Food

6 Sure-Fire Spice Rubs

These delicious dry rubs add incredible flavour without adding any SmartPoints

There's no need for oil, bacon, or other additions when you're grilling meat. Dry rubs add tons of flavour without any added fat or calories, and depending on the combo of spices you use, you can season your meats (or even tofu!) with the flavors of the Southwest, Caribbean, India, and beyond.

How to give a proper rub-down

  • Use the best spices you can find. Only freshly ground black pepper, please.
  • Don't use dried herbs that have taken on a bland, tea-like smell. Dried herbs have a shelf life, usually about a year.
  • To grind Szechuan peppercorns and the like, use a cleaned-out coffee grinder, a mini food processor, a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
  • Use between 1/2 tablespoon and 1 tablespoon of spice mix per cut, whether steak, fish or chicken thighs. To make sure it sticks: Rub each cut with about 1 teaspoon unsweetened apple juice, lemon juice, cranberry juice, balsamic vinegar, or white wine vinegar. Pat the rub in place to make a thin coating on all sides and you're ready to roll.
  • For a deeper taste, coat with the rub, then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

After that? You're ready to roll. Fire up the grill and cook the meat, fish, or tofu until done. As for the leftovers? These rub recipes make a lot, more than you'll need. Store the rest in a jar with a tight-fitting lid for the next time you're over the heat.

Getting started
Here are six dry rubs for pork, beef, chicken, fish or even tofu. Whisk any one of them together in a large bowl.

All-American Barbecue Rub

  • 2 Tbsp mild paprika
  • 2 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper

Sweet and Spicy Rub

  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup mild paprika
  • 2 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Southwestern Rub

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp mild paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp salt

Jerk Rub

  • 1/4 cup dried crushed rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cayenne

Curry Rub

  • 3 Tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp mild paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground allspice

Szechuan Pepper Salt

  • 2 Tbsp coarse-grained or kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin