The tradition of barbecuing or cooking meat over fire transcends borders, so it’s only right to take control of your seasoning blend with the BBQ spice rub. Everyone has a different idea of what a flame-grilled meat seasoning should taste like, so why not tailor it to your preferences?
What Gives BBQ its Flavour?
This BBQ spice rube takes inspiration from the classic flavours of a BBQ. That said, it’s not the seasoning blend that gives BBQ its unique smokiness but the cooking technique, a fact true for almost all meat marinades, including Jamaican Jerk and Argentinian Asado.
Traditionally, BBQs involve cooking over wood or charcoal, producing a flavoured smoke that infuses the food it cooks above. However, some modern outdoor BBQs use gas to make heat instead of wood or charcoal. Crucially, though, these BBQs still create smoke from fat dripping onto the heat source, resulting in a similar smoky flavour imparted onto the food as it cooks.
This smoke is a collection of gases, water vapour, and small particles from the fuel source. Therefore, it’s essential to use a clean, food-safe gas. I recommend using wood or charcoal as it imparts its unique flavour onto BBQ foods, such as the ever-popular hickory smoked barbecue sauces.
Ingredients for BBQ Spice Rub
Smoked Paprika – There are numerous types of smoked paprika, usually Spanish and known as pimentón. I’ve opted for smoked sweet paprika, made by smoking milder chilli peppers. Its function here is to replicate or imitate the smoky flavours from cooking over wood and charcoal.
Oregano & Thyme – These dried herbs help give the sauce a fresher feel as thyme provides citrus notes. Oregano offers a faint pepperiness.
Garlic Powder – I’m not a big fan of dried garlic powder as it can be quite strong, with a flavour inferior to its fresh counterpart. It smells intense but mellows out with cooking, resulting in a sweeter taste. However, using this recipe, I would prefer to substitute the dried garlic for fresh. Garlic powder will keep longer than finely chopped cloves.
Cayenne Pepper – This spicy dried chilli gives a kick to the mix, but the supporting cast of spices temper cayenne peppers’ heat.
Mustard Powder – Mustard powder is like other ground spices, such as coriander and cumin. However, it has the distinction of being called powder. It’s made from grinding white and brown mustard seeds, and in the case of English mustard powder, turmeric may be added to create that bright yellow colour.
Ground Coriander – Ground coriander has a citrusy flavour that tastes sweet. It helps temper some of this BBQ spice rub’s spicier and earthy flavours.
Light Brown Sugar – Light brown sugar sweetens the spice mix and helps char the ingredients as they cook. This happens as the sugars caramelise due to the Maillard reaction, a process of sugars on the surface of the food turning into a fragrant brown colour.
This spice mix doesn’t include salt. I’ve assumed your chosen recipe will also call for salt.
BBQ Spice Rub
- 2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
- 1 Tbsp Mustard Powder
- 2 Tsp Oregano
- 2 Tsp Thyme
- 2 Tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
- Store in an air-tight jar in a cool, dry place.