven't used them enough to honestly evaluate them.  They seem to have quite a following.

    I should add that while I've grilled for about 17 years, my primary cooking is in Thai food.  I was taught how to cook by a friend from Thailand when I was 17 and have cooked it almost exclusively since.  So while I'm very familiar with complex Thai seasonings, I haven't messed around much with traditional seasonings and flavors.  I can make some killer Thai marinades however, maybe I should post some recipes one of these days.

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,020
    thai flavors are really deep and really pop, i think its pretty hard to compare a traditional bbq rub to say a thai sweet garlic chili sauce for example. post those recipes
  • bhuggbhugg Posts: 257
    What is your favorite brisket rub?
    Large BGE Dallas, TX
  • I can make some killer Thai marinades however, maybe I should post some recipes one of these days.

    Please post them.  I'm really into Thai food but know little about how to reproduce some of those great flavors.  Specifically love anything with curry sauces.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

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